Though it is a phrase that is often heard, even among ADHD experts, it’s a phrase I do my best not to use: “You are ADHD.”

Of course, there are also these: “He is ADHD,” “She is ADHD,” “I am ADHD,” “They are ADHD,” etc. I try my best to avoid them as well – and sometimes to correct people who use those words to describe an individual whose neurodevelopmental disorder of ADHD is, at most, something they “have.” It is not their identity – not who they ARE!

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that someone who has ADHD is a whole person with many strengths, unique characteristics, and attributes that are not part of ADHD. It can be especially difficult for the individual who has ADHD brain wiring to remember that he is much more than the person who seems always to be on the receiving end of judgment and criticism. Greater understanding of ADHD is essential so that the 5-10 percent of people who have this type of brain wiring can grow up appreciating themselves and their many gifts and strengths.

ADHD Awareness Month is a wonderful time to celebrate neurodiversity – the variety of individuals who make our world richer by their differences. An article in Forbes a couple of years ago celebrated the enormous contributions to the world made by individuals with ADHD brains who would not trade their unique abilities for “normal” brains even if they had the chance. Check it out here.


Linda Swanson is an ADHD Coach in Warrenton, Virginia. She and her husband, Neil, are partners at Free To Be Coaching, LLC, where they coach in person or by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. They coach students from middle school through college as well as adults of all ages, and they also facilitate two support groups for parents of children with ADHD. Linda and Neil are both graduates of the ADD Coach Academy and are credentialed by the International Coach Federation and the Professional Association of ADHD Coaches. Linda can be reached at or (703) 508-4774. 

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