ADHD As A Difference In Cognition, Not A Disorder: Stephen Tonti at TEDxCMU


Stephen is a Senior Directing major at Carnegie Mellon. He is also the current President of Carnegie Mellon’s Film Club. He recently completed his Thesis Project within the School of Drama: a production of Mac Wellman’s “A Murder of Crows.” He is currently working on creating a collective of Film Enthusiasts across Carnegie’s Campus as well as other colleges and universities around Pittsburgh. You can find out more about Stephen and his talk on his website: or follow his blog “Caffeine, Nicotine, and ADHD: a guide to maintaining sanity.”

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
Video Rating: / 5

Like it? Share with your friends!



  1. Some people will say that I am dumb and unorganized, while I can't argue about being unorganized, if I am so dumb then how am I a 7th grader in a 9th grade math class? How am I a TAG student? If I am so dumb how can I read at a college level? How can it be that on my state test scores my scores go off the chart (litteraly)? Tell me, how can I figure out how to play a complex strategy game in thirty minutes that take my parents (one
    builds and fixes government security cameras and the other is a healthcare software analyst for providence) two hours to get down the basics of this game? Now try and tell me I'm stupid, dumb or unintelligent!

  2. This guy talks about not using medication, which for some people works, but unlike him who seems to come from privilege and has a school structure that understood him, adhd just being a "difference in cognition" makes me feel like complete shit to be honest.
    I only found out about my ADHD last year, but during year 12. My mum, being an experienced nurse, knew I had ever since I was a kid but only had me tested last year. My grades at school increased by at least 10% because of taking medication. Without it, I wouldn't have a job, or get a good HSC mark at the end of the year. I am so thankful that I can take this medication and not feel like a complete failure.

    My school, while they try to understand that people have problems and allow for special provisions in exams, they also don't get that getting special provisions that the government approves costs a lot of money and time, and my mum nor I have that. They also can't understand the difficulty of getting work done before and after exams. I mean, They don't get that being in a class room alone freaks me out and can either make me zone out or make me hypersensitive to noise.

    My teachers have for most of my life just completely blamed me for my inability to learn, which while understandable as i wasn't diagnosed since late last year, still was difficult and made me feel even more self-conscious about learning. Parent teacher inter

    the worst thing about not knowing that i had adhd and its treatment is that it taught me how to lie and be sneaky in my inability to work. it taught me to cheat without getting caught and lie and to make people pity me to get out of doing things i knew i couldnt do. it taught me to use my fathers death (who died 9 years ago) as an excuse to not hand in an assignment and have teachers buy it. and this makes me feel like shit. it is a shit feeling when you don't know whats wrong but aren't given the help to do anything about it, and resort to lying. But because of my medication, I take my responsibility.

    I wish I had what this guy had at school and at home.

    This guy comes form a place of privilege, in terms of school and home, when speaking about ADHD. Remember that.

  3. Ohh, next time remove the audio grain when he's talking! I watched with subtitles now but that's even harder to concentrate 🙁

  4. Number of people with Adhd has skyrocketed over past few decades. I have watched one too many BS on ted, to me ted is controlled media like fox news. People are easy to manipulate, we must have out guard up and second guess info online. People tend to trust videos with many likes and subs, that is not hard to manipulate either.

  5. I look at it like this: the adhd-ers who make it 'work' for them and are successful are the adhd 'no fear' types. They just go like a bull out of the gate and attack everything, eventually getting results. They are not scared. Then there are the adhd 'fear' types, who are racked with low self esteem and fear and absolutely struggle with the disorder and must be medicated. I know both of these types: my friend who is a very successful business owner and my other friend who is an alcoholic, drug addict.

  6. This is so spot on for me! I just wasn't as lucky to realize it and didn't try that much when I was young. But am now, but still haven't found my purpose…

  7. I'm glad that I wasn't diagnosed when I was younger. It helped me develop interests in many many things.
    However as I grew older and there were more and more dull responsibilities in day to day life, and the poor quality of sleep caught up with me, and the migraines interfered with important events, and the anxiety that came with the disorder interfered with life, and trying to complete a task that will actually earn money and it feels like i'm trying to walk through a brick wall over and over… I honestly can say that while there's parts of it that I love, without medication, it's no way to live.

    The speaker here fails to understand that ADHD isn't a one condition is the same for everyone disorder. It manifests differently in everyone. Usually hyperactivity is dominant in men and inattentiveness is dominant in women. I'm a guy with inattentiveness as the dominant problem, and it's not just hard, it's humiliating struggling with simple ESSENTIAL tasks that need to be completed in life.

    As for hyperfocus, it's great when it's something useful, but that's not even always the case.

  8. Anybody who has ADHD/ADD, PLEASE OH PLEASE look into meditation, It literally saved my entire life. I was diagnosed with ADHD 10 years ago and I've been taking medication for that long. I recentely went off of medication and started MEDITATION instead. I feel more alert, more motivated, more inspired than ever before and all of the negative symptoms are gone and I'm starting to manifest truly great things in my life. Honestly I now believe that there is something going on in your brain with ADHD, but when we have these beliefs within ourselves that we're no good or that we can't focus properly, it's probably going to intensify even more than it already has. I suggest to start dissociating yourself from the negativity of ADHD because that's only going to make the symptoms a whole lot worse. Meditation helped me embrace the positive parts of the adhd. Did you know that ADHD is actually a gift??? Society just labels us with adhd because we're extremely creative individuals and we think really out of the box and that makes us…. UNIQUE not different. And Uniqueness is a very valued trait in this society that can make you EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL.Einstein who was actually diagnosed with ADHD once said "Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree, then it would live it's whole life thinking that it's stupid." This truly shows that everyone has that ONE thing that they can be passionate about… But School, work, a lot of things about this society only makes us feel worse about ourselves. Only through training your mind through meditation can you truly change yourself and free you from the intense pain and dissatisfaction with your life, not through the terrible drugs that are being perscribed because the meds only treat the symptoms, and not the actual cause. Also, people with adhd tend to be hyper-sensitive to many different unhealthy foods and they are shown to actually increase the adhd symptoms. I suggest cutting out a lot of bad stuff and adding in healthy superfoods such as Spirulina, Cacao, Hemp, Chia seeds, Bananas, literally any type of fruit haha, etc… I am currently following a plant-based diet and this also changed my whole mind and body. Right now I'm living completely amazing, stress-free and enjoying life to the fullest.. 6 months ago I was just like a lot of people with adhd; Sad, widthdrawn, and extreme insomniac, and actually contemplating suicide. This was because I was not knowledable about this information.Also, the doctors are definetely not going to suggest this type of treatment due to the fact that it's making them no money at all so please don't listen to EVERYTHING your doctor says about how to treat it. LISTEN to me if you truly want to LIVE and THRIVE in your life, then I suggest you look into this please, all I want to do is help people in this world and don't just say that it doesn't work until you actually try it. Each and every one of us has a completely unique gift, and meditation has definitely taught me to use that gift to my advantage. Also, a relaxing youtube channel I suggest to watch is a man named InfiniteWaters, he originally got me into this whole thing so he can really help all of you guys. Hope this helps for people!!!!

  9. Kid: "Why is your skin so red?"
    Me: "My cells are committing suicide."
    Kid: "What?"
    Me: "There is a thing called sunburn you know."

Comments are closed.