Every October is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month, an occasion to raise awareness and support for those with ADHD.

In the United States, about 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD, making it one of the most common mental health conditions. Symptoms of the condition include ongoing patterns of:

  • Inattention, which means a person may find it challenging to focus or follow directions, but usually, it may not occur due to rebellion or challenges with understanding something.
  • Hyperactivity, which is when a person may feel the need to move constantly, even when it may be inappropriate for the situation.
  • Impulsivity, which means the person may have difficulties managing impulsive behavior and considering the long-term consequences of those actions.

Many people may have occasional difficulties paying attention, sitting still, or managing impulsive behavior. But for someone with ADHD, these difficulties tend to occur more often, which may affect how they perform certain daily activities.

During ADHD Awareness Month, communities shed light on this condition and rally to support those who have received diagnoses.

In 2004, ADHD Awareness Month began as a collaboration of mental health organizations. The current mental health organizations involved in ADHD Awareness Month include:

The U.S. Senate then designated ADHD Awareness Day as a national holiday. Eventually, the holiday transformed from a day into a month-long event designed to allow the public to learn about ADHD and resources that can help manage it.

Awareness about ADHD has grown a lot in the past few decades. As the knowledge of the condition grows, so does the likelihood that people will have access to the resources they need to manage it.

Before ADHD awareness, many people with the condition may have had challenges understanding their symptoms. Today, it can be much more likely that someone experiencing symptoms will get a professional diagnosis and treatment.

For instance, women and girls have received ADHD diagnoses less frequently, leading some experts to believe that “girls don’t get ADHD.” The reality is that symptoms tend to manifest differently for people.

Some experts also believe females tend to be better at “masking” symptoms. But thanks to increased awareness and education, more women and girls receive the diagnoses and treatment they need.

Ultimately, ADHD is a nondiscriminatory condition, meaning that it can affect people from all walks of life.

Since there are millions of people, including 6.1 million U.S. children, with ADHD, maybe someone you know may have it. Knowledge of the way it manifests can increase understanding and empathy about symptoms.

While symptoms, like challenges maintaining productivity, may be labeled by teachers as laziness, for instance, it’s important to understand that ADHD is a legitimate neurodevelopmental condition that can significantly affect how people perform everyday tasks.

Raising awareness is essential to:

  • promote early diagnoses
  • get proper treatment
  • access support systems

From the classroom to the office, education is critical to making the world more accessible for more people who are neurodivergent, including those with ADHD.

Even though ADHD is a common condition, people may misunderstand it often. According to CHADD, there’s a saying within ADHD communities that states, “If you know one person with ADHD, then you know one person with ADHD.”

Essentially, everyone’s experience with ADHD is different. Although connecting through shared experiences is important, it’s also important to avoid placing people with ADHD in a box.

Healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the general public can serve these communities by promoting awareness of the condition’s varied symptoms.

CHADD also says that according to Roxanne Fouché, director of the ADHD Awareness Month Coalition, the occasion, in part, is designed to raise awareness about how the condition affects:

  • well-being
  • mental health
  • communication
  • relationships
  • social and family lives
  • work

Although there’s no cure yet for ADHD, with education and treatment, someone with ADHD can live an active, full life.

Many advocacy months have symbolic colors. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is pink, for instance. The color orange represents ADHD Awareness Month. Additionally, an orange ribbon symbolizes ADHD Awareness Month.

If you’d like to take part, consider celebrating in one of the following ways:

ADHD Awareness is observed in October each year and aims to raise awareness and support for those with the condition. One of the missions of the holiday is to dispel common misconceptions about ADHD and increase access to professional diagnoses and treatments.

By increasing education and empathy, the world can support those with ADHD so that they can live active, full lives.