Really this blog entry should be about neurodiversity in general, but seeing as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is my diagnosis, that will be the focus of my writing. ADHD is a common mental disorder, 8.5% of children and 2.5% of adults, often characterized by inattention and hyperactivity (Parekh. 2017).
I have heard criticisms from people about the existence of ADHD. There appears to be a belief that ADHD is over-diagnosed. Many young children, boys especially, are expected to be somewhat hyperactive; if a child doesn’t want to sit still in class, does that really make them disordered? I’ve also heard people speculate that technology is a contributing factor to the high rates of ADHD in children in recent years, as children are naturally inclined to seek out fun over work. I mean, why should children want to focus on Math when they have TikTok, Instagram, and online video games to challenge their attention?
Take this segment in RSA’s video, Changing Education Paradigms:
Keep in mind, there is a lot in this video that I agree with, and their outlook on the institution of education vs. our progressing society is definitely food for thought. That being said, I am wary of their stance on technology vs. ADHD.
I’ve come to know that there is much more to ADHD than hyperactivity and difficulty paying attention. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), ADHD is a brain disorder; certain structures in an ADHD brain are smaller or less dense than those in a neurotypical brain. The AACAP outlines that the cortex of the brain that controls memory, decision-making, problem solving, planning, and motivation to name a few- is affected by ADHD.
Imagine how frustrating it is for a child to be wired in a way that affects the way you make decisions, solve problems, make plans and motivate yourself, and then have their struggles be attributed to their consumption of technology, as opposed to the physiological differences in their brains. It might annoy an adult, but it could be dangerous to a child’s mental health. I am concerned this perception might mean that a child won’t get the treatment they need, or might be blamed for a disorder they can’t get rid of.
On the flip side, there are some great, insightful videos about people’s experiences with this disorder. Take Jessica McCabe’s TEDx Talk, Failing at Normal:
On a personal level, her speech resonates with me. The emotion in her voice as she speaks of her experience speaks of the struggle behind ADHD that most people don’t understand. McCabe also has a YouTube channel, How to ADHD where she gives great insight into many topics that might be helpful to people affected by this disorder.
In all, obviously everything we consume online must be taken with a grain of salt and a critical mind. It is easy to spread harmful misinformation through social media, but it can also be a valuable place to find communities and networks of resources. Have you ever found a helpful community online to support you or a loved one? How do you feel about social media in regards to neurodiversity? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.
Twitter: Is Social Media helpful or harmful to people who are neurodivergent? Here’s one perspective from someone with ADHD. https://bit.ly/3m3PPbZ
Facebook: Are you, or do you know someone who has ADHD? Social media seems to have a lot to say about this disorder. https://bit.ly/3m3PPbZ
Parekh, R. (2017, July) What Is ADHD? Retrieved from: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/adhd/what-is-adhd
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2017, February) ADHD & the Brain. Retrieved from: https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/ADHD_and_the_Brain-121.aspx