Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Trendy Mild Disability Disorder


DID the boredom of lockdown cause more ADHD? Or is the 400 per cent rise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder referrals since 2020 what happens when people are stuck at home and have time to google ‘what’s wrong with me?’?   

Finding out your rubbish attention span is not because you are lazy or stupid must be a relief in a world where personal responsibility and giving yourself a shake has gone out of fashion.  Looking inward for what makes us special doesn’t stop there of course. It gets you more time in exams, or access to resources because ADHD, like dyslexia, is a disability. And like dyslexia it’s a term that is becoming next to meaningless. 

ADHD in adults is assessed through self-reporting. Give a man a symptom and he’ll give it a moment’s thought. Give a man a checklist and he’ll find his own disability. Anyone who has, or supports  someone with, significant disability including autism, dyspraxia, Tourette’s, anxiety disorders, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder will know that they face serious barriers. Putting up an umbrella of disability to include the mild sufferer does the real disabled no favours. 

Schools are now mental health units where diagnoses are rampant and part and parcel of life for our young learners. Those learners will grow to become bitter about their crap education because of the resources given not to the genuinely ‘disabled’ but those labelled with ‘conduct disorders’ or any number of ‘disabilities’ which mean they are allowed to hit people and stay in the room and stop decent learning taking place. Attainment gaps are becoming wider. When those children become bitter adults we might find that their empathy for ‘disabilities’ was used up at an early age. Our future adults may become resistant to today’s moral compass where we seem to worry more about being on the wrong side of history in the future and less about getting children taught today.   

They say not all disabilities are visible. Well, they should be. Making invisible ‘disabilities’ a thing takes away from those who need it.  Elon Musk is now autistic, so he’d get a blue parking badge. Disabled people need labels because their lives are difficult and society rightly helps. When society starts seeing people taking the mickey with the mild conditions, people stop caring. When Greta Thunberg refers to her autism as a ‘superpower’ she gaslights the truly disabled young person. Daniel Radcliffe and his dyspraxia, Justin Timberlake and Jamie Oliver and their ADHD: the list is exhausting (you can see some of them here). What, are you not special enough? Is your success not proof that those ‘barriers’ were manageable?

To place people with mild trendy symptoms in the same place as these people is an affront. An autistic adult who rocks throughout the day, can’t communicate and needs round-the-clock care is about as close to Elon Musk as Meghan Markle is to those very poor African women she had dance for her.   

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Gail MacDonald
Gail MacDonald
Gail MacDonald is a professional psychologist and writer. Views expressed here are her own.

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