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Helen's blog: ADHD and Autism Diagnosis, Label or Lifeline?

Updated: Mar 16

A lot of people talk about labels, when they are talking about a diagnosis of ADHD or autism. They might say that they don't want themselves or their child to be labelled in this way. A label, in this context, is defined as "a word or phrase that is used to describe a person, group, or thing, but which is unfair or not correct". It's an interesting definition because it really shines a light on the stigma around diagnosis of these conditions. Of course, it is up to an individual if they suspect they may be neurodivergent and want to seek a diagnosis, that is their personal choice, but I find it sad to think that a diagnosis that might be transformative for someone, isn’t sought for fear of labelling.

My experience of ADHD diagnosis is very different. I don't feel labelled by the diagnosis. I don't think it's unfair or not correct. I think it has opened my eyes to explanations of years of behaviours that I had previously put down to my own inadequacies. I think it has made me look at my coping mechanisms and assess which are healthy and useful and which are extremely damaging. I think it has helped to connect me with other people that think like me, or that think in a different way to the way that some people would perceive as "normal". I think it's opened up conversations with a whole lot of amazing people who I never thought I would have the privilege to talk to.

There have absolutely been challenges around my diagnosis. Having to change my own perception about my whole life, and to rethink my identity was extremely difficult. There was a grieving process for the person that I thought that I was. It was hard. However, having come out the other side of it, and with some great support, I can see that it has pushed me to get help that I was previously unable to accept that I needed and it has led me to search for what I really want and need in my life.

So, if you think a diagnosis is a negative label for you or your child, I think we need to talk. We should talk about how early intervention is hugely beneficial in kids with autism and ADHD and about how adults with ADHD and autism can bring massive benefits to the workplace through creativity, great crisis management skills or stunning levels of attention to detail. Let’s embrace these skills, not marginalise them and certainly not talk about labels and diagnoses as things that we should be avoiding. The sooner we do, the sooner we can erase the stigma around these conditions and learn how to harness the talents of neurodivergent individuals. Most importantly, if we can encourage people to seek a diagnosis it will mean that they can access the help that they need by talking to the right people and discovering the tools that they need to thrive.

Unfortunately, in the UK, there are significant waiting lists for diagnosis of a neurodivergent condition. This can often mean that a diagnosis is a privilege, and that is something that we need to address urgently as well. Of course, self realisation and embracing your neurodiversity that way, is always valid.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and it seems to me that the only disadvantage of a diagnosis of a neurodivergent condition is the stigma surrounding it and the more of us, in our village, that can stand together and celebrate our unique successes and strengths, the better off everybody will be. We also need to recognise that we will have struggles and challenges along the way and it takes a village to help us get back on our feet after we have fallen too.

Do you want to find out more? Until 28th March we are running our ND Thinkbox sessions. These are FREE fortnightly group coaching and peer support sessions. Sign up on our website at or drop us an email

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