Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ADHD Awareness Week - What Does It Do?

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:
  1. ADHD is REAL
  2. ADHD: Believe
  3. ADHD: Keep Fighting
  4. ADHD: one at a time (ie. changing minds one at a time and also teaching our kids to slow down and not be overwhelmed)
So far, I like Number 4. Which do you like or do you have any suggestions? What color should it be? Maybe yellow meaning - slow down, get ready to stop?

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.


Unknown said...

LOVE the bus idea-- GREAT!

Christine said...

t-shirt link doesn't work. Where were they?

Jenn said...

Christine, The link works now. Thanks for letting me know.

Mrs. M said...

Awesome post!
Love it all...the tshirts are hilarious....
one at a time...that's all we can hope for...and it will have a positive ripple effect.

Anonymous said...

I think your public relations mind is a lot smarter than the other public relations minds who spout
awareness campaigns. As if just a commercial on tv will change people's attitudes.

1. Too big if you are thinking the whole country. Try to work at your local level. If each teacher of your children 'gets' it through your advocacy your children will benefit.

2. Choose your battles there, too - with whom. Is there someone in the family who is influential over the others? Concentrate on gaining the understanding of that person. First. Then go for the next one.

3. Behavioral medicine and therapy are notoriously under-insured. With all the flux of issues in this arena, you are brave to take this one on.

4. I have nothing to say.

5. If you get response from pharma you have more potential for getting effective insurance coverage.

All the best,

Sierra said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Great post!
One more way to spread awareness is by Can you repeat song. It's made for all hyperactive and inattentive minds.

Karen Griffith Gryga said...


I have been thinking about this a lot too. I think the only way to work on awareness is to segment it like you have done.

I did a post last week,, on What I Would Want a Mother of a Typical Needs Child to Know. Similar thinking -- its about education and awareness.

The question is where and how to start .... still mulling over that one!!

For you bracelet idea, I like #1 and #4. I kind of like a tie-dye idea (not sure if some other cause has taken this one) because there is no one symptom of ADHD ... it is a lot of things ...

just a few thoughts... would love to figure this out together.

Great idea with the bus picture!! I still need to take photos of my son doing daily routine stuff to put up so he can do the morning routine more independently ... on the never ending to-do list :-~.

Thanks for the good thoughts as usual!!


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