The media’s erroneous and exclusionary portrayal of ADHD has led to widespread misunderstandings about the condition. Hyperactive, mischievous young boys are often associated with the illness since they can’t sit still in class and end up in trouble.
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While some ADHD appears this way, it manifests itself in a wide range of ways in various individuals. Adults with ADHD go untreated because they believe the condition primarily affects children, which leads to underdiagnosis among women and girls.
Symptoms of undiagnosed ADHD might include sadness, self-medicating that can develop to addiction, and a lack of ability to do daily chores, which can cause problems at school and at work. In spite of decades of scientific evidence, some people continue to reject that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) exists.
When I was diagnosed four years ago, I was astonished because my brother had been stricken with cancer since he was a toddler. So much for it. Because of my undiagnosed ADHD, I had been suffering from despair and anxiety since I was a youngster. This had led me to believe that I was alone, dysfunctional, and misunderstood.
There were few examples of neurodivergence being depicted in television or film that addressed the true challenges that neurodivergent people face, such as emotional dysregulation, executive dysfunction and processing delays, throughout my search for such representation. A little more digging revealed certain anomalies that demonstrate the whole spectrum of ADHD. The following seven TV and movie characters effectively portray ADHD.
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1. Julie & Julia
As a young New Yorker, Julie Powell sets out to prepare all 524 dishes from her role model, Julia Child, in 365 days. Amy Adams plays Julie in this 2009 biopic. For the film, Julie Powell’s memoir, Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, was used as inspiration.
Julie, who has been diagnosed with ADHD, finds it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance while also maintaining a personal blog that has evolved into an obsession. Having been diagnosed with ADHD, having repeatedly failed at 9-to-5 office jobs, and having started a blog while struggling at work, Julie Powell’s story resonated with me in a way I had never felt before.
In Juno, an effervescent, intelligent pregnant girl is the focus of the film’s narrative. Elliot Page portrays Juno in the film, which follows her through her pregnancy and adoption. You can laugh and cry at the same time if you have a well-written ADHD character like Juno. In addition to her originality, vulnerability, and inventiveness, which are all hallmarks of persons with ADHD, she exhibits the impulsivity and emotional dysregulation that make people with ADHD unique.
3. How I Met Your Mother
Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris, says, “They said I have AD…” in response to being named the worst student ever. Something’s up… What about outside for class? That being said, it’s not entirely accurate. His frequent and unexpected emotional outbursts are consistent with ADHD’s emotional dysregulation, an often-overlooked sign.
4. Teen Wolf
When a high school student turns into a werewolf, he takes on the role of protecting his village from otherworldly dangers. Stiles, the best buddy of the main character, is on medication for ADHD, which he acknowledges in the series.
Anxiety and panic attacks are mentioned along with his issues with inattention and hyperactivity, which are also symptoms of ADHD. I like the authors’ inclusion of a less-known but widespread symptom of ADHD, anxiety, which affects around half of adults with the illness.
Here’s a Stiles coach and teacher comment from the first season that struck me as very familiar:
As far as I’m aware, Stiles. Great person. Absent any ability to concentrate. That’s some serious brainpower. Never makes the most of his abilities.”
5. Degrassi: The Next Generation
A lot happens in the 10 seasons Spinner spends in the league. From his hyperactivity comes the nickname Spinner, and his ADHD issues run throughout the book.
A disastrous basketball game against Spinner’s rival is all Jimmy needs to convince Spinner to give him the medication he’s been prescribed, and the episode concludes with Spinner agreeing. Because of the negative connotations associated with ADHD medicine, this episode focuses on the positive impact it had on Spinner’s life as well as the negative impact it has on others without the disorder.
6. Bob’s Burgers
It is the middle kid of Bob and Linda Belcher, who run a successful burger restaurant, that Gene Belcher is featured in the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers. While Gene’s erratic behavior and impulsivity are conventional signs of ADHD, his openness to love is an aspect of his personality that is typically overlooked when diagnosing the disorder.
7. 30 Rock
The character Tracy Jordan, played by Morgan, is loosely based on the comedian’s own life experiences. As a performer, he has earned numerous honors for his work, which is justifiably so. Tina Fey stars in and writes for the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, which is partially based on her time on Saturday Night Live’s crew. ADHD sufferers, like Tracy, are prone to erratic and impulsive conduct.