$520K Federal Grant Claims ADHD Is Just ‘Cognitive Diversity’

Brittany M. Hughes | December 6, 2016
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The National Science Foundation forked over more than half a million in taxpayer dollars to the University of Connecticut to get "neurodiverse" students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder interested in engineering, in an effort to promote the field's "cognitive diversity." 

The grant description alleges that mental disorders such as ADHD are merely examples of “cognitive diversity” that are potentially as valuable as other characteristics like gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity -- and perhaps, even more so. By expanding the field of engineering to incorporate “neurodiversity,” researchers hope to change "how neurodiverse individuals are perceived, by both society and education programs.”

“Challenges facing engineers are large-scale, complex, and multifaceted and their solutions require radical advancements. Therefore, there is a need to investigate and capitalize on the potential of nontraditional, divergent thinkers in order to promote radical technological breakthroughs,” the grant description alleges.

“While the creative potential of individuals with ADHD is extensively supported by literature, they are extremely underrepresented in engineering programs. There is an urgent need to understand the challenges and potential of students with ADHD characteristics in engineering programs in order to promote cognitive diversity in the field,” the summary explains, adding, “Generating knowledge that supports the significance of neurodiversity on creative productivity may lead to transforming engineering education and engineering practice.”

With its $520 million government grant, the team hopes to reveal “the extent to which the engineering products of neurodiverse teams of students are more creative than the products of homogenous teams.”

ADHD, which has spurred numerous national debates regarding premature diagnoses and the overmedication of minors, is an increasing problem among school-aged children. The Center for Disease Control estimates that as many as 11 percent of kids in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the disorder (although the American Psychiatric Association puts that number at a substantially lower 5 percent).

The National Institute of Health, which labels ADHD as a “brain disorder,” explains that children with ADHD usually exhibit signs of inattentiveness, an inability to sit still, impulsive or inappropriate social tendencies and difficulty considering the long-term consequences of their actions. Other symptoms include getting easily sidetracked, extreme distraction, forgetfulness and disorganization, all issues that probably help explain why they're underrepresented in highly technical fields like engineering.

While high amounts of energy are common in young kids, children with ADHD tend to have higher levels of hyperactivity and a lowered ability to pay attention for long periods of time, often leading to social problems, poor academic performance and behavioral issues. 

But rather than dig down to the root of the disorder in the hopes of correcting or reversing the problem, which can be debilitating to those with extreme symptoms, the University of Connecticut wants to simply label it as yet the latest example in the ever-growing, socially acceptable laundry list of “diversity” that society should normalize and “capitalize on.”

Because in 2016 America, "diversity" always comes first.