People who have ADHD in their lives can feel alone without a community of support. Whether you are an adult with ADHD, a child or teen with ADHD, the parent or spouse of someone with ADHD, or even the caring friend or co-worker of someone with ADHD, it can help to talk about your experiences with people who understand your challenges because they have lived them.
Over the past fourteen months, my husband and I have offered a monthly meeting to people in our small town. We have promoted it as a support group for adults dealing with ADHD. We have placed an announcement in the community calendar section of the county newspaper and have tacked posters onto bulletin boards around town. The posters have had tear-off tabs at the bottom with a phone number and email for contacting us.
It has been interesting to go back to those posters after each monthly meeting and see that at least half of the tabs have been torn off. Some months nearly all of the tabs are gone. That indicates to us that there are quite a few people who have some interest in a group like ours. So far, however, only about a dozen people have made it to at least one meeting; some months Neil and I sit alone, but recently an average of three to six people including the two of us have turned out.
Most of the people who came said they appreciated the opportunity to talk about their lives with other people who have lived with ADHD. It’s a powerful feeling to see the light of recognition in the eyes of another person who has had a similar experience to yours, especially when your own life experience has led you to feel that there was something wrong with you.
It has been sad to see that several people did not want their names listed on a Meetup web site because they didn’t want others to know they had ADHD. They felt the weight of a stigma—probably something that has been with them most of their lives. I’m hoping that bringing people together to share experiences and strategies that work for them and resources that help, etc., will go a long way toward reducing the stigma.
We also need to do a better job of educating people in our communities about ADHD and our different brain wiring. One purpose our posters and newspaper announcements can serve is to raise awareness of ADHD in our community and to bring it out into the open—especially as it relates to adults.
See if your community has any meetings you might attend. CHADD chapters often host meetings. If there is nothing in your community, perhaps you can start some.
Feel free to use this blog as a forum for sharing tips about how to get such groups going. What has worked for you? What are you going to try next? Do you have groups for teens or parents or adults or partners of ADDers or all of the above? What resources can you recommend for programs or topics?
Let’s bring ADHD out into the open in our communities by supporting and educating each other and by correcting the false information that continues to be published about ADHD.