Stupidity of stigmas

Stigmas.  Let’s talk about them.

You see, I have one basic thought about them: they are stupid.  Mostly, I think they are rooted in ignorance.  But, they launch all sorts of badness, from minor irritation to downright evil.  {And, as it’s lent, lets not forget the correlating word: stigmata.  Think there’s  a whole bunch to say about that? Oh, yeah.  But that’s  whole ‘nother post.}

I’ll try hard to keep this mostly short;  you’re welcome.  I have multiple kids with multiple issues and/or needs.  And if you want to get on your high horse,  yes, we all have special needs.  Ya da, ya da.  I’m not getting quite that philosophical here, however.  I’m gonna keep this post focused to the stigma of labels.  We all know the damage of labels on kids and people, in general.  Well, yes.  Of course.  But, what I also want to note is that those labels can be a tremendous help and marker of real issues.  Real issues that warrant some attention and caring…not only knee jerk reactions or attitudes.

Let me be more specific, as this is SUCH a big topic.  Let’s look at ADHD.  Oh yeah.  That one.  The label diagnosis that makes some folks scoff, look down their nose, and say, “Well, its nothing that a good spanking won’t fix, if  you ask me.”  Happily, I didn’t.  Ask you, that is.  It’s also a label that some will say enables them to let their kids run wild, be bad and don’t you dare call them out for it, because, you know, “Poor Johnny has ADHD, he can’t help it.”  Well, sometimes, he can’t.  But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to learn to live with the consequences of  his behavior and work mightily to learn how to live in this world with the standard boundaries and rules that are in place.

But so too, those “labels,” by which I mean, the actual terms themselves…they are informative. They inform ME why my kid might respond a certain way; different from another of my kids.  They inform me to some of the behavioral challenges: what we need to work on, work with, work around.  Instead of resenting my kid for acting out or having a  hard time staying still when needed, or whatever (because yes, sometimes I do/have, I am that petty) I can remember that there is real cause underneath some of the behaviors.  Not to totally excuse them a la “Johnny” above, but rather to understand what we are working with.  I get to see them with a more informed eye.  That’s what labels and terms can do; if only we stop putting a stigma on basic information.

We must say the term(s) without a whisper.

If our kid has ADHD, then we need to be able to say it without  having to whisper it.  It’s the elephant in the room.  Why not treat it as a matter of course?  I live in the south.  Shockingly enough to me, sometimes I’ll still hear a whispered, “He’s black….”  SIGGGHHHHH.  Yuh.  And? So?  I hear it with ADHD too.  “She has ADHD….” Why do we have to whisper facts?  It’s stupid.  It’s unfair. It’s a stigma.

He has ADHD.  He is black.  He is white.  She has brown hair.  She has ADHD.  He was adopted.  She is Korean, African, Hispanic.

Stop the whispering.

Now, don’t flame me.  I’m not saying we have to preface every encounter with slinging our kids business, or anyone’s, out before us.  Discretion is a lovely thing.  But as soon you have to whisper it….it’s now a stigma.

If you can say it out loud, without pause and whisper, you send a powerful message to the listener but also to your kid.  Yeah, she has ADHD.  And, she has brown hair, too.  We all DO have needs, and quirks and I could make a case that many if not most of us have some form of dis-ability.  Not that I’m saying we have to shout our foibles or lay ourselves bare to scrutiny at all times…or do so for our kids.  But I’m saying that we all have ‘stuff.’ And we do ourselves, our kids, and our society a huge disservice if we grab that ‘stuff’ and use it as an excuse to be or do less than we are able. We also do our kids, our culture, a huge disservice if we keep whispering about facts.  If we  continue to stigmatize basic diagnoses, or facts, like ADHD, then we kind of cripple our kids.  We make them less-than.

These kids (and adults) are so not “less-than.”  In fact, in some ways they are ‘more-than.”  Their brains fire faster and make connections that most can’t even begin to reach.  They just do so in leaps, fast and sometimes furious, and then they move on to the next distraction/interest while the rest of us are still catching up.  I’m not saying it’s an easy thing.  ADHD is a complex layered issue; requiring complex layered multiple approaches to deal with it.

I’ve got more to say in other posts. I’ve not talked about it for years. Maybe not ever. It’s time.  I’ve got books to list and thoughts to process.  Because I have two kids with ADHD.  It’s real.  It’s hard and it’s also got it’s own goods.  But it’s not just that they “need a good whoopin” or that “we aren’t good enough parents” or that “they are just problem kids.”  They are not stupid, far from it.  The stigma.  It’s stupid. It’s asinine.

No more whispering.  They have ADHD.  They are great kids. They have ADHD.  I love them.

*Fail on the short post thing.  As ever.  Surely you’re not surprised.*