If I’ve learned anything these past few months, it is that, for some people, facts simply do not matter. They will believe what they want to believe, despite the mounds of evidence that prove the contrary. In fact, research has even shown that presenting a person with facts that disprove their beliefs, may actually just solidify those misconceptions. This is referred to as “the backfire effect.” This explains some of the Facebook threads I’ve been seeing!
This phenomenon is not limited to politics. Some people believe there is a link between vaccines and autism, despite the countless studies and scientific reviews debunking this myth. Some people question the validity of NASA’s moon landing. Never happened. Just a publicity stunt. There are even people who claim that the government is hiding the cure for cancer, while others say the government created it all together. Neither science nor first hand accounts, complete with photos, have seemed to alter their views on the matter.
If you or someone you love, has ADHD, then you are well aware of the naysayers whom argue that it is a “made up disease,” a product of Big Pharma, “an excuse for laziness.” ?or my favorite, ?the result of “bad parenting.” How lovely for these people to have the luxury of being able to think this way. Clearly they are not the parent of a child with ADHD. If they were, they would know all too well, just how very real it is, pretty much every minute of every day. In the mornings when they are directing the mayhem, rushing to get out the door on time, searching for a missing shoe, coat, science project, etc., while simultaneously setting timers and delegating which task to do next. In the evenings, when they are trying to remain strong through the homework battles and bedtime wars. During the day, for the phone calls from teachers, the IEP meetings, and the “I forgot my lunch” drop offs. In their attempts to console a heartbroken little girl who, once again, has been left off the birthday invite list of a classmate, or as they wipe the tears of a little boy who can’t explain why he just “can’t be good in school.”
Our instinct tells us to prove the ?non-believers wrong. (or to punch them in the nose) My suggestion: Do neither. When you find yourself in a conversation with a negative person, someone who scoffs at the notion of ADHD and seems to have an emotionally charged opinion about it; just disengage. Its not worth it. Save your energy for something more important, because chances are, you won’t get far, and you may very well, end up getting very upset, or punching someone in the nose.
Does this mean we shouldn’t inform others about ADHD? Of course not. We need to continue to raise awareness for ADHD. We need to make sure our teachers, psychologists, and neurologists, have the most up-to-date information, and proper training for their role as advocates. We need to ?learn how to provide the most beneficial environments in which these children can thrive. I am only implying that it may serve us best to avoid arguing with fools.
Let’s say you were at work when you developed a sudden and severe headache. The worst you’ve ever experienced. You feel that you may need to seek medical assistance. On your way out the door, a colleague interjects to tell you that she doesn’t believe in headaches. Frankly, she’s pretty sure that you are just trying to get out of work. Your “headache” is just an excuse for laziness.
Would you feel the need to “prove” your headache to her? Would you pull up the literature and scientific data supporting the existence of headaches? Probably not. If anything you’d think to yourself, “wow, this lady is a few screws short of a hardware store,” and you’d carry on in trying to ?find some relief for your throbbing skull. But, let’s just say you did decide to continue your discussion with your skeptical co-worker; would changing her mind, change the fact that you were in pain? I’m pretty sure it would not.
Sometimes it is just better to accept that those who have closed minds may simply be incapable of understanding and appreciating those whose minds are complex and beautiful. It sounds to me like they are the ones with the “deficit.”