It is commonly believed that there is a link between ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), known here in Ireland as POYWTMWTDS (Piss Off You Won’t Tell Me What To Do Syndrome). I was never officially diagnosed with ODD but I’m pretty sure I had it as a child. Back as far as I can remember I could never understand what gave people authority over me and couldn’t wait to become an adult so that I would no longer have to do what others said. How naive was I.
Kids with ADHD and ODD don’t conform to rules or structures easily and as a result parents and teachers can feel frustrated and angry towards the child, often labeling them bad children. Parents frequently get the blame for the Childs behaviours even though it is not usually the case. The parents ive worked with tend to work extremely hard trying to maintain boundaries and structure, often with poor results. Due to the child’s behaviour they are often rejected from social events such as birthday parties , leaving both child and parents feeling rejected.
For me rules and regulations always caused me difficulty and my nature is rebellious. A simple rule at school was no running in the corridor. I understood the rule and why it was in place but for some reason I would defy the rule, especially, if I saw a teacher. Perhaps part of me wished to be an exception to the rule or maybe I just wanted to vex the teachers. As an adult my initial instinct is to do the opposite of the rule but I’ve learned that it’s myself that usually ends up worse off. I suppose I’m slowly learning to conform. I dislike authority figures such as traffic wardens as many people do. I understand that they are a necessary evil and ultimately I have a choice. Either I park where I like or receive a fine. In my mind the Red coats, as they are called here in Co. Fermanagh, get a high out of slapping tickets on cars and trying to tell me where I can or cannot park. If I receive a fine it’s all their fault and it takes me ages to accept that it was my own actions that caused me to receive the fine.
As I’ve gotten older I have a better understanding of why we have rules and authorities in place. Yet I still have disobedient streak, or an immaturity, towards authority figures and my defiant nature can still affect my life. If disagree with an imposed authority my natural instinct is to defy it.
From speaking to many people with ADHD as well as parents of children with ADHD it seems defiance is a very common trait and usually has a negative effect on the person’s life if they can’t learn to manage it.
I remember when I was fourteen years old at Saturday band practice, how COOL was I. There I was beating my drumsticks against the inside wall of the community building where we practiced. I happened upon the Break Glass Fire Alarm Box and I fully understood that if I broke the glass with the drumstick I would be in trouble, yet I just couldn’t resist. It was like the DO NOT PUSH THE BIG RED SHINY BUTTON that you see in cartoons and in my mind I was thinking ‘you won’t tell me’
The consequences of my actions didn’t seem to click until the siren of the alarm went off and all eyes turned to me. For the next hour I had to listen to an angry music teacher, caretaker, and fireman lecturing me on my irresponsible behaviour. When they asked me why I did it I gave the most honest answer I could at fourteen which was ‘I don’t Know’. I asked myself that question many times afterwards.
There is another thing that influences the defiant nature within me and it’s to do with how people communicate. If asked with respect I’d literally do anything to help. Tell me I HAVE to do something and it’s a whole different outcome. I have an instant urge to do the opposite of what the person said and if I happen to do what I’ve been TOLD there is usually is a feeling of resentment towards the other person and a sense that I’ve been controlled.
This subject of defiance is relevant because large numbers of children, teenagers and adults with ADHD are failing to reach their potential. Many are being excluded from classrooms or getting suspended and expelled from schools or colleges and adults are getting sacked from jobs because of traits that is just part of who they are. I feel that as a society we need to change our approach to conditions such as ADHD and bring about a better understanding of differences. I recognise those with a defiant nature will probably read this and say ‘you’ll not tell me to change my approach to conditions such as ADHD’. Nonetheless I really do hope that we begin to recognise that some individuals, many of whom have ADHD, find it difficult to understand why rules are in place and perhaps need a different approach to help them understand and accept them.
Reading back on this I realize that there needs more balance in this post for it to be accurate to my own experience. I may do another blog called ADHD and Defiance No. 2 and explain the positive aspects of this trait and how defiance can also be a helpful quality on occasions.
Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype. If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com