Happy birthday, America -- Copyright 2010, Kelly Babcock

On Sunday July 1st, my country, Canada, turned 145 years old. Today, July the 4th, the United States of America turns 236 years old. Neither of those ages are extreme, our nations are both still young by comparison to many other countries. And yet we have come a long way in these few short years.

As noted on Monday, ADHD does not recognize borders. It affects both populations to the same extent, inflicting its eclectic collection of symptoms on its sufferers with no regard for their country of origin or residence.

But whether you can get adequate help for your ADHD may depend on where you live. Canada and the U.S. both are fairly progressive, with the States appearing to be somewhat ahead when it comes to acceptance by the medical community (at least that’s what it looks like from where I sit).

Better days …

Celebrations -- copyright 2010, Kelly Babcock

But the progress in acceptance has only occurred in recent years. It wasn’t that long ago, the second half of last century, that ADHD was called Minimal Brain Dysfunction. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

A lot of us …

While there have been documented cases of mental health issues that we would now call ADHD for many years, the extent to which it affects our population hasn’t been stated until recently.

I’ve read that between ten and fifteen percent of the population have ADHD. That’s between three and seven students in any given public school class depending on class size. To put it in other terms, if your family doctor has 1000 patients, somewhere between 100 and 150 of them have ADHD.

What was the past like?

Being diagnosed with ADHD now is better thing than it was in the seventies, eighties and even the nineties. Stories abound of diagnoses being made by educators and rubber stamped by mental health care professionals in order to medicate problem students. The result was misdiagnosis, of course, and a deluded public who began to believe that ADHD was over-diagnosed at best, and a made up disorder to justify medicating problem children at worst.

I look forward to your emails and comments …

Before you comment on the preceding statement, let me assure you that I’m well aware that not all diagnosis during that time period were made in the way described, and I’m equally aware that misdiagnosis are still being made, for reasons that range from justifiable mistakes to possibly self-serving interests.

Tolerance is becoming the norm in a more enlightened society, tolerance of many different ways of life. And tolerance of mental health issues is a growing part of that. So, in the big picture, today’s climate is more accepting of those of us with ADHD.

Timing is everything!

If I could choose when to live with my ADHD it would be in the future. I would live in a time when having ADHD was considered no more unusual than having green eyes. I would not choose the past for obvious reasons.

Acceptance of things we can’t change is also important

The future looks bright -- copyright 2010, Kelly Babcock

But I am not unhappy about living in the present with this disorder. We look around and see great and awesome changes in the world. Political and environmental changes are everywhere. And great social changes are also taking place. To be alive when history takes a new direction is to have a front row seat at events that you can tell future generations about. I’ll take that.

So on this day of days, during this week of weeks when we celebrate the birth of two great nations, lets be aware that we have a distance to go yet, changes to make. But lets be proud too. Lets be proud of the progress our countries have made.

Happy July Fourth, my American friends. Lets keep looking to the future with hope and understanding.