I’m a grown woman living with ADHD.
Diagnosed in my early teens, ADHD is still something I deal with daily.
I don’t feel ashamed to say that I have ADHD. More, I don’t feel like it was a product of my environment either.
My parents didn’t do something “wrong”. In school, I got adequate recess and physical activity. Instead, my brain, like many others, just works differently; I like the way my brain works.
I like that I can hold more than one conversation at a time—it’s surely come in handy as a mother. I like, too, that I have more energy than many other people my age, and that I speak my mind easily without a phony filter—call it “impulsivity” if you prefer.
If my daughters display signs of ADHD, then I’m all the more glad that I’ve spent so much of my life figuring out how my ADHD benefits me, and that I’ve stopped fighting it.
Battling an intrinsic part of ourselves is rarely a good thing. I’ve learned, through working with ADHD specialists and through trial and error, what “works” for me. Things like exercise and sleep, for instance, are crucial for the ADHD brain. (Here, read these tips for parents with ADHD.) Simultaneously, so is self-acceptance.
This is easy to state, however, as a 36-year-old adult. I’ve had years to work on developing both my self-esteem and self-appreciation. Still, this recent news that studies are showing a rise in girls with ADHD is, for me, positive.
It means that we’ve stopped treating ADHD as a boys’ issue, because, as this research is clearly showing, it’s not.
While I always got in trouble growing up for being loud, for talking and for being somewhat restless, much of my restlessness was internal and, therefore, easy to miss or gloss over.
And loud girls aren’t ideal. Brazen, bossy girls are quickly labeled terms that aren’t allowed in classrooms. To this day, owning my naturally aggressive behavior, and not continually apologizing for it, is something I deal with often.
My two girls are loud. I’m trying to teach them appropriate moments to speak up, as well as when it’s best to use a quiet voice—like the car, and, for the love of God, when the baby is napping—but I won’t teach them to be quiet, or to roughhouse less, because they were born female.
A rise in diagnosing young girls with ADHD does mean that we’ll need to admit where these children will need guidance and extra support—because the reality is that it is a challenge to sit in school and to focus, especially as homework loads increase in junior high and high school. Yet I see this rise as entirely positive for several reasons.
For one, we are listening to girls. We aren’t dismissing them as easily as we did when I was growing up, and we aren’t mislabeling ADHD as a boys-only club. Moreover, girls properly diagnosed with ADHD might have a better chance of utilizing their gift—which I truly believe ADHD is—instead of acting out or becoming impulsive in a way that can be damaging.
It’s important to have this conversation about how to best diagnose and treat ADHD so that kids receive proper care, but, please, let’s stop acting like there is something wrong with those of us that have it.