So I was reading an article about ADHD, written by a mom who was venting about the feeling that we as parents have, when we admit and deal with our children with ADHD among those who do not understand. I applaud her, understand her, and feel her pain.
She admits that there are many who have to deal with serious issues that render children disabled. Medical diagnoses like diabetes are chronic, debilitating, with possible serious consequences. There is no doubt about these facts. But on the other hand, the medical diagnosis of ADHD has many more consequences than punishment for bad behavior. The sad issue about that is that most do not understand. They are not aware of all the co-existing conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolarism, Tourette syndrome, and tics. All of these can create separate problems.
ADHD is not an affliction about bad behavior. Because the outward behavior that is not always acceptable can be seen, it is thought that it can be controlled and changed with the support and guidance of parents. But those parents are deemed bad parents because they do not do their job.
Sadly, so many other facets of ADHD hide under that iceberg. The central issues of focus, distractibility, and impulsivity are not the only symptoms. Executive functioning skills that are impaired become more obvious as a child becomes older and has more demands placed upon him: organization, time management, working memory, transitioning, and initiating.
I don’t think I have ever met a child with ADHD who didn’t feel stupid and inadequate. They are smart and intuitive. They know what they can’t do in the very difficult environment of school. And worst of all, they feel the disapproving comments, gestures, and facial grimaces, further reinforcing what they already know about themselves.
We have come a long way in the understanding and support of ADHD. But we still have a world with an immense amount of intolerance, the need to actually see evidence of a medical issue, and the belief that a bad behavior can and should be controlled.
What can be done? We need to continue to support our kids with strategies. Those strategies are incorporated within 504’s and IEP’s in the classroom. But most importantly, arm them with education and information. They need to understand themselves in order to successfully self-advocate and maintain the needed healthy self-esteem to push on in a sometimes very unforgiving environment.