5 ADHD Myths BustedMar 20, 2023
Despite progress, increased awareness and extensive research (plus clear neurological findings), many people still hold onto false beliefs and spread myths about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Unfortunately, inaccurate beliefs only contribute to the perpetuation of stigma, shame, and misunderstanding surrounding ADHD. They can impact peoples self esteem, treatment paths and even careers. These take time, energy and resources to combat, so fighting them accurately and early is always the best approach.
Let's dive into 5 stubborn myths of ADHD and exactly how we bust them:
Myth One: ADHD is caused by bad parenting or a lack of discipline. ❌
✅ Fact: ADHD is a neurological condition that is often genetic. It is not caused by poor parenting or a lack of discipline. While parenting styles can impact ADHD and strategies can help manage symptoms, ADHD is a biological condition.
It's worth noting, however, that parenting can have a significant impact on how ADHD affects a child as they grow. While ADHD is a neurological disorder, environment can exacerbate or improve symptoms. Improving communication, structure, routine, positive reinforcement and additional support can all have a positive impact on children with ADHD.
Given the genetic component, it can be worthwhile for parents of children with ADHD to get screened and potentially assessed. If parents also have ADHD, this can go a long way with providing adults with the right support and tools to help their children grow, contributing to a more positive home life and relationship dynamics.
Myth Two: ADHD is overdiagnosed and not a real disorder. ❌
✅ Fact: ADHD is a well-established and clinically recognised disorder supported by extensive research. While misdiagnosis and over-diagnosis can occur, this does not negate the reality of the disorder.
Improved diagnostic tools, expanded diagnostic criteria, better understanding of ADHD, changes in societal expectations and an increase in the demands of modern life which can exacerbate ADHD symptoms have all contributed to more people than ever before receiving ADHD screening and diagnosis.
While there's an increase in ADHD diagnosis, it's important to note that this doesn't necessarily mean more people have it than in the past but instead simply reflects a better understanding of the disorder and increased awareness of its impact on people's lives.
Myth Three: People with ADHD cannot focus on anything. ❌
✅ Fact: While people with ADHD may struggle with focus and attention, they can also experience "hyper-focus" when it comes to tasks that are of interest to us.
Hyper-focus - where someone may become engrossed in a task to the point of losing track of time - isn't unique to people with ADHD, but is more common among us. Although it can have it's benefits, it can also lead to neglecting other tasks or responsibilities and difficulty shifting attention.
Hyper-focus is linked to the brain's reward system, which can be less sensitive in people with ADHD, making it difficult to focus on everyday activities. However, engaging in a highly rewarding task can activate the brain's reward system, which can lead to hyper-focus. Learning how to manage it to maximise the benefits and minimise the drawbacks of hyper-focus can be crucial.
Myth Four: Medication is the only treatment for ADHD. ❌
✅ Fact: While medication can be an effective treatment for ADHD, it is not the only option. Therapy, lifestyle changes, and accommodations can also be helpful.
Medication can be incredibly beneficial, but may take a while to find the right prescription and side effects vary for everyone. Each persons journey with their ADHD medication is unique, but it isn't the only option.
Often, a combination of lifestyle adaptions, therapy and medication can contribute to longterm, sustainable treatment. This will likely also need adjusting and tweaking over a persons lifetime, which is helpful to expect instead of relying on one method or support system. Setting realistic expectations of managing ADHD is also key.
Myth Five: ADHD is a sign of low intelligence ❌
✅ Fact: People with ADHD are just as intelligent as those without. While difficulty with attention and organisation may make it more challenging for ADHD-ers to succeed in traditional academic or work settings, this isn't reflective of IQ.
Despite these challenges, it's important to recognise that intelligence takes many forms, and individuals with ADHD often have strengths in creativity, problem-solving, and lateral or out-of-the-box thinking.
With the right accommodations and strategies, individuals with ADHD can manage their symptoms and achieve success in all areas of their lives - in fact, many individuals with ADHD excel academically and in their careers. Requiring different types of support to reach one's full potential is not reflective of IQ, but more accurately of the systems and support currently in place.
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