October has been designated ADHD Awareness Month. I am planning to submit an article or perhaps several articles to our local paper for publication during October, since there is a great need for education about ADHD.

It seems that 85 percent of adults with ADHD do not know they have it. Many of those people have used their intelligence and creativity to develop strategies for coping with the challenges of ADHD, without knowing why they experience those challenges. There is a good chance that many, if not most, adults with undiagnosed ADHD have lived for  years with a sense that something is wrong with them. This is where education is so important.

Neil and I lived for decades without knowing anything about ADHD. His challenges have been greater than mine. (It’s important to remember that every person with ADHD is unique; no two ADDers are alike!) He was 60 when he was diagnosed. Imagine living all those years being unable to accomplish certain tasks that other people seemed able to do without a second thought!

For example, I have always managed to keep in my head a list of three or four errands I need to accomplish on an outing. When I leave home, I have a route in mind that will take me everywhere I need to go. Sometimes I write my itinerary down, but often I don’t need to refer to it. Neil has told me many times that he thinks it is incredible that I can do that. It seemed impossible for him to hold several items in his short term memory long enough to execute them. Of course, I saw this play out repeatedly as I’d ask him to do a few things when he was out, and he would return having never again thought of most or all of those errands.

For many years neither of us learned from that sort of experience! I didn’t learn that I’d improve the odds of having my errands accomplished by writing things down for him and perhaps calling him to remind him while he was out. He thought he should be able to remember the errands since other people seemed able to do that.

As we began to learn about ADHD, it was clear that the sort of memory issues that challenged Neil are often experienced by ADDers. They are not a moral failing or representative of a lack of will. They are common to many people with the unique brain wiring that we know as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

There are lots of folks who have experiences like this, either because they have ADHD or because they are living with someone with ADHD. I’m hoping that ADHD Awareness Month will provide the opportunity for many of those people to begin to examine whether ADHD might explain some puzzling aspects of their lives. Then, through education by an ADHD coach or qualified counselor or even through reading a helpful book, they can begin to learn strategies for working with the challenges while coming to appreciate the many gifts and strengths that we all have.

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