Silencing Skeptics: The Truth About ADHD and LD

What is ADHD? Does medication really help? Can adults have it? Learn to clear up common misperceptions about ADHD with authority.

The Ostrich

The Ostrich can't accept that any person (including himself or his own child) has ADHD — even in the face of evidence to the contrary. "There's nothing wrong with me," he says. "I just take things as they come and try not to tie myself down with plans." Or, in response to news that his child has been diagnosed with ADHD, he might inform the doctor, "There's nothing wrong with my kid that an old-fashioned spanking won't cure." No matter how fervently the pediatrician, psychologist, teacher, or family member waves the red flag, The Ostrich cannot (or won't) accept the ADHD diagnosis.

"Acceptance can be hard, since ADHD is considered a mental disorder," Southern says. Some people resist testing altogether because they can't acknowledge even the possibility that such a disorder runs in the family.

If you're married to an Ostrich, say, "This is not about you or how you feel about ADHD. It's about our child and what we need to do for her." It might take awhile, but most Ostriches eventually pull their heads out of the sand. Don't give up!

The Voice of Doom

The Voice of Doom sees a bleak future for kids with ADHD, warning that "People who have ADHD never amount to anything. They all lead lives of failure and disappointment." The Voice of Doom ignores the evidence suggesting that people with ADHD are often energetic, intelligent, and creative.

Maybe your child won't grow up to be Steven Spielberg or Michael Jordan. Or maybe he will. After all, both Spielberg and Jordan have ADHD. Apparently, so did Thomas Edison, Agatha Christie, Ludwig van Beethoven, Henry Ford, and Vincent van Gogh.

The honor roll goes on and on, reminding us that people with ADHD can live rich, productive lives. "We may be inconsistent, and less productive, in the short run," says Scott Nipper, a teacher with ADHD from Houston. "But we're more likely to accomplish big things through our passionate, hyperfocused pursuit of projects. What seem like off-task distractions can sometimes lead to great innovations."

What's the best defense against a Voice of Doom? A strong offense. Marcia Conner, of Staunton, Virginia, is a former corporate executive who now runs a small company. She tells each Voice of Doom she encounters, "I have fresh ideas, endless energy, and an Olympic-level multitasking ability. I can't imagine how people without ADHD excel in business. It's my competitive advantage!"

Next time you're face-to-face with Eeyore, turn the tables. Say, "If Richard Branson can found Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways, despite having ADHD, I'm not worried about my son," or "If my daughter turns out as well as Suzanne Somers or Whoopi Goldberg, who both have ADHD, that's fine with me!"

No doubt about it, ADHD makes it hard to navigate the "normal world." But with appropriate support, Luanne Southern says, "Individuals with ADHD can lead happy, healthy lives."

And maybe, just maybe, extraordinary lives.


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TAGS: Myths About ADHD, Talking About ADD

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