Neurodiversity: The funny side of doing an Executive MBA with ADHD

by Stephanie Webster, EMBA London January 2021

“You can solve this problem using algebra. Or calculus, if you prefer.  You have ten minutes,” said the truly lovely professor.

“Erm, yeah, sure!  OR….not!” said my uncooperative novice student brain.

Today, my brain is in panic mode.

Switching from complete blank
to a sea of spaghetti nonsense
to blank again
And repeat.

Sitting still for hours
in financial accounting/data analytics/managerial economics.
Feeling incredibly privileged.
Feeling incredibly fidgety.

The lemmings in my brain (wearing stylish sky-blue waistcoats) are running around.
Opening and closing filing cabinets to find anything to make sense of the lecture.

Finding the odd shoe.
Can’t make the connections.

I just can’t get it.

My generous classmate attempts to explain, but there’s a steel sheet in my head.
His words hit the steel sheet, like throwing an egg.
And I can feel the egg sliding down.
I explain that I am fine… I’ll figure it out later.

He thinks the problem is his explanation, or his accent (which is rather charming…)
He attempts a second, third and fourth time.
Eggs are now omelettes.
I’m cracking up with laughter.

It’s just not going in.

Now, HE panics.
To calm him, I explain,
“Hey it is ok, I have ADHD, I’ll be fine when I get home. I’ll figure it out.”

He reflects for a while and suggests I notify the Wellbeing Services.  More on this later.

I insist that it’s totally fine!  I know this ‘lost’ feeling all too well.  And I am ok with it.
If anything, I find it funny watching my mind mapping, overwriting itself into combustion.

It is not a catastrophe, it’s just a class.
I just write down the concept and google it later.

When I am home alone.
I call a patient friend who knows the subject.
I draw it out.

Now I get it.
It goes in.

Everything is learnable.
Sometimes we just need a bit of time and the right approach.

Don’t we all benefit from learning how we learn best?

A quick google of learning styles comes up with:

  • Visual (Spatial)
  • Aural (Auditory-Musical)
  • Verbal (Linguistic)
  • Physical (Kinesthetic)
  • Logical (Mathematical)
  • Social (Interpersonal)
  • Solitary (Intrapersonal)

Which one are you?

ADHD is considered by some as a learning disability.
But I think differently.  Literally.
LBS is big on diversity and inclusion.
I like the idea of neurodiversity and inclusion.

Here is my view:

Neurodiversity is the appreciation of the neurological differences between people.
There is no such thing as normal.  We all think differently.  Medical diagnoses such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia etc are simply cognitive variations within a group of people.  No one is better, or worse – just different.
Differently able.  Not dis-abled.

Following from my point earlier, I reached out to Wellbeing Services to see if they had cool ways to learn easier.  And they do!
I met the amazing Sharon Rankin, the Wellbeing Services Manager based in Sammy Offer.
I found her to be open, non-judgemental, pragmatic, and progressive in her thinking.
I left her feeling inspired and understood.
She has now given me tools to make the steep learning curve just that little bit smoother.

Sharon, thank you for the passion you put in your work.
And for sharing my intention to stop the stigma around such labels.

The only labels I wear are ones I put on myself.

Stephanie Webster
PS Should this resonate and you want to reach out, my door is always open.



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