Advocacy | CHADD Advocacy Manual

CHADD Advocacy Manual

The information provided in the CHADD Advocacy Manual will help you become an effective advocate and communicator about issues affecting ADHD. The information has been put together by CHADD leaders and staff who have been advocating on behalf of children and adults with ADHD for many years.

You do not have to be an experienced advocate to be effective. It is the average citizen and voter who is the most credible and influential person with policymakers. Your experience living with ADHD and related disorders every day is the most important message you can share.

Together we can make a difference and build a social movement that continually supports the needs of those with ADHD.

Ruth A. Hughes, Ph.D.

To view the Advocacy Manual cover, click here (Adobe Reader required).
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NOTE: An "Adobe Reader" pop up appear here for each section is required to view all contents of the Advocacy Manual below. The numbers to the left of each section correspond to the page numbers within each section, following the pagination in the print edition.

Section 1: Introduction

Make it personal. For whatever reason, people are often intimidated by the thought of advocating for their cause. As a result, few people actually do it. That is why showing up and presenting your case to your elected official can have such a dramatic impact. You are truly the expert here. This section discusses concerns and allays fears about advocating, highlights rules for success, and suggests appropriate language to use to lessen the stigma against those with ADHD when speaking with legislators.

1.1 Introduction: You are the Expert
1.2 Cartoon: How a Bill Becomes Law
1.3 Rules for Success
1.4 People First Language

Section 2: How to Influence Policymakers and Rules for Effective Advocacy

Legislation affecting people with ADHD often revolves around the concept of disability. In Section 2 read about the many different variables that go into influencing policymakers. Also included is a brief, practical list of do’s and don’ts to help you prepare to affect policy.

2.1 Top Ten Tips on How to Influence Policymakers and the Policymaking Process
2.2 CHADD's Rules for Effective Advocacy

Section 3: Crafting Your Message

This section gives you step-by-step instructions on how to use your personal story to have maximum influence on a legislator or a staff member, whether in person or through a phone call, email, or a letter. 

3.1 Crafting Your Message
3.2 Turning Your Story into Effective Advocacy

Section 4: Developing Relationships with Elected Officials

Here you will find tips on developing relationships with officials and their offices, such as how to conduct research on your Congressperson’s background, district demographics, and related interest groups that vie for his or her attention. This section also gives you instructions on how to open a two-way line of communication with an office to help you maximize your influence as a resource for the staff on ADHD or disability issues. In addition, a checklist in this chapter prepares you to meet in person with a policymaker.

4.1 Developing a Relationship with Elected Officials and Policymakers

Section 5: Letter Writing, E-Advocacy, Telephone Calls, and Giving Public Testimony

Section 5 gives you detailed instruction on how to craft relevant and meaningful letters or emails to your elected official, with in-depth tips on how to increase your know-how when phoning a policymaker’s office. Part of this section teaches you how to create Action Alerts to inform your organization’s advocates.

5.1 Letter Writing
5.2 E-Advocacy: Using the Internet
5.3 Sample Action Alert
5.4 Telephone Calls
5.5 Giving Public Testimony
5.6 Addressing Procedures for Contacting Federal, State, and Local Officials

Section 6: Media Tool Kit

This excellent chapter explains how to work with a reporter to get a story out, the elements of what a good story and a good interview entail, essential pieces to include in a press release and media advisory, and sample documents to help you get started.

6.1 The CHADD Media Tool Kit

Section 7: ADHD Fast Facts

Unfortunately, a good deal of inaccurate information exists about ADHD. As a CHADD advocate, you can help dispel these untruths and advance the rights of all people with ADHD and other mental illnesses. This section will update you on all the accurate ADHD information you need to know when a member of the media or a policymaker has questions.

7.1 An Introduction to Fast Facts
7.2 Fast Facts

Section 8: Model State Legislation and State Legislative Toolkit

Inform yourself on what both model mental health and anti-mental health legislation look like. Included are sample reaction responses to potential legislation affecting CHADD members, such as letters to editors, legislators, and fellow advocates. Also, find out how a bill becomes a law and how to build a coalition with other groups to magnify the attention that your cause receives.

8.1 Model State Legislation
8.2 Sample Anti-Mental Health & Anti-Psychiatry State Legislation
8.3 Utah: State Action Alert
8.4 Utah: ADHD is Real Fact Sheet
8.5 Sample Opinion Letters and Letters to Editors
8.6 Letters to Legislators and Governors
8.7 A Primer on the Legislative Process and Coalition Building, Media Clips

Section 9: Appendix

Here, find a diagram on the legislative process as well as website and contact information for legislative bodies and disability and advocacy organizations. Web links to ADHD health and policy information are also housed here. Finally, look for a glossary of policy terms to assist you in your advocacy efforts.

9.1 Appendix A: The Legislative Process, A Flowchart on How a Bill Becomes Law 
9.2 Appendix B: Disability and Advocacy Resources
9.3 Appendix C: Glossary of Legislative Terms