October isn’t just any month. It’s ADHD awareness month!
That’s why we’re bringing you a special edition of the ADaptHD newsletter — with one study, one news article, and one tip as usual, but all dedicated to the theme of ADHD awareness.
ADHD awareness deserves an entire month to itself because awareness is what so much else follows from. Awareness lays the foundation for diagnosis, for treatment, and for people with ADHD to gain insight into what’s happening in their lives. Spreading awareness about ADHD is an ongoing project, but if you want a picture of that project’s ultimate goal, check our post on the end goal of ADHD awareness.
Study of the month: A typical ADHDer goes 17 years before treatment
People with ADHD may not be known for our patience, but it turns out we tend to wait quite a while before receiving treatment — decades, in fact. A study of 150 diagnosed ADHDers published in September found that a typical adult with ADHD had seen 17 years pass from the time their symptoms appeared to the time they received treatment.
That wait has real consequences in people’s lives, whether at work, in school, or in interpersonal relationships. It happens because people don’t realize they might have ADHD, because they don’t fit the popular stereotype of an ADHDer, or because their doctors misdiagnose them. Those reasons ultimately come down to a lack of ADHD awareness in society.
Since the study only surveyed adults diagnosed with ADHD, it didn’t take into account those who go the longest without treatment: people with ADHD who never get diagnosed at all. It did, however, find that certain people tended to have an especially long wait before receiving treatment, including those who’d had inattentive subtype as children, those with comorbid depression, and those with a family history of ADHD.
News article of the month: The risks of ADHD
An article published this month in the Carlyle Observer highlights the lifelong risks that come with ADHD, including risks to physical health.
Now, I’d never heard of the Carlyle Observer before I came across this article. In fact, if you’d asked me before today where the town of Carlyle was located, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to tell you that the answer is “Saskatchewan.” And if you’d asked me the appriximate population of Carlyle, I would not have been able to produce the number 1,500.
To me, though, this article encompasses what ADHD awareness month is all about: a small-town newspaper running an article that raises awareness about the serious consequences that can come with ADHD while interviewing a local ADHDer.
Over the next 30 days, many other newspapers will hopefully follow suit!
Coping tip of the month: Talk about personal experiences, science to raise ADHD awareness
Fitting with our October theme, this month’s tip is less about coping with ADHD than raising ADHD awareness.
When talking with people who don’t know much about ADHD, it can help to mention both your personal experiences with the condition as well as some scientific findings that put ADHD in context.
Examples of what symtomps you experience and how those symptoms have influenced your life can make ADHD more “real” for people who don’t have ADHD themselves. Meanwhile, research can underscore the fact that ADHD is a brain condition that has long-term consequences.
Some research findings that you could mention:
- ADHD comes with substantial negative effects in school and in the workplace. A 2013 study that followed a group of children diagnosed with ADHD into adulthood found that 15 percent of young adults with ADHD had finished four-year college degrees compared to 48 percent of young adults without ADHD. Adults with ADHD were more likely to be fired, to be laid off, and to leave jobs because they didn’t like them.
- ADHD has a strong genetic component. It’s not “bad parenting” or a “lack of discipline.” It’s a brain condition with a biological basis. Between 70-80 percent of whether someone has ADHD seems to come down to their genes, and children whose parents have ADHD are far more likely to have ADHD themselves.
So if you have a chance this month, talk about your personal experiences, talk about the science, and help spread that awareness! Happy ADHD Awareness Month!
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Image: ADHD Awareness Month