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“Doesn’t everyone have a little bit of ADHD?”

By Guest Blogger: Jennifer E. Tiviluk, MA, RP, CCC
Specializing in Trauma, ADHD, Executive Functioning, Depression, Anxiety and Family of Origin Trauma

“Doesn’t everyone have a little bit of ADHD?”

“NO”!!!!

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the pre-frontal cortex in the brain. It is posited that ADHD affects the brains’ neurotransmitters (dopamine and norepinephrine). So, these transmitters in the ADHD brain do not consistently fire to stimulate our brain to activate.

These neurotransmitters explain the inconsistency of performance of folks living with ADHD. They may be able to do something one day (if the brain was stimulated) but not the next day. Therefore, people living with untreated ADHD are more likely to display high inconsistencies around performance subjecting them to criticism from the outside world with phrases like “unmotivated, lazy, doesn’t care, get your act together” etc. .

Neurotypical people have moments where they forget things, get distracted or get bored. Folks living with ADHD (4-6% of the population) live with symptoms that daily effect their lives and at times their lives can be “sabotaged” by the untreated executive functioning weaknesses of the disorder resulting in outcomes such as:

  • premature death due to accidents (driving, falls, drug overdose, alcoholism, diabetes),
  • high rates of sleep disorders,
  • increased rates of obesity (because of impulse eating) leading to negative health outcomes like heart disease, autoimmune disorders and heart disease,
  • high rates of dropping out of school and university,
  • high rates of impulse behaviours,
  • increased rates of being bullied and interpersonal challenges,
  • high rates of being fired,
  • high rates of divorce and

I could go on….I think you get the picture!!!!

Our medication that can help us manage our symptoms, is often viewed as a drug of abuse shamed by the media and uninformed individuals. To pick up our meds we must show ID because it is a controlled substance again further shaming folks for having to use this controlled substance for their disorder.

As a parent, we live with people constantly shaming us (indirectly or directly) for making the agonizing decision to put your children on medication to treat this highly heritable disorder. Many times we have to determine the collateral damage on our children who may under perform in school, get in trouble with teachers and constantly receive feedback from their environment that they are “behaving badly” or they need to “get it together” when they are just struggling to manage these neurological symptoms.

I am one of the “lucky ones” I have been able to hold down jobs and educationally I defy the odds of having a Masters Degree where a high rate of folks living with ADHD will drop out of high school, college or university. I am privileged to work with this group in the therapeutic setting where I first-hand see the struggles and the growth of the individuals when they get treatment (meds and therapy).

So next time you think to say “doesn’t everyone have a little bit of ADHD” I hope you can think about the answer before you speak (something that is hard for us to do (lol)) and answer the question yourself. NO!!!

Instead consider empathizing with the person’s struggle of living with our different brain. Offering support instead of advice goes a long way for someone living with this disorder.


This blog was written in response to Bell Let’s Talk as an ADHD Speaks submission. If you feel sparked or inspired to say something about your experience(s) with ADHD, please make a submission at www.adhdspeaks.ca

If you are interested in writing a guest blog, please reach out to us at communications@caddac.ca.

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