ADHD brings so many positive qualities it should be celebrated, not stigmatised, writes Nichola Parody
“Oh no! Don’t put that label on her”, my mum said to me the very first time I told her we were in the process of having Heidi assessed for ADHD. I felt gutted. I quickly realised my mum wasn’t alone in this opinion. ADHD had a stigma.
You see, only the year before when she was assessed for dyslexia, we got nothing but support and praise from everyone. So I wondered, what’s the difference? Why would a diagnosis of dyslexia be OK, perhaps even welcomed, almost like a fluffy bunny rabbit to the outside world – innocent, sweet and vulnerable? But ADHD, on the other hand, that was a bad label – something to be embarrassed about.
You say ADHD to someone that doesn’t know any better and they instantly think: medication, naughty, no boundaries and being expelled from school. Well, no, I thought, that’s not my Heidi.
And that was it; I vowed then and there to change people’s negative opinions about ADHD, to educate and to challenge stigma. Heidi and I are getting out there together, hand in hand, to show the world she has a superpower and we are both excited and proud.
Like any superpower, you have to learn to manage it. Spiderman has to make sure he doesn’t sling webs all the time; Heidi has to learn that she can take a break from talking once in a while and let other people have their turn. And she has to develop her executive functioning skills if she is ever to leave the house on time.
More than the stereotypes
Of course ADHD causes lots of behaviours that can be difficult for other people to accept and deal with, especially in an educational setting where our square-peg children don’t fit into those round holes. Children with ADHD talk a lot, they fidget and they lose attention quickly if a subject is not of interest or if they find it difficult. They butt in when people are talking, they can be emotional and need lots of reassurance when they are feeling unsure, they can get angry and they can have emotional outbursts. But that’s not all ADHD is.
Children with ADHD are often above average intelligence, quick witted and fun. They will give you all their attention and dedication for a subject or project that appeals to them. They are often kind, intuitive, empathetic and eager to please. They can be creative and good at thinking outside of the box, and they can have great ideas. Many successful people in history, and today, had a diagnosis of ADHD. It never stopped them.
And that’s what I will instil in Heidi as she grows up. Don’t let your ADHD or dyslexia stop you or define you. You can be who you want to be.
So, we will work on those social cues, we will try and rein in those rollercoaster emotions, and we will encourage and promote her confidence, her self-belief and her creative side.
I am proud to tell people I have a child with ADHD. And why wouldn’t I be proud? ADHD is a superpower.
About the author
Nichola Parody is a parent to a child diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia.