You may have heard this statement from a family member, friend or colleague: “Doesn’t Everyone Have A Little ADHD?” In my experience, these words can cause tremendous shame and pain for those struggling daily with the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
“Doesn’t everyone have a little ADHD?” can be so harmful and make it more challenging for individuals with the condition to receive the understanding, compassion and support they deserve. As a result, the challenges and struggles one is experiencing can be belittled, ignored and sometimes internalized as “something is wrong with me.”
Not everyone has a little ADHD. Yes, it’s true that everyone can experience occasional lapses in attention or focus, like losing their keys, misplacing items or missing an appointment. But what if these things happen daily, multiple times a day even? The difference we see with ADHD is the consistency and persistence of these symptoms that truly impact the lives of individuals with ADHD. This can significantly affect someone’s ability to live the life they desire and significantly impact their ability to create strong, lasting relationships and strive academically, personally, and professionally.
The belief that everyone has a “little ADHD” can be damaging for several reasons; consider the following:
- Minimizes Experience- ADHD challenges a person’s daily life in many ways, like the ability to focus, organize, prioritize, emotionally regulate and manage everyday tasks. When someone “causally” suggests that everyone experiences these challenges without understanding the real and all too often severe difficulties that individuals with ADHD face, it can undermine the legitimacy of their experiences and challenges. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding and empathy for those with ADHD can lead to not getting the support and accommodations someone needs to thrive and be successful with ADHD.
- Continues Stigmatization- Unfortunately, the stigma about ADHD still exists today. With continued research and efforts to spread awareness, we have come a long way with our understanding of ADHD, but there’s still work to be done. Throughout history, we see that the symptoms and behaviours of people with ADHD have been misunderstood, which can perpetuate the stigma around the disorder. This can explain why we see so many folks getting a later-in-life diagnosis. The idea that everyone is a “little ADHD” adds to the confusion of symptoms and stigma, which can ultimately contribute to individuals not getting the support they need.
While it might be true that everyone can experience these occasional moments of forgetfulness, lack of focus, or the inability to regulate, it’s important that we carefully consider the difference and the experience between average variations and the persistent and consistent impairing symptoms that individuals experience with the medical diagnosis of ADHD.
I leave you with these questions to consider…
When you contemplate your experiences with ADHD being dismissed or the stigma, what have you noticed?
How have you navigated comments like “Doesn’t Everyone Have A Little ADHD?” in your own personal experience?
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