Refusing a Diagnosis


"The school psychologist recently identified one of my students as having ADHD, but the boy’s father won’t accept the diagnosis. Is there anything I can do?"


It’s not uncommon for a parent to resist hearing that his child has ADHD or a learning disability. Set up a meeting with the father after school, rather than waiting for the next parent-teacher conference night. Make sure your concern comes through by prefacing any advice with something like, “I care a great deal about your child, and wanted to make sure we agree about his needs.” Let him know that a diagnosis of ADHD is nothing to fear. Share some “good news” first, by talking about his son’s positive traits—creativity, empathy, and so on. Then, mention the areas (organization, impulsivity) where you think his son could use some help, suggesting a few interventions, such as a daily report card or a reward system, that would involve parent-teacher teamwork.

Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., is the author of The Gift of ADHD and The Gift of Adult ADD. Honos-Webb offers online coaching and podcasts at
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