Many years ago, when I was a child and was more interested in Nancy Drew books than understanding ADHD, my mother got a call from her frantic sister. Her son- my cousin- had been tearing through the house when his brother accidentally slammed the door on his finger. Hard. So hard, in fact, that the tip was ripped off. We rushed over to their house to help retrieve the finger tip, and then escorted them to the hospital for reattachment surgery.
A few years before that, this more than likely undiagnosed ADHD wild child nearly killed himself while exploring a bottle of aspirin, which he gulped down with one swig.
I believe that ADHD is under recognized as a potential health hazard, yet very little is written about this. We read studies about the high incidence of substance abuse, traffic accidents, nicotine addictions, and unlawful conduct. We know that the prisons are filled with undiagnosed adults with ADHD.
But what are the specific every day dangers of having ADHD?
Think about it: the most common symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity/impulsivity, inattention and distractibility; others include memory deficits, procrastination, mood lability, impatience and more. What effect does all of this have on the individual with ADHD? For some, these symptoms are merely an annoyance. For others, they wreak havoc with relationships, school and work. But for others, they can be life threatening
For example, my own hyperactive, distracted and impulsive daughter just recently came close to burning the house down. She had decided to cook a steak for herself but failed to check inside the oven before turning on the broiler. Within minutes, the oven caught on fire, with flames spreading rapidly up the walls and reaching the ceiling. She didn't realize that she'd left a grease-laden pan in the oven the night before. Luckily, we were able to contain the fire before it spread to the rest of the house.
Then there are the stories told to me by distracted mothers and fathers who have unlocked their car doors, dumped diaper bags and toys in the back seat, then drove off...not knowing they left the baby and car seat on the roof of the car! Fortunately, none of these children were hurt.
I've heard countless tales of kitchen fires, broken bones, and medical emergencies due to people's ADHD. In fact, my own distractibility caused me to seriously smash a finger in a car door (must be a genetic thing). I've broken my foot due to steps appearing "out of nowhere" in the house I've lived in for over ten years and broke a knee when over-exercising. I simply wasn't paying attention to my body.
Those of us with ADHD might forget to take our medications as directed by our doctors; not just our ADHD meds, but medications we depend on to stay alive. We may make similar mistakes with our children; mistakes we can't afford to make. Perhaps we've forgotten to get refills in time, or mistakenly gave the wrong dose. Or truth be told, how many times have we given our children the wrong medication?