Thursday, September 27, 2007

Contributing to a Social Movement

Did you ever have one of those periods of time when you constantly are on the run, you are accomplishing a lot, and you are exhausted? Welcome to the CHADD national office right now.

In addition to preparing for our annual international conference—which typically draws 1,200-1,400 attendees—preparations for this year’s conference include organizing appointments for all attendees with their U.S. Congressional delegations, and organizing and hosting our 20th anniversary gala dinner celebration. Almost every week during the past month, major academic studies on AD/HD have been published. CHADD must analyze and help publicize these studies, and respond to media portrayals. Thousands of inquiries pour into our National Resource Center on AD/HD. We are constantly striving to increase our services to our members and our community affiliate leaders. We just made the Web site login process easier. We are carefully preparing our regular communications and public education materials, such as Attention magazine, CHADDNotes, and NRC News. We are conducting a forum entirely in Spanish for a targeted community. Congress is considering legislation that would impact AD/HD and CHADD is actively involved. We are committed, active, and tired.

This year we mark CHADD’s twentieth anniversary and celebrate the tremendous change over the last two decades for people living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). Thanks to an incredible social movement, made up of people like you, we have influenced public policy, shaped public perceptions and successfully raised awareness about a disorder that, if left untreated, can have devastating consequences.

Despite the progress we have realized, we nonetheless have an incredible amount of work ahead of us. There is a formidable anti-mental health campaign that would like nothing better than to undo all of our accomplishments and turn the clock back on how our country views and deals with people with AD/HD and other mental health disorders. To beat back many of these efforts and to continue to move ahead with our science-based message, we need your help.

Want an example of some of our challenges? Consider this…

This month the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine features a study (similar to findings from studies produced by the CDC and Mayo Clinic) that reports a prevalence rate of 8.7 percent for children 8 to 15 years old. Disturbingly, the research also found that fewer than half of those with the disorder were diagnosed and receiving treatment. Because the consequences of untreated AD/HD are potentially so severe, this study is an important reminder that we must continue to raise awareness with medical professionals, the public, policymakers and educators.

Yet, to look at the bills being proposed and debated in statehouses across the country, one could easily walk away with a different impression altogether. Many state legislatures are actually considering and voting on bills that would have the effect of preventing teachers from communicating to parents about behavior and learning patterns they observe in the classroom. Teachers, ever fearful of lawsuits, are becoming increasingly guarded about what they report to parents. Unfortunately, this could prevent countless parents of children with AD/HD from seeking a medical evaluation for their children.

CHADD is working strategically with our sister organizations to educate policymakers in key states through letters, one-on-one conversations, briefings and other methods. We are also reaching out to journalists in these states by proposing story ideas, submitting opinion/editorial pieces and providing comments on the record. We are reaching out to educators with information that will inform their efforts, and we are raising public awareness, both in these key states and nationally.

This is just one part of what we do each day to make this country an even better place for people with AD/HD. But we can’t do it without your help. You are an extremely important part of this social movement. We need you to actively participate in your local CHADD chapter. We need you to raise your voice—write a letter to your local newspaper and actively communicate with your local leaders. And we need your generous financial support as we move ahead. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to CHADD today.

This is truly an historic time for CHADD. Thank you for the very important role you are playing in a social movement that will impact the lives of people affected by AD/HD for generations to come.


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