Sunday, September 26

Emily Wenstrom: Why We Need ADHD Representation in Fiction

And for an extremely long time after that, I took benefit of my alternative to be very quiet about my ADHD (to be clear, this ability to choose to go unnoticed is benefit in action– not all ADHD-ers or other neurodiverse folks have this option). The expense of the baggage associated with ADHD simply felt too high.

I can hop on my soapbox and shout this till Im blue in the face … but I believe better representation in fiction might be a lot more powerful.

I could rant for a while on this, but the point is, there was pushback to the point of animosity, based on stereotypes about what ADHD is and what it ought to look like. I guess I didnt look like that, to these teachers.

I didnt have ADHD, I played a lot of sports. I didnt have ADHD, I didnt belong in sophisticated math. I didnt have ADHD, I just needed to be more responsible.

Since simply like my high school instructors, what so many individuals fail to understand about ADHD, is that this different kind of brain wiring can include strengths simply as much as it does weak points.

When I first got my ADHD diagnosis in high school, I had no option however to be loud about it. This all happened in the very first place since years of good academics and a track record as the peaceful, low-maintenance girl in the back of the space let my symptoms go by unnoticed for several years, up until my grades took an abrupt nosedive as the various structure and greater obstacles of high school captured up with me.


A visitor post from Emily Wenstrom about ADHD representation in fiction– please read, and then have a look at her new book, Departures.

A universal reality about high school is that it ends, thank goodness. I informed myself about my signs and associated weak points, and eventually found methods to resolve them enough to go undetected.

Even with my Section 504 in hand, several instructors actively withstood giving me rights as simple as an additional copy of the text book.

Representation in Fiction Meets a Basic Human Need

As Psych Today discusses, feeling seen is a standard human requirement we all share. This consists of consideration of our demands and needs, equitable access and treatment, and representation, too.

As a kid, I gravitated toward characters who shared my signs long before I even understood what they were symptoms of. I looked for catharsis else where in characters who I felt shared my symptoms, like Anne Shirley and Meg Murry.

From POC to LGBTQIA to handicaps and neurodivergence of all kinds, combinations thereof, and beyond, representation matters.

Seeing these vibrant, multidimensional, heroic characters who shared my struggles (and, most importantly, conquered them) filled me with hope and shifted my self-perception. If these characters could overcome these battles, maybe I might too. Possibly I was too if these characters shared my flaws however were still deserving of love and assistance and being rooted for.

ADHD Representation in Fiction

Its easy with ADHD and other learning conditions to feel decreased to a list of signs. This is where characters in stories truly shine: they are multidimensional. They have both excellent qualities and defects– even the heroes. A story with an ADHD character reveals strengths in addition to weak points and develops something a lot more whole and human.

There is a noteworthy lack of ADHD representation in fiction. There are a number of books for children with ADHD composed specifically to this audience to assist them comprehend their medical diagnosis and deal with symptoms. These have value, but when it concerns traditional stories about more than ADHD 101, its a struggle to discover more than a couple of examples.

Go on and attempt to search for a list of ADHD characters– most will in fact offer characters who were retroactively diagnosed by the list writer, instead of the author, because thats the finest we can do. Did you know Emma Woodhouse had ADHD? Sherlock Holmes?

In truth, I was so accustomed to not seeing neurodiverse representation in stories, it took exposure to much better good example to recognize what was missing. Authors like Corinne Duyvis who has actually long promoted much better representation of neurodiversity and special needs, and Rick Riordan, who initially composed the Percy Jackson series to develop a hero his own son, who has ADHD and dyslexia, would relate to.

Really, Riordan said it finest:

” I believed about Haleys battle with ADHD and dyslexia. I felt the requirement to honor them, to let them understand that being different wasnt a bad thing.

Representation is for All of Us

There are many types of representation required more in fiction, and this is simply one type– definitely not attempting to suggest its any more important any others, and undoubtedly some other representation requires feel especially urgent these days.

Regardless, representation improves everyone.

The benefits of representation arent just for those who lastly get to see themselves consisted of. For those outside the group acquiring inclusion, representation likewise helps us build empathy, connection and a better understanding of those various from us. We gain viewpoint, experience and a more accurate and complicated view of the world.


Ive slowly begun being louder about my ADHD again (if you couldnt tell), across all locations of my life, including what I compose. My most recent novel even put an ADHD character front and center, and made it main to the plot, my own small effort toward including to whats needed, with hopefully more to come. And I have to tell you, it feels good not to be the quiet woman hiding in the back any longer.

When it comes to ADHD, theres a lot of luggage. ADHD is a lot more complex than this.

About Departures:

Swept away by rebels, Evalee must navigate a future she didnt depend on in a new, messy world. As the Directorates lies are removed away, she ends up being identified to break Gracelyn devoid of its grasp– before Gracelyns search for the fact shows her to be more rowdy than shes worth to the Directorate.

Shes prepared her event for weeks, and besides leaving her sister Gracelyn behind, shes prepared. The Directorate says this is how it should be, and she trusts them, as all its people do. Tonight she gowns up, she has a celebration, and she dances. Then she goes to sleep for the last time … except, the next morning, Evalee gets up.

Gracelyn is a model Directorate person with a prodigious future ahead. , if she might only stop thinking about the shuffling from Evalees space on her departure early morning.. Even wondering if something went incorrect is treasonous enough to ruin her. The entire mindful life the Directorate set for her might decipher into mayhem if she pulls at the thread.

Buy Departures Now: Amazon

Go ahead and try to look up a list of ADHD characters– most will in reality offer characters who were retroactively detected by the list author, rather than the author, because thats the best we can do. A story with an ADHD character reveals strengths in addition to weaknesses and develops something much more whole and human.

There is a notable absence of ADHD representation in fiction. These have worth, however when it comes to mainstream stories about more than ADHD 101, its a battle to find more than a few examples.

My most recent novel even put an ADHD character front and center, and made it central to the plot, my own small effort towards including to whats required, with hopefully more to come.

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