ADHD Myths & Facts

21 Ignorant Comments About ADHD (and the Facts to Refute Them)

ADHD is not willful disobedience. It is not caused by too much sugar or too much Minecraft. And spanking is not a cure. Here, our readers share the 21 most ignorant comments about ADHD, and the facts they use to refute them.

A graphic depiction of paying attention to myths instead of adhd facts that should be more widely known.
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The Worst ADHD Comments

When it comes to ADHD, myths and misinformation abound, but ADHD facts are often ignored. Our readers shared some of the thoughtless, foot-in-mouth comments they've heard from strangers, teachers, doctors, and family members about ADHD. Brace yourself for the onslaught of insensitivity.

[“Is ADHD Real?” Your Free Guide to Responding to Doubters]

A child with ADHD cries over hurtful comments from a parent or a friend.
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Just a Tantrum

"My mom stayed with my family for a few days. Every time my son flipped out, she would say: 'Well that just seems like a temper tantrum to me.' I may have agreed with her if these meltdowns didn't happen every day!"

Woman with guilt thinks about how others think her ADHD is a character flaw.
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A Character Flaw

"Growing up, my parents had me believe that it was a defect in my character, and not inattention, that kept me from developing good study skills. It took recognizing ADHD in my own children before I could begin to let go of the guilt!"

[“What Is Wrong With Me?” ADHD Truths I Wish I Knew As a Kid]

Boy making a funny face at school gets scolded for bad behavior.
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"When my son was in 4th grade, his teacher became fed up with what she described as his 'bad behavior and disrespect for the rules.' She went on to say that we were a 'family of troublemakers.' Shouldn't a teacher know better?"

Girl with ADHD on a tire swing is called just a little hyper.
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"'Oh, she’s just a little hyper.' Well, that’s an understatement."

[6 Safety Tips for Hyperactive Kids]

Boys arm wrestling. Some say ADHD behavior is bad parenting.
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Parenting 101

"Before my oldest was diagnosed with ADHD, a pediatrician actually suggested that I take parenting classes. It took moving to a different state and switching to a new pediatrician before my son was properly diagnosed with ADHD."

Pharmacist tells parent they'd save a lot of money if they spank their child instead of treat ADHD with medication.
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The Best Medicine

"I went to pick up my son's ADHD medication one day at the pharmacy and the pharmacist said, 'You know you would save a lot of money if you just spanked him instead.' I was shocked!"

Boy plays soccer to tire him out to fix ADHD.
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Sporting Solution

"Someone once told me that signing my son up for a sport would solve his behavior problems. 'He just needs to be tired out,' she said."

Mom with ADHD being scolded by her mother
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Judgmental Parents

"'I'd never let my kid do that.' I’m assuming your kid doesn't have ADHD."

ADHD Boy covers his face because he is ashamed
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Rein Him In

"'What is going on with that child?! Why can't the parents just rein him in?' If only it were that simple."

Girl makes a funny face as people talk about how she'll outgrow ADHD.
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Test of Time

"'She will outgrow it.' Ever heard of adult attention deficit disorder? Sigh."

Boy hiding under a book — he's not socially maladjusted, he has ADHD and he's bored.
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Socially Maladjusted

"I was dubbed 'socially maladjusted' by my kindergarten teacher, but in truth, I was just bored because I wasn't learning anything new."

Bored students aren't lazy and unmotivated. They have ADHD.
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"Growing up I was called 'lazy and unmotivated' and was told that I just needed to apply myself."

A child reaches for a bottle of pills, despite being shamed for taking ADHD medication.
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Drug Shame

"Then there are those who say 'Oh my goodness, you give her those drugs? Aren't you afraid of what they're doing to her?' Umm… no. I'm more afraid of what my daughter will do if she’s not on her medication!"

Students are writing, doing work because of the accommodations some think are an unfair advantage.
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Unfair Advantage

"'504 Plans and IEPs give ADHD kids an unfair advantage.' Oh right, because having ADHD is such a walk in the park."

A man is stressed about ignorant ADHD comments that he just needs to apply himself.
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Apply Yourself

"'You’re not living up to your full potential. If only you would apply yourself ...' We've all heard this one."

Girl paints to use her strengths. ADHD doesn't make someone stupid, just different.
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Learning Struggles

"I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in kindergarten. My first grade teacher said 'Well, she is just stupid and can't learn.' Today I hold four bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree and I plan on getting a Ph.D. — guess I proved her wrong!"

A child who is twice-exceptional writing out E=MC2 on a blackboard in pink chalk
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"'Smart people don't have disabilities and people with disabilities aren't smart.' This is obviously untrue. Ever heard of Einstein? Yep, he had ADHD."

A man is smiling, but jokes about having an ADHD kind of day aren't funny.
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ADHD Kind of Day

"It’s a pet peeve of mine when a person without ADHD jokes around by saying 'I am so ADHD today' whenever they get distracted. It is this type of joke that makes people dismiss ADHD as a serious disorder."

Parents fight over daughter in a broken home, but that's not a reason for ADHD symptoms.
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Broken Home

"I was once told that I behaved the way I did because I was a product of a 'broken home.'"

Mom lectures kids, claiming they're irresponsible, when ADHD is actually to blame.
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What's In a Name?

"'Irresponsible' is a word I constantly heard growing up. I felt like it was my middle name."

Too much TV does not cause ADHD.
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TV Overload

"I had a psychology professor tell me that ADHD was caused by bad parenting and too much TV! I was seeing red for days! Breaks my heart to think someone would actually say that."

17 Related Links

  1. I once went to my primary doctor for follow up and refill for Welbutrin. He had hired a new associate doctor who saw me that day. This guy had never laid eyes on me before and had looked at my chart for about 2 minutes when he said, “You know that he has you on a depression medication, right? Many who think they have ADHD really don’t have it. It’s just depression and women later find that they have repressed memories of being sexually abused as a child. Have you thought about that?” I was furious! In just a few minutes time he had dismissed all the work my doctor and I had done, what I knew of myself and my own life AND classified me as a victim of sexual abuse. I quickly explained to him that Ritalin and Aderall gave me trigeminy (irregular hart rhythm). Therefore, I couldn’t take it. Welbutrin works on the norepinephrin which is a key component in ADHD. I watched him hurriedly search his PDA to verify this truth. He left the room in a huff and didn’t return for several minutes. When he did, it was with the prescription for Welbutrin and a “come back in 6 weeks and SOMEONE will see you” (never looking me in the eye again). When I went back in 6 weeks, he no longer worked there.

    1. He wasn’t really blurting out comments. He was a young guy and new doctor who was a little on the arrogant side. He was trying to show his knowledge and educate me before assessing me or even talking to me. Even when he said the word ADHD he said it with the facial expression of disbelief that it even existed.

  2. When my daughter was in fourth grade her teacher said, “I don’t know how you don’t strangle her,” at our parent teacher conference. I was so shocked that a teacher would say that about my daughter even if it was in jest. I went home and cried that my daughter had to be subjected to this woman day after day for a year of her life.

  3. We met with my son’s high school teachers and the school psychologist to discuss a 504. He was already on medicine; he only needed some extra time on tests but some teachers would not just allow him that. Some teachers used this session as a bitching hour for his behavior. The psychologist at one point looked at my son and said “why don’t you just stop?” My son looked at me and said- “mom, why are we here? If I could just stop, why wouldn’t I?”
    He was denied the 504.

  4. Re: Parenting 101 – Ignorant statement – I don’t care who you are, how much you have read… you WILL need parenting training for dealing and raising a child with ADHD. Woe to the child whose parents don’t see this.

  5. Ugh….. I hate these ignorant people. It needs to be known that ADHD is a real disorder with real problems. I struggle with ADHD, and simply not being able to concentrate is nothing compared to it. It sucks to have a disorder that some people don’t even believe exists, doesn’t it?

    1. It only sucks if you think it does. Instead of focusing on your deficits, rewire your thinking to focus instead on the associated strengths that come with ADHD. ADHD is a symptom of intelligence, if you do a little research and learn to play to your strengths, you start to rebuild that self confidence and the sky is the limit!

      1. Can you tell me more? I have been struggling with my job for years. Luckily, they have been very kind and keep moving me from one position to another trying to find something I can do without making to many errors and get the job done on time, instand of firing me. I was finally diagnosed with ADHD. About 1year ago. At first it seemed like my medication was helping. I was able to get more done and stay on top of my task. My boss was really happy and gave me a raise for the first time in years. But now I’m having more days were I’m back to my old self…not finishing, making mistakes although my task didn’t change. Did my body get use to the old dose? Do I need more or something different? How do I know my strengths and play them up. I’ve thought I was stupid for so long I couldn’t tell you my strengths if my life depended on it.

  6. It angers me that people who don’t understand how 504 plans and IEPs work would say that they give us an unfair advantage. This is absolutely untrue because not only do I have ADHD, but I also have cerebral palsy. 504 plans and IEPs level the playing field when it comes to academics. If I wasn’t on these things growing up, I would be really far behind my friends. I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was in high school. This is because nobody was aware that my executive function skill issues weren’t just a result of the brain hemorrhage I had before I was born. The people who don’t understand these two things should educate themselves on the subject.

  7. I have heard nearly every one of those remarks both as someone who has ADHD and now as a parent. I still deal with parents who honestly think that my inability to keep my room completely organized (we recently had to move in with them after a nasty divorce) is a deliberate attempt to anger them. While they can’t understand why I would do that because they’ve done everything for me and all I’ve done is disappoint them. Its amazing how quickley you can emotionally regress to the age of 10 around your parents. Once again. I am back to being a selfish, lazy, thoughtless person who deliberately tries to harm them for no good reason. I was ok with have to be verbally beaten to keep a roof over our head…but now they are starting in on my kid!

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