The History Behind ADHD Awareness Month

Reviewed by Aaron Horn, LMFT

Published 12/23/2020

Most of us lead different lives, have different goals, and have completely different experiences throughout life. While we’re all unique in our own way, it’s important to remember we’re all in this together -- no matter what you’re suffering from or celebrating in life.

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Through the many ups and downs of life, we have each other. Unfortunately, many people fail to understand the importance of working together and being there for each other, which results in many of us not having the support we need.

That’s what makes the various awareness months throughout the year so special, so important, and so crucial to those suffering from mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual damage -- including ADHD Awareness Month.

So, what is ADHD Awareness Month?

ADHD Awareness Month is exactly what it sounds like -- an entire month dedicated to spreading awareness about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (also known as ADHD). It’s celebrated throughout October and aims to defeat the stigma surrounding the disorder.

To celebrate ADHD Awareness Month, individuals and organizations worldwide join hands to increase the amount of education and decrease the number of misconceptions that hinder the true impact ADHD has on someone’s life.

People are met with a wide range of activities -- both in-person and online -- that help spread this awareness, but not many people understand where the month-long dedication comes from. That’s why we’re here to spread awareness about ADHD Awareness month.

When Did ADHD Awareness Month Start?

The term ADHD is a rather new concept in the medical field. Despite the symptoms of ADHD being discussed several hundred years ago, it wasn’t until 1987 that the industry adopted ADHD as the official diagnosis. Still, there was no ADHD Awareness Month at that time.

It wasn’t until 2004 that awareness for ADHD started to gain popularity. While we celebrate it during October, it was originally observed in September. In fact, it wasn’t an awareness month at all and was labeled ADHD Awareness Day.

On September 7, 2004, the first observance was when the United States Senate officially named September 7th ADHD Awareness Day. Maria Cantwell signed and resolved to raise awareness about a hazardous disorder that was sweeping the nation -- and the rest of the world.

In the resolution letter, Cantwell explained her reasoning for designating ADHD Awareness Day:

“Nationwide, an estimated 3 percent to 7 percent of young school-age children and an estimated 4 percent of adults have AD/HD. Yet despite these staggering figures, AD/HD remains a mystery. Dispelling the mystery is precisely why I introduced the resolution that designates today as National AD/HD Awareness Day.”

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Over time, ADHD Awareness Day evolved. More people started to take part. More organizations were created to defeat the stigma, and the vision initiated by Maria Cantwell started to take form in a major way.

Eventually, ADHD Awareness Day evolved into ADHD Awareness Week. Not long after that, people started to understand the impact this week was having on spreading awareness and decided to institute it throughout October. Even today, it continues to evolve as organizations find new ways to reach out to others.

Why Is ADHD Awareness So Crucial Today?

We must celebrate ADHD Awareness Month and continue what so many have started in the past. The media, entertainment, movies, television, and the internet have done a lot to misrepresent the truth behind ADHD.

As a result, we must flip the stigma and re-educate people around the world. It’s time people understood the real facts and statistics surrounding ADHD. With ADHD Awareness Month, that’s a possible and reasonable mission -- especially with the entire world taking part.

It’s important to note that ADHD Awareness Month does more than educate those unaware of the disorder. It’s also a prime opportunity to reach out to support those who have been diagnosed with the disorder and continue to suffer from it.

These individuals are introduced to a world no one should live in, and the symptoms take away so much from their day-to-day life. Together, we can help them feel noticed, appreciated, understood, and supported as they continue their fight with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Common Misconceptions About ADHD

As we mentioned above, there is a wide range of misconceptions, mysteries, misrepresentations, and confusion surrounding attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Many people are suffering from ADHD without knowing it, and others are unaware of what ADHD is.

To ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to ADHD, what it is, how common it is, and how it impacts someone’s life, we’re going to share with you some of the most popular misconceptions -- as well as the truth behind each misconception.

  • Many people are under the impression that ADHD isn’t a real disorder and isn’t credited by medical professionals.

The truth? ADHD is referenced in over 100,000 different medical articles and journals -- including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5).

  • People with ADHD can’t concentrate.

The truth? It’s not that ADHD patients can’t concentrate. It’s that they have difficulty concentrating when the task doesn’t involve something they’re interested in. In addition to that, some people with ADHD experience hyper-focus as opposed to a lack of focus.

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  • ADHD is a result of parents not raising the child properly.

The truth? While they haven’t narrowed the cause of ADHD down to one specific factor, several risk factors are involved. While environmental factors can play a role, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder mostly caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and issues with the brain’s structure or function.

  •  There’s a cure for ADHD.

The truth? There is no cure for ADHD, though there are several treatments for it. While some people see their symptoms improve over time, others will manage their symptoms for the rest of their life. In some cases, it could be combined with other mental issues.

  • People with ADHD just need to learn how to relax.

The truth? People with ADHD can’t “just relax,” especially when they want to. Instead, they need therapy to help manage their symptoms and often require medication to make up for the chemical balances inside the brain.

Among all the misconceptions, it’s important to remember that ADHD has been diagnosed in over 9% of all children aged 2-17 years old since 2016 -- representing over 6 million children. Most of these children receive treatment, but that number doesn’t represent the number of children suffering from ADHD without knowing it.

With ADHD Awareness Month, the goal is to help the children who aren’t currently receiving treatment while supporting all the children.

Activities During ADHD Awareness Month

There is a wide range of organizations involved in spreading awareness year-long, but they all come together to provide a wonderful month of October for ADHD Awareness Month. With events held live in-person and on the internet for all to see, there are countless activities for people around the world.

To give you an idea of just some of the amazing things that happen in communities around the world (and the internet), let’s discuss some of the most prominent things happening during this month -- including some things you can do yourself:

  • Especially in social distancing, webinars and live social media events are extremely popular these days. What’s great about these events is that you can circle back around to them later, allowing you to spread awareness year-round.
  • Many local organizations join hands to present at different locations throughout the community. They might visit local schools, churches or set up their own event on a plot of land.
  • If you want to help spread the awareness, you can always post flyers (in-person and on social media) to increase exposure.
  • Write to any state legislators in your area to get them involved in any festivities. Since they’re supposed to be the voice of your community, they should show their support just like everyone else.
  • When meeting and holding conversations with friends and family throughout October, don’t feel weird bringing up the fact that it’s ADHD Awareness Month. Instead, you can help make this annual observation a household tradition.

Whether you’re taking part in, running, setting up, or attending an event during ADHD Awareness Month, the main idea here is to reach out your hand, so others know you’re there to support them. It’s a delicate time for anyone suffering from ADHD, but together we can fight through it.

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Living with ADHD makes it difficult to live a normal, happy, and healthy life. That’s why ADHD Awareness Month is so important, especially since we are learning new facts about the disorder each year. As long as we’re learning new things, that new information needs to be spread.

Are You Struggling With ADHD?

As we mentioned above, many people live with ADHD symptoms -- despite not being diagnosed with ADHD. It’s not that they don’t have ADHD, but rather that they didn’t know to seek professional help. Instead, they assume their emotions and behaviors are normal.

At Mind Diagnostics, we understand how damaging this can be to the individual’s life. The longer they go without treatment, the more opportunity the disorder has to impact their lives. That’s why we’ve decided to step in and help.

With our comprehensive online ADHD test, we help individuals determine their risk level for developing ADHD. While it can’t tell you whether you have ADHD or not, it can notify you when it’s time to seek further evaluation -- or whether the symptoms you’re experiencing are normal.

We don’t stop there. We also understand many people know they need help but don’t know where to get that help. To bring our service full-circle, we help match you with a quality, proven, and trusted therapist to evaluate you. Together, you’ll find the treatment you need to regain control of your life!