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Day 22: When you've met one person...

When you've met one person, you've met one person. You wouldn't claim all people are the same. When you've met one woman you've met one woman; one Frenchman is one Frenchman; one blind person is one blind person. There are endless examples. So why do so many people think they can pigeon-hole every person with ADHD or autism or any other Special Need? 'Oh yes, my cousin's son is autistic, so I'm sure your child will fit in fine at my music class.' 'Oh, ADHD? He'll fail at school like my colleague's brother.' 'Dyspraxia? Teach her to type, because she'll never learn to write.'

ADHD and Spectrum conditions are complex, and are manifested in different ways in different people. Add in Nature vs. Nurture: neurology is important, but so is environment. The loud, flamboyantly dressed person who shuns what some would consider social norms can have the same diagnosis as the anxious, shy, number-crunching introvert who won't leave the house because he is unsettled by the fact that the world won't fit within his systems. The madly creative, often hyper-focused, non-sleeping entrepreneur can have the same condition as the child who seems to be away with the fairies and has no idea where his other shoe has gone. Richard Branson (of Virgin fame), along with Olympians such as Simone Biles, Louis Smith and Michael Phelps have ADHD, but so do large numbers of male inmates in UK jails. Many famous scientists and inventors are thought to have been autistic, and have changed our world forever, while others find it so very hard to function that the suicide rate among the ASD population is heart-breakingly high. And many people have both ADHD and autism, or other conditions or 'differences' mixed in. Each person with a neurological condition (which is what ADHD and autism are) is as unique as each person in a room full of 'neurotypicals'. Their personalities, their needs, their behaviours and their experiences of life cannot be pre-determined via a diagnostic label.

Most of you know that I've set up this blog and committed myself to 90 days without alcohol as a self-care challenge. However, one of the reasons I need to work on self-care is that I've been working so hard to learn about ADHD and Autism over the last five or so years, in order to support my children. It's easy enough to lose yourself in motherhood at the best of times, but when you add in endless appointments and multiple conditions to manage and research, self-care drops a long way down your list, until you forget you were ever a person in your own right. The money I raise from sponsorship will be paid to The ADD-vance ADHD and Autism Trust, as they stopped me from losing myself altogether. But because of the link, it's important to me that I raise at least a little awareness of what it is like to live with ADHD and/or Autism. I don't feel qualified to speak for such a diverse population, and I don't believe any single person is, so I plan to offer a series of guest posts from people willing to share their own experience of neurological difference. These will have a 'One Person: ' style of title. Please, please get in touch with me if you would like to contribute.

The first contribution will follow this post, and is a remarkable piece of writing from a remarkable young man named Dan Gurton. Please read it and reflect. I will go back to my own scattered thoughts (and ramblings about herbal teas) in a later post!

(I realise I've gone a bit sombre here -- I almost said 'sober', but the irony would be too great -- but please stick with me, wonderful people x)


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