The National Center for Learning Disabilities
By Amanda Morin
February 19, 2014
With all the misconceptions about ADHD, it’s hard to know what’s true and to feel understood and supported. Separating myth from fact can help you feel more confident in your ability to help your child.
Myth #1: ADHD isn’t a real medical condition.
Fact: The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Psychiatric Association all recognize ADHD as a medical condition. Research shows that it runs in families, meaning it might be genetic.
If your child has ADHD, you know how real it is and how big an impact it can have on everyday living. There are ways to help keep it from becoming the focus of your child’s life—or yours.
Myth #2: All kids with ADHD are hyperactive.
Fact: Even parents who have a child with ADHD may think this one is true—if their child has hyperactivity as a symptom. But not all kids with ADHD do.
There are three types of ADHD, and one of them—ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type (also known as ADD)—doesn’t have an impact on activity levels. Kids with this type of ADHD may appear daydreamy or off in their own world.
If your child is hyperactive, there are strategies you can try at home along with therapies and medications that can help.
Myth #3: ADHD is the result of bad parenting.
Fact: People who don’t know your family, or much about ADHD, may attribute your child’s behavior to a lack of discipline. They don’t realize that the inappropriate comments or constant fidgeting are signs of a medical condition, not of bad parenting.
There are things you can do, however, to have a positive impact on your child’s behavior.
Myth #4: Only boys have ADHD.
Fact: While it’s true boys are about twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, that doesn’t mean girls don’t have ADHD. They’re just more likely to be overlooked and remain undiagnosed. Attention issues can look different in boys than in girls—girls tend to be less disruptive in class.
If you’ve noticed for at least six months that your child is easily distracted and unfocused, or if the teacher describes your child as “daydreamy,” consider talking to your pediatrician about the possibility of ADHD.
Myth: #5: ADHD is overdiagnosed.
Fact: Studies show that ADHD is actually underdiagnosed in minority populations in the U.S. One reason ADHD might seem overdiagnosed to some people is that awareness of the disorder has been growing since the 1990s, when it became recognized under special education law as a condition that affects learning. There are also a lot of celebrities with ADHD who have brought ADHD into the public eye.
If you suspect your child has ADHD or has been misdiagnosed with it, talk to your child’s doctor.
Myth #6: Kids with ADHD will outgrow it.
Fact: ADHD is a lifelong condition. The symptoms may change as your child gets older and learns ways to manage them, but that’s not the same as outgrowing them. As many as 80 percent of kids with ADHD will continue to have symptoms throughout adolescence and adulthood.
That statistic might be scary, but it doesn’t mean your child’s life will be a constant struggle. With love, understanding and support, many kids with ADHD live happy, successful lives.
Amanda Morin is an education and parenting writer who uses her experience as an early interventionist and teacher to inform her writing. Her work appears on many parenting websites and she is the author of two books, including The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.