Women You Should Know: Julia Schott

Written by: Ladyboss Lifestyle

Communications and Social Media Manager, Cultural Diversity Resources

Walking a Divergent Path

Fargo Woman Finds Strength and Acceptance with ADHD and Autism Diagnosis

The first thing you notice about Julia Schott is her energy. It’s almost palpable. Her charisma might be a result of her Dominican upbringing. Maybe it’s her self-confidence and authenticity. Or perhaps it’s the warm smile, intense eyes, and animated gestures that draw you in.

You probably wouldn’t guess Julia has ADHD and possibly autism. Not at first, anyway. She didn’t know herself until well into adulthood.

“Growing up, there were several ‘quirky’ people in my family,” Julia said. “It was just accepted. But as I got older, I understood I had to hide parts of myself from the outside world.”

But with the ADHD diagnosis and the discovery of markers commonly associated with autism came a kind of freedom. Today, Julia is embracing her true self, which comes with a number of challenges but also has some unique benefits. By sharing her story, she hopes to help others find acceptance and the confidence to take off the mask and be unapologetically authentic.

Welcome to the Midwest

Moving to the United States wasn’t exactly on Julia’s to-do list. She was very happy raising a family and building a life with her American husband in the Dominican Republic. However, a health crisis prompted their sudden move north.

“He needed to go to the Mayo Clinic. It was a matter of life and death. So, we sold everything. Packed up the baby and the dog and stuffed all our remaining earthly possessions into two suitcases.”

Her husband recovered. But adapting to a new life in the United States was difficult. “Moving to North Dakota from the Dominican Republic was very hard,” Julia says. “I thought it was a culture shock for a long time. But it wasn’t. I was trying so hard to be what people expected—wife, mother, etc.—that the inner conflict was literally causing me to be sick.”

For years, Julia battled with her mental health behind closed doors, as many of us do, trying to hold the strings of her life together. It wasn’t until 2020 that she found out there was a name and, more importantly, a treatment plan for her personal struggles.

Dealing with the diagnosis

“ADHD, that’s what little boys have,” she thought. Research into ADHD in females is significantly behind that in males. Some studies suggest this lack of understanding prevents a significant percentage of girls and women from receiving timely diagnoses compared to their male counterparts. More and more women like Julia are finding out later in life that they are just wired differently. “My hyper looks different, but it still has a significant impact on my ability to function in what we consider normal society.”

In addition to ADHD, Julia might also have autism. The news was difficult to process, but for Julia, understanding her neurodivergence was the first step to discovering her true self and learning to function in a world that’s not designed for her unique perspective.

“It’s like being left-handed,” she says. “Everything is designed for righthandedness. Things aren’t impossible, but they are more difficult. I have to constantly stop and examine a situation because the ‘socially appropriate’ reaction doesn’t come naturally to me.”

Love being me

But with the challenges, Julia has also found new opportunities where her unique mind can excel. In 2021, she joined the team at Cultural Diversity Resources, a multicultural alliance working to build bridges between smaller nonprofits in our region to better support our community. Cultural Diversity Resources focuses on financial education to help BIPOC families in our community learn to build wealth. They also offer entrepreneurial classes to help these individuals move from ideation to grand opening.

As a transplant herself, Julia understands the challenges women and new Americans face, and she uses her gifts for communication to help smooth the transition for newcomers and champion their support in the larger community. She embraces the creativity and nonlinear thinking that comes with her neurodivergence. Only now, she recognizes that beyond ideation, she needs the support of others to bring plans to fruition. And she’s not afraid to ask for it.

“I’m learning every day,” she says. “I have to be introspective and more aware of my limitations because they are different than other peoples’, but I also realize I don’t need to cut out parts of myself to be accepted anymore. I’m working to like myself, first and foremost.”

Julia also serves on the board for Kondial Kel International and is working to help develop CASA, a new nonprofit for Latinos in the FM area.

And for those still struggling in silence? Julia recommends getting tested for ADHD. “It can be more difficult for women, but be your own advocate and keep insisting. Educate yourself. Learn to love yourself. There is nothing broken in you.”

For additional resources on ADHD and autism, talk to your healthcare provider.

You can also connect with the North Dakota Autism Center and the Red River Valley Chapter of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).

Share This Article