Note: Originally posted 8 April 2008.
Recently I was reading some articles about ADHD one of the things that caught my attention was the use of ADHD in lieu of words like person or child. This really bothered me. In fact I find it offensive. Why does this bother me?
First, labels are dehumanizing. I have ADHD, I am not an ADHDer. I am a person just like you. I may have different issues and challenges than you. Everyone has stuff they have to deal with ADHD is a part of mine. Labels make me less of a person and inferior. For some it is an excuse to treat those of us with disabilities as insignificant or marginal.
I am not ADHD or LD. I am a person. ADHD and learning disabilities may partially define me. I am also creative, a college graduate, a music lover and a computer nerd. Being dyslexic is just one facet of me, not my total existence.
Please do not put me in a box. See me for who I am not for the challenges I face. Take the time to see the real me. Once you get past what I cannot do you may discover there are many things I can do and do well.
Those of us with any form of disability often have to first overcome the attitudes, biases or prejudgment that others have concerning disabilities. The first step in changing attitudes is with me and those who care about me. I must first see myself as valued individual created in the image of God. I am not LD, ADHD, or any other label. While to you it may be just a little thing understanding that having ADHD does not have to define, limit or marginalize me is a giant first step in being an individual.
I am reminded every day that I have a dyslexia and dysgraphia. I do not need anyone calling me a label to remind me. Most of the time it is the little things that remind me not the big things. This weekend I attended a function at church that required name tags. You know the little kind where you write your name with a pen. Well, I was the only person without one, in fact I never wear them. As usual when asked I refused. It is better to be thought a rebel than actually have someone attempt to read my writing. As usual, no one asked me why I would not wear one. So what is the big deal with a stupid little name tag? Well, I got tired of people commenting about how bad my writing is years ago so I stopped wearing those things. It really bothers me that I still cannot write legibly something most children above second grade can do.
Next, time you encounter someone with a disability take a few minutes and look beyond the label. Take some time to find the real person often hiding behind the label.