“National ADHD Awareness Day…Coming Soon” – Is That Good News?

Y es…there is an ADHD Awareness Day which, this year, will be September 19th. When I found out about this (I’ll be hosting a blog carnival on that day), I wondered to myself, “What’s the best way to raise awareness of ADHD?” The “wicked” side of me thought that all ADDers /ADHDers [note 1] should wear shirts emblazoned with the graphic below.  [note 2] ADD Squirrel Eventually the “serious” side of me said “If you are an adult, do NOT raise awareness of YOUR A.D.D.” The problem, as I see it, is that only fellow A.D.D.ers will understand what you are like and what you go through each day (of course, those who live with them also know what the struggles are like). Those unfamiliar with it will look at you like you are carrying some particular disease. My experience has been that once you come out of the A.D.D. closet your thoughts and actions become delegitimized. Your thoughts are now a result of your A.D.D. Your intensity, your outbursts, your insights, your visions of the future become like the utterances of Cassandra. Of course, your thoughts and actions are just as legitimate now as they were prior to coming out of the closet. But now they can be easily dismissed as the ravings of a mad A.D.D.er. What, then, is to be gained from raising awareness of A.D.D.? Nothing at all. At least, nothing for my generation that came of age during the 1960′s/1970′s when it was believed that children grew out of it. [note 3] The reason to raise awareness is to help our children avoid the pain of growing up different and to help them understand why they are different. [note 4] Perhaps where the school system and society failed an earlier generation(s), our children can be given the skills needed to make A.D.D. a positive force in their life. Therefore, we should raise awareness to help improve their lives. As Dr. Prosser writes:

We need to accept that some of our children are physically different in such a way that they fail at school and work (because of a social preference for certain behaviour). As a community we need to decide how we will respond to that failure. I believe that leaving these challenges for doctors and drug prescribers to solve is effectively “drugging and shrugging”. We need to meet our collective responsibility to these young people and their families.

Source: ADHD: Who’s Failing Who?

[Updated on August 30, 2007 @ 14:30 EST.]

What follows are excerpts from the blog posting on the market with ADD, which appeared in “Addled & Accentuated by ADD in Academia.” I highly recommend reading the entire post. It describes many of the frustrations of discovering in adulthood that one has A.D.D. Below is a small excerpt.

After months of boredom and frustration in my postdoc [postdoctoral work], I finally realized that my colleagues didn’t struggle as hard as I did to get through each day. Everybody else made more progress than me, and it took them less time. I had a psychological evaluation and learned why I had so much trouble keeping myself organized, took on too many responsibilities, struggled so hard to meet relatively simple goals, and was frequently stalled in my program of study. My evaluation revealed that I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Learning that there was a reason I struggled so hard lifted a burden from my shoulders. I recall thinking of it as a turning point, and that my career struggles would be in the past. I’d be able to start publishing like everybody else, and this would lead to new professional opportunities. This turning point was bittersweet, as I was also sadly disappointed that it took so long for my problem to be identified. As it turns out, these are common reactions amongst individuals diagnosed with ADD in adulthood. The disappointment stemmed from the fact that knowing my diagnosis earlier could have helped me avoid certain obstacles.

[updated on September 5, 2007]

The following appears on “Addled & Accentuated by ADD in Academia” in the post being “outed.”

The threat of being outed is scary, regardless of one’s chosen vocation. Like others, I am very scared of being “outed” in the academy. Admitting that I have a slightly different brain is particularly threatening in an environment that’s all about what’s going on in one’s head, and consequently, the scholarly product that comes from said mental activity.

  1. This will be the only time I’ll do the slash thing. When I say A.D.D. I also mean A.D.H.D.
  2. I take no credit for this image…a quick Googling will turn up numerous variations of this same idea.
  3. In fact, there was little awareness of it when I was in school. By the time I graduated high school the awareness had increased but it was not yet known (realized?) that many A.D.D.ers do not grow out of A.D.D. Instead, they take it with them right into adulthood.
  4. I am so looking forward to the publication of Jennifer Koretsky’s book Odd One Out. I’m hoping it can be a source of inspiration for me and my kids.
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