There are always new ADHD diagnoses among children. The plain fact is, if there is a group of 100 children and none are diagnosed with ADHD, than someone should be looking very closely at them. Someone should be making sure the ones who might be there, the ones who might need help, aren’t being missed.
Diagnosis among children is to be expected. But in my age group there have been a number of new diagnoses. And there are more who would benefit from a diagnosis. I am aware that when we were at the age when diagnosis would have been the norm, ADHD was not the norm. ADHD, in fact, was virtually unknown, virtually unheard of. When I was in school, ADHD was known in the mental health community as Minimal Brain Dysfunction. Who in the whole wide world would have wanted that for a label. We’d have been shunned by the cool kids, the ones with more acceptable disorders. We’d have tried to adopt initials, MBD, to compete with others whose disorders have acronyms … you know who you are.
That didn’t happen though, because it was not a common diagnosis, not really considered a disorder that was detrimental enough to require attention. Ours was the disorder of not paying attention, of not trying hard enough, of not applying ourselves.
We were the ones who required the additional attention of others in order to thrive to their standards. Either we got that attention or we were considered not worth the effort. We were kept constantly on track, or shunted off to a siding to be acclimated as the oddities that society would tolerate but never assimilate.
These days we are still struggling with a misinformed public. It doesn’t help that there is, among our own people, a spectrum of deluded sufferers who range from self-medicated through self deprecated to self unaware. How can we expect others to understand us if we don’t understand ourselves?
And yet, blame for this is not something that we can apply to ourselves fairly, though heaven knows we apply it in excess regardless of the injustice we do ourselves. We can’t be held accountable for not being self aware because not being self aware is one of our symptoms.
It is odd that ADHD symptoms, our symptoms, create the perfect storm to hide our disorder from ourselves. When our symptoms are not prevalent we are not aware of the problem, naturally. When they are there we see them as individual and singular issues, issues we must deal with on a one time basis. We not only do not make the connection of consistent underlying causes driving multiple symptoms, we do not even connect multiple occurrences of a single symptom together. Our normally bad short term memory and our easily distracted minds take in the rush of symptom examples as an endless stream of unique problems and issues to be dealt with individually, on an ongoing basis.
And ADHD symptoms hide themselves well enough to be visible only as behavioural or memory problems to outside observers. Unless they are looking for a pattern, people who do not have ADHD or do not know they have ADHD do not see ADHD. They see that their coworker or student or spouse or child has forgotten or misplaced something, forgotten what they were doing, put off starting something until it was too late or nearly so.
Mind you, once the pattern is brought to our attention, once the myths are dispelled, once the denial has been identified and put away, we are usually pretty quick to accept and integrate what knowledge there is available into our lives.
But where do we go from there? Good question.
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Last reviewed: 12 Nov 2012