Autism, ADHD, and several other conditions — especially the type diagnosed often in childhood — are the same way.
Emphasis on being the type that are diagnosed in childhood. Because when children are inconvenient, their adults tend to want an explanation why, as opposed to being able to patiently try to understand what’s going on for the child.
I knew, and was pretty unfazed by, the fact that my child was Autistic for a few years before we could get an “official” diagnosis. And the official diagnosis wasn’t grounded in any of the things I would have told somebody casually if I was trying to explain what it looked like in him or what it meant for him. I knew what to tell the professionals in order to get the help that we needed. But it’s not how I would talk about him to himself, or to anybody to whom I was trying to describe what autism is.
The report says things about how he couldn’t speak in more than single words to name objects at school, or answer questions more complex than yes/no. It said nothing about how he thinks in long, complicated strings of pictures and images and emotional moments from movies and shows that he loves, blended with songs and snippets of our conversations. How once you’ve known him long enough he’ll talk to you in paragraphs that sound like poetry.
The report talked about how he didn’t shift his attention as quickly as school demanded. It didn’t talk about the way that he can come back to something that’s of utmost importance to him for hour after hour after hour, for literally days at a time until he’s mastered it.
I could repeat this 15 different times in 15 different ways. I’m a healthcare professional myself; I know how to write evaluations in such a way that they say the negative things strongly enough to qualify a child for the help I know they need. But I also see the kids who slip through the cracks because they aren’t inconvenient enough to the adults around them. And I don’t like that the system is set up this way.