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The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Disease or excuse?

ADHD may or may not be a real disease, but there is no question in my mind that it is being massively over-diagnosed (psychiatrists, though - who have a huge financial stake in the promotion of the disease - beg to differ).

But can we all agree that people like this just deserve what happens to them?

It is accepted wisdom in A.D.D. circles that certain types of work are a nightmare for those with A.D.D. (accounting comes to mind) and that others are virtual magnets for those with the condition: sales, contracting, waitressing, hairdressing -- any job that involves chatting and moving around. Stock trading, acting, law enforcement, emergency medicine (very frightening! - Ed) -- any job that runs on adrenaline and deadline....

...Unfortunately for Vivienne Sales, librarian is not on the list. And yet, it is what she most wants to be.

Sales was not dismissed after her argument in the library last summer. Instead, she found an unexpected advocate in Cheryl Moreno. The h.r. manager said she believed that the rules would have permitted the library to dismiss Sales until the moment Sales declared that she had a disibility. At that point the rules change. ''The median cost of accommodations for impaired employees is $240,'' Moreno said, quoting a statistic in vogue at human-resource conferences. ''So we tried to help.''

In Sales's case, the help cost more than $240 and came in the form of a job coach whose $100-per-hour services were paid for by the university. Finding such a coach in Prescott, Ariz., took most of last autumn, and it was not until the end of last year that Sales began working with Evelyn Larriba, a vocational specialist from the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic who was not specifically trained to work with adults with A.D.D. but who brought up a grandson who has the condition.

A university, eh?

Only a university (or the government) would have tolerated this flightly nutcase.

The wideapread tolerance of such inefficiencies - flubbed jobs, lateness, unexplained absences, forgotten assigments - partially explains spiralling admissions costs.

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