ADHD Stigma: How You Can Help Fight It

Even while ADHD research continues to reveal biological and genetic roots, ADHD stigma continues to persist. Skeptics typically view ADHD as a weakness of character or a personality flaw. Kids with ADHD symptoms can be dismissed as being lazy or their behaviors a product of poor parenting. Adults struggling with ADHD can be pegged as drug-seekers or those who just don’t work hard enough.

Terry Matlen, of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, makes the following point, “Suggesting that attention deficit disorder can be controlled or corrected with willpower is ‘similar to asking a person with severe myopia (nearsightedness) to try harder to see the street sign without his glasses on.’ Not only is it ineffective, but also it’s absurd.” Individuals with ADHD face the consequences of these absurdities on a daily basis.

In her article, “Breaking the Silence of ADHD Stigma” also provides coping mechanisms for dealing with this stigma. By highlighting misconceptions and creating a dialogue around ADHD, the science is able to speak for itself. ADHD is a very real condition and by challenging these stigmas, we are able to help to reduce misunderstanding, and more importantly, the negative effects it can cause those with ADHD.

There are 4 ways to fight the stigma surrounding ADHD as recommended by Tartakovsky’s article, and we would like to share them with you.


First and foremost, individuals are encouraged to 1. Get Educated. By learning the facts, fallacies become more transparent.

Furthermore, it is vital that we 2. Get Involved. There is power in numbers and by banding together, we can help to eliminate these sigmas. It is also important that individuals with ADHD find the courage to speak up in the work place– share their experience and creative ideas.

3. Speak Out. As human beings and global citizens, we can highlight injustice and challenge stigma and discrimination.

Finally, 4. Consider the Source. Regardless of the subject matter, there will always be people (whether intentional or unintentional) who short-sightedly offer and spread misinformation. When you read, hear, or see something negative about ADHD, think about its validity and potential functionality.

Stigmatized beliefs regarding ADHD may be a part of our present, but what we do today can greatly reduce the spread of harmful societal assumption. Get educated. Get involved. Speak out. Consider the source. Let’s break the silence and strike out the stigma.

Written by Sally Weld

Intern at ADHD Collective

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