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Understanding ADHD and Separating Myths vs Facts

Understanding ADHD and Separating Myths vs Facts

May 21, 20244 min read

ADHD or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental disorder that affects both children and adults. Some of the signs of ADHD include impulsive actions, a lack of attention, and occasional hyperactivity.

People with ADHD may find it hard to focus on a task or a conversation, especially if they’re not interested. Their mind constantly wanders to other thoughts or stimuli around them. This can lead to challenges in school, at work, and in personal relationships.

So, how does this impact everyday life? Well, one challenge you’ll constantly face will include trying to juggle multiple tasks at work and battling distractions at the same time. Another is struggling to remember appointments and deadlines because organizing thoughts and time is not your strong suit. It can be exhausting and frustrating.

However, it's not all challenges. There are many people with ADHD who are creative and innovative. They tend to think outside the box. Yet despite all that and the progress made in understanding ADHD, myths and stereotypes continue to cloud the perceptions of other people. So, let’s take a closer look at it and separate myths from facts.

Debunking the Myths

There are several myths and misconceptions about ADHD that persist in society. These myths can contribute to misunderstanding and stigma surrounding the condition. Here are some of the common ones:

  1. It’s an excuse for laziness, lack of willpower, and bad behavior. This misconception can lead to feelings of inadequacy and shame, hindering their ability to seek appropriate support. But it is important to understand that ADHD is not a problem with character but a mental health condition.

  2. ADHD only affects boys that’s why you see more hyperactive boys than girls. The truth is that ADHD can be found in all genders and can have different signs and symptoms other than hyperactivity.

  3. ADHD only happens in childhood. While ADHD is often diagnosed in childhood, it can and does persist into adulthood. Many adults with ADHD were either not diagnosed as children or were misdiagnosed.

  4. It’s just hyperactivity, nothing else. This myth can lead people with ADHD to believe that they simply are not behaving well and that’s okay because that’s who they are, which prevents them from getting the help they need. But ADHD is not just about hyperactivity. In fact, there are three primary subtypes:

    a. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation - Lack of attention, easily gets distracted, and has a hard time remembering information (forgetfulness).

    b. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation - Always fidgets and wants to do something all the time; often acts without thinking (impulsive) and interrupts people when they’re talking.

    c. Combined Presentation - Symptoms of the first two subtypes.

  5. People with ADHD have no focus. This is totally a busted myth! While people with ADHD often struggle with focus and attention, they can be hyperfocused when they’re doing something that interests them.

  1. Those who have ADHD have very low IQ. Debunked like the other myths. ADHD cannot be used as a measure of whether or not a person is intelligent or less intelligent. There are many people with ADHD who are highly intelligent and successful in their careers and personal lives.

  2. ADHD is caused by bad parenting. While parenting can influence behavior, it is not the cause of ADHD.

These are just a few of the myths surrounding ADHD. Understanding and debunking these myths is crucial to promoting accurate information about the disorder.

Understanding the Facts

Contrary to popular belief, having ADHD does not preclude academic success. While individuals with ADHD may face difficulties in certain areas, such as organization or time management, many excel academically or professionally. However, their achievements may be overshadowed by the struggles they face each day. This is all the more reason to accommodate and provide support to them so they can maximize their potential.

It is also important to highlight that ADHD is not exclusive to any particular racial or ethnic group. Research has shown different levels in diagnosis and treatment, with minority populations being underrepresented and underserved. These factors contribute to the disparities, requiring the need for culturally competent approaches to diagnosis and care of ADHD:

  • Implicit bias

  • Systemic inequalities

  • Cultural stigma

Why Consider Support and Treatment

It may be uncomfortable for many to seek support and treatment because of society’s misconceptions about ADHD, but it is a much needed step towards a better life. Take some time to look for the right support and treatment services. Expect that effective interventions may include medication, therapy, and behavioral changes.

Find and be around a supportive environment. This is how you thrive despite having ADHD. You will also do yourself and others a service if you start educating people you meet online or offline about the realities of ADHD. Understanding what it is can help dismantle stigma and create a more inclusive society.

ADHD mythsADHD factsunderstanding ADHD
Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

Jeanne Prinzivalli

Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

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