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Do I reject that D in ADHD?

Uncategorized Oct 23, 2020

Yesterday I was interviewed by a wonderful woman who creates spaces that are inclusive for neurodivergent kids.

I was asked a really great question.

After mentioning that within my positive autistic identity framework, I NEVER use the abbreviation "ASD" or refer to an autistic person as an "ASD son", etc due to the D standing for "Disorder"..

I was asked if I felt the same way about ADHD.


I have thought about this, many a time.

I do LOVE being an ADHDer, I do LOVE my impulsivity and my zaniness.

I LOVE the creativity it offers to me and I genuinely LOVE having 75 projects on the go.

But I don't deny the challenges.

I am a neurodivergent person who waited 40 years to begin unravelling my internalised ableism.

I am still working out which supports work best for me, and that will always be evolving.

I am an autistic person who experiences chronic anxiety and I use an SSRI (anti-anxiety medication) to manage it and it works beautifully.

I am an ADHDer who uses Ritalin LA to be able to pin down some concentration, focus and increase my productivity.

Autism and ADHD, along with PDA are disabilities.

I see my disabilities through the lense of the social model of disability rather than the medical model.

How well supported am I? How accommodated and understood am I? Am I accepted, embraced and celebrated, radically? Is my lifestyle and environment in alignment with my neurobiology?

These are the elements that impact the level of disability I experience in any given moment.

A neurodivergent person's ability and opportunity to thrive should never be their responsibility, solely.

As a society, we must be always educating ourselves and informing our human expression by practising inclusion.

These are human rights.

Positive autistic identity and the Neurodiversity model or paradigm does not exclude or dismiss the reality of disability. At all.

But a person's right to be celebrated should never be conditional upon their challenges.

Do I reject the D for Disorder in ADHD?

**Edited to reflect my decision that YES, I do reject the D for disorder. I do NOT consider myself disordered as an ADHDer**

Until I had medication in my life, I had no idea how challenging life was.

I had no idea.

When I didn't battle anxiety every single day, having to push through it and tipping myself into burnout regularly from the consistent flooding of cortisol and adrenaline through my body, I had no idea how bad it had been.

For 40 years.

Autism is rarely the issue here, folks.

It's our co-occurring conditions.

The anxiety, the chronic illnesses, along with being misunderstood, the ever shifting goal posts of social engagement and connection with those who don't share our neurotype.

The functionality I achieve with medication and supports is based on neuro-normative standards.

Meeting deadlines that are set, adhering to timelines and expectations of others.

Do I reject that D in ADHD?


Are you an ADHDer? How do you feel about this?

Do you consider your ADHD a disorder?

Where do we draw the line at labelling human beings "disordered" based on differences and challenges?

Why do we not pathologise characteristics or challenges of non neurodivergent people?
Image Credit: Explicit Design

(Image description: a line-style illustration of a young woman depicted from the torso up)


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