So, I’m assuming by now a lot of people in the world have their own idea of what ADHD actually is, but the way it is classified is still a bit up in the air. Many, particularly educators argue that it is a learning difficulty or a learning disability. I disagree with this on the premise that it creates the false illusion that ADHD is only a difficulty or causes an issue in the school environment.
That stems from how we view learning as a whole. Many people have a fixed mindset view of learning, that it takes place in the classroom or by reading a book, doing research perhaps. The truth is we learn and grow everyday in every thing we do, if only we allow ourselves to. Experiences can have a big impact in shaping who we are.
“Calling ADHD a condition implies it’s a constant state of something, which considering how versitile ADHD is, just doesn’t sound right.”ADHD Girl
So, if ADHD is not a learning difficulty/ disability what is it? The NHS (UK) website describes it as medical condition, and I guess that seems fair, but condition implies that you are always in a constant state, which is quite the opposite of what ADHD actually is. The CDC (USA) describes ADHD as neurodevelopmental disorder of childhood, which I could get on board with, if it were not for the whole ‘of childhood’ thing which implies that adults don’t get it.
Ok, so not so long ago, before I was a foster parent, I was an education lecturer. I asked my students ‘what do you think a child or an adult with ADHD looks like?’ They all gave similar answers, “Someone who is really active, bouncing off the walls”. I took great pleasure in seeing their mouths drop open when I explained that I in fact have ADHD.
Some people, even teachers, might thing I shouldn’t have shared this personal piece of information, with my class? But I say why not? We were learning about different things that affect children’s development, so it was extremely relevant. Plus I’m not ashamed of having ADHD, I’m very proud of it!! I wear it like a battle scar; look at what I have had to fight my way through and here I am!!
The very fact that ADHD has the word disorder in the title goes a long way to explain it as a whole because a disorder by definition can mean ‘a state of confusion’ or ‘disrupt the systematic functioning or neat arrangement of.’ Both very apt when you think about people with ADHD.
“You rarely hear of ADHD being mentioned in terms of adults, which is rather strange considering there is no proven cure.”ADHD girl
However, it’s not really treated as a disorder by society, in fact according to the majority of society ADHD does not exist beyond childhood, both in the way it is presented and the support that is given for it. Rather strange considering that it’s stated clearly that there is no cure.
The fact that there is no clear definition of ADHD is technically part of the problem in the misconceptions surrounding it. Even the official guidance used to diagnose ADHD is careful not to label it but describes it by characteristics instead. Is it any wonder that some people try to argue that it doesn’t exist when we ourselves can’t quite grasp what it is?
Whichever way you describe ADHD, there is no denying for those of us who have it or for those who know someone with it, that it has a big overall impact on the way in which someone relates to everything around them.
Basically, we march to the beat of a different drum, we might not be able to describe what that drum is, but it’s who we are, and we have no idea how to use the kind of drum that can be defined by any technical term. So, with that being said, maybe it’s for the best if the definition of ADHD remains rather ambiguous.