CLTR and Counseling Center Hosts “The Disruptors” Screening in Persson Auditorium

On Wednesday, Apr. 5, students, faculty and community members gathered in Persson Auditorium for a screening of “The Disruptors” directed by Stephanie Soechtig. The documentary follows four children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their experiences navigating the challenges and astonishing achievements of living with a widely-misunderstood condition. The film includes a number of successful CEOs, Olympic athletes, innovators, entrepreneurs and award-winning artists who have ADHD to discredit the harmful stereotypes of people with the disorder. 

The documentary begins with celebrities diagnosed with ADHD speaking about what their teachers and other adult figures in their lives said about them as children. These celebrities included Howie Mandel,, and Terry Bradshaw. Adults would call them stupid, lazy and obnoxious. They spoke of their challenges attending school, paying attention effectively and controlling the constant racing thoughts in their heads. The film then turns to the four children and the challenges ADHD poses to their family relationships, relationships with adults at school and friendships. The four children had difficulties maintaining friendships, adhering to school rules and focusing on one task at a time. Throughout the film, and specifically at the end, the parents of the children talk about their hope for their children. They say that the ADHD brain is creative and unique and that society should do a much better job of nurturing their talents. To conclude the documentary, clips of Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, and Scott Kelly were shown to demonstrate that people with ADHD have achieved some of the most remarkable accomplishments in human history. 

After the documentary, students, staff and community members engaged in a discourse surrounding reactions to the film and ADHD experiences at Colgate. Molly Mendolia, the Learning Support Coordinator at the Center for Learning, Teaching and Research, hosted the discussion and gave remarks about the film. 

“Offering more opportunities and safe spaces for students to share, learn from, and maximize their experiences with ADHD as it applies to various learning environments is crucial. I am grateful we were able to at least open the conversation as a collective campus community through this event, though it is evident we have much more work to do,” Mendolia said. 

“Given the far-reaching and underestimated impact of ADHD, along with neurodiverse learners collectively, it is vital for our campus community as a whole to explore opportunities to design environments across all touchpoints of the Colgate experience that foster a more universal learning experience,” Mendolia continued.

Sophomore Chidinma Okafor attended the event and spoke to the importance of opening up the discourse to more Colgate students surrounding neurodiversity and ADHD. 

“I believe opening up the discourse to more students on campus is very important because it can help increase awareness and understanding of the disorder and reduce the stigma associated with it,” Okafor said. “This can help students with ADHD feel more supported and validated in their experiences.”

Junior Lara Koelliker spoke about the experience of increasing awareness surrounding ADHD to more students, professors and families at Colgate. 

“I think the fact that this conversation is becoming part of Colgate’s culture as somebody who has ADHD; I think it’s really important that it’s discussed more,” Koelliker said. “In many ways, the system has failed kids and people who have ADHD and it’s really important that people’s classmates and families and professors are informed on what it’s like to have ADHD and how people who have ADHD are treated in everyday life.” 

“The Disruptors” provided a raw account of children and adults dealing with a widely stigmatized neurological condition. The film intended to teach viewers about how meaningful ADHD brains are, and just how much they can accomplish despite their challenges. This film screening was sponsored by the Center for Learning, Teaching and Research and the Counseling Center. More information about future film screenings can be found on the Colgate Events Calendar. CLTR and Counseling Center Hosts “The Disruptors” Screening at Persson Auditorium