ADHD Awareness Month: Promoting awareness about ADHD within community
Misinformation and skepticism are two common words associated with awareness about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD skeptics believe that the “so-called” ADHD-affected children need to be disciplined properly. Others believe that the disorder is a fabrication of pharmaceutical companies to help them sell stimulants. People also do not refrain from making scornful and mocking comments about ADHD in the workplace and within communities. Such behavior reflects the extent of the negative attitudes prevailing in the society about the disorder.
Such misconceptions and prejudices impact both children and adults alike. Past research showed deep-rooted public stigma around ADHD-affected children, with nearly a quarter of parents disapproving their kids befriending a child diagnosed with ADHD. Others did not want to engage with a child exhibiting behavior typically associated with ADHD. Parents were usually blamed for an ADHD child’s misconduct. Further, in the case of ADHD adults, there was a higher likelihood of misconceptions and lack of awareness regarding the disorder.
With the intent to spread reliable scientific knowledge about the disorder, the United States observes the ADHD Awareness Month in October every year. The theme for 2017 is “Knowing is Better: ADHD Across the Life Span.” If parents suspect that their children have ADHD, they can seek the necessary help for diagnosis and treatment from certified clinics. For young adults, knowing about their ADHD can facilitate appropriate adjustments in schools or workplaces. Accepting the problem can help adults overcome feelings of underachievement and frustration.
Stigma results in “disservice” to community
Talking about misinformation and lack of awareness about mental illnesses, David Anderson, senior director of the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute in New York, said that these arise due to the stigma associated with mental health and learning disorders. “Stigmas do the community a disservice,” he said. Moreover, Jeffrey S. Katz, a Virginia-based psychologist specializing in ADHD, learning disabilities and behavioral problems, called ADHD a “hidden disorder.” Despite the normal look of the affected individual, a lot could be actually happening, which the community may not know.
According to Katz, also the co-chair of the public policy committee with Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a national resource on ADHD, becoming an advocate is important to help children and reduce the stigma associated with ADHD and mental illnesses. Anderson said that for ADHD children, adults have a much higher responsibility. Since adults continuously influence their children’s lives, they should seek training in behavior-management techniques which can be applied in school or at home.
Becoming effective advocates
To become an effective advocate for oneself or one’s child, it is important to gain in-depth knowledge and learn about various aspects related to ADHD. Hiding the child’s condition from the school will not help advocacy. If possible, parents should volunteer in their child’s classroom to understand the teacher’s perspective and apply the learning at home. Conversely, parents may need to train the school by setting appropriate expectations regarding their ADHD-affected child.
Being an advocate for ADHD entails comprehensive knowledge of rights and policies. Since schools and workplaces frame their own policies, ADHD advocates must be equipped to understand them. Initiatives which will be helpful for advocates include contacting community professionals, reading relevant information online, seeking advice of organizations such as CHADD, contacting the district’s special education department and simply being aware of various community members.
Seeking help for ADHD
Although there are wide variations in the prevalence of American children with ADHD, it is estimated that 5 percent suffer from the disorder. Nearly 11 percent of children aged between four and 17 years have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
If you or your child is suffering from ADHD and need assistance from an expert, Recover Mental Health can help. Being a repository of credible mental health resources, we can provide complete information about some of the leading rehab centers for mental health in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-593-2339 or chat online with one of our representatives to know more about the best mental health treatment centers near you.