It’s ADHD awareness month and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADD (without the hyperactivity), matters greatly to me – every day of every month of every year.

ADHD has woven itself into every aspect of my life. My home life, my wider family life, and my working life. Three members of my family have ADHD (that we know of), and for these people, it presents significant struggles with parts of life, that for most, are easy. I’m currently battling the system to achieve a diagnosis for my son, and yes it is a battle, even now in 2021. So why the battle?

ADHD is inherently misunderstood. The name itself fails to describe what it is, in fact worse than that, wrongly perpetuates many of the myths about it – for example that people with ADHD can’t concentrate….. they can. It’s more that their ability to concentrate is inconsistent. In fact they’re likely to be able to reach states of ‘hyperfocus’.

Hyperfocus – is nothing short of incredible when pointed at the right challenge. This brings us to two important points. First – it’s not really a disorder. It’s just the way a proportion of humanity’s brains are. ADHD brains work differently – attracted to the new, the novel, the risks, they thrive on adrenalin, are chronically low on dopamine – and need to stimulate their brains with activities that the neurotypical may avoid.

Estimates sit around 10%, in terms of what proportion of people have ADHD, which means if you have it, you feel different, you behave differently and you think differently than 90% of the population. ADHD brings strengths – creativity, entrepreneurship, ingenuity – which are qualities business and society need in abundance.

Secondly, this means the world can be a challenging place to navigate; you feel like an outsider, misunderstood, and have challenges with processes and institutes that were designed for the neurotypical. This is why diagnosis is so important. Allowing individuals to understand why the world is so challenging to them helps. It helps them find their place in the world, manage struggles and get the right kind of support, as well as understanding the strengths it brings.

Last year, my company This is Milk bid in a Civtech challenge (the Scottish Government’s initiative for solving yet unsolved challenges). Our solution, to the challenge ‘How can digital help invent the future of immersive learning’, focussed on removing barriers to learning.

One key area of barriers are those related to the neurodivergent umbrella. We pivoted our solution to focus on building a learning experience that adapts to the uniqueness of your brain (in the long term), and in the near term, with inclusivity at its core.

I credit our Civtech win, and our recent growth, (we quadrupled in size and trebled our sales in less than a year), to the diversity of our team; and our ADHD qualities. We now focus on building inclusive cultures, workplaces, products and services; key to the world facing the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Angela Prentner-Smith is This is Milk’s managing director