“How My Understanding of ADHD Has Evolved Over Time”
Our understanding of ADHD is constantly evolving – with new research, personal experiences, and conversations. This ADHD Awareness Month, ADDitude invited readers to share the ways that their ADHD insight and understanding have changed over time.
This ADHD Awareness Month, we’re recognizing our ever-expanding understanding of what ADHD is (and isn’t). To celebrate this ADHD [R]evolution, we asked ADDitude readers: “How has your understanding of ADHD evolved over time? What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the time of your own or your child’s diagnosis?”
From uplifting stories of self-growth and awareness to sober tales of grueling (and moving) treatment, here are some of our favorite responses so far. To add your story to our sweepstakes challenge, share a comment, poem, photo or video with ADDitude by October 31. Click here for more details.
ADHD Awareness Month 2020: Your Answers
1. “I used to think that ADHD was essentially made up – that it was parents who made their children behave that way. Then I became a speech and language therapist, and I learned that ADHD is real. Some years later, a therapist suggested I might have ADHD. That’s when I became even more open to educating myself about it and was able to recognize myself in the descriptions and stories of women with ADHD. It was life changing, and I find it truly fascinating how much change can come with an open mind.” – Kathryn R.
2. “I think we have to look at ADHD straight-on. Some days, we can only worry about getting through that day. Oftentimes, I have to remind myself and my son with ADHD that we cannot think about 10 years from now, let alone the next week. Let’s just worry about today. Let’s meet ADHD where we are and try to embrace the bright parts that it brings to our personalities.“ – Denise B.
3. “What have I learned about ADHD?
Well I have learned that to have ADHD is to be —
oh wait, there isn’t one right solution,
for ADHD has many ‘looks’ —
some of us hate studying while others love hitting the books.
Some of us have comorbid conditions, as I do,
and others have hyperactivity, too
(not me however). I am inattentive
and I am meditative.
I reflect and I think a lot,
and struggle to answer questions on the spot.
I am 26 and I am doing okay,
for with ADHD, I always have something to do or say.” – Kelly M.
[Read: ADHD Needs a Better Name. We Have One.]
4. “I wish that I could have known how to advocate for myself in the workplace so that I didn’t get fired four times in eight years. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache and educated the people that didn’t know how to support me.
“I am now in the profession of my dreams, determined not to let my ADHD interfere with my performance. Because I now have the right tools and supports in place, I believe that I can overcome the struggles I have endured trying to fight myself and my bad habits alone.” – Michele L.
5. “I am a mother of a child with ADHD and have been a special educator for more than 11 years. One day, I had a child with ADHD in class who said something very inappropriate to somebody else. I pulled him aside, and he confessed he did not take his medication that morning. Rather than reprimand him for his behavior and actions, I was able to really see firsthand what he was going through.
The next day he came to my room to thank me – my student had to thank me for being patient with him. It was truly a humbling experience and now I will never be the same when I talk to any child. Despite my 17 years of teaching experience, being named teacher of the year, and all my education, I am constantly evolving and learning.” – Komal P.
[9 ADHD Myths and Fallacies That Perpetuate Stigma]
6. “I was not formally diagnosed with ADD until age 66, but I have suspected this since age 6. I’ve always known that my brain has a huge design and quality-control defect, but now I know the name of this sleeper cell agent that has been dwelling inside my amygdala all these years. This revelation fills in key information gaps. It is enlightening but not liberating. This has been no gift.” – Anonymous
7. “As a child, I grew up thinking I was dumb. Teachers, family, and friends called me a ‘space cadet,’ as I was always lost in my thoughts, losing things, etc. I felt different and unworthy. As an adult, the feelings of inadequacy remained, but they were now mixed in with impulsiveness and fixations that damaged my relationships. It wasn’t until I turned 39 that I was diagnosed with ADHD. Now, as a school therapist, I advocate for children with ADHD, and teach them that their condition is not something to be ashamed of.” – Christina V.
8. “I thought ADHD was not real, but rather a cop out for lack of discipline and control. Some years later, my world came tumbling down – divorce, relocating across the country, starting a new job, all while helping my kids find a new normal. I realized then that I could no longer keep up the Working-Woman-plus-Wilma-Flintstone fantasy. To my utter surprise, I was eventually diagnosed with ADD. Since then, I’ve learned that treatment for ADHD will not make you superhuman, but rather, human.” – O. Brown
9. “As an ‘80s child, I grew up thinking that only bad boys had ADHD, and that they either took medication that zombied them out, or didn’t, and ran wild. But I had no idea that my daydreaming and forgetfulness would turn out to be ADHD. I didn’t know the exhilaration I felt as I blocked out the world while reading the dictionary was ADHD. I also didn’t know ADHD created conditions for shame. But now… I know all this. And my life has changed so much because I finally know I’m not an abject failure. I can finally embrace and love myself and be who I am.” – skyrocketocelot on Instagram
10. “When I became a parent, I assumed I could avoid ADHD in my kids if I just made the right choices. Once I had children, I assumed what I was seeing was bad behavior that my kid would outgrow. The diagnosis eventually came.
“I still struggle to remember that most of my son’s challenging behavior isn’t his choice. It helps now that he understands his ADHD and can remind me. But I wish I had known sooner, so we could have adjusted our parenting and teaching instead of fighting about his behavior.” – Anonymous
What about you? How has your understanding of ADHD changed over time? Let us know by submitting your entry to our ADHD Awareness Month Sweepstakes by October 31. Click here for more details.
Submissions edited for clarity and brevity.
ADHD Awareness Month: Next Steps
- Discover: ADHD Role Models We Love
- Download: Unraveling the Mysteries of Your ADHD Brain
- Read: “Is ADHD Really Real?” 6 Ranked Responses to ADD Skeptics
Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.