Sometimes it is hard to understand the ADD Disorder in adults if there aren’t any obvious signals.
Finding ways to express how debilitating the signs of ADD Disorder in adults can be is very frustrating for the individual. If we can’t see it, touch it, smell it, feel it, it must not be a valid sign of ADHD in adults. How often do we hear stories about people who just can’t seem to manage school expectations, or muddle through multiple marriages/relationships, or can’t seem to hold onto a job? Frequently, the stories are peppered with phrases like “he’s got the ability, but he’s too lazy,”, or “what a screw-up,” or, “she’s bright, but just can’t seem to make it happen; kind of a flake.” Like the survivors of war trauma, are these folks intentionally failing to make their lives successful, or is something else impacting their efforts?
Listening to NPR recently I was struck by a feature regarding the military’s response to soldiers who have experienced “mild” brain trauma from roadside bombs and other war-related explosions. According to NPR’s report, the military medical system is “failing to diagnose brain injuries in troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom receive little or no treatment for lingering health problems.” “When someone’s missing a limb, you can see that,” said Sgt. William Fraas, a Bronze Star recipient who survived several roadside blasts in Iraq. He can no longer drive, or remember simple lists of jobs to do around the house. “When someone has a brain injury, you can’t see it, but it’s still serious.”
This is a parallel and frequent line of thinking for people who are struggling with ADHD.
A friend of mine who “gets” ADHD asked why it is that the other leading developmental disorder, Autism, is much more readily embraced as a real disorder, and seems to be better able to garner public support and discussion. On a recent online search for ADHD support groups, one site listed 8 for ADHD, and 25 for Autism/Aspergers/PDD. Why is ADHD associated with myths of being “made-up,” and “just an excuse for bad behavior?” Why is there a supposed stigma attached to an ADHD diagnosis that just doesn’t seem to exist for Autism? What is missing from this picture that could help a diagnosis and support of ADHD be recognized as a positive effort to help individuals realize more positive, productive and healthy lives?
According to CHADD’s National Resource Center on ADHD, “because it (ADHD) is a lifespan disorder that impacts so many areas of an individual’s daily functioning, ADHD is a serious public health issue.” Sounds like a pretty serious disorder to me.