Thoughts on Stigma

Before moving onto the second pillar, I want to take a moment to address the perceptions of “the ADHD label” and their impact. 

We’ve all heard the various reactions to the ADHD diagnosis. It’s not real; there’s no such thing as “neurotypical” because everyone is different; we can all relate to ADHD symptoms sometimes!

I’d like to remind everyone neurotypicals of something extremely important. It is not up to you what ADHD, or neurodivergence, means.

There are twice as many perceptions of ADHD as there are ADHDers. Honestly, I have even heard some of the above statements from our own. We all have ways of interpreting our experience in the context of how we fit – or don’t fit – in the world. And some of those perceptions may be how we managed to survive despite their invalidation.

What I’m trying to say is this: After all the research and the articles and the studies, it is ultimately ADHDers who get to decide what exactly ADHD is – blessing or curse; disabled or different. Because it doesn’t matter what you think is going on inside us, and it doesn’t matter if you call yourself “neurotypical” or complain about how labels divide us. At the beginning of every day, we wake up in a neurotypical world. And regardless of the “right” way to describe ADHD, it is that reality that marks our experience. We have to learn, socialize, connect, and work with many people who will never understand us and many people who have no interest in trying.

The world wasn’t built for us. And whether you call ADHD a gift or a defect, that will remain true. You can lecture all you want about my underdeveloped prefrontal cortex and my poorly functioning neurotransmitters. It still means that you venture into a pre-assembled world while I build mine from scratch.

So neurotypicals, that’s all you need to know. Please leave the rest to us – you’ve done enough.

Neurodivergents: I would love to hear about your experience living in a neurotypical world. How do you see yourself? Which interpretation feels most like home to you?

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Thank you for reading. The second pillar of ADHD, emotional hyperarousal, coming soon.

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About Abby Chau, LMFT, ADHD-CCSP

I am a marriage and family therapist based in Seattle, WA. I also have ADHD! And I love learning more about it, by myself and with my clients. Join me as I create an ADHD Owner's Manual! (she/her)