Stereotyping ADD and ADHD

Image courtesy of Sattva/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sattva/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Individuals with ADD and ADHD often times get stereotyped. While it isn’t always negative, the impacts of backing an individual into the corner can be quite dangerous. I’ve heard many different things said about us folks with ADD and ADHD.

There are so many negative and hurtful stereotypes associated with ADD and ADHD. In reality, it can often times hamper one’s treatment. As I discussed in an earlier piece on Girls with ADD and ADHD, it really can adversely impact diagnosis and treatment; especially in females. Think of it this way…ADD and ADHD generally manifests itself differently in girls. That is why around 25% of ADD and ADHD cases are female. We all can visualize what a boy with ADD or ADHD generally looks like; but girls are more difficult to diagnose. Using stereotypes to describe individuals with ADD and ADHD really adversely affects how an individual seeks help to improve performance.

Yesterday, I was reading The Daily. In an article related to President Barack Obama’s reelection efforts and new slogan, Allen Adamson suggested that voters have ADD and related this to voters understanding very simple concepts and are generally idiots. This ties into many negative stereotypes for individuals with ADD and ADHD. It is bad enough that schools often use terminology like child needs to work harder or this child cannot be taught, but when you have a mainstream publication allowing an expert to associate this type of horrible terminology with ADD and ADHD, it is very dangerous. If Adamson had said the same thing about someone with another condition, there would have been plenty of outrage (and rightfully so!). I’d like to say this is the first time I’ve dealt with this type of thing, but it isn’t. Another time I had a colleague suggest that ADHD is a version of mental retardation. This same colleague went on to add that people with ADHD are brain-damaged. Growing up with ADHD and being a former teacher, it is amazing how little some of the people we trust the most know about our condition.

So what are we supposed to do? As I advise my clients, losing control only reinforces the other person’s notion. When my colleague made those horrific remarks about ADD and ADHD, it would have been very easy for me to get angry. Instead, I collected my thoughts, formulated a plan and decided to share some information with the colleague. While I’m not sure what she did with the information (that is out of my control), I felt good about my response. At the end of the day, we can only control how we respond to a situation. If you are presented with a similar circumstance, I would strongly recommend not immediately reacting to the situation. In an earlier piece, I discussed the pause button. I would strongly suggest working on this skill.

For more information on my ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning coaching, please visit www.adhdcoachchicago.com. To learn more information about some of the other services I provide, please visit www.carrolleducationalgroup.com and www.iepexperts.com. I can be found on Twitter at ADHDEFCoach. You can also find me on FacebookDigg and Tumblr. My good friend and fellow ADD/ADHD Coach Tara McGillicuddy invited me as a guest on ADD/ADHD Support Talk Radio. Tara does many wonderful things and you should check out her website here. Feel free to email me at jonathan@adhdefcoach.com if you have any additional questions.

Comments

  1. I also picked up on Allen’s comment. It’s funny how things like that (often by very intelligent people) go unnoticed. But they have an impact, even if it’s just subconscious. It’s definitely something we have to active about, rather than just assuming things will change with time.

    -B

  2. I find this very irritating as well. By the same token I might stereotype ADD as well but from a place of experience and knowledge.

    We all do it and frankly stereotyping is based on a kernel of truth. The problem seems to be when it is done to demean or insult. When it is done to categorize or as a metaphor it may be appropriate.

    Those who use a stereotype to demean are…(insert stereotype here), wait that’s wrong. See what I mean. We all do it.

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