In 2020, the TikTok 'buzzword' was DID. In 2021, it was BPD. Now, I'm beginning to think if ADHD is the new buzzword everyone wants to identify with.
We're starting to hear the term "ADHD" tossed around like confetti at a party, short for "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," a DSM-5 diagnosis indicating a type of neurodivergence. In the same way that OCD — yet another clinical diagnosis — had become the preferred term to describe a preference for cleanliness, ADHD has now become an excellent, hip label: "Oh, sorry, I have trouble focusing right now; I must have ADHD." It's also used sarcastically to mock that the diagnosis is becoming more common in adults. In either case, it minimizes the difficulties that ADHD people face in a world that is designed to accommodate their neurotypical counterparts.
So you're assuming that ADHD is just a "flavor of the month"? Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, on the other hand, has been recognized as a medical diagnosis for decades. It's just that our awareness and acceptance of it have changed over time. So what exactly is neurodiversity?
Originally known as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), it eventually became ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Simply put, neurodiversity means that our brains are just as unique as the people who inhabit them. We're not just talking about intelligence here; we're also talking about how we socialize, learn, and concentrate. It's a broad term that encompasses a variety of conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and others. Yes, you read that correctly — these are not diseases but differences in brain wiring! The autism community coined this extraordinary concept in the late 1990s, and it has since gained wide acceptance. Neurodiversity encourages us to recognize neurological differences as part of the vibrant fabric of humanity, just as ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and cultural backgrounds are.
Almost every day, I see a large number of TikToks about ADHD. Most of the time, they're discussing symptoms ranging from impulsivity to executive dysfunction and so on. Some of them address the more visible symptoms of ADHD, such as procrastination and difficulty focusing. While I believe these discussions are essential and should be had, I am concerned that they are often presented in a way that leads young, vulnerable people - TikTok's target market - to believe that they must have ADHD.
"That ADHD moment when you put off your homework!"
"Does anyone else with ADHD forget their keys?"
Yes, these are potentially ADHD symptoms. However, it is also an everyday occurrence for many people who do not have ADHD. Almost everyone on the planet has had experiences that are similar to ADHD symptoms at some point in their lives. Everyone has lost concentration while enjoying a movie or arrived late for work. The co-occurrence of these signs in youth and adulthood, as well as the level of limitation they cause, is what warrants an ADHD diagnosis.
We have stepped into a new era of ADHD awareness in the last couple of years. The stereotype of a ratbag, hyperactive little boy is fading. Medical professionals, policymakers, and ordinary people are gradually coming to regard the diagnosis as a serious, often lifelong, and life-altering condition affecting a large number of people. Part of this process has been re-discovering the scores of people who slipped through the cracks while receiving treatment as children.
However, as more adults connect the dots and are diagnosed, how we talk about the condition is evolving.
Instead of being a sign of impending doom, this is fantastic news for many of us. A confirmation that, yes, things were as complicated as they seemed and that it wasn't just a personal failing. A diagnosis enables us to forgive ourselves and begin healing.
For the first time, we are establishing a robust and self-governing community. And while we obviously discuss the difficulties that come with the condition, we also discuss the neutral and even positive aspects of ADHD. For example, consider how a big, broad attentional style may nurture unique ideas or how treasures buried deep within a hyperfocus rabbit hole can be found.
I am concerned that this nuance is frequently overlooked on social media, resulting in the disorder being trivialized at best and misdiagnosed at worst.
It irritates me when I see the fifth ADHD creator of the day laying out their (very real) struggles with disorganization, then open the comments and see, "Wait... does it mean I have ADHD? [insert puzzled face]". Take a moment to educate yourself before jumping to conclusions or dismissing ADHD as a fad. Believe me when I say that learning the truth about neurodiversity will open your eyes and make your world more accepting. ADHD has evolved into a distinct identity rather than a medical condition. We need to find a new way to discuss it. For many, a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was the catalyst that allowed them to forgive themselves and begin healing.