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Your Child With ADHD: Understanding The Label

Posted Mar 02 2012 10:31am
Help Your ADHD Child

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What’s in a name?

After much procrastination and telling myself I’ll start a Facebook page “someday,” I finally took action and pulled it together.  To my delight, this page has attracted just over 500 people (as of this writing), and I couldn’t be more pleased with the level of dedication and commitment these loving, caring parents have for these unique and often misunderstood children.

Earlier today, one of our “fans” who I have gotten to know asked the question, “Why do we call this group Help Your ADHD Child when it places the emphasis of ADHD on the child, rather than the focusing on the child him or herself?”

What an incredible and relevant question!

After all, there is so much in the name.  There is power in how we identify ourselves and think of ourselves.  The message needs to be clear and matter of fact.

It reminds me so very much of why I HATE the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  I cringe to know that we think of this condition as a disorder.  It suggests that these children are broken and need to be cured or fixed.

And while I understand this condition presents real challenges, and real problems when it goes unaddressed, undiagnosed, and untreated…I can’t help but think of the subtle difference a name can make.

Let’s break it apart for a second:

Attention Deficit – We now know that this is entirely inaccurate.  There is NO deficit in attention.  It’s a matter of variable attention.  You and I both know these children are more than capable of paying attention.  It’s just often a struggle to pay attention to things that are NOT interesting.

Hyperactivity – Not all children (or adults) have hyperactive symptoms.  Yet the medical community changed the term from ADD to ADHD in order to encompass the variety of symptom presentations and subtypes.

Disorder – The word I dread the most.  While I fully believe in the validity of this condition, and I support the advocacy and hard work of organizations that fight on behalf of the millions diagnosed, the word upsets me.

I don’t know about you, but I much rather focus on differences!

Your Child With ADHD Vs. Your ADHD Child

So what spurred this post and my thoughts on the subject this morning.  It’s certainly not a trivial difference.  In fact, it’s done with great intent.

If you look at the logo, [ADHD] stands out NOT because I believe your child IS ADHD, but rather to play on the unfortunate stamp and label of ADHD.  Ultimately, it’s a play on a words, and a jab at what I think is an unfortunate stamp and characterization.

Believe it or not, but there is a HUGE difference between saying “My ADHD Child” and “My Child With ADHD.”

In fact, a few years ago, I gave a talk titled, “ADHD: Is It Me Or My Child?”

Parents always ask me, Is this behavior the ADHD or is it my child?

Ahhh…the $64,000 question.

So I ask you…what do you think?  Does your child have ADHD?  Or is your child ADHD?

I want to hear it…

My thought is very simple.  Children have the condition we call ADHD.  They ARE NOT and SHOULD NOT be defined by it, characterized by it, or looked at as ADHD.

No…quite to the contrary, your child has a condition we call ADHD.  Deep down inside…at the very core of he or she, we will find the true child.  We will see the unique talents and strengths that rise above the condition of ADHD.

As Adam pointed out in his comment, ADHD does NOT define who your child is.  ADHD simply is a piece of who they are.

And I couldn’t say it any better myself.  Your child’s diagnosis of ADHD is merely but a piece of the puzzle.  Your living, breathing, fire-crackin’ child has a whole lot of other stuff goin on that makes him or her the special bundle you have before you!

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