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When a Mom Said Her Child Can't Have ADHD Because 'She's So Smart'

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“My daughter can’t have ADHD, she’s so smart! And a girl!” said a mom friend.

Seriously?! I couldn’t believe I was hearing this. What year is it? 

“Um, I have ADHD, and I consider myself a pretty smart cookie.” 

“No, you don’t understand, she’s so smart!” she insisted. 

“Right, I have two master’s degrees.” 

What my impulsive ADHD brain saw me do was lunge and shake her vigorously. Well, maybe a little more than that, but I don’t want to implicate my thought process too much. Not in writing anyway.

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OK, yes, I lose my keys. And yes, I tend to get excited during conversations with adults (I’m a stay-at-home mom) and maybe sort of interrupt sometimes. Or a lot. I can’t pay attention in church (sorry, God and Father Joe). And maybe I’ve forgotten the books I’m returning to the library and don’t realize it until I’m at said library. And even though I just discussed getting off at the next exit on the freeway, I passed it. So sue me. I do have ADHD, after all.

I’m an adult. I’m intelligent. I’m a mom, and I actually get my kids to school on time. They have homemade lunches every day — in their book bags with handwritten notes. I’m a wife, and a fairly good one. I’m a lot of things, including someone with ADHD.

I don’t have a big red sign on my forehead that says it. I can sit in a waiting room and not bounce off the walls  — well, literally, but metaphorically speaking it’s torture and I want to scream from the rooftops. But I don’t.

I don’t have limitations of success because of it.

I don’t sit around and feel sorry for myself because of it.

I have a ton of coping mechanisms I taught myself because girls who got straight As and sat still in class didn’t get diagnosed 35 to 40 years ago. Except doing the dishes. There’s no coping mechanism for that and no dishwasher in sight, so there are some in my sink as I write this.

I’m not on medication, mostly because I’m allergic to it. Although, it would probably help eliminate those dishes mentioned above. And the imaginary dust bunnies. And the folded laundry in a few different baskets that have sat there for a week.

But hey, I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of girl, so that laundry is folded!

What do I want to say? And what did I continue to say to that mom friend?

I said her daughter is super smart. She is beautiful and kind. She is not her diagnosis. She will have a job and career. She will have everything. She is successful and will be even more so with a diagnosis (which she received).

All in all, I kept telling her I’m extremely intelligent and have ADHD. I kept telling her it was going to be OK. I kept telling her it’s not a death sentence, but an enlightenment.  And I say that to all of you.

I refuse to put myself in a corner because of it, and I intend to share my story with as many people as possible to end the shame that often accompanies it.

There’s no shame in ADHD. Maybe a dust bunny or two, but not my diagnosis.

Originally published: July 22, 2015
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