December 2006 - Volume III - Issue XII

ADHD - Afraid of being labeled? Don't Be

Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time. We are still taking book orders for my new book "ADHD and The Criminal Justice System" and you can get my author's discount

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Many people I speak to, especially parents of ADHD children, are reluctant to pursue a formal diagnosis of ADHD as they feel they or their children may be labeled "ADHD" for a lifetime. I guess I feel strongly that this should be the least of their worries. Why is this?

If you are to the point of seeking a diagnosis for ADHD for you or your child then something has brought you to this point. Either problems with impulsiveness, trouble at school, problems with procrastination, organization problems, etc. In other words these problems have been recognized by you or by someone else. More than likely you have received negative feedback about yourself or your child from someone who has observed you. My belief is that if this has occurred then you or your child has already been labeled as being different by others such as a teacher or fellow employee or your boss. My wife who is a school principal has told me that many parents resist getting their children diagnosed as they are afraid of this label. Some of them put it off for years or never seek a diagnosis for this reason. I totally disagree with this thinking.

Almost everyone I know who has been diagnosed with ADHD has one common wish and that was that they could have found out earlier in life. Not so they could use it as an excuse but rather the fact that it helps explain a lot about the problems they have encountered and delayed seeking solutions or improvements in these areas.

The fact is that if you or a child has ADHD to such a degree that it affects their life in a negative way than others have already noticed and probably labeled you or your child as different. Even though most of us are above average in intelligence and maybe very good actors we probably have demonstrated some of the classic paradoxical characteristics of ADHD such as being really good in one academic subject and flunking another, or being able to do something well and unable to do something fairly similar. It's very frustrating to those around us but no where near as frustrating as it is to us because we cannot explain why it happens. When asked why we struggle with these issues by others, and we answer we don't know, we are not lying, we are being as honest as we can be.

I believe that even if your child is 3 years old and you feel that their might be a possibility they have ADHD that you should research and find a qualified and experienced psychologist or psychiatrist and seek an opinion. Make sure you ask a lot of questions ahead of time about the number of ADHD diagnosis the professional has made. I know of several Psychiatrist and Psychologist who have hundreds of clients and have told me that none of them have ADHD. I would say that this is impossible as it is estimated that 7-8 % of the population has ADHD and the percentage of people who seek professional help is probably considerably higher. Since it is estimated that the United States population has now surpassed 300 million people that would put the number of people with ADHD in the range of 21-24 million.

Some fear the use of medications for small children. I am not a doctor so I cannot comment on this. I do know that even if you elect not to use medication to treat ADHD symptoms that the diagnosis itself and then educating yourself about it can help dramatically. People who have diabetes, heart problems, vision problems and other medical conditions don't seem to be too worried about being labeled so I don't think we should worry about it either. Most of us along with our problems related to ADHD have also been given a gift in a certain area such as creativity, music, computers, acting art, etc that we can use to our advantage. So shame of being labeled should not be a concern or excuse for not seeking a diagnosis. I have a brilliant young 15 year old girl ADHD client who last year agreed to be interviewed by the local paper and after the article came out she received much positive feedback and I heard from many people as well about how this helped them seek diagnosis for themselves or their children.

Believe me the diagnosis of ADHD and it's resulting improvement in quality of life far exceeds the possible label one might receive.

Have a wonderful 2007!

I would appreciate any feedback you may have on this newsletter or helpful suggestions.

Talk to you next month

Patrick Hurley

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Author's Bio: 

17 years Lieutenant Johnson County Iowa Sheriff's Dept. 5 years Adult Probation/Parole Officer, 4 years ADHD life skills coach