Photo/Illutration Children with developmental disorders enjoy a picture story show performed by a public librarian in Fujieda city, Shizuoka Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

When 26-year-old yu-ka worked at restaurants part time, she often forgot she had taken customers' orders. She also lost her purse and keys quite frequently.

When she was a third-year university student, she was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that causes behavioral and developmental problems.

She was slightly relieved to learn the cause of her long-time suffering. But the condition continued to haunt her after she joined a company, causing her to make a series of errors at work.

The mental strains caused by the disorder made it difficult for her to go to work. She regretted not having discussed her disability with her company when she started there.

She composed a song summing up her thoughts and feelings about her struggles with the disorder.

“I would be an employee who never fails to lose things important for your company. ...”

She could not bring herself to speak about her problem during job interviews.

“Ah, I’m a liar, a liar/ I failed to say it today, again/ I closed the door to the interview room with a bang.”

She started singing the songs she wrote, drawing on her experience of being a member of a student band.

Now the singer-songwriter is performing them, mainly in the Kansai region around Osaka.

Her songs brim with a deep-seated desire to be more honest with others and more candid about her weakness.

“I want to show, show my weakness/ I don’t want, don’t want to show it/ Should I show my true self?”

These lyrics appear to echo her personal journey to accept herself as she is.

Cruel verbal attacks against people with developmental disabilities appear on the Internet from time to time, alleging they are merely forms of being “over-dependent on others.”

“I think songs could help arouse sympathy” with people struggling with developmental disorders, yu-ka says. “They should be able to narrow the distance.”

These beliefs drive her activities as a singer-songwriter.

A growing number of people are beginning to regard developmental disorders as signs of “unevenness of personal development” instead of as disabilities.

Everybody has his or her strong and weak points. Unevenness of human development can lead to beautiful social harmony and creative diversity among people. Let us hope our society will someday be able to build such a future for itself.

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 7

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.