11 Myths & Facts about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Myth: All kids with ADHD are hyperactive.
Fact: No all kids with ADHD are hyperactive. Many kids can have challenges with their attention span. Children who are inattentive, but not overly active, may appear to be dazed, bored and /or lazy.
Myth: Kids with ADHD can never pay attention.
Fact: Kids with ADHD can focus on activities they enjoy. However, no matter how hard they try, they have trouble maintaining focus when the task at hand is boring, repetitive and/or requires much effort.
Myth: Kids with ADHD have control over how they behave
Fact: Kids with ADHD may do their best to practice ”good behaviors” but still struggle with sitting still, staying quiet, or paying attention. They may appear disobedient, but that doesn’t imply they’re intentionally acting out.
Myth: Kids will eventually grow out of ADHD.
Fact: ADHD often ( I believe “always”) continues into adulthood, so don’t wait for your child to “outgrow the problem.” Symptoms over the course of your child’s life may change however, ADHD will continue to be a part of his functioning. Treatment (i.e. behavior therapy, parent behavior management, medication therapy, general therapy) can help your child learn to manage and minimize the symptoms. The average age of onset for ADHD is 7, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), but many children will continue to experience symptoms as they grow older. In fact, research has shown, about 70 percent will experience symptoms in their teens and 50 percent into adulthood, however this number depends on a number of factors.
Myth: Medication is the best treatment / management option for ADHD.
Fact: Medication is often prescribed for ADHD, but it might not be the best option for your child. Effective treatment for ADHD also includes education, curriculum accommodations; behavior therapy, support at home and school, exercise, good sleep hygiene and proper nutrition.
Myth: ADHD is only a childhood condition
Fact: ADHD is a human condition. It is the most common mental health condition in children (around 6.1 million kids are diagnosed with ADHD,) however there are MANY adults that are suspected to have ADHD, and majority are unaware!! (Approximately 8.2 million adults are suspected to have ADHD. This statistic does not reflect the actual number of adults diagnosed, which is much lesser.
Myth: ADHD is a fake condition made up by pharmaceutical companies.
Fact: DEFINITELY NOT TRUE. It is still unclear how a well-studied condition like ADHD, that has a large amount of evidence-based medicine to support its existence is still not believed by many.
Myth: ADHD is not a real medical condition
Fact: Based on the previous truth myth buster, you already know my answer! Critics use a lot of different arguments to support their claim for discrediting ADHD. Some blame bad parenting for “unruly” kids, pharmaceutical companies for “fabricating” the illness in exchange for a profit or students looking for an unfair “advantage” in the classroom. One theory supports that ADHD is the result of a culture with “a growing intolerance of childhood playfulness.”
Nevertheless, ADHD is a valid and authentic condition, recognized by the National Institutes of Health(B), the U.S. Surgeon General and countless other medical professionals. Furthermore, there’s evidence to support a genetic predisposition for the condition in studies of twins – a hallmark of legitimacy.
Myth: ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar
Fact: There is very little evidence to support a link between eating sugar and acting hyper, even though parents still believe in the so-called “sugar rush.” There’s also little evidence that links sugar to causing or worsening symptoms of ADHD.
Interestingly, it’s more likely that parents are affected by their children’s sugar intake: One study found that mothers who thought their sons were drinking a sugary beverage rated their children’s behavior as more hyperactive, criticized their sons more and kept a closer watch over them, the BBC reported.
Preliminary studies suggested certain food additives linked to ADHD, but according to the FDA, the results are inconclusive. More and better research is needed to fully understand the implications
Myth: ADHD is more common in boys and men than in girls and women.
Fact: According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), “boys are four-six times at risk than girls” for ADHD, however research suggests that our cultural and societal stigma may be at work here. According to the National Resource Center (NRC) on ADHD, some studies suggest ADHD is more “internal” than “external” in girls; they may not exhibit what most of us deem hyperactivity – physical- the same way as boys. Girls with ADHD may be more likely to have – internal- hyperactivity of the mind, mood disorders, lower IQs and more difficulty socially, while boys may be more disruptive in school settings, leading to more referrals and diagnoses. More research is needed to fully understand gender differences in ADHD.
Myth: Adults with ADHD will struggle to complete school and succeed at work.
Fact: Teenagers with ADHD have a higher high school dropout rate, and difficulty with impulse control, which may lead some adults with ADHD to quit a job on a whim. But there is zero evidence to suggest ADHD affects a person’s intelligence (IQ) or drive, and famous faces like Simone Biles, Adam Levine, Michael Phelps and Solange Knowles certainly show that adults with ADHD can be creative, focused and successful.
\Some people may discover that medication to manage ADHD is helpful, and many adults develop coping mechanisms and skills to assist them in reaching their goals (with or without the help of medication management.) Living with ADHD is not impossible, but it does require effort, the support of others and a positive self-perspective to gain good symptom control and live optimally.
Dr. Dawn Brown is a double-board certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. She is the owner, CEO and sole practitioner at ADHD Wellness Center and has two private practice locations in Texas as well as a growing virtual presence, offering online appointments. As a two-time best selling author, Dr. Brown is a pioneer of “the mental health movement” specializing in working with professional athletes and supermoms of ADHD children.