With the growing popularity of drugs like Adderall as casual study aids, discussions about the reality of the disorders they’re meant to treat seem to intensify.
It was only recently brought to my attention that many people still fiercely debate the legitimacy of ADD/ADHD diagnoses. As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and still struggles with several symptoms today, I find this argument absurd.
If you ask any of my family or close friends, they will likely attest to the fact that my behavior is slightly different from people unafflicted with ADD/ADHD. They will also tell you that I am far from merely being a disorderly and mischievous person.
This is probably the most common argument I’ve heard against the ADD/ADHD diagnosis. Many people claim that children who are diagnosed with these disorders are nothing more than hyper, misbehaved kids whose parents are unable to control them. They say that these parents don’t know how to deal with children and that they are just looking for an excuse to their lack of child-rearing skills.
This may sometimes the case, but not always. Because ADD and ADHD are diagnoses based on the observations and opinions of a doctor as opposed to a medical test, it isn’t impossible for an average hyper child to meet enough criteria to be labeled with the disorder. Children are usually energetic by nature, and some people understandably misinterpret this over enthusiasm as having ADD/ADHD.
In my case, I know from my own experiences and the observations of others that I do indeed have ADHD. The symptoms were all there for me. My ADHD may have been more prominent and debilitating when I was a child, but that’s not because my diagnosis was incorrect, and it certainly isn’t because my parents couldn’t deal with kids.
By the time I was born, my parents had each been teaching school for 10+ years, and both of my older brothers were 4- and 2-years-old. My parents knew how to deal with kids who were just hyperactive. If that were my only problem, they would have had no issue. To me, this is proof enough that ADD/ADHD is the real deal for many kids.
Something that is difficult for people who don’t have ADD/ADHD, or at least know someone who does, to understand is that the symptoms of a true diagnosis are an incredible hindrance to everyday life. This is especially the case when it comes to socializing and education.
For people who are properly diagnosed at a young age, it doesn’t take long to realize that changes need to be made. The problem may be real, but that doesn’t mean it’s uncontrollable. By purposely throwing ourselves into situations that require focus and calm behavior, those of us with ADD/ADHD learn and adapt in a way that allows us to succeed. We learn to cope with our symptoms just like people with any other disorder do.
Until an exact medical test is developed to diagnose ADD/ADHD with certainty, this debate will probably continue. Those who believe they or someone they know are afflicted will argue the disorders’ legitimacy and those who think it’s a cop-out for parents and students will argue against it.
Not being a doctor, all I really have to go by are my own thoughts and opinions. As you can tell by now, ADD and ADHD are very real to me. However, I also know that even true ADD/ADHD diagnoses do not mean a child is doomed to failure. Just because a diagnosed child grows into a successful adult does not mean their diagnosis was wrong. It means they learned to cope.
Even amongst misdiagnoses and arguing “experts,” I will always believe that ADD and ADHD are real disorders that shouldn’t be taken so lightly. Successful adults with these disorders may seem fully functioning, but it’s only due to the hard work of themselves and those around them to adjust.
The symptoms don’t go away, but the feeling of having no control does.
So, just remember that while you have trouble focusing during your twice a year all-nighters, there are people around you who have trouble focusing every day.
To them, ADD/ADHD is as real as it gets.
— Evanne Davis is a junior from Mansfield majoring in magazine journalism and psychology