Approximately nine percent of all children are diagnosed with ADHD. Boys are diagnosed more than twice as often as girls, but that may be misleading. Boys are more often hyperactive and thus draw attention to themselves which leads to a diagnosis; girls more often manifest the inattentive type of ADHD, so they tend to be daydreamers who don’t disrupt family and classroom life and thus are not screened as often for ADHD.
Many people think that ADHD only affects children, who will sooner or later grow out of it. There is a good reason why many people hold that belief. It is only in the last twenty years or so that the medical community has acknowledged that ADHD affects adults. Prior to that it was assumed that ADHD was a childhood disorder that the children outgrew as they matured. The American Academy of Family Physicians now reports that only about one-third of children actually appear to outgrow their ADHD symptoms. That means that two/thirds of all children diagnosed with ADHD will have the symptoms into their adult lives.
Another surprising statistic, if you aren’t overloaded with statistics already, is that about 85 percent of all adults with ADHD don’t know they have it. I know from my own experience that finally getting that diagnosis can be a huge relief. When my husband Neil was diagnosed at approximately age 60, about 12 years ago, we felt a sense of validation. We had been dealing with so many behaviors that didn’t make sense (a hallmark of ADHD behavior is inconsistency – and more on that tomorrow) and knowing that there was a name for this constellation of behaviors gave us great peace of mind. The diagnosis in itself didn’t change anything in our lives (we attribute those changes to coaching and educating ourselves about ADHD), but it put to rest some of the more unsettling questions we had lived with for decades.
ADHD Awareness Month provides a fantastic opportunity to support people who may be wondering about themselves and ADHD. If they do find that they have ADHD, they are not alone! Numerous celebrities have spoken out about their own ADHD (and other conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, bi-polar, depression, dyslexia, etc.). The fact that so many people have lived successful, creative lives with their ADHD (sometimes even because of it, perhaps?) can inspire others to take whatever steps are needed to move toward their own goals.
Some of the celebrities who have spoken up are Justin Timberlake, Will Smith, Michael Phelps, Jim Carrey, Richard Branson, Howie Mandel, Terry Bradshaw, James Carville, Pete Rose, Michelle Rodriguez, Bruce Jenner, Solange Knowles, and Mariette Hartley. A Google search of “famous people with ADHD” will turn up information on these folks and many others.
During 2014 ADHD Awareness Month, let’s take a step toward creating a culture in which people are celebrated for who they are in their entirety, no matter whether they need insulin daily, are bi-polar, need braces on their teeth, wear glasses, use a wheelchair to get around, get migraine headaches, or even have ADHD! Inclusion, not exclusion, is my vision.
My husband frequently quotes the psychologist Carl Rogers who said that for a person to “grow”, they need an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with unconditional positive regard), and empathy (being listened to and understood). Citation –
Let’s move toward creating and fostering that environment not only for those of us with ADHD, but for every person.