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  • Writer's pictureShannon Anderson

Discrimination and ADHD: How to handle discrimination at the doctor

When seeking an ADHD diagnoses, many people often experience discrimination based on gender, age, race, success, and more. Research has found none of these factors affect a person's likelihood of having ADHD; however, some doctors still discriminate based on them when conducting ADHD evaluations.

If your doctor says… here are some helpful responses:

“You’re too smart to have ADHD” or “You’re successful, you don’t have ADHD”

Response: “Intelligence and success are not a part of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for ADHD. There are MANY smart and successful people who have ADHD.”

"Adult ADHD isn’t real” or “ADHD is for kids”

Response: “According to the DSM-5, adults can have ADHD.”

*You can also add if you want: “There are decades of peer-reviewed research published in medical journals proving adult ADHD is real.”

“ADHD is for boys” or “ADHD is more common in boys”

Response: “Gender is not a DSM-5 diagnostic criterion for ADHD.”

“Someone with ADHD wouldn’t be as organized/prepared as you are for this appointment"

Response: “I filled out a worksheet designed for people with undiagnosed ADHD. It helps you prepare for an ADHD evaluation.”

If you believe you’re Hyperactive type ADHD: “My ability to complete a worksheet has nothing to do with the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for Hyperactive type ADHD.”

If it applies: “Me completing a worksheet is evidence of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria ‘Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities’ because:

  • I completely neglected [insert tasks (laundry/dishes/homework/etc)] while filling it out

  • I was late for [activity] because I lost track of time while filling it out

  • I waited until the last minute to fill it out so I did my best but I know I missed things

If they continue to reference outdated/incorrect information even though you already debunked it

Response: “This isn’t a part of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. Can we move on, please?”

If you want to explain why you’re reading from a paper:

“[Adults/women/POC/fill-in-the-blank] are often discriminated against when seeking an ADHD Diagnosis. I came across a resource with responses to common reasons for discrimination.”

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