The 2012 ADHD Awareness Week campaign seeks to educate and spread understanding about who ADHD affects. For many who live with this condition, their families, and the providers that work with them, this is a very welcome change. For years, most ADHD awareness efforts have been focused on dispelling myths, correcting misinformation, and legitimizing this real, brain-based disorder that affects millions of Americans in the collective minds of the public. The shift in focus for this year’s campaign signifies that the most important thing we need to talk about regarding ADHD is no longer whether or not it is real. It means we can start talking about who is impacted, how it helps and hurts them, and what can be done to help those with it thrive in all areas of their life.
When it comes to ADHD, there is no discrimination and no bias based on race, ethnicity, religion, age, or even gender. Anyone can have ADHD. It is not a white disorder. It is not something only boys get. It is not more prevalent in the U.S. than the rest of the world and it is not a condition confined to childhood. The faces of ADHD are young and old, black, white, and brown, male and female. They are also rich and poor, successful and unsuccessful, single, married, and divorced, thriving, and struggling. The many faces of ADHD show us that there is no “typical” person with the condition.
One of the reasons it is so important to understand the diversity of the ADHD population is to help increase the likelihood that those with the condition will be diagnosed. The clearest path to living successfully with ADHD is proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If people are not aware that ADHD can affect them or their families, it is less likely that they will seek diagnosis, pursue treatment, and take advantage of those things that can help them manage their lives more effectively. Adults who believe only children have ADHD may not recognize the signs in themselves of their partners. Parents who think only boys have it may not realize their daughter’s struggles in school are not just bad behavior. Raising awareness about the many faces of ADHD means we can open the door for more people to get the support and assistance they need to be the best they can be.
ADHD Awareness Week runs from October 14-20 this year and will feature educational opportunities and events across the country. Take a few minutes this week to learn more about ADHD including the signs and symptoms, the process used for diagnosis, and recommended treatments. The information available about ADHD has increased significantly in recent years as our understanding of the condition has expanded. Many things that were “true” for many years have been replaced by new facts based on better science. From who has it to how it’s treated, the world of ADHD has come a long way in recent years and by raising awareness, educating others, and encouraging people to be informed, those with the disorder are already making the world a little easier to not only survive in, but into a world where people with ADHD can thrive.