Tshwane University of Technology  Photo: INLSA
Tshwane University of Technology Photo: INLSA

ADHD no barrier to earning PhD for Adams

By Raphael Wolf Time of article published Oct 16, 2017

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Despite being unaware in his primary school years of having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - a condition that caused him to fail several times and experience the shame of expulsion in Standard 7 (Grade 9) - Gavin Adams refused to allow his condition to stop him from furthering his education.

Adams, 54, obtained his PhD in Human Resource Development, involving the development of a new quality management system, at the Tshwane University of Technology in Gauteng, where he will be capped during a graduation ceremony on Friday.

“The nice thing about having your PhD is that your assertions - the things you say - carry inherent credibility, given the level of research exposure one has been subjected to,” he said.

But life had not always been easy, according to District Six-born Adams, who moved to Heathfield at the age of 7 and experienced the frustration of ADHD.

ADHD affects children and teenagers and can continue into adulthood.

Such children may be hyperactive and unable to control their impulses, or may have trouble paying attention.

Recalling the ignorance of his teachers in understanding the difficulties that some ADHD-affected children have in the learning environment, Adams said a teacher threatened to publicly label him as stupid, if she should meet his friends in the street.

“Given limited resources (at the time) many learners with ADHD were merely passed off as being lazy or stupid,” lamented Adams.

He entered the construction industry as a labourer at the age of 17 in 1981, but soon realised that hard labour and low earnings would short- circuit his dream of becoming an accomplished professional.

So, in 1983 he completed with distinction an N1 plumbing course, involving Standard 8 (Grade 10) mathematics, at the Athlone Technical College.

This was followed by an N3 course that qualified him as a plumber.

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