Monday, October 7, 2013

It's ADHD Awareness Month ...

But since it's also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I think people are probably not clamoring to be more aware of ADHD. There's only so much awareness to go around.
OK, I did find this funny.

I'm just not sure what ADHD Awareness Month is supposed to accomplish, and I think that's why I find it a little frustrating. (Also, I could swear it was just a week last year?) You're not going to cure ADHD. Frankly I'm not sure you should. There are a lot of upsides to it -- creativity, energy, hyperfocus. The ability to multitask, since an ADHDer would be doing 15 things at once anyway. Hypersensitivity to what others are saying and thinking can be damaging, but it can also lead to a sense of empathy for others, and an increased ability to "read the room" and figure out how everyone is feeling or thinking. I've seen this in action with kiddo; if someone else is upset, he's upset. That sense of empathy would be useful in all sorts of professions, and I think it makes him a better person. Getting kiddo to adulthood is going to be, at times, challenging, but I think it's going to be a rewarding effort, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Basically, looking at the official website, it looks like the way to raise awareness is to assume the defensive crouch and say "ADHD is real and stop calling me a lousy parent!" over and over until someone believes you. The listed events appear to be talk radio shows or seminars for people who are already dealing with ADHD, which is great, but it's not raising awareness. (That is what is known in political punditry as "the echo chamber.") Here are some of the site's suggestions for what you can do:

  • Contact organizations in your community to recognize and hold ADHD Awareness Month activities. 
(An activity is not telling people to hold an activity.)

  • Contact a State Legislator to have your State declare ADHD Awareness Month. (Google: ”yourstatename legislature”).
(Right, our politicians have absolutely nothing else going on right now.)

  • Arrange for a local library or community center display on ADHD.
 (OK, that one actually sounds useful.)
  • Do not feel limited to the month of October. Keep spreading the word and holding activities throughout the month of October.
(Guys, proofreading?)

I know I'm just bomb-throwing over here, but it's out of a certain amount of frustration. The years change and the conversation remains the same, and no matter what this website says, there are still going to be people who think ADHD is bogus, and they will say so in online comments on every single news story about ADHD. If you want to raise awareness -- really raise awareness -- you have to do more than put up a website. I'm just saying.

But *sigh* tell you what, I'll do my part. Here goes:

Yes, ADHD is real. No, my kid doesn't eat too much sugar. Yes, he likes fruits and vegetables. Yes, he also likes playing outside. No, he does not watch too much TV. Or spend too much time on the computer. Or have his own cellphone. No, just telling him to try harder does not work. Neither does spanking. No, the point of medicating is not to create little kiddie zombies. Or to help college kids ace their exams. Yes, medicating is sometimes necessary, not so the child gets good grades but so the child (or adult) can function. No, I do not care what your third cousin twice removed who read a magazine once says causes ADHD, unless your third cousin twice removed is a pediatric neurologist. And finally: No, I'm not a lousy parent. Thank you and good night.

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