Friday, January 9, 2009

To "Be" or Not to "Be" ADD

I had a job interview today for a position assisting junior high school students with behavioral or learning disorders. In my view, I'm a terrible interview. I prepared based on a list of questions teacher candidates usually get, yet when asked different questions, I tend (as I hear it) to ramble, stammer, and tangent. Still, I'm personable and intelligent and witty, so it was a nice interview. Moreover, I consider myself more than qualified for the position, so I don't fear the interview was necessarily a make-or-break part of the selection process. When I got home, though, I e-mailed the interviewer with a follow-up piece of information and felt compelled to delete a section I'd written disclosing that I had adult ADD and that sometimes interviews are not my strong suit. My wife asked why I'd want to label myself and warned against "making an excuse." Probably the safe bet, but I wondered if this wasn't likely the most understanding group of educators, and whether acknowledging and stating a fact is truly "making an excuse."

It's part of a new dialogue we're having -- I've tried to be more forthright about dealing with ADD, and she checks whether I'm "making an excuse." What I need to convey is that before I received the diagnosis, not having had the language to describe why I always did things differently, or incompletely, or tardily, that's when I was making excuses: my car, the traffic, the rough draft, etc. If I approach the ADD as a set of facts, and make those with whom I interact aware of them (if they're not already), then I can't possibly make excuses.

Job interviews are tricky things; everyone has a different way of evaluating a candidate, and disclosing something like ADD, as widely as the term is bandied about in the mainstream, could certainly seem like a lame caveat. I avoided mentioning it, but I wonder: if I don't get the position, will that be the excuse?

How openly should one manage their ADD?

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