According to recent studies, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, appears to be more prevalent than ever before. Nearly 1 in 10 kids between the ages of five and 17 is being diagnosed with ADHD. Despite that prevalence, misinformation regarding the disorder continues to circulate, and that information can make it harder for parents to understand the disorder.
Dispelling the misinformation surrounding ADHD may help those who are truly affected by the disorder get the treatment they need.
Myth# 1: ADHD is not a real disorder. Many people honestly feel that ADHD was a concept drummed up by psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies to increase business. However, the condition is real and is recognized by major health institutions, including the Surgeon General of the United States and the National Institutes of Health.
Myth #2: ADHD is only a children’s disorder. Statistics indicate that while the majority of the people diagnosed with ADHD are children, at least 4 percent of adults experience it at as well. The reason the statistics may be lower for adults is that ADHD is often misdiagnosed or goes undiagnosed in adults.
Myth #3: ADHD is caused by bad parenting. There are a number of people quick to point fingers at parents, laying the blame for ADHD at the feet of mom and dad. But some people with ADHD have difficulty controlling impulsivity and behavior, and that difficulty may have nothing to do with how those people were raised.
Myth #4: More boys have ADHD than girls. According to a 2001 report from the U.S. Surgeon General, girls are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD despite need. Girls tend to have lower rates of hyperactivity and external symptoms than boys, but they may have greater intellectual impairment due to ADHD. As a result, girls may be underdiagnosed with the condition.
Myth #5: Those with ADHD are lazy. People with ADHD are no more lazy or less determined than those who have not been diagnosed with the disorder. ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder that changes the way the brain responds and presents unique challenges. A person with ADHD is no more at fault for the behaviors associated with ADHD than a person with depression or mania is for the symptoms associated with those conditions.
Myth #6: All people with ADHD are hyper and lack focus. A person with ADHD may present mixed symptoms of the condition or be predominantly characterized by one. That means hyperactivity may not be part of the equation, especially for those who are largely inattentive. On the flip side, while some people with ADHD have trouble focusing on certain tasks, some actually get overly focused on things they enjoy. This is known as “hyperfocus,” and it may come at a detriment to the things they do not like.
Myth #7: ADHD is overdiagnosed. Experts say that ADHD is still largely underdiagnosed and undertreated, and many are not getting the therapy and/or medication they need. Contrary to popular belief, taking medication for ADHD is not a precursor to drug addiction or substance abuse. Many ADHD sufferers who do not get the care they need self-medicate and are at a greater risk for substance abuse.