Talking About ADHD

“He’s Quite a Handful, Isn’t He?”

We’ve all heard them — those rude, insensitive, or just plain ignorant comments about our children with ADHD. Here, some of the most hurtful things our readers have overheard about ADD, and how we call all be a little more sympathetic.

Insensitive Comments About ADHD Children
Insensitive Comments About ADHD Children

Before my son was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), I had seen how people looked at and treated other children who have the condition. I have three nephews who have been diagnosed with ADHD. I’d heard people whisper about them, and about children I’m not related to. I’ve seen students with ADD in my children’s classes struggle to conform to expectations. I’ve seen the little boys who want to play sports, but who can’t do what the coach asks them. It’s too much for their bodies, or their minds.

If you have no empathy for someone who is struggling, even if you don’t know why, you should look inside yourself to see the problem. The problem is not with the child; it is with you.

I asked my friends who have children with ADHD for comments they had heard others make about their kids. I also posted the question to my Facebook friends. So many people chimed in, I was overwhelmed.

Here are 21 comments that were made to mothers who love their children with ADHD:

1. I guess it’s easier to medicate than to parent.

[Free Download: What NOT to Say to a Child with ADHD]

2. Why don’t you just/I would totally just beat his/her ass.

3. Wow, I’ve never had those issues with my child.

4. Yeah, my kid used to do that, but then I just eliminated sugar/dairy/carbs/snacks from his diet. Suddenly, he became a perfect little angel.

5. I’m so glad my child knows better than to act that way.

6. I don’t know how you do it.

7. He’s quite a handful, isn’t he?

8. You need to be more consistent/give him structure/get on the ball.

9. Just give me a week with him. I’ll straighten him out.

10. I would never have gotten away with that when I was a kid.

11. Are you sure he isn’t just faking it?

12. Have you considered alternatives to medication?

13. Have you tried medicating him?

14. When he stayed at our house for the weekend, we didn’t bother with his meds, and he did great without them.

15. You do know your child has ADHD, don’t you?

16. ADHD is nothing but an excuse for bad parenting.

17. I am glad he’s not my child.

18. You would never know he wasn’t normal at first….

19. Since he does well in school, there’s no reason to treat his ADHD.

20. Hang in there. It gets easier.

21. They didn’t have ADHD when I was a kid. (They actually did. They just hadn’t named it, or figured out how to help kids who suffered from it.)

[WHAT Did You Say About My Child?!]

If you have a child in your life who has been diagnosed with ADHD or a learning disability, take a moment to walk in his shoes. Think about how you feel when you are overwhelmed or overstimulated.

  • Have you had one too many cups of coffee in the morning and found that you couldn’t focus enough to complete a task?
  • Do you ever skip lunch and, around mid-afternoon, when your blood sugar drops, you can’t remember what you were doing?
  • Have you ever been in the most boring meeting ever, and you couldn’t force your mind to focus on what was being said?

I don’t know for sure if my child is feeling such things, but I have and they aren’t pleasant. If it’s a little of what my child, or any child, feels, I empathize with him.

Each of us struggles with something in life. We have things we excel at and others that we don’t do as well. Instead of judging someone you may not understand, take a moment next time to think about how it would feel to walk a mile in that parent’s or child’s shoes.

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  1. Is there any of those comments I hadn’t gotten? I’m not sure. A sad state of affairs, that. (I did get a variation of 19 tho: “There has been a lot of improvement, so I don’t think she has ADHD” — indeed, she is now 3 years older than when you first met her). But I’m surprised you haven’t added “Ignore her! She’s just seeking attention!”. I get that a lot and it drives me flipping crazy. Well, if she is seeking attention, we have to give it to her — nothing gets better by ignoring. And giving attention does not mean we condone whatever behaviour (which the ADHD kid probably doesn’t even realize she/he is doing).

  2. Hi thee
    I appreciate the list that you have presented and would like to add… “he’s lazy”. ” if he would just apply himself..”.” He has the potential hut chooses not your use it”. These insensitive comments brings to light the lack of awareness people have about add and the impact these comments can have on a child’s self esteem. I often challenge such comments by asking parents and professionals to imagine this child as physically immobile who require the use of a wheelchaireal. Would they expect this child to get up and walk across the room?..adhd and the impact on a child’s developing sense of self is gravely overlooked by the uneducated.

  3. Hi, reading all those comments made me feel so sad, my child who has ADHD, also one with ADD, but for the ADHD child, he is now 16, and during those primary school years, it was such a struggle. The snide comments from parents with “perfect” children. Being the only child in the class not to receive an invite to a birthday party or for play dates because he was too “active/busy”. As a result he does not have a friendship group and that breaks my heart. I have tried desperately to put him into team sport activities, but he isn’t interested. He does cadets, and seems to fit that mould, however, now wants to join the army/military. I have this gut wrenching thought that he will be the one who can’t stay still when there is a threat, and he’ll be in the firing line literally. For 16 years it has been such a struggle, my closest family don’t know of his condition, as their comments would be “well that explains a lot”, so feel so much on my own. He is a beautiful child once you get past the “activity”, but people are so small minded they won’t see outside their own little box. I have only joined this forum today, and I hope it will allow me to see I am not on my own.

  4. “You shouldn’t allow him to act like that. He is a danger to himself, and others (said behavior was tipping empty chairs back). You using ADHD as a crutch isn’t helping at all. That’s just giving him an excuse. He should be disenrolled.” Just heard this one, this morning. We’re pros, by now. Our 11 year old has severe ADHD and Aspergers. His 4 year old brother is actually not as severe, but he does require someone to keep him busy. That is apparently too difficult at this time.

  5. I wish more people could look at ADHD as a positive. My daughter has ADHD for sure, but she is also super smart and can focus like a laser beam on things she enjoys. We all have challenges, and we have to make the best of them. I’m inspired by Kyle Maynard and I tell my daughter about him too. Who cares what other people say anyhow? Don’t forget, our children take cues from us when learning how to feel about themselves. When people say stupid things about my kids, I try to kindly educate them, and I hope that others will do the same for me when I say something ignorant.

    http://kyle-maynard.com

    http://drdalearcher.com/adhdadvantage

  6. GP: “I don’t have anyone in this area I can refer you to. I’ll send you on a parenting course.”

    Also from GP: “Just pick her up and take her to school in her pyjamas.”

    CAMHS: “Just call the police if you need help.”

    Pharmacist: “We don’t have all that medication in stock and we have no idea when the rest will come in. It’s a CONTROLLED DRUG.” (Said so loud everyone in the shop could hear).

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