Why Didn't I Get My ADHD Diagnosis Sooner?
I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 20. Many other people also did not get diagnosed until they were an adult. This can lead to some frustration over why it was not caught sooner. Here are some reasons as to why that might be.
You Might Be Predominately Inattentive
There are three types of ADHD: Predominately inattentive, predominately hyperactive-impulsive, and combined presentation. Those who have the predominately inattentive type go undiagnosed more often because their symptoms are less visible. Whereas, those with the hyperactive-impulsive type exhibit more disruptive behavior and draw more attention to themselves.
You Might Be a Woman
Women with ADHD go undiagnosed more often than men. The reasons behind this are not exactly clear. One explanation might be that women are more likely to get the predominately inattentive type of ADHD. See above for why that would make them go undiagnosed more often. Another reason might be that boys are naturally more rambunctious. Therefore, their behavior is more closely scrutinized. Whatever the reason, women go undiagnosed more often than men, and this is tragic.
You Might Be Smart
One of the reasons I went so long before being diagnosed is my IQ. I am in the 95th percentile for intelligence. I was able to get by with less ability to thrive in a traditional classroom setting growing up because I was smart enough to do well enough to not raise any alarm bells. Granted, my mom and teachers could see I was smart and did not catch that I was struggling. However, intelligence can cover up the signs of ADHD
You Might Have Awesome Parents
I am choosing to use the word “awesome” here instead of “overbearing” to make it seem nicer. The fact is, whether your parents were really good at giving you the right structure and environment to succeed or were super strict, your parents may have created a scenario where your ADHD flew under the radar. Many people do not get diagnosed until they get to college. Some get diagnosed when they switch jobs or take on more responsibility. This happens when the structure that allowed one to succeed or the factors that functioned as covert coping mechanisms disappeared.
People Didn’t Know as Much Back Then
As time goes on, more people will begin to be able to spot the signs of ADHD. However, I believe a contributing factor that led to my lack of a diagnosis for two decades and might have contributed to others going undiagnosed for so long is ignorance. Back in the day, ADHD awareness was not a big thing. If you had heard about it, you had a lot of misconceptions about it. People just did not know. Knowing and accepting this helps me forgive my parents and teachers who could have caught my ADHD sooner.
That does not mean, however, that we can just let ignorance continue. ADHD awareness is crucial. We need to be spreading awareness as much as we possibly can.