There is a common misconception that a child can outgrow autism, ADHD, dyslexia or any other neurodivergency. This is harmful, especially when the neurodivergent child grows up and tries to go along with their life in a world that is not built for them. Incidents due to this ableist agism happens all the time and I had something happen to me today.
As many of you know, I am a visiting vet tech, petsitter and dog walker. I run my own business because of the treatment I had when working at different veterinarian offices even though I am one of the most educated vet techs in the area. This business allows me to make more money and make my own schedule.
Anyway, a new client asked me to bring her dogs to the dog park once a day while she is out of town. I have no issue with this. She has 3 Labrador retrievers who are extremely well behaved. I took them today and brought them into the large dog area.
At first, everything went well. There were a good amount of other dogs there and they all got to play. One of the dogs is older so he laid down while the other two played. I was talking to a few of the owners. Nice people. There were two older people from NY who were talking about money so I shied away from there because that makes me uncomfortable.
I zoned out for a minute. I have ADHD and I was diagnosed when I was 6, in 1988. Apparently the youngest dog I had with me was licking another dog’s feces. I was unaware that this dog had this behavior, the owner didn’t tell me. Also it is the owners responsiblity to clean up after their dogs. When I snapped back to attention, I grabbed the dog. This behavior isn’t harmful.
The person who did not clean up after her dog started to yell “ewww.” Anyone who has a dog will tell you this is not unusual behavior. I explained that I was sorry and that I have ADHD and was not losing my attention on purpose.
She then came back with “that is only an excuse for children. You are too old for ADHD.” Imagine her attitude if I told her I am autistic too!
After her yelling at me, I grabbed the other two dogs too and I left with them. As much as I want to spread awareness, I was not in the mood nor did I have the spoons for an altercation. My explanation was not good enough. Unfortunately this is far too common.
This is the problem. People think just because the neurodivergent child grows up the autism or ADHD goes away. These adults are unsupported and left to fend for ourselves. This leaves the world with zero understanding of neurodivergent adults and leads to zero support. This stigma needs to change so these types of incidents don’t happen. Everyone needs to help each other. We needs to support one another as a species.