Awareness is not acceptance
You probably know that October is ADHD Awareness Month (first we had a day, then a week and now a month!) so we’re all trying to help the world understand more about ADHD. There is a lot of misinformation out there; some folks still believe that ADHD is an excuse for poor performance or failed relationships. We know better.
As much as I support the cause and energetically put forth education about ADHD to the public, I am acutely aware that most of our efforts are preaching to the choir. The people who most need to hear our message are the ones who snicker and change the channel. Or who sigh and roll their eyes.
Even for those who are patient enough to hear our neurotransmitter saga and its impact, the meaning of the information can be lost. Because what we truly crave is not awareness, but acceptance. And those two don’t always come in the same package.
International campaigns for ADHD are incredibly powerful. For you, the people closer to home are the ones who really need to understand ADHD. So how can you translate the big news about ADHD to real life in your household?
I think it’s first by identifying those “ADHD moments.” When I learned I had an ADHD brain like my youngest son, he took delight in pointing out “there goes your ADHD, Mom!” At first I was irritated, then giggling about our similarities. When you can point out your ADHD moments without using the ADHD as an excuse, you will soon have a convert. But there is a best practices method to this progress.
If you live with someone who belittles your ADHD, make sure you have a conversation with them when there is a lull in your ADHD moments. Immediately after you burn the pancakes is NOT the time. Prepare your loved one for what might happen, how it might look and how you are trying to change it.
“You know when I burn the pancakes on Sunday morning? I don’t do it to make you mad or ruin your breakfast. It’s that I turn on the griddle, then walk away and forget the pancakes. That’s my ADHD! While waiting for the pancakes to cook, I start checking email and I forget the pancakes. So if I can avoid getting distracted, we will have perfect pancakes. Does that make sense?”
If you’re lucky and your special someone is agreeable to further conversation, allow them to be part of the solution: “I want to do it differently next time so I am going to set a timer for two minutes. If I get distracted and don’t turn off the timer, would you be willing to mention it to me in a kind voice? Something like ‘I love perfect pancakes’ would trigger my memory.”
I can hear your protests already. Your special person won’t play this game, will still put your down and tell you ADHD is an excuse. But you have to start somewhere. And starting at home is the most difficult and the most rewarding.You don’t have to give your folks lectures about ADHD. You just need them to understand your brand of ADHD and how it can be accommodated. And that’s awareness that does lead to acceptance. Try it. Let me know how it worked for you.