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Labeled?  5 Tips for Overcoming the Stigma of ADHD

ADHD can affect anyone regardless of age, culture, gender, ethnicity, or social class.  Public attitudes and beliefs expose them and their loved ones to prejudice and discrimination.  Internalization can result in embarrassment or self-loathing.  There are strategies to turn these negative perceptions around over time.

The challenges of ADHD are not always limited to primary symptoms.  In 2001, the World Health Organization declared stigma and the associated discrimination towards persons suffering from mental and behavioral disorders to be “the single most important barrier to overcome in the community.”

Ignorance reigns supreme as a cause of the problem of stigma toward people with ADHD.  More than ⅔ of people in the United States and Canada have never heard of the disorder.  Myths and misconceptions also lend to challenges in understanding.  There are many, but here are a few.  Let’s dispel stereotypes with the facts.

  • It is not a medical condition.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ADHD is a valid disorder with severe, lifelong consequences.
  • It’s a new thing.  In 1902, pediatrician described a group of children who were hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive.
  • It is an excuse for failures.  For most, the harder they try, the worse things get for them.
  • It only exists in the United States.  ADD/ADHD is found in every country worldwide.
  • Ineffective parents are the cause.  Research shows that it is most often inherited.

Stigmatization is something that is done to one’s self-esteem.  The effects not only cause difficulties in life, it can increase stress.  This can be transferred to more serious symptoms.  The circular negative motion creates a cycle that is difficult to reduce.

People and families who are unprepared and without counsel often have their resilience worn down.  Looking within provides a good place to start.  Learning to be aware of their abilities and value is one way to counteract negative comments.

Fortunately, some seem to be able to endure the uniqueness of being diagnosed with ADHD.  Treating their differences as a source of notoriety, they find fame and congratulate themselves.  They discover ways to enjoy the attention that this brings.

Another trip in the WayBack Machine…

Ahh.  A beautiful, sunny afternoon.  Just said goodbye to my little princess Odie.  NOTE:  This was really long ago so I didn’t have my Rottweiler.

Revving up to the small mansion.  Hopped out of my little car with a stack of math textbooks.  Ringing the doorbell, I had to wonder…can mansions really be small?  BUSTED!  I was staring at the puffy clouds when the door opened.

“Hi, I’m Margie.  Rory has ADHD and everybody at her school knows it.  She’s in all advanced classes because she’s smart.  I have to go to school every week because she needs her accommodations.  Now she doesn’t like adults, but she’ll like you.  Everybody likes you.  I know because I know everybody at…”

An hour later, I never said a single word.  Just held my breath…Yikes!

Finally, a break in the action.

“Hi, I’m Rory.  I like you because you stand up to my Mom.  I’m cool that everyone knows that I have ADHD.  I know that you can help me.”

Three Black women with smiles all around.  We know, 3 gigantic egos too.

Let the games begin…

Beginning with school authorities, educators must remember to address behaviors based on the disability, not blame the individual.  Teachers may feel contempt for deviant behaviors and low academic performance.  There are additional social challenges as students with ADHD are shunned, less favored by friends.  Bullying is common.

Overcoming the stigma of ADHD relies on knowledge and understanding.  Both families and students are burdened as there is a lifetime persistency on the reaction of others.  Putting things in perspective by seeing selves realistically.  Empowerment.  That’s the way.

  • Speak out against injustice.
  • Write a letter explaining details of your situation.
  • Get involved with advocacy groups (CHADD, ADDA).
  • Read.  Research.  Get educated.
  • Remember that negative feedback may occasionally be valid and valuable.

Stigma thrives in silence.   During the last 10 years, an increasing number of studies have been undertaken to expel the negative perceptions of ADHD.  The belief is that the overall construct is changeable, with time and knowledge.

How have stigmas against ADHD impacted you?

22 comments

  • / Reply

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    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Interesting comments. I’m a former teacher who writes research papers. Keep posted while I grow.

  • / Reply

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner simply because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your blog.

    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Thanks. Howw does ADHD fit into your life?

  • / Reply

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    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Hi. Thanks for stopping by. Are you a teacher or parent?

  • I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering problems with your site. It appears as if some of the text in your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This could be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen before. Thanks

    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Thanks for the head’s up. What device are you using?

  • / Reply

    Can you tell us more about this? I’d want to find out more details.

    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      People with ADHD are often seen as being dumb or losers. I’ve seen it a lot as a teacher. I always dreamed to be able to stop it. I wasn’t successful. How have things been for you?

  • / Reply

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    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Welcome. It’s great to have an addition to our tribe. How are you related to ADHD?

  • / Reply

    Superb blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused .. Any ideas? Thank you!

    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      I started my blog with WordPress.org. I have web hosting with HostGator. Their 24/7 customer service makes them worth the money. Good luck!

  • / Reply

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    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Thanks. Sign up for the mail list too. It will keep you up on the latest.

  • / Reply

    wonderful post, very informative. I’m wondering why the other specialists of this sector don’t notice this. You must continue your writing. I am sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Thanks. Our tribe of people devoted to teens and young adults with ADHD is thriving. Join our mail list to keep posted on the latest.

  • / Reply

    “Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes which will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!”

    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      One piece of information at a time will help others to understand ADHD. We make it happen.

  • / Reply

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    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      What subject are you interested in? ADHD, Teaching, or Autiism?

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