Snappy Comebacks to ADHD Doubters

(Thanks to ADDitude Magazine for this list.)

Tired of hearing people say that ADD doesn’t exist—or that it’s somehow your fault? When self-appointed “experts” speak their mind, it can be hard to convince them of the truth: that the debate about the existence of ADD is over! Mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organizations long ago concluded that ADD is real, and that children and adults with the disorder benefit  from treatment. So next time one of these five types of ADD naysayers speaks his opinion, use these snappy comebacks to respond.

  1. THE SKEPTIC denies the very existence of ADD, calling it a phantom that was cooked up as an excuse for bad parenting. What about the adults who say they have ADD? “They just need to grow up and take responsibility for their shortcomings, rather than blaming an illness.”

    Here’s what to do:

    • Explain that the reason they don’t “believe in” ADD is because they’ve probably been lucky enough never to have experienced it.
    • Use hard facts. The National Institute of Mental Health counts ADD as a real medical condition; so does the American Psychological Association, which includes ADD in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of mental-health professionals.
    • Agree to disagree. Say, “We have different opinions on this issue, so let’s agree to disagree and not discuss it.”
    • Try sarcasm. “Gosh, it must be nice to be smarter than thousands of doctors, scientists, and psychologists.”
  2. THE CRUSADER takes a holier-than-thou approach, second-guessing adults who take ADD medications and parents who give them to their kids. “I would never take a stimulant medication or give one to my child,” she proclaims.

    Here’s what to do:

    • Make it clear that drug therapy for ADD is not a cause for shame. Medicating your child doesn’t make you a lazy or incompetent parent. It shows you are an effective parent.
    • Look her in the eye and ask, “If you had diabetes, would you not take insulin? Would you deny insulin to a child who had diabetes? Then why should I withhold appropriate medication from my child?”
    • Issue a challenge. Ask, “What do you think is the best solution?”
  3. THE JOKER takes potshots at ADD, using sarcasm and pre- tending that his barbs are innocuous. A Joker might say, “I wish I had ADD! At least then I’d have an excuse for my bad behavior.” Or, “Pass the Ritalin—I could use a (wink, wink) ‘boost.’”

    Here’s what to do:

    • Use selective silence. As soon as you realize someone is being nasty, follow Ghandi’s example—choose not to respond.
    • Be blunt. Look them in the eye and ask, “Are you trying to help me or hurt me?”
    • Be direct. “When you say X, I feel Y,” or “Mocking my medical condition is hurtful, and I’d like you to stop.”
    • Take it to the next level. If The Joker is in your work place and the direct approach fails, consider moving up the chain of command or consulting a lawyer.
    • Kill them with kindness. Say, “I know you only say that because you care.”
    • Give them a taste of their own medicine. Say, “You done ‘spressin’yourself?”
  4. THE OSTRICH can’t accept that a person (including himself or his own child) has ADD—even when shown evidence to the contrary. Or, in response to news that his child has been diagnosed with ADD, he might inform the doctor, “There’s nothing wrong with my kid that an old-fashioned spanking won’t cure.”

    Here’s what to do:

    • Educate. Simply state the facts and move on.
    • Neither agree or disagree. Just muse aloud, “Hmm. I suppose that’s possible.”
    • If you’re married to an Ostrich, say, “This is not about you or how you feel about ADD. It’s about our child and what we need to do for her.”
  5. THE VOICE OF DOOM She sees a bleak future for ADD kids, ignoring the evidence suggesting that people with ADD are often energetic, intelligent, and creative.

    Here’s what to do:

    • Be gracious. Remark, “That’s an interesting viewpoint. I’ll have to give that some thought.”
    • Try honesty. Say, “That comment really hurt my feelings.”
    • Turn the tables. “If Richard Branson can found Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways, despite having ADD, I’m not worried about my son,” or “If my daughter turns out as well as Suzanne Somers or Whoopi Goldberg, who both have ADD, that’s fine with me!”

Snappy Comebacks – Download for quick reference!

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