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Do you know the truth about ADHD? Can you tell fact from fiction? Myth from reality? There is plenty of misinformation about ADHD, and many well-intentioned members of the community have derived their opinions from misinformation. Take a look at these common myths about ADHD and the truth behind them.
Distinguishing fact from fiction is important (Tiffany Cook)
As with anything else, there are both ADHD myths and facts floating around. Being able to filter through fact and fiction can help you as a parent to make better decisions about how to help your child with ADHD:
Myth: ADHD is not a real medical condition.
Fact: The National Institutes of Health, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Psychiatric Association all recognize ADHD as a bona fide medical condition. It has also been observed that the MRI scans of the brain of a child with ADHD are markedly different from that of a child without ADHD. It is also known that ADHD is hereditary.
Myth: ADHD is the result of bad parenting.
Fact: That could not be further from the truth. I want all parents with ADHD children out there to know that your child’s condition is not your fault; however, what would be your fault is neglecting to educate yourself about your child’s condition and how to help them become productive, well-respected members of society in spite of it. But the fact that your child has the disease is, by no means, your fault and you should not let anyone make you feel that way.
Myth: Only boys can have ADHD.
Fact: Though statistically boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, girls can have it too. Many times, it looks different in girls than boys and oftentimes is mistaken for something other than ADHD.
I’ve got ADHD and I thrive (Kereth Harris)
There are lots of myths about ADHD:
Myth: Your child is naughty because you are a bad parent.
Fact: Absolute and complete rubbish! ADHD is a medical condition that affects behavior and attention.
Myth: ADHD is a life sentence, which will require medications and interventions forever and a day.
Fact: I am a late-diagnosed female adult and I am so glad I have ADHD. My energy and ability to multitask are second to none and I love the fact that with ADHD I can get through so much more in a day than my “normal” friends! Forget the tag and remember that this is your little human who needs you to have their back!
Not all ADHD kids show the same symptoms (Lesley Scott)
There are many myths surrounding ADHD. Here are a few I frequently encounter:
Myth: ADHD doesn’t exist and is the result of bad parenting.
Fact: ADHD is recognized as a medical condition. Research shows that the condition is hereditary and imaging studies show differences in brain development of individuals who have ADHD and those who don’t. Many people may attribute certain behaviors to poor parenting or lack of discipline, but this is not the case.
Myth: ADHD children can never focus.
Fact: Some children are easily distracted but may have difficulty shifting focus from an activity they enjoy. In these instances, your child may be hyper-focused.
Myth: All ADHD kids are hyperactive.
Fact: Not all children with ADHD are hyperactive or impulsive. ADD (Also known as ADHD, predominantly Inattentive type) does not impact activity levels and mostly affects the ability to pay attention.
Myth: Only boys have ADHD.
Fact: Boys are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. This could be because girls may not exhibit the same degree of hyperactivity and lack of impulse control. They may also manifest their symptoms differently such as by being very chatty or emotional.
Myth: ADHD is a learning disability.
Fact: ADHD may impact your child’s ability to learn. This is because their symptoms make focusing difficult. This does not mean that your child has a learning disability though, which is characterized by a specific inability to learn. A number of learning disabilities occur concurrently with ADHD and this may contribute to this myth.
Myth: My child will outgrow their ADHD.
Fact: Symptoms may improve as your child gets older and they may learn to manage them, but that is not the same as outgrowing them. Symptoms of ADHD are likely to continue throughout adolescence and adulthood.
Some myths are well intentioned, but still wrong (Amanda Whittington)
I’ve personally heard some of the most well-known ADHD myths from nice people who just did not understand what ADHD is or how it works.
Myth: All boys/girls are active at that age.
Fact: This came from a grandma who was trying to empathize. She’s right–all children are active and need to move. The difference is, mine cannot stop even if they want to stop.
Myth: Your child will grow out of it.
Fact: From what I’ve seen, not only do children with ADHD not grow out of it, but the symptoms become more noticeable as they get bigger and stronger. The saving grace is that maturity, medication, and therapy can help them learn to cope with their symptoms.
Myth: You need to discipline better.
Fact: The reality is that no amount of spanking, yelling, or doling out timeouts, or whatever people around you deem as “appropriate discipline,” is going to teach a child with ADHD impulse control or calm their hyperactivity. Patience, therapy, behavior plans, and even medication are the tools that will work together to help your child learn to manage their ADHD.
Myths about ADHD abound in our communities. From the examples above, you can see how pervasive and repeated some of these are. Even people with good intentions can have wrong opinions based on those myths. As parents and advocates, we can help our children with ADHD by helping others understand the truth.