The stigma of ADHD seems to follow us everywhere. As a parent of a child with ADHD or someone with ADHD themselves, you most likely feel its effects all the time. You see the stares. You hear the comments.
“What is wrong with him?”
“Why can’t you just behave like all the other normal kids?”
We see and hear the negative stigma attached to ADHD in almost every interaction we have. This leads us to try to talk about ADHD only in hushed voices or only with teachers or doctors. After all, none of us wants to believe that our child is broken in some way or has a mental limitation or handicap.
Are these things true, though? Is ADHD deserving of the negative stigma it carries?
Here at FastBraiin, we don’t believe so. We believe that ADHD simply involves a different wiring of the brain as opposed to a mental limitation or handicap. Even understanding this, though, it can be difficult to not get caught up and weighed down by the negativity of the ADHD diagnosis. The negative stigma of ADHD continues to haunt many people with ADHD making them feel stupid or weird or broken or simply just negative about themselves in general.
In this post, we want to encourage you that you don’t have to just accept the negative stigma of ADHD. Here are four ways to address the negativity and turn it back into positives.
1 - Review the Successes and Impact of Other ADHD Individuals
The negative stigma of ADHD thrives in the idea that people with ADHD constantly mess things up. At some point if you or your child has ADHD, you have probably heard someone say something to the effect of “can’t they/you do anything right?”
The answer is of course yes, but nonetheless, your child with ADHD probably still feels like everything they do is wrong. Many people with ADHD find they have many struggles. Oftentimes, they struggle to pay attention or to remember people or places or instructions or to connect well with others. While all of this is true, this doesn’t mean that they are somehow “broken,” which is what the negative stigma of ADHD wants us to believe.
Rather than “broken,” people with ADHD are decidedly different. Different, though, should not be despised or feared. Many people through time have behaved or acted differently, and as a result, they have changed the world. In fact, many of these people had or have ADHD.
To break the negative stigma of ADHD, review and remind yourself of the successes of other ADHD individuals, of which many examples exist. For example, many successful celebrities with ADHD have made a tremendous impact on our culture and lives. Many of the greatest minds had ADHD such as Einstein and Walt Disney.
Just because ADHD individuals behave and think differently, this doesn’t mean their minds function incorrectly. Different should be praised and accepted. Overcome the stigma of ADHD through focusing on the success of ADHD individuals.
2 - Recognize That We All Have Our Own Struggles
The negative stigma of ADHD tries to get us to believe in some small way that only those people with ADHD have struggles. This of course, has no basis in reality. Everyone, no matter who they are, has their own weaknesses and struggles.
To break through and defeat the stigma of ADHD, you need to recognize that people with ADHD don’t have any more struggles than anyone else. Again, the key word you should think of here is just “different.” ADHD individuals simply deal with different struggles than most other people. You should not feel shame or guilt over this, though. Struggles make us human and make us who we are. Embrace your struggles as you should embrace your ADHD.
3 - Remind Yourself of the Many Strengths of ADHD Individuals
While there exist many weaknesses of ADHD individuals, there also exist many strengths of ADHD in children. For instance, individuals with ADHD tend to want to try new things. They produce innovative thoughts and ideas. They tend to want to push the envelope and develop new products or ways of doing things.
ADHD individuals can have hyper focus that helps them solve complex problems. They can have high energy to produce at higher levels than their counterparts. In short, ADHD individuals have great things to offer both in a workplace and in society in general.
The negative stigma of ADHD tries to teach us that an ADHD individual cannot provide much to the workplace. Don’t believe this idea. Rather, remind yourself of the many strengths you or your ADHD child possess.
4 - Realize that ADHD Isn’t An Excuse for Laziness
The negative stigma of ADHD wants us to believe that ADHD does not really exist. There exists still in our culture and society a large group of people who do not believe ADHD really is a different mental wiring. Rather, they believe that ADHD exists simply as an excuse for laziness or an unwillingness to try to fit in and behave “normally.”
To overcome the stigma of ADHD, though, you need to realize that ADHD is a recognized medical diagnosis. There exist standards and symptoms for determining whether or not someone has ADHD. Furthermore, doctors have tools and procedures to follow to treat the symptoms of ADHD.
Laziness, on the other hand, cannot be treated with medication. Medical science does not designate laziness as a medical diagnosis. Simply put, ADHD is not the same as laziness or an excuse for not trying. Don’t buy into the stigma. Realize that if you or your child has ADHD, their minds operate differently. You need no reason to have an excuse.
Overcome the Stigma of ADHD by Replacing Negativity with Positive Emotions
Most of the time, we end up beating ourselves up so much that we can barely find the energy to face our day. While there definitely exists negativity from the outside towards ADHD, most of the negativity actually originates from within. To really overcome the stigma of ADHD, we need to work on flipping our own thoughts on ADHD and replacing a negative understanding with a positive one.
If you or your child has ADHD, you need to do the hard work of focusing more on the positives than on the negatives. You need to build your child’s self esteem and believe in them. The world tries to discourage us enough, let’s not help it by discouraging ourselves. Replace the negative thoughts with positive emotions. When you or your child feels down, remind yourself and them about your many strengths. Encourage yourself by telling yourself you have something, many things, to offer the world.
ADHD is not a disease to feel ashamed of. Rather, ADHD is a gift that when used and harnessed correctly, can produce great things and incredible successes. Be encouraged in who you are with ADHD. You have within you what it takes to succeed. Know that you do. Be encouraged and overcome the negative stigma around you.