October is ADHD Awareness Month, so the SPACE Team are being more vocal than usual about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is a life long condition and for us every single month of the year is ADHD Awareness Month, so why do we have a specific focus in October? Why does ADHD need an awareness month? Simply put we need an awareness month because the lives of those with ADHD are still being ruined by ignorance.
Ignorance, stigma and misinformation is still routinely ruining the lives of children, young people and adults with ADHD, which simply isn’t good enough. The ADHD community needs everybody to understand what ADHD is and sometimes more importantly, what ADHD isn’t.
When there are still head teachers claiming that “they don’t believe in ADHD” we need to raise awareness. When GPs tell adults that “only children can have ADHD” we need to raise awareness. When children with ADHD are routinely excluded from school, we need to raise awareness. When those with ADHD are significantly over represented in the prison population, we need to raise awareness. When well meaning friends and relatives suggest that frazzled parents should “give their kids a good hiding” we need to raise awareness. Whilst lives are still being ruined, we need to raise awareness.
We need to dispel the myths, at least the most common ones.
- Myth 1 ADHD doesn’t exist
- Myth 2 ADHD only affects children
- Myth 3 ADHD only affects boys
- Myth 4 ADHD Adults are incapable of being successful in any area of their lives
- Myth 5 Everybody with ADHD is hyperactive
- Myth 6 ADHD was made up my pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs
- Myth 7 Medication drugs children up so that they stop running around being naughty
- Myth 8 ADHD is a new thing
- Myth 9 ADHD is over diagnosed in the UK
- Myth 10 Those with ADHD are less intelligent than those without it
- Myth 11 Those with ADHD can’t concentrate on anything ever
- Myth 12+ ADHD is caused by insert popular nonsense theory here
ADHD is a neurobiological condition and is not caused by poor parenting, eating too many sweets or allowing children too much screen time. Common sense dictates that being a bad parent and allowing a child to spend countless hours watching uncensored YouTube Videos on a diet of nothing but sweets and full fat cola is unlikely to lead to a consistently well behaved child, but it doesn’t cause ADHD. A healthy diet, regular exercise and consistent boundaries within a loving family relationship will almost certainly improve the behaviour of a child with ADHD, but it won’t “cure” the condition.
Those with ADHD have brains which work slightly differently to those without ADHD. They’re not better or worse, but they are definitely different and problems occur when those with the condition are expected to use their brains in a way that doesn’t suit them without the necessary support to do so.
If a six year old genuinely struggles to sit still and you make them sit quietly on a carpet for thirty minutes, there is likely to be a problem. A problem that some teachers attempt to address by removing playtime for the “naughty child that wouldn’t sit still” Not because teachers are evil beings that seek to punish small children for their bodily functions, but because some of them still don’t understand that the child in question couldn’t sit still, not that they wouldn’t.
If every teacher in every school understood that the negative behaviours they see are the result of unmet needs, then that would change how the vast majority of them handle them. If every teacher and every parent understood that having difficulty with organisation was a common ADHD trait and not the result of being lazy and not caring, then most of them would approach the issues of children losing things and being late differently. Adults would look for strategies to help children be organised, instead of telling them off for being disorganised.
If people were aware that not everybody with ADHD bounces up and down with obvious outwards signs of hyperactivity, then less inattentive people with ADHD would be left unsupported, feeling that their struggles are their own fault and a product of their own incompetence. Less inattentive teenagers would feel that their inability to revise effectively for their exams is their own fault. Less people who fail to meet the naughty boy stereotype as a child, would go on to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety later in life.
The reason we need an awareness month for ADHD is to amplify these messages. There are organisations up and down the country sharing information about ADHD, raising awareness, destroying myths and fighting against stigma and we all make noise all year long, but when we all make noise at the same time, we’re a little bit louder and little bit harder to ignore. Unlike some large charities with a big marketing budget and a full team at their disposal, lots of the smaller groups are only heard occasionally by a small audience. When we all yell the same message, at the same time, our voices are more likely to be heard.
ADHD Awareness Month is the time when we all say the same thing at the same time. We get together to share knowledge and information. We network with our peers. We find out about the latest research. We raise our game and we bring that back to the families we work with.
We’re proud to support local families but we need to do more, so this ADHD Awareness Month we will also be fundraising through our Just Giving Account https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/adhd-awareness-month-2019
The SPACE Team are all volunteers and gladly give our time and professional expertise free of charge, but unfortunately some of things we do cost cold hard cash, as do a lot of the things we intend doing to support local families over the next 12 months. If you would like to support our work we would be extremely grateful for any donation however small.
Happy ADHD Awareness Month!