As the parent of a child with ADHD, it’s easy to feel abandoned. Other parents can sympathize, but they’ll never understand.
Over time, that sympathy will fade, and often replaced with frustration of judgment. Without the support of other parents of ADHD kids, you might lose your mind.
Of course, parental support groups are everywhere, and you’d expect them to be. But what about adults with ADHD themselves?
Most suffering grown-ups don’t even have a handle on how their disability can affect them as they get older, much less the phone numbers of any support group. It’s not like you can meet up regularly with people who understand your struggle, like we do with addictions.
Thankfully, none of that is true anymore.
ADHD awareness is growing across the country. We’ve gone from thinking it’s a made-up condition caused by video games to official recognition by both doctors and the United States Congress.
We’ve found new ways to treat and train ADHD minds. We’ve formed treatment centers, advocacy groups, and hired lobbyists.
And for any one of the millions of parents of ADHD kids, or ADHD adults, we’ve collected all the resources you might need. And we’ve taken one month out of the year to disseminate them as much as possible.
October is ADHD Awareness Month, and there’s a lot of information to cover.
Why is an Awareness Month Important?
It’s easy to think of a day or month of awareness as little more than a publicity stunt. How many of us, after all, feel comfortable ignoring environmental issues for 364 days out of the year, if only we plant a tree on Earth Day?
Understand, however, that any national day or month is usually the result of long periods of lobbying, fighting with doubters, and all-nighter campaigns just to get people in charge to recognize that something exists.
For ADHD, that’s been an especially difficult battle, and the fact that the disorder is now nationally recognized is a huge victory for those who suffer. And, of course, for those who raise those who suffer.
ADHD Awareness Month is just one of the happy results of those early victories. It started off roughly ten years ago, with official U.S. recognition, but as only one day.
It then grew to a week, and then a month. It’s now the result of several different advocacy organizations pooling their resources, and then spreading them out to every affected parent, child, and adult they can.
ADHD Awareness Month is an invaluable collection of support groups, resources, and tools. It’s still up to you, however, to take advantage of everything it has to offer.
The first thing we’d recommend this October? Reach out to one of its many support groups.
ADHD Awareness Month: Here to Help
Three of the largest names in ADHD advocacy are responsible for putting out resources and educational materials each year. Finding a support group is as easy as making a phone call.
The Big 3 in ADHD Awareness
Remember these names – CHADD, ADDitude Magazine, and ACO.
CHADD stands for Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a non-profit, and its sole purpose is to connect anyone affected by ADHD with resources, experts, and fellow sufferers.
CHADD’s website contains a comprehensive list of every one of its support groups across the U.S. There are three separate kinds of support groups offered – professionals, sufferers, and parent coaches – and a search engine to find those closest to you.
This is an invaluable resource. Do you want to find qualified health care professionals near you that can help with your or your child’s ADHD? CHADD has a list, and everyone on that list has volunteered their names. Do you want to find a support group of fellow ADHD sufferers? CHADD has a list.
Do you want to connect with coaches, or people experienced in teaching parents how to handle ADHD minds? CHADD has a list for you, too.
CHADD offers a number of other services, including educational materials, videos, and training in sponsored events around the country. For those of you feeling all alone, however, its support group network is easily its most valuable asset.
You’re never alone with ADHD. CHADD has a number of friends ready to help.
2. ADDitude Magazine
The best one-stop shop for scientifically vetted ADHD information is ADDitude Magazine. It’s been around since 1998, and offers articles, blogs, testimonials, and up-to-date scientific research on ADHD treatments, diagnoses, and coping strategies. It’s a print magazine, but you can search the archives for free online.
ADDitude Magazine is one of the major contributors to ADHD Awareness Month. You can bet October will have several articles devoted to it, as well as free toolkits and educational materials for anyone who wants to download them.
ADDitute’s educational chops are especially notable here, given that the company has no less than 13 doctors and Ph.Ds on call to review everything in every article before publication. Their alma maters are all names you’d recognize – Harvard, Yale, Colombia, Baylor, Georgetown, and so forth. These are highly trained specialists, all going over the information with a fine-toothed comb.
In short, if it’s in ADDitude Magazine, you can trust it.
The magazine’s website allows you to search for support groups in your area, and offers a ton of free resources for education. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re a parent, adult ADHD sufferer, or just a concerned friend.
3. ACO – the ADHD Coaches Organization
As someone affected by ADHD, ACO is one of the most valuable resources you can have.
The ADHD Coaches Organization is a non-profit network of professionals, each dedicated to helping adults and children with ADHD reach their goals and train themselves to handle new challenges.
For adults with ADHD, this is the greatest help you could ever ask for.
An ADHD coach is just that – someone who works on the sidelines to make sure you practice, train, and perform at your best. A coach keeps you accountable, helps you when you’re having trouble, and talks you through discouraging moments. And the best part? Coaches are professionally trained.
Family, after all, is wonderful to have as a support group, but that doesn’t mean they’re fully qualified. Coaches are.
ACO offers a full directory of its member coaches, searchable by area and by your specific need. In other words, if you suffer from ADHD and need help in higher education, ACO will offer coaches with that specific expertise. If you’re the spouse of an ADHD adult, and are having trouble understanding your husband or wife, ACO will offer coaches with that specific need.
ACO, as one of the big three sponsors of ADHD Awareness Month, encourages its coaches to participate in events and training across the country.
The organization’s goal isn’t just to teach people about ADHD, but to teach them about coaching. It teaches how such a job can provide aid, success, and satisfaction to both the coach and all those suffering from ADHD.
It’s an incredible organization and resource, and you’d be doing yourself a favor looking into it.
How Can I Participate in
ADHD Awareness Month?
The easiest way to participate this October is to see what everyone else is doing, and join an event already established.
For those of us unlucky enough to have nothing nearby, however, there’s an easy solution: organize something yourself.
All the tools you’ll need are free and online.
Promotional walks, marathons, or fun runs are one of the easiest events to host. If you’ve never done one before, don’t fret – CHADD has all the resources you need to get you from start to finish.
CHADD’s toolkit has guidelines for logistics, promotion, and ideas about how to teach everyone participating about ADHD.
Be warned, though – this is the kind of event that people like to have year after year.
If you’re successful (and CHADD’s toolkit makes this quite easy), you’ll probably be asked to do it again. A city-wide awareness walk every October is the perfect way to support your friends and family suffering from ADHD.
2. Write Your Congresspersons
Few things make a politician pay more attention than the voices of those that vote for him or her.
Given everything else constantly going on in the U.S., a politician’s attention is at a premium. A letter to your representatives in October can go a long way towards pushing legislation to help children and adults who suffer from ADHD.
If it’s a local politician, by all means invite him or her to your awareness walk. Nothing turns a low-key fun run into a main event like a mayor or representative showing up to give support.
3. Set Up an Educational Display at Your Local Library or Public School
CHADD, once again, has great resources for this, including fact sheets that you can print up and distribute.
Displays, too, offer a great chance to talk to people from the neighborhood. If you’re in a library, there’s a slew of great books on ADHD that you can display (ADDitude Mag has the definitive list). If in a school, you’ve a great chance to talk about how academic struggles and social struggles intersect.
What Else Can I Do to Help During
ADHD Awareness Month?
This above all: no matter what, be sure to tell family and friends suffering from ADHD that you’re thinking of them, and rooting for them.
It’s easy to feel like you’re all alone, trying to manage struggles and side effects. The next best thing to a magic cure is often a sympathetic ear, a card, or simply a hug.
Sometimes, an encouraging word is the best support of all.