If you are born with red hair, and if you never dye your hair and never lose it, you have red hair for your entire life.
If you are born with the genetic disorder we call ADHD, you have no idea at first that you have it. Nor does anyone else.
As you grow and develop, some things that should change don’t change the way they should, parts of your brain do not make the connections that the brains of others make.
Eventually, the symptoms become obvious. But not necessarily obvious enough to be diagnosed.
Not diagnosable? Why not?
Because no one grows up in a box. As we get older, surrounded by our peers, we see examples of how we are supposed to be. And we get told how we are supposed to be.
And even though we are not developing to be that way naturally, and even though there are things lacking in our mental and emotional abilities, we are not idiots. We are, in fact, quickly becoming competent and capable mimics, mimes, and actors as we grow. We learn what is expected of us and we put on a performance.
That can’t be easy
It most certainly is not easy. Can I get an “Amen!” for how hard we work at trying to fit in? Thank you very much.
And so the first impact of ADHD that we experience is the stress and burden of acting like people we are not.
And then, because we do not yet know about our disorder, we assume as we get older that we are as normal as the next person. We assume that the things holding us back are bad luck and unfortunate circumstances.
And so, we let our learned defenses slip every now and then. And we get pegged or pigeon-holed as trouble makers or incompetents.
That, however, is not a diagnosis, it is an assessment. And an erroneous one I will boisterously point out.
We are in fact not trouble makers in an active sense, we are strugglers and stragglers just trying to keep up, and the trouble we cause in the world around us is barely perceptible on a graph showing it in comparison to the trouble we endure in our own inner space.
Round hole, square peg …
The impact of being labeled wrongly is much bigger than you might think. Imagine being told you had to try to fly by flapping your arms like wings. Imagine being told that the reason you couldn’t fly yet was that you just weren’t flapping hard enough or fast enough.
That would be an erroneous assessment. The correct diagnosis, of course, is that you cannot fly because you are not a bird, you do not have wings, you do not have feathers. But how long did you spend flapping your arms and berating yourself for not being good enough to lift off and soar? Impact? Impact in spades!!!
And how do we reduce this impact?
I know that it is difficult to assess children. Are they underdeveloped or are they just not developed yet? Are they going to come around? Or are they actually on our spectrum?
And I know there is uproar right now against the idea of diagnosing people with ADHD. There are myths and there is stupidity out there being propagated and spread and shared by people with plenty of misguided opinion and little knowledge. (people with opinions seem not to need facts to burden them down.)
But we need progress
We need to find the people that will be and already are suffering from ADHD and we need to find them early and reduce the impact that all the confusion and self recrimination and attempts at mimicry and acting “normal” will have on them.
I say the gift of ADHD is character. But I also say that the symptoms of ADHD will provide plenty of that. The stress and impact of the world’s mismanagement of this disorder is more pressure than is necessary for that character to develop.
So let’s do this …
Let’s move forward with early detection and processes that will help people with ADHD to live good and productive lives. And as to the people that are whining about misdiagnosis of ADHD and over diagnosis of ADHD, well, we can work on a diagnosis for their issues of delusions of normalcy once we’ve solved the real problems they’re determined to pretend don’t exist.
Who knows, maybe Delusions of Normalcy is a real disorder and there’s help for them after all. I wouldn’t be surprised, but then again, it might just be caused by refined sugar or poor parenting, right?
Babcock, K. (2017). ADHD Impact. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 30, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-man/2017/03/adhd-impact/