We Need a Pep Rally

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

I’ve been working my tail off over the holidays, putting together binder materials to support a couple of presentations for the upcoming ACO conference in Atlanta this March (The ADHD Coaches Association).

The presentation that started me thinking about a much needed pep rally is entitled Making the Connection: Brain-based Coaching.

In addition to ADD research, I’ve always kept a watchful eye on the comorbid and “overlapping” fields. Before I put together anything with statistics, I make the rounds one last time – just to see if perhaps they’ve published something relatively new that we haven’t picked up on yet.

As I hopped from website to blog, each developed to support those various other communities (from Autism to Traumatic Brain Injury to Affective Disorders of all types), I kept having the same nagging thought — over and over again, like a broken record:

THEY are supporting their disorders better than we are.

By “supporting,” I mean that they are united in calling for more research, education, and political support as they share information on how to obtain the services that are available, along with general information and anecdotal support.

I don’t think it’s UNRELATED that ADD is the butt of jokes
that would never be tolerated
if made about any other disability.

I’m not talking about dinner table humor, here! While I have noticed that making fun of ADD at home is often a thinly-veiled cover for unacknowledged anger or frustration, that’s not what I mean in this instance.

I’m talking about pot shots taken by the press, in magazines, on talk shows, and even in presentations sponsored by supposedly credible and uplifting organizations like TED.

(See my post taking Sir Ken Richardson to task for making fun of ADD
in his “educational” presentation by clicking HERE)

The thought that those of us in the ADD community need to do A LOT better if we EVER hope to move up on the food-chain first came to my conscious awareness as I typed the words below, included in my Brain-based presentation as a segue between two larger issues.


Learning from the TBI Community

Neuroscientists who study Traumatic Brain Injury have several advantages that those working in the ADD community do not:

  • They have a better idea of where to look for neuro-functional abnormalities because they usually have some information about the source of the injury (as well as external physical evidence, in many cases).
  • They frequently communicate with family members who are eager to provide detailed examples of what the patient was like “before,” what has changed since, along with specifics about progress – all uncolored by personalization or shame
  • It is a rare situation when the patient’s community is divided in their understanding of what’s “wrong.”
  • Nobody expects the patient with the brain damage to “pull it together” without help and rehabilitation, so their doctors are able to collect more accurate data about what’s not working as expected, what interventions work best to get things back on track, with some idea of reasonable expectations concerning timing and healing prognosis.
  • Since it is unusual to hear that someone “doesn’t believe in” brain damage, the individuals with the problem are not shamed into pretending to be higher functioning than they are.

We’ll spend part of the session talking about what TBI neuroscience has come up with that we can apply to our understanding of ADD and our ADD clients.


‘Sup with that?!

Why do they have that advantage? How come we aren’t even MORE eager to provide every little detail that might lead to higher functioning — instead of believing that as long as we can limp along somehow we are supposed to “stiff upper lip” it and pretend we’re doing better than we are?

How come we don’t rally to insist on receiving all the help and support that everyone would agree we deserved if our dysfunctions were sudden?

How come the fact that we never exhibited a “better before” changes anything?
Has everybody already given up on our ability to function with intentionality?
Or is it our willingness that’s called into question?

Why aren’t we even MORE invested in making sure that ADD doesn’t become a life sentence for our loved ones?

In our ADD community:

How come so many on our team are reluctant to don the team jerseys?

  • Why are so many ADDers and parents of ADDers fearful of telling it like it is?
  • Why do we see so many families where one of the parents believes that the ADDer simply isn’t trying hard enough, or is spoiled or (help me Hannah!) enabled by the other parent, or is taking the easy way out with a convenient excuse?
  • Why do we see ANY parents or spouses reluctant to INFORM themselves: to read the books and dig through the research as if the quality of their loved one’s lives depended on it?  
  • Why would anybody rather believe that their beloved IS spoiled, lazy, or stupid than embrace the idea that they might have a diagnosable neurocognitive disorder?
  • Why do we see so many parents and spouses and educators who are afraid that providing assistance is nothing more than the enabling of behavior they darn well want to STOP?
  • How come anybody goes unchallenged when they opine that they “don’t believe in” ADD?

Why do we, as a community, put up with this nonsense?

Really!  As REAL questions: WHY?  

Because if we asked those questions as if we EXPECTED some answers, maybe we’d get some. And then maybe things would change.

I’ve mentioned before how impressed I am with how far ASD advocacy has come in the last decade or so.  Even though Autism affects as many as 1.5 million Americans (about 1 in 150 individuals), ADD affects 12-24 million Americans (depending on whose statistics you use and how they count).

For arguments sake, let’s average that to 18 million.

Without even doing the math, I would expect to see a LOT more action from team ADD. While we’re all busy trying to put a positive face on a disorder that – let’s face it – forces us to work twice as hard for half as much, the ASD community has banded together to INSIST on changes (Autism Spectrum Disorders)

Can we do it TOO?


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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

2 Responses to Sis-Boom-Bah!

  1. Pingback: Don’t Drink the Kool-ade | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t blame the foot! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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