Ask the Experts

Q: Why Does My Son Use Insults and Offensive Language?

Sometimes, children with ADHD use offensive language in order to get your attention. Other times, they just succumb to impulsivity. And often they also lack the perspective-taking skills they need to anticipate how their words may impact others. Here are strategies for fixing this bad behavior at school and at home.

Listen to “The Social Lives of Boys with ADHD”

Q: “Our son uses offensive words like ‘gay’ and ‘retard’ to describe people if he disagrees with them and, if angry, he will say they should kill themselves or jump off a bridge. Sometimes he says these things to the people; sometimes he uses those words and phrases when recounting an incident. He has served in and out of school suspensions for using these words and phrases at school. What do we do to extinguish this behavior?”

A: “First, help your son understand the bigger picture regarding the words he is using. Words have power… if he continues to use these particular words, his school may refer him to a school for special-education school for kids with behavioral challenges. He also needs to understand that certain topics are completely off limits when you are in an argument with someone…”


Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel. Ryan specializes in working with males (ages 5-22) who present with ADHD, anxiety with ADHD, and learning differences; he is the one professional in the United States who specializes in teaching social cognitive skills to boys from a male perspective.

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