AD/HD Awareness and Avoiding the Gift/Difference/Disability Debate

  • This is AD/HD Awareness Week. We are delighted that the United States Senate passed, for the fifth consecutive year, a resolution recognizing an AD/HD Awareness Day-September 18, 2008. To read the resolution, visit and search for S. Res. 649. See our Web site for CHADD's activities to promote awareness during this week.


    A CHADD member benefit is receiving our award-winning Attention magazine six times a year. Attention offers advice and information about AD/HD from scientists, families, and advocates. The October 2008 issue includes an article by CHADD volunteer leader Gina Pera titled, "Dealing with Denial."

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    Many of us get upset and uneasy when people portray AD/HD as "gift," as a "difference," or as a "disability." We each think about our own family experience and challenges when people generalize and make simplistic claims about the disorder. Gina offers five guidelines to keep in mind about dealing with denial, one of which is, "Avoid getting stuck in the gift-or-difference debate." I have a strongly-held view about this debate, based on my son's lifelong experience, but this can easily distract us.


    Gina's second guideline offers the most important element of this dynamic to me personally: "Is the behavior creating distress for the person? Is it impairing the person in important areas of life functioning (relationships, school, work, ability to manage basic needs)?" And Gina poses a related question: "Is it creating havoc for their loved ones?"


    As we attempt to better inform ourselves and the public about AD/HD, I encourage you to become a member of CHADD, to receive our magazine six times a year, to have access to magazine archives going back as far as 1998, to receive information and support, and to be part of an advocacy movement that influences and shapes public policies. Join us in our effort to build a social movement of support for persons with AD/HD and related disorders.





Published On: September 18, 2008