Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dear Abby, think again.

I mean, I guess it's progress of sorts when ADHD makes it into a nationally syndicated advice column. Even if you don't totally agree with the advice given.

A high school student (I'm assuming high school, no age given) wrote to say that their ADHD medication was suppressing their appetite, and so they didn't eat any lunch, and well-meaning teachers and friends have been pushing them to eat, not knowing the situation. The student didn't want to tell anyone, because some of those friends make fun of people with ADHD.

Abby (okay, "Abby") says to inform the teachers about the medication, but added this:

"It's a shame they would tease someone who has ADHD because it's a condition that so many students and adults share. However, because you feel it would make you a target, you're wise to say nothing."

No, no, no.

I wouldn't call it "wise" to hide a significant part of yourself away in hopes that no one will laugh at you for it. That suggests that people are right to laugh at it, and no they are not.

Also, frankly, if you're different, people pick up on it, and if they're so inclined, they'll make fun of you for it even if you pretend that difference doesn't exist.

Really. Just ask every kid in grade school who made Jew jokes about me.

You have to turn it around. Why is it on you to convince people not to pick on you? Why isn't it on them to try harder not to be jerks?

You should never be ashamed of who you are, and anyone who would try to make you ashamed is not someone who deserves the privilege of sitting next to you in the cafeteria.

At no point have I hidden kiddo's diagnosis from anyone. His family knows. His teacher knows. The other moms know. His karate sensei knows. Because I am not ashamed of him, and because figuring out what works and doesn't work with him is sometimes a group effort. It takes a village to tackle ADHD.

And because of that openness, other people are open with me; they talk to me about their special-needs child, or ask where to go for an evaluation. It's good to know other parents deal with the same issues.

Even if I wanted to, I'm not a good enough liar to pretend I have some sort of Stepford-perfect son. I'd rather be honest, with other people, with kiddo and with myself. I don't want kiddo to grow up thinking he needs to hide his ADHD from people. I want him to be proud of who he is -- all that he is.

Just my two cents, Abby. Carry on.

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