ADHD is an often misunderstood condition. There are many myths surrounding it and most of them are generally ignorant. Here are 7 ADHD myths busted and some great responses to each one for the next time you hear them!
1. ADHD ISN’T REAL
We’ve all heard this myth before right? “Back in my day, we didn’t have ADHD and all that stuff… it didn’t exist…” It can be super frustrating when you hear this ad infinitum, especially when you know it isn’t true. However, research has shown that there are differences between an ADHD brain and a non-ADHD brain. It even affects how chemicals like dopamine work within said brain. One of the main parts of the brain effected is the part that focuses on executive functioning, this makes planning, organising and doing tasks difficult.
A Great Response: “I’m sorry, I didn’t realise you were a doctor. Can I see your accreditation before you accuse my child of being misdiagnosed.”
2. THEY JUST NEED A SMACK / IT’S JUST BAD PARENTING
For some reason, people think that you can just smack (or discipline) ADHD out of a child. This does not work and it will not work. People also think it’s just bad parenting – it’s not and it’s not your fault! (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!)
Due to the fact that ADHD is an invisible condition, people pass judgement on it much quicker than if it was a visible condition (such as a bandage). They will often see fidgeting or inappropriate comments and call your child naughty, while not understanding that these are signs of a medical condition.
I know that it can be the first instinct to snap at them, but instead, I’d say consider trying to explain ADHD in simple terms and see if you can break through their ignorance. You never know, you might change their perspective and their comments when they see another child with ADHD.
A Great Response: “Actually, they behave perfectly well most of the time. At the moment they are struggling with their ADHD but we have lots of strategies to cope. They are (explain 3). People with ADHD often struggle with fidgeting or inappropriate comments or hyperactivity and that’s what you’re seeing at the moment. Do you have any other questions?”
3. PEOPLE WITH ADHD ARE LAZY
This ADHD myth is… I mean… no, just no!
While people with ADHD can be perceived as lazy because they may not get tasks done as quickly or effectively as other people. This does not mean they are lazy. Many people with ADHD struggle with executive functioning – this means that they struggle with organising and executing tasks (even what some people consider simple tasks) is difficult. They often struggle with multiple steps and it takes more mental energy for them to complete tasks. This can mean they are seen as lazy but in reality, they really want to succeed in the task they are struggling to initiate.
A Great Response: “While it might seem that they aren’t trying, it’s actually the opposite, people with ADHD often struggle with certain tasks, especially when they are not in the right environment. Try these strategies to help (insert 3 or 4 here), it might help them be more productive.”
4. PEOPLE WITH ADHD CAN’T EVER FOCUS
Just because a person with ADHD struggles focusing on certain activities that don’t mean that they can’t ever focus. They might “hyper-focuses” on other tasks, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have ADHD.
Most people with ADHD are diagnosed in school because the demands required to “survive” in a school setting are hard for someone with ADHD to adapt to. Long hours of concentration and sitting still can be increasingly difficult for an ADHD child to adhere to. Compare this to an activity they enjoy and it might seem that they can focus more than a person without ADHD but in fact, they are just in a better environment to concentrate.
A Great Response: “I know they seem really focused right now, but actually they are focusing in the same way that you might in a normal setting. The conditions they are in at the moment allow them to focus, they struggle in other settings due to these factors (insert a few here).”
5. ADHD IS A LEARNING DIFFICULTY
While ADHD itself is not a learning difficulty, it might impact a child’s ability to learn. It is hard to do well in school when you are struggling to focus on completing a task within a set time. However, ADHD can exist alongside learning disabilities such as dyslexia. However, just because children with ADHD don’t have a learning difficulty per se, this doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve extra help in school.
They might, in fact, thrive in school with the right accommodations and adaptations. A way to get these is through an EHCP (or IEP if you’re in the US or CA). Find out more about what an EHCP and IEP is and how to get one in these blogs:
A Great Response: “While ADHD isn’t a learning difficulty as such, my child does struggle to learn in a normal educational setting. This is because there are long hours of sitting and concentrating. These accommodations might help (insert a few here like a vibrating cushion or slanted desk). Please consider them.”
6. GIRLS DON’T GET ADHD
This is a myth that gets perpetuated with a lot of invisible conditions, especially Autism and ADHD. It comes from the fact that boys are more than twice as likely to get diagnosed as girls. The reason for this is that ADHD can look different with boys than girls. Boys tend to have more difficulty with hyperactivity and impulse control while girls may seem more in their own world.
But this isn’t always the case, girls with ADHD can struggle with hyperactivity and impulse control and boys can seem more in their own world. It isn’t always black and white!
A Great Response: “I mean, she’s a girl and she has ADHD, so what’s your point?”
7. THEY WILL GROW OUT OF IT
This is one of those ADHD myths that are simply not true. While it might SEEM like the symptoms of ADHD have lessened with age, it’s probably just that the person has found coping mechanisms to deal with their ADHD. Often this takes years of hard work and practice. By saying that they don’t have ADHD anymore can cheapen their success and frankly can be seen as quite insulting.
A Great Response: All of the above + “Wow you seem to be handling some stuff you struggled with in the past really well, what coping strategies do you have, how did you develop them?”
I hope that these 7 common ADHD myths busted have helped you explain and prepare a comeback for each one for the next time you hear them.
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