There are numerous misconceptions surrounding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) including how a child develops the disorder, and how it should be treated. Rumors have even been circulated about how ADHD is not a real disorder and was manufactured by pharmaceutical companies in order to push more pills. However, the only thing “manufactured” in that story was the myth itself.
The truth is ADHD is a medical disorder that has been legitimately recognized by major psychological, medical, and educational organizations including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Psychiatric Society, and the U.S. Department of Health. Even U.S. Congress has enacted federal laws to assist children in school who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
Here are some additional myths regarding ADHD followed by the facts busting or debunking them:
MYTH: People with ADHD are unintelligent slackers who take unfair advantage of getting special treatment in school.
FACT: Recent studies show that most individuals with ADHD have above-average intelligence, but untreated symptoms often prohibit them from excelling. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) levels the playing field by providing extra time on tests and other accommodations so that children with ADHD can be as successful as the other kids in class.
TRIVIA: A lot of historical figures were thought to have had ADHD including: Beethoven, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison.
MYTH: ADHD is the result of bad parenting; these kids just need to be properly disciplined.
FACT: Because children with ADHD often have uncontrolled impulses making them blurt out things or unable to sit still for any length of time, they are presumed to be undisciplined little brats whose parents either can’t or won’t try to control them. The reality is ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, although there are parenting techniques that can be learned through behavior modification therapy to help improve a child’s symptoms. Studies have shown that inflicting strict discipline measures can often make a child’s symptoms worse, so it is important to work with a qualified mental health professional to learn effective strategies.
MYTH: Ritalin is unsafe for children and puts them at risk for using drugs when they are older.
FACT: Ritalin is one of several psycho stimulant medications sometimes prescribed to help treat ADHD symptoms. Used in conjunction with behavior management therapy these types of medications can help children to become more focused and less hyperactive. While they do occasionally have side effects in some individuals, they are not long term or permanent.
Nor do these medications create a dependency or addiction. Instead, they offer ADHD children a chance to normally interact with family and friends without the baggage that comes with being ADHD. Studies have shown that children and adults who are being medically treated for ADHD have a lower risk of “self-medicating” and using recreational drugs.
MYTH: Children can outgrow ADHD
FACT: Up to fifty percent of children diagnosed with ADHD may have this disorder for the rest of their lives. However, by learning how to control their environment, developing good life skills, and using appropriate medication when needed, these children can grow into normal, happy adults with productive lives.
Research shows that many adults whose ADHD symptoms are successfully treated enjoy higher levels of creative achievement. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, Holly White, an assistant professor of cognitive psychology at Eckerd College in St Petersburg, Florida, said, “In addition to limitations, ADHD really provides a potential advantage in terms of creative thinking. While distraction can be a limitation in a traditional learning environment or workplaces with structured approaches, people with ADHD can be very innovative and generate useful and novel ideas.”
TRIVIA: Current celebrities who have been diagnosed with ADHD are: Justin Timberlake, Jim Carrey, Michael Jordan, Steven Spielberg, and Bill Gates.
We hope you found this information helpful. To dispel other myths so that you can better understand ADHD and learn how your child can be treated, speak to a qualified mental health professional in your area.