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ADHD: IS THE STIGMA ABATING ?

ADHD StigmaBy Rick Green

“I don’t believe in ADHD.”

“Isn’t that just a big Pharmaceutical scam?”

“It’s just the internet.”

You’ve probably heard stuff like this. Probably again and again. You may be sick of hearing it.

We actually did a contest on Facebook for “The Dumbest Thing Anyone Ever Said To You About ADHD.” It was murder to pick the best 10. My personal fave? “You just have to stop thinking so much.”

Greaaaaat! Thank you for sharing….

Lemme guess—you also figure that people who are unable to read English just need to read English.

4,000 STUDIES COUNTS FOR NOTHING?

We’ve all met the earnest parents or cocktail party experts who scoff at the idea of ADHD.

It’s still depressingly easy for people to find websites and online articles that say it’s not real. And my favorite, an article that made the rounds explaining why French children don’t have ADHD. Wow.   Since numerous studies have shown ADHD is over 75% inherited, as in genetics, apparently Perrier can transform your DNA so you, ‘Sit up straight! And just try harder!’

Or, ‘Se redresser! Et essayez juste plus fort!’

Sure, French kids don’t have ADHD. And North Koreans are happy, well feed, and enjoying their freedom… according to the North Korean Tourist board.

Who writes these articles? Or books? Or runs these websites?

People with something to sell. Or sometimes, a score to be settled. Let’s face it, there are people who have been misdiagnosed, had a bad experience with medication, or have had a child diagnosed and they’re terrified that it means their kid is damaged or demented.

The New York Times has published one article after another dismissing the prevalence, severity, or even the reality of ADHD.   A few years back I cringed at the publication of a new book, “ADHD Is Not Real!”

I was going to write about it, but after talking to a doctor about it I decided to focus instead on what we’re doing. You can’t win that kind of argument. Especially, it seems, on the internet.

But consider the most common beliefs people have who dismiss, deny, or diminish the impact of ADHD.

ADHD Stigma

 THE DOUBTERS DO HAVE A POINT

“I think ADHD is overdiagnosed.”

Well, that’s probably true… In some places it may be over-diagnosed. All it takes is one child who doesn’t have ADHD to be misdiagnosed and you could argue it’s been over-diagnosed.  Among kids it’s more . But certainly not amongst adults.

If you find yourself being thrown off by the blowhards and the know-it-alls who know nothing, check out our video, Facing The World. There is a way to turn the saboteurs into supporters. Without starting an argument or destroying a relationship.

And yes, there are some people who are never going to give up their beliefs.

The International Flat Earth Society is still out there, arguing the planet has four corners.

“DO YOU BELIEVE THEY PUT A MAN ON THE MOON?”

So, despite the seemingly endless amounts of effort, thousands of studies, and the personal experience of millions of ADDers, the stigma seems to be as prevalent and virulent as it was almost a decade ago. That was when I first approached the producer of a local Health & Lifestyle program suggesting they do a story on ADHD, and I’d be happy to tell my story.

Five years later we made ADD & Loving It?! It debuted on PBS and my world was transformed.

At that time Dr. Steven Kurtz told us, “The stigma, I think, is associated with this notion that your behavior isn’t that much different from mine. And if I control my behavior, why can’t you control your behavior? As opposed to, for example, diabetes, an example I compare to a lot, where clearly my pancreas is broken, that’s why I take insulin shots, and your pancreas works fine, you don’t have to, so it’s sort of a clear biological difference. But paying attention differently than me is too close to what I’m doing.”

Every expert I’ve interviewed for our videos can share scores of heartbreaking stories about the damage the stigma has caused. People abandoning treatments that were working. Frustration. One said, “I’ve been at this for 30 years and I’m sick of it.” And she clearly meant it.

AND YET …

A few years ago, while waiting for a train, my wife Ava and I were browsing magazines at the shops in the station. On the cover of Oprah magazine was a lurid headline asking, “How many women really have ADHD?”

The tone was set. “Is this real? Is this some big hoax?”

I couldn’t bear to read yet another article suggesting this was just some big hoax or conspiracy. So Ava read it. Thank goodness. Turned out, the article was well balanced. It stated that yes, for some adults, medication can be a life-saver.

Wow!

A few weeks later, an article in the local paper about ADHD. Well balanced. Informative.

And it featured me!

And there are often great articles on ADHD in Scientific American Mind. ADDITUDE Magazine is full of helpful advice. Joining CHADD and ADDA will lead you to reliable information as well.

 

“HEY RICK, DID YOU SEE THIS?”

A lot of people forward me links to new articles about ADHD. It used to be 90% negative nonsense, editorial pieces by curmudgeons around the theme, “I’m my day we knew how to raise kids!” Usually with a tacit admission that if the author had been tested a child they would have probably been diagnosed with ADHD. But instead they recall a tough teacher who threatened and bullied and rode them relentlessly allowed them to go from a D student to a B student.

Humiliation and fear can be very effective. No doubt about it. (Been there, suffered that.)

Funny, the authors who are full of opinions never speculate on what might have happened if they had been diagnosed, taken on a Holistic treatment plan, and learned how to manage their mindset.

Nor do they mention of how many bankruptcies they’ve had, how little savings they have, how many marriages they’ve had, how estranged they are from friends, how their self-esteem has suffered…

If you’re tired of arguing about this with people, you’ll love Facing The World. It’s quite funny but it lays out a simple strategy that exposes people’s ignorance, and silences the know-it-alls by instantly revealing to everyone in earshot that they have no idea what they are talking about. And generally they quickly stop talking.

Best of all, I’ve actually used it to turn enemies into allies who admit,“I stand corrected.” Amazing.

IT’S BETTER. NOT GREAT. PERHAPS NOT EVEN GOOD.

So can we relax. Can you tell everyone what’s going on? Is it safe now to reveal that you have ADHD? Are adults and teens who suspect they may have this mindset coming out of the woodwork and openly asking to be tested?

(Cue 155 minutes of hysterical laughter.)

Our video To Tell or Not To Tell, offers sensible advice and ideas on this subject.

A dozen ADHD experts, doctors, coaches, and an attorney who has ADHD and specialized in employment law, offer a wide range of suggestions. There’s some great information on the legalities, the potential benefits, and the numerous risks.

The one thing they agree on? ‘Coming out’ about your particular mindset is fraught with peril.

I especially love what Dr. David Teplin says, “So in terms of disclosure, like anything else in life you have to be aware of who you are telling who is receiving that what they might do with it. And in some ways it has to do with trust. In some ways it has to be with naivety or lack of naivety. And really at the end of the day what you’re trying to achieve or what you think will be helpful.”

If you’re not certain… zip your lip. Wait. Put it off. There’s no rush.

As the video explains you can get the accommodations you need and ask for supports that will help you to soar, without ever having to mention those four loaded, misunderstood, emotionally charged letters… A.D.H.D..

ADHD Nonsense

January 19, 2017 driddles

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2 Responses to “ADHD: IS THE STIGMA ABATING ?”

  1. kathwomyn says:

    I think the stigma may be abating. On Facebook, I posted your article about 23 ways to know you DON’T have ADHD and the response was amazing! Friends came out of the woodwork resonating with this. Some were diagnosed and some weren’t, but they all recognized themselves in the article. And, happily, they were having fun with it!

  2. conchuet says:

    I am looking for a Non ADHD partner forum. I love this most beautiful ADHD woman in her 50’s with three ADHD children. Her husband passed away 13 years ago and she has done ok but mostly by co-dependence of relatives and friends. At first I had no idea what I was doing. When I tried to address this with her she has pushed me away….completely. I feel the time and situation is getting dangerous. Admittedly I pushed too hard. I would like to explore this….any Ideas?

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