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Myths and misunderstandings about ADHD

Even though ADHD is a scientifically researched concept and has been around for many years there are many myths that still exist about the learning disorder. The media has created a significant amount of hype and stigma about ADHD and its treatment. Many people believe that children are needlessly medicated for unruly behaviour and see the diagnosis as a poor excuse for bad parenting.

Understanding some of these myths is an essential in ensuring that we do not allow these misunderstandings to become an obstacle to a child receiving the necessary support and treatment that they require. 7 common myths and misunderstandings about ADHD are presented below.

ADHD is not a real disorder

There is a common belief that ADHD is not a real disorder. Many theories and misunderstandings suggest that doctors and psychiatrists have collaborated with pharmaceutical companies to create a disorder with the purpose of increasing medication sales. Research has however proven that ADHD is a real disorder that affects children, adolescents and adults throughout their lives. It is a chronic disorder that impacts on daily functioning.

ADHD is a childhood disorder

Early research and discussion about children with ADHD indicated that they would outgrow the disorder. Most individuals will not outgrow their ADHD symptoms. While symptoms might change with the normal course of development, research studies have revealed that 70% – 80% of individuals with ADHD will still experience symptoms during adulthood.

ADHD is over-diagnosed

Many critics believe that ADHD is over diagnosed in children. Several research studies have disproved this myth, suggesting that ADHD is in some cases underdiagnosed or untreated. A study conducted by Jensen (1999) indicated that the prevalence rates of the disorder were between 2% and 9%.

Children with ADHD are over-medicated

Much of the available hype in the media suggests that there is an over-prescription of medication used to treat ADHD. While there has been an increase in the use of stimulant medication, contradictory research still indicates that many children are not medicated for their ADHD symptoms. Evidence has also proven that while better diagnostic procedures are being utilised, there is room for improvement in the monitoring and follow up requirements for children on medication.

ADHD is due to bad parenting

Incorrect assumptions are often made that the behaviour children with ADHD display is related to their family context and poor discipline. ADHD is a condition that has a neurological basis and is not created by parenting styles. Behaviour can, however, be exacerbated by a child’s family context.

Only boys have ADHD

There is a perception that exists that only boys have ADHD. This is an untrue assumption. While boys are twice as likely to get ADHD than girls, both genders can have ADHD.

ADHD stimulant medication leads to addiction

There is a misconception that ADHD stimulant medication can lead to addiction. No research findings have shown that taking stimulant medication causes addiction. People with ADHD who take stimulant medication tend to have lower rates of substance abuse than people with ADHD who do not take medication.

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