ADHD & societal acceptance: my personal timeline

Since I was diagnosed with ADHD about 27 years ago there has been a lot of movement in terms of our society’s ideas about mental health. Almost all of it has been in a positive direction. I feel that we still have a long way to go but that we are identifying and treating more people who need help now than every before. 

My personal experience is that talking to people about my ADHD over the years had evolved in this way:
  1. Circa 1988: Only one other kid I knew had ADHD and not for being called down to the nurse every day for my meds, I probably wouldn’t have told anyone. 
  2. Circa 1995: I was just another kid with ADHD and I was taken with a grain of salt. But, I had more or less come to terms with it and was open about my issues and struggles.
  3. Circa 1998: Still considered a “childhood disorder” and there were little to no “services” or understanding at UMass.
  4. Circa 2003: I felt like this was around the time that ADHD was really becoming recognized in main stream society. If you mentioned it, everyone knew what it was, even if they didn’t understand it or “believe in it.”
  5. Circa 2009: By now I felt that the stigma related to ADHD was largely removed… at least where I live. But with this acceptance came dismissal of severity and importance. I’ve gone from “What’s that?” to “I think everyone has some of that,” in a matter of a few years. 
So, where are we now? I don’t know. With more people getting the help they need than ever before. Good thing! But, there is an increasingly vehement faction of society that rallies against increased diagnosis and treatment as a bad thing. This creates another whole issue, and in a way brings me back to the days of feeling like I had to justify my medical diagnosis to society.

As with many of my posts, this one has ended up opening a can of worms for me. I intended to talk about and compare our society attitudes toward ADHD and autism. I’ll save that for the next post. So, stay tuned.

Standard disclaimer: I don’t edit much if at all. This is a deal I have made with myself. It keeps me from being frozen in the metaphorical carbonite of perfectionism or falling into the “Sarlacc” of avoidance behavior. A new post done is always better than a perfect post undone.

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