To Simone Biles from a Tired Mom,
First of all, let me say that I am so sorry that your private medical information was compromised by guileless hackers. It’s one of those things that I think about a lot, with so much of our personal lives stored within reach of someone willing to do us harm. But you took it in stride, you exemplified the word Olympian and in a few short words solidified yourself as a hero in my book. The headlines could have been much different, but by following the rules and being honest, your Olympic legacy is not tarnished and instead you’re showing the world that ADHD is real, it’s manageable, and you can achieve your dreams no matter what.
I’m sure you know that having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is no picnic. According to CHADD, children with ADHD are at risk for potentially serious problems including academic failure or delays, driving problems, difficulties with peers and social situations, risky sexual behavior, and substance abuse. As a parent of a child with ADHD, this is what keeps you up at night, because how do you overcome such obstacles? How do you parent a child whose future could be ruined by an impulse here or a distraction there? Not to mention, at least 33% of children with ADHD have more severe negative behaviors because of co-existing conditions such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder and almost 50% have a diagnosed learning disability. For those children and those parents, most days feel like climbing Everest in a blizzard. Yet, ADHD is “just a phase,” the result of “poor parenting” or a lack of personal discipline, right? Wrong. And you’ve shown that to the world.
You are a gold medal winning, Olympic gymnast, who probably has more personal discipline and exceptional parenting and coaching than most people could even fathom, yet you still have ADHD. You have achieved greatness, you are articulate, and you continue to represent the USA with class, yet you still have ADHD. When you tweeted, “Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I’m afraid to let people know,” you took the stereotype for ADHD and ripped it to shreds.
I read the article to my daughter that appeared in the Huffington Post and her eyes lit up. She watched you and Michael Phelps (another well-known ADHD athlete) compete in Rio last month, but she couldn’t see herself there on the podium. It was beyond her dreams. You see, for her it is exhausting and overwhelming just to accomplish small tasks. For her, following a rule goes against every fiber in her being and there are a lot of rules in the Olympics. For her, ADHD becomes this cycle of self-defeat. But you showed her a possibility and I saw it there in that moment that I read her your story. I saw the seed plant in her brain that there are people out there like her that are champions, for that I will be ever grateful.
Most days it takes all I have to keep my daughter pointed north and many days I go to bed feeling defeated and that her future is bleak. You not only gave my daughter hope, but you reminded me that she really can do anything.
Thank you, Simone Biles, for that.
A Tired Mom
Photo credit: Agência Brasil via Visual hunt / CC BY