Google ADHD and you’ll get over 30 million hits many of which promote ideas like, ADHD is a vitamin deficiency, ADHD is caused by food coloring, ADHD is caused by bad parenting, ADHD isn’t a real condition…and so on.
There are, however, facts about ADHD which dispel the myths.
First and foremost, ADHD is real. The diagnosis of ADHD as defined in the DSM-5 is very specific. Important things to remember which many people don’t know…and which doctors might overlook, are:
- the symptoms must be present for at least 6 months and are inappropriate to the subject’s developmental level
- the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
- the symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, etc).
In other words, a child of 4 who runs around a lot, climbs on furniture, and has a short attention span is very likely acting like a 4-year-old, and not a child with ADHD. An 8 year old who is under stress from family dysfunction, illness or childhood depression and can’t pay attention in class should probably not be diagnosed with ADHD.
ADHD in children should not be diagnosed unless the symptoms are inappropriate to the child’s age.
Wrong. “Back in the day” ADHD was called
- Hyperkinetic Disease
- Minimal Brain Damage
- Minimal Brain Dysfunction
- Hyperkinetic Impulse Disorder
ADHD is not a new disorder. It has been present in medical literature since the late 18th century. Treatment of the condition with stimulant medications has also been present for almost a century.
ADHD in children should not be diagnosed unless the symptoms are inappropriate to the child’s age.
It is not the same as daydreaming.
MYTHS ABOUT ADHD
Some myths about ADHD and responses (see the links for the entire articles)…
by Additude Magazine
Myth #1: ADHD isn’t a real medical disorder
ADHD has been recognized as a legitimate diagnosis by major medical, psychological, and educational organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education. The American Psychiatric Society recognizes ADHD as a medical disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – the official mental health “bible” used by psychologists and psychiatrists.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (also known as attention-deficit disorder) is biologically based. Research shows that it’s a result of an imbalance of chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, within the brain. Its primary symptoms are inattention, impulsiveness, and, sometimes, hyperactivity.
People with ADHD typically have a great deal of difficulty with aspects of daily life, including time management and organizational skills.
Myth #3: Children with ADHD eventually outgrow their condition
More than 70 percent of the individuals who have ADHD in childhood continue to have it in adolescence. Up to 50 percent will continue to have it in adulthood.
Although it’s been estimated that 6 percent of the adult population has ADHD, the majority of those adults remain undiagnosed, and only one in four of them seek treatment. Yet, without help, adults with ADHD are highly vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. They often experience career difficulties, legal and financial problems, and troubled personal relationships.
Myth #5: ADHD is the result of bad parenting
When a child with ADHD blurts things out or gets out of his seat in class, it’s not because he hasn’t been taught that these behaviors are wrong. It’s because he cannot control his impulses. The problem is rooted in brain chemistry, not discipline. In fact, overly strict parenting – which may involve punishing a child for things he can’t control – can actually make ADHD symptoms worse. Professional interventions, such as drug therapy, psychotherapy, and behavior modification therapy, are usually required.
Myth #6: Children who take ADHD medication are more likely to abuse drugs when they become teenagers.
Actually, it’s just the opposite. Having untreated ADHD increases the risk that an individual will abuse drugs or alcohol. Appropriate treatment reduces this risk.
The medications used to treat ADHD have been proven safe and effective over more than 50 years of use. These drugs don’t cure ADHD, but they are highly effective at easing symptoms of the disorder. The drugs do not turn kids into addicts or “zombies.”
1. Myth: ADHD isn’t a real disorder.
Fact: ADHD is a mental disorder with a strong biological component (like most mental disorders). This includes an inherited biological component, notes Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, a national certified counselor and licensed mental health counselor and author of four books on adult ADD, including Adult ADD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed.
For instance, studies have identified several genes associated with ADHD (e.g., Guan, Wang, Chen, Yang & Qian, 2009). One study revealed that kids with ADHD had hundreds of gene variations that weren’t found in other children (Elia et al., 2010).
5. Myth: “Everyone has some ADHD these days,” Tuckman said.
Fact: Our technology-driven society has definitely caused many people to get easily distracted and overwhelmed. We get sidetracked during one project and feel forgetful about everything else. But as Tuckman clarified: “The difference is that people with ADHD pay a much higher price for their distracted moments and it happens much more often.”
Think of it this way: All of us feel anxious and depressed at certain points in our lives but that doesn’t mean that we have a diagnosable anxiety disorder, depression or bipolar disorder.
7. Myth: “ADHD isn’t a big deal,” Tuckman said.
Fact: This couldn’t be further from the truth. Individuals with ADHD typically struggle in all areas of their lives, from the big responsibilities like job performance to simple tasks like paying bills on time, according to Tuckman. ADHD is also tough on relationships.
Plus, “There has even been research showing that people with ADHD have lower credit scores and higher blood cholesterol levels, revealing their difficulties with managing a broad range of lifestyle matters,” Tuckman said.
9. Myth: “People with ADHD just need to try harder,” Tuckman said.
Fact: While effort is important in overcoming obstacles caused by ADHD, it isn’t the whole story. Tuckman likened the misconception of working harder in ADHD to poor eyesight: “We don’t tell someone with bad vision that he just needs to try harder to see well.”
He added that: “People with ADHD have been trying harder their entire lives, but don’t have as much to show for their efforts. This is why it’s important to address ADHD with appropriate treatment and ADHD-friendly strategies that take into account how the ADHD brain processes information.”
Myth: There is no such medical condition as ADHD.
ADHD is a medical disorder, not a condition of the child’s will. A child with ADHD does not choose to misbehave.
Myth: ADHD is caused by bad parenting. All the child needs is good discipline.
ADHD is not caused by bad parenting. But parenting techniques can often improve some symptoms and make others worse.
Myth: Medicine prescriptions for ADHD have greatly increased in the past few years because the condition is being overdiagnosed.
ADHD is estimated to affect about 3% to 7% of all school-age children in the United States.1 There is little evidence to support claims that ADHD is overdiagnosed and that ADHD medicines are overprescribed.
from the National Center for Learning Disabilities
Myth #1: ADHD Is Not a Real Disorder
According to the National Institutes of Health, the Surgeon General of the United States, and an international community of clinical researchers, psychiatrists and physicians, there is general consensus that ADHD is a valid disorder with severe, lifelong consequences. Studies over the past 100 years demonstrate that ADHD is a chronic disorder that has a negative impact on virtually every aspect of daily social, emotional, academic and work functioning. It is a real disorder with serious consequences.
Myth #3: ADHD Is Over-Diagnosed
It is difficult to find evidence that ADHD is over-diagnosed or that stimulant medications are over-prescribed. Moreover, in some cases ADHD may be undiagnosed and/or untreated. Rates vary depending on the rating scales employed, the criteria used to make a diagnosis, the use of cut-off scores, and changes in diagnostic criteria.
Changes in special education legislation in the early 1990s increased general awareness of ADHD as a handicapping condition and provided the legal basis for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in the school setting. These legal mandates have increased the number of school-based services available to children with ADHD and may have inadvertently led some to conclude that ADHD is a new disorder that is over-diagnosed.
Myth #4: Children With ADHD Are Over-Medicated
Although there has been an increase in the rate of prescriptions for stimulants and an increase in the production of methylphenidate, “most researchers believe that much of the increased use of stimulants reflects better diagnosis and more effective treatment of a prevalent disorder.” Others suggest that the changes may be a function of increased prescription rates for girls and teens with ADHD. The percentage of children who receive medication of any kind is small. So while there has been an increase in the number of prescriptions, a relatively low overall rate of stimulant use is reported in school-aged children.
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.