screenshot of The Disruptors documentary cover, which shows a young child staring and the title overlay in yellow/orange block letters

What I Learned from “The Disruptors”

What makes a disorder a disorder? Does it harm us to label each other with disorders? Or does it help us to identify areas where people need support?

The Disruptors, a recent documentary, helped me understand the particularities of ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This film also raised great questions about how we label ourselves and construct identities. I noticed two parallels to our own experiences as a family experiencing disability.

One, our educational system was not built for kids with “disorders” or disabilities. The Disruptors highlights the injustices inherent within a system that punishes and belittles kids who don’t fit the norm of a typical student. It’s so important that we stop believing that kids are the problem and instead start looking for ways to create an educational system that can welcome a wider range of kids.

Two, when we focus on weakness and deficit, it doesn’t work. The filmmakers highlight taking a “strengths-based” approach to ADHD. Whether it is related to a diagnosis like ADHD or a disability like Down syndrome, there’s so much greater joy and peace when we focus on what our kids can do. This film shows how we can build on strengths rather than trying to correct or chastise behaviors that seem to hold our kids back.

Researchers estimate that ten percent of the population lives with ADHD. So is it a disorder? Or a natural variant? Or even a superpower? It might just depend on how we approach it.

screenshot of The Disruptors documentary cover, which shows a young child staring, with the title overlay in yellow/orange block letters; in a small circle photo below, a student and mom walk out of the school. Below the photos is text overlay that says: “What I learned from The Disruptors”

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