“I would want to sit down in the classroom and be able to read the paragraph as instructed by the teacher. I desired to wait through my turn but would always find myself an object of laughter in class being interrupted by the teacher telling me to stay quiet as it’s not my turn yet. As much as it was good laugh for everyone, I would feel shamed deep inside and nothing that I would do could earn me words of praise from my teacher or parents. Look at him, he is behaving so good, why can’t you just sit in one place, you are a bad boy were common phrases in place of any words of reinforcement or appreciation.”~AnonymousWe have heard parents talking that their kids are naughty, they don’t sit in one place or they can’t wait for their turns. We have heard a lot about ADHD but today rather than talking about what ADHD is, we would try to explore the concept of ADHD from a person who has been diagnosed with ADHD.

People with ADHD have a hard time focusing on a task. We have got complaints from schools wherein teachers have said “your child is not performing well, it seems as if mentally they are somewhere else”, to which we label our child as “naughty”. The truth is they are not careless or naughty or any negative label, it is just that their brain functions in a different way. Focusing on one particular activity is difficult for them, it causes a great amount of discomfort, and when caregivers fail to understand this perspective people with ADHD tend to get angry, which we believe they have an aggressive personality. This becomes a cycle of negative labeling and further shackles the self-esteem of people with ADHD.

We have also observed certain people with ADHD keep losing things or keep dropping things. We without thinking label them as clumsy. Why? It is not that they are clumsy, it is because a part in their brain known as the prefrontal cortex has low blood flow which reduces focus and attention, which is biological and not intentional. So why label them, are they responsible for their biological cycle?

Harsh criticism, words of denigration, and shame become a common experience for a child with ADHD as their symptoms of hyperactivity, lack of attention, and impulsivity are often viewed as temperamental issues and learned behaviours. This lack of awareness and misunderstanding of the symptoms as traits of a child forces parents to burden the child with their expectations for the version of a child they want him/ her to be. Constant comparison with other children being unaware of their own child’s limited abilities in certain areas and greater strengths in others leads the child to develop low self-esteem and low self-worth. Additionally, an emotionally invalidating and critical environment subsequently results in dysfunction in various areas such as interpersonal relations and emotional regulation leading to elevated levels of distressing emotions. A child who is already on a high in a constant struggle of maintaining arousal of mind reaching out from one object to another, further feels burdened with emotions of shame, guilt, and frustration. If only there be cognizance in place of blame, there be support in place of shame and there be love and appreciation for strengths in place of criticism for the limitations, a child with ADHD can channelise and work through to overcome the symptoms rather than developing another comorbidity. Adults with ADHD are highly vulnerable to developing substance misuse/ dependence to cop with all the roller coaster ride they experience in their minds.

Let’s not label people, let’s try to see the world from their perspective and encourage them to seek help.