This year’s theme for ADHD Awareness Month is "Reframing ADHD: Discovering New Perspectives." There are many myths surrounding ADHD that can be harmful and continue to perpetuate the stigma surrounding the disorder.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects about 5.29% of children and 2.8-4.4% of adults. It is diagnosed as one of these three types:
Most of the common symptoms of ADHD, like difficulty remaining still for long periods of time, high activity levels, and limited attention spans, are common with all young children. The difference in children diagnosed with ADHD is that these symptoms are noticeably greater than expected for their age, cause distress, and/or cause problems functioning at home, at school, or with friends. While ADHD does present challenges, there are resources, skills, and strategies to help overcome these challenges.
Reframing ADHD: Discovering New Perspectives
There are many myths surrounding ADHD that can be harmful and continue to perpetuate the stigma surrounding the disorder.
Myth: People with ADHD just can’t concentrate
Fact: Hyper-focus is a symptom of ADHD. This is highly focused attention that lasts a long time. This usually turns on when a person with ADHD is doing something that they really enjoy or are interested in. Someone experiencing this symptom might concentrate on something so intensely that they lose track of everything else.
Myth: ADHD is just an excuse for laziness
Fact: ADHD is a problem with the chemical dynamics of the brain. It is not voluntary. Symptoms are the result of neural messages in the brain not being effectively transmitted.
Myth: ADHD is caused by bad parenting
Fact: Parents do not cause ADHD. Studies have shown that the causes for ADHD fall into two different categories: genetics and adverse environmental conditions. To treat ADHD, psychologists teach parents effective skills that improve behavior. However, this is not a cure. Parents are not to blame for their children’s ADHD, but with the right tools, they can help their children navigate the disorder.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, what is the right treatment?
Work closely with healthcare providers, therapists, school administrators and/or social workers, coaches, and other family members to find the right treatment. Good treatment plans involve monitoring how much the treatment helps symptoms, as well as making changes along the way. Two types of treatment for ADHD are:
Behavior therapy, including training for parents
The goal of behavior therapy is to learn how to strengthen positive behaviors and eliminate problem behaviors
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parent training in behavior management as the first step for treating children younger than 6 years old
Medications can help children manage their symptoms and control behaviors in their everyday life
Medication affects every person differently; what works for one person may not work for another
Ways to Manage Stress with ADHD:
Psychotherapy and coaching
A healthy lifestyle, including a work and break schedule, sleep, exercise, and healthy eating
Exposure to nature
Create a routine
Be clear and specific when you talk to your child, avoid sarcasm
Use goals and praise or other rewards
Recognize that having a second condition, or a co-occurring disorder with ADHD is common, and be sure to address both.
Support and Resources
Children and Adults with ADHD - a national support organization