ADHD Myths & Facts

“Have You Ever Encountered ADD Stigma?”

We asked ADDitude readers to share the ADHD stigmas and stereotypes they still encounter today. Here are the enduring (and hurtful) myths they shared.

adhd stereotypes and add stigma
Illustration of birds on a telephone wire, with one bird set apart from the others illustrating adhd stigma

“People tell me: ‘ADHD is a children’s disorder. You are a successful engineer. How could you possibly have ADHD?'” — David, Canada

“I haven’t faced much stigma. When I do, I tell the person a bit about the condition, and ask her not to judge what she doesn’t know.” — Mary H., Canada

“I haven’t experienced a lot of overt prejudice, but I have heard a lot of negative comments about medication. People think I should take meds only when I ‘need’ them instead of taking them regularly. If something is working for me, that doesn’t mean I should stop, it means I should keep doing it.” — Melanie W., Massachusetts

“I heave heard a lot from parents of neurotypical kids who don’t understand my child’s poor impulse control and lying. Needless to say, we don’t associate with these people anymore.” — Roxanne N., Pennsylvania

“I told the new manager of the animal shelter I volunteered at that I had been diagnosed with ADHD, and that I sometimes have trouble with short-term memory. He stopped calling me to volunteer soon after. I was in shock!” — A. R., Canada

[Your Free Guide to Debunking Annoying ADHD Myths]

“I don’t tell people I have ADHD until they get to know me. My symptoms are not very noticeable, so I can fly under the radar for a while.” — John S., Canada

“People have said, ‘Back in my day, there was no ADHD, just lazy people.’ My response? ‘Back in your day, there were no smartphones either. Isn’t progress nice?'” — An ADDitude Reader

“I was socially excluded. Now I hang out with people who understand and appreciate me.” — Fredrik, Sweden

“Many people do not understand ADHD and the forms it takes. Being open and honest about it helps everyone!” — Emily H., Connecticut

[Free Webinar Replay: From Shame and Stigma to Pride and Truth: It’s Time to Celebrate ADHD Differences]

“I talk about my challenges all the time, and I use a lot of humor to explain why I do things the way I do. I think of it as ‘training’ those around me.” — Jimmy B., Arkansas

“Recently, a coworker said her boss told her to avoid me because I have ADHD and talk too much. This was hurtful to me. I wish people would focus on our positive traits instead of overemphasizing the negative.” — Sara G., Alabama

“I was ridiculed and called stupid as a child. I kept my mouth shut, didn’t express my feelings, and tried to do the best I could, which was never good enough.” — Gail M., New Hampshire

[How to Silence ADHD Naysayers]