I am wondering if ADHD Awareness Week is helpful.
The story of my judgmental neighbor sort of kicked off my own little awareness campaign. As a result of my yammering, I had at least one person write to me about how she suspects ADHD in her child. Like her, she keeps getting the "he'll be fine.. all kids are like that..." run around by "experts" who don't know anything or don't care.
I am happy to hear that any parent is willing to at least seriously question the possibility that their child may be different. However, so many people still misunderstand ADHD and unfortunately, those people have a powerful place in our lives such as our bosses, educators, journalists, spouses, parents, in-laws (ugh!), and government purse-string holders.
I have an ADHD child and I need help and understanding, not a cold shoulder or worse, misunderstanding. I am not alone. People have asked where to find simple information about ADHD and I found a page in ADDitude magazine' website with a bunch of links to help with awareness-raising.
However, for me, there is still a dilemma. To spread ADHD Awareness, there needs to be a clear message. This is where my public relations mind steps in: I will first ask when deciding on a campaign: Just what exactly are we trying to say? What's the message?
Thinking aloud---- These are the people I want to educate:
1. The School System: I have heard way too many stories from parents of ADHD children who have to fight tooth and nail to get help and understanding for their children. The trouble with these people is that they think they know what it is but they couldn't possibly because if they did, they would helping our children a lot more. Message to them could be: Hey, ADHD is a real disability even if they are math geniuses, okay? You have the power to change this disabled child's future because they really have it very tough. Believe it and do it.
2. In-laws and other family members: I can feel those judging eyes burning the back of my head. My message to them: ADHD is causing my child and my family to suffer. I'm a good parent despite what you think. You are not helping me like this.
3. Insurance Companies: Hey discriminators! Your negligence increases the rate of car accidents, divorces, lost wages and productivity, and substance abuse in America. Why won't you pay for our treatment and I'm not talking about the pills!!! We want behavioral therapy, art therapy, horse therapy, music therapy, social skills groups and you should pay for them!
4. Non-school related government offices: Hello, ADHD families deserve help from the government. We need respite, social work services, and financial support to pay for those smaller classes, tutors, private swim lessons because swim classes with the other kids is a heart attack waiting to happen. We need money for extra padding in our homes and more expensive and sturdier shoes because they burn through regular shoes like socks. Our diagnosis qualifies us for nothing and yet our disorder is a multi-billion dollar industry in the pharmaceutical world. Can you explain that?
5. Pharma World: Okay, you know ADHD is real and you have the power and the money to convince people in categories 1-4 to start believing and make some changes and I know you do some work in this area but it's really really really not enough.
6. Ourselves: Message to Selves: Don't give up. Ever. Your struggles will help another family as long as we don't quit or doubt ourselves.
This awareness week, I have been thinking about rubber bracelets and some parents pointed out a site that sold really funny ADHD t-shirts. They also helped me find a bracelet for ADHD Awareness but I am looking for a bracelet that has a message beyond "ADHD Awareness."
So far I have thought of some messages that I don't love yet:
- ADHD is REAL
- ADHD: Believe
- ADHD: Keep Fighting
- ADHD: one at a time (ie. changing minds one at a time and also teaching our kids to slow down and not be overwhelmed)
Photo 1: Awareness of Logan's ADHD means I can recognize Spencer's issues at an earlier age. I have learned the value of preparing Spencer in advance for big events. Here I made a school bus for him to show how this week I will ride the school bus with him but next week, I'll replace the picture of the two of us with a picture of just him and maybe he'll understand that he'll have to go by himself.
Photo 2: After a few days of prep, Spencer waits for the school bus in front of my building. I hope he continues to smile even if I don't get on with him next week. I am really dreading that day.