ADHD vs Asthma: Why the Stigma?

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ADHD vs Asthma: Why the Stigma?

One of these girls has ADHD.  The other one has Asthma.  Which is which?  Does it matter?


For years, I played on a traveling Academy soccer team that was extremely demanding both physically and mentally. For practice and games, each team member had to prepare themselves – physically and mentally – in order for the team to have the best shot to win the game.


Several of the players had Asthma. Before each practice and game, they had to use their inhaler to ensure they could breath well for hours while running.


I played goalkeeper, so I was the last line of the defense. I definitely needed to be locked-in and focused at all times. I was the only team member with ADHD. I had to make sure to take my ADHD medication before heading onto the field to ensure that I was as attentive as possible.


The girls with Asthma and myself both had to take extra steps to make sure to be physically and mentally able to perform our best. However, sometimes my coaches questioned my use of ADHD medication before the games. The coaches told me to “just try harder-just concentrate!” They never told the asthmatic girls “just try harder-just breathe right!” Asthma medication and ADHD medication are no different if you think about it: both are used to help someone function better.


So, why is there a perceived discrepancy between the two? That is called stigma. Stigma means others think of you poorly because of a particular circumstance or quality. Do people with Asthma have stigma?  No way. 


Why then are people with ADHD stigmatized?  Answer: Because they don’t understand what ADHD is all about. 


Let’s fix that!