October is ADHD Awareness Month, but awareness shouldn't end there.
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is unfortunately one of the most stigmatized mental disorders out there. In recent years, public opinion has shifted towards a more cynical view of ADHD.
Some believe ADHD is overdiagnosed, while others are critical of the easy access to stimulant medication. Still, some individuals don’t even believe ADHD is a real condition.
Contrary to these beliefs, ADHD is not only very real for many people, it can be incredibly debilitating – making even the smallest tasks feel impossible to accomplish.
Negative, or untrue beliefs about mental illness are rooted in either misinformation or a lack of education. This is where ADHD Awareness month comes in.
Let’s discuss what ADHD actually is, and how you can respectfully observe ADHD awareness month with an open heart and open mind.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects children, teens, and adults. It’s categorized by an inability to focus, sit still, or pay attention. However, symptoms of ADHD often change over time as a person gets older.
Adults experience ADHD differently than young children do, leading to a large number of misdiagnoses among older individuals.
Symptoms of ADHD Include:
- Daydreaming often
- Difficulty listening to others
- Trouble staying on one task at a time
- Being unorganized
- Avoidance of tasks that require long periods of focus
- Excessive talking
- Impulsive behaviors
- Making mistakes often
- Risky behaviors
- Racing thoughts
Many people who have never experienced ADHD often assume it’s always a 7-year-old boy that can’t contain his explosive energy. However, it can also look like a 24-year-old girl that struggles to remember appointments, birthdays, or with time management skills.
What Is ADHD Awareness Month?
Sponsored by the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, October is ADHD awareness month. Just as many other conditions dedicate time to their cause, this month is no different.
ADHD awareness month aims to shine a light on the latest research, clinical studies, and upcoming treatment methods. In addition, ADHD awareness month focuses on spreading the truth about this frustrating condition, helping decrease the stigma and negative attitudes associated with it.
Having an awareness month allows individuals struggling with ADHD, as well as family members and loved ones the space to talk more openly about their condition in order to gain a better overall understanding and acceptance.
Why Is ADHD Awareness Month So Important?
No age, race, gender, or ethnicity is immune from ADHD. This means every person in every society can benefit greatly from learning more about this mental condition.
Raising awareness helps create more accommodating academic and work environments, as well as encourages those who may be symptomatic to seek an assessment.
ADHD awareness month empowers those who are diagnosed to speak out about the way this condition affects their lives: from relationship turmoil, low self-esteem, and their emotional well-being.
In addition, ADHD contributes to a wide range of other problems such as productivity, work ethic, physical health, legal troubles, and substance abuse. Spending October educating the public on these issues can help others better understand the behaviors their loved ones may be exhibiting.
How Should I Observe ADHD Awareness Month?
As ADHD awareness continues to grow globally, there’s still a huge lack of understanding surrounding this condition. Every person’s experience with ADHD looks different: from their symptoms, their diagnosis, and their treatment.
However, many common shared experiences help shape the ADHD community. Taking the time to educate yourself on ADHD means you’re already equipped with more knowledge than a large portion of society.
So, how can you respectfully observe ADHD awareness month? Here are a few suggestions:
- Get Tested: Do you suffer from poor time management skills? Are you constantly losing even the most important things? Do you struggle with procrastination? You may have ADHD and not know it.
- Share Your Story: If you have ADHD, speak out! Putting a human face to the name of a disorder helps soothe the publics opinion on it while empowering you at the same time. The more we talk about mental illnesses, the less taboo they become.
- Provide Support: There are various ADHD organizations all over that sponsor and conduct support groups for both children and adults with ADHD. Find one where you can put your efforts into bringing effective treatments where they need to go while supporting your local community members.
- Become An Advocate: Advocacy makes a big impact and can start with just one individual. If you’re interested in advocating for local issues check out the CHADD Advocacy Handbook.
- Host an ADHD Walk: Walks are wonderful ways to support your community members, increase the conversation around ADHD or host a fundraiser.
- Use Your Social Media: The fastest and most effective way to get information around is the internet – use it! Spread helpful information, post about local gatherings, or share your personal story to shine a bright light on ADHD.