After hearing heartbreaking stories from people in local workshops and support groups, I felt compelled to take action. Several months ago, I sold my belongings, bought a plane ticket to Oregon, and then rode my bicycle 5,000 miles in 40 days, from coast to coast. My goal? To counter negative perceptions about ADHD, educate the public, and show that anyone with ADHD can succeed.
I pedaled through the heart of America, talking to people along the way. And I met people with distressing stories. One mom blamed herself for her son’s ADHD. She didn’t know that people with the condition can be a success or that resources are available to help them achieve that goal.
A famous news anchor confided to me that he was diagnosed only a few years ago. Before he understood ADHD, he floundered in his career. Yet like many brilliant and successful people with ADHD, he was reluctant to help others, afraid to mention his condition because of the stigma attached to it.
The mom and the anchorman share a similar story and a powerful message. We cannot live in a vacuum. Only through education and understanding will people with ADHD succeed and achieve. On my journey, I learned that people are willing to listen, and that ADHD advocacy needn’t be carried out on a national stage… it starts where you live.
Put a human face on ADHD — talk to everyone and anyone about it. The more we talk about ADHD, the more we break down barriers. Hold workshops for educators and school administrators, or find someone who can. Learn how to work with the media — offer to write articles on ADHD for local publications and get on local radio or TV.
Or start a local ADHD support group. Besides being rewarding, it’s also fun and easy to form (see below). Enlist guest speakers for the meetings, and invite the press. A little tip: Tell the newspaper or magazine about the event weeks in advance to increase the chances of getting coverage.