There seems to be a debate developing within our ADHD tribe . . . to be or not to be an “ADDer”.

During Rick Green’s (of TotallyADD) opening keynote at the Attention Deficit Disorder Association Conference this summer, he asked the audience “Do you say ‘I am ADD’ or do you say “I have ADD’?”. I immediately blurted out “I am ADD”. The way I see it, I didn’t catch ADHD, it’s not something I’m going to recover from, it’s how I was built – a Ferrari brain with bad brakes, as Dr. Edward Hallowell would say – it’s just the way I am. Rick proceeded to explain why he does not say “I am ADD” – ADHD is not the sole defining factor of who he is, and I certainly agree with him on that point.

There are many monikers that come together to make me the unique human being that I am . . .

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Then a few weeks ago, Terry Matlen wrote “I Am Not an “ADDer” – also stating that ADHD is not THE defining factor of who she is. But, unlike Terry, to me “ADDer” isn’t a “cute” or “trendy” acronym, it’s my empowering proclamation. Terry worries “ADDer” sounds like “one belongs to a clique or privileged crowd”, but for many ADDers childhood was a lonely place, so why not let us, if we choose, proclaim our lifetime membership in this club with pride?

I grew up before their was an ADD or ADHD to explain why may brain races then stalls then races again in the opposite direction. I grew up in the shadow of many negative monikers . . .

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So after all these years, I’m glad to finally have a tribe, a clique, a club that can’t deny me membership, can never kick me out, that understands and accepts me.

The postscript on Terry’s post references another anti-ADDer post – ‘ADDer’ is a Dumb Name. Don’t Call Me That. by Dr. Oren Mason. I agree with Dr. Mason that “ADDer” can sound dismissive when used in certain settings by certain people, say a doctor or an educator, but I don’t use “ADDer” lightly or flippantly, when I choose to use “ADDer” it is with pride.

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ADHD is part of who I am and nothing I can do can change that, so each and everyday I choose (and some days it’s a struggle) to keep my perspective on ADHD’s positive traits and to keep striving to embrace my gifts and forgive myself my challenges.


To me “ADDer” isn’t a negative unless I believe it is, or I let others decide it is for me.

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