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Each of us comes into this world with our own personality, intelligence, way of communicating, values, interests, and so on. As we age, these facets of ourselves become clearer and help to paint the unique picture of who we are. That is the greatest thing about our human race, our ability to recognize and celebrate our differences. However, when we are faced with differences we can’t always identify, there can be internal unrest. This unsettling feeling isn’t necessarily rooted in negativity, but rather from an often unclear perspective with a need for clarity. 

I recently had the great fortune of meeting Scott Lang, who illustrates what I previously mentioned about the human spirit, and then some. Scott is an entrepreneur, a father, a husband, and an inquisitive soul. He co-founded Ardent Real Estate Advisors, a company that focuses on and assists families who own commercial real estate. Scott had a successful career working for CBRE as a commercial real estate manager before venturing out to start his own company. Scott’s passion is working directly with clients to identify their needs and propose innovative solutions to assist with their portfolio of real estate holdings. 

As a child and all through his education, Scott was very well liked. He did not struggle socially, but in his academic pursuits, he had much internal frustration. While good grades came easily for his peers, he had to work much harder just to pass his classes. There was a turning point in junior high when he realized that he had two choices: a.) give up trying to succeed in school and possibly head down a very destructive path, or b.) try to find coping mechanisms and strategies to maneuver through his challenges.  He chose the second option and fought as hard as he could just to survive through his education; knowing that if he could persevere, the hard work would create opportunities beyond his schooling years.                 

Fast forward to present day, Scott is a father to two sons, both of whom were diagnosed with ADHD and some learning differences at a young age. With Scott’s own history of struggles in school, he knew how important it would be to make sure his sons had a different experience.  After their diagnoses, Scott and his wife began learning about all of the accommodations that might be available to their children. The ADA requires that his sons (and other individuals with similar learning differences) are tested and retested every 3 years to validate the accommodations provided and continue to make sure they are still eligible. Last spring, as his sons were going through another round of neuro-psychological testing, Scott decided to ask for his own battery of testing to validate his suspicions of his life-long educational struggles. He had always had the desire to know what his strengths and challenges were and in September he discovered that he has ADHD and some learning differences as well. Scott says that this knowledge has liberated him. “Knowledge is power. I wouldn’t go back and live my childhood over with this information, but it would have saved me from a lot of agony and struggle if I had understood my learning profile. I wouldn’t change anything because my battles and my determination to triumph have made me who I am today.” 

To me, the most remarkable thing about Scott is the way he has truly embraced his recent diagnosis and not allowed it to be a defining factor of who he is as a person. He has spent the vast majority of his adulthood building scaffolding and finding alternative ways to be successful in his work. For example, in his job he has an assistant to help with tasks that require a more robust short term memory, as well as a Live Scribe pen for meetings that require listening and taking notes. Scott likes to joke that he invented audiobooks, but just never told anyone about it--his mom would help him with reading assignments that caused him difficulty by reading aloud. I really admire his humor about all that he has been through, and his firm stance on how intelligence and learning differences do not go hand in hand: “People with learning differences and ADHD can be brilliant this realization has changed me, the way I look at education and the world.” Also, his conscientious decision to identify as having a learning difference versus a disability is a true testament to his way of thinking: he isn’t broken his brain just processes information and completes tasks differently. It is thinking like that that makes me feel so fortunate to have individuals like Scott in our community as an ally, a constant source of inspiration and support to his own sons, and to others like him.   

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