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Terry Matlen’s Top 10 ADHD Myth Busters (Updated May, 2017)

Posted on May 15, 2017

Terry ADHD MythBuster 2

 

It takes a lot to get me angry. Some of the more minor offenses are:

  • When someone wants to talk to me before 9am. Ok….10am!
  • Finding raisins in my food
  • Itchy clothes, perfume, loud TVs, sticky floors

And then there are the major offenses, which are obvious if you know me or have been reading my newsletters over the last 20 years. These include:

  • Children with special needs not getting an appropriate education; special needs adults getting crappy jobs because of stereotypical low expectations
  • Bullying
  • Unequal rights

You get the picture.

But last week in 2015, an article appeared in Psychology Today, which really riled me up. It’s titled No, There Is no Such Thing as ADHD, written by an M.D who blogs for the magazine. Which of course, gives him a lot of credibility. Even though he’s dead wrong.

Facebook was all aflutter over this (and sadly, I continue to see this junk article re-cycled and re-posted on social media). Fellow ADHD Myth Busters like me are still screaming at the top of our lungs. Some of us posted comments on the site back then, only to have them taken down (yes, I’m a rebel and get FURIOUS when I read such unscientific pablum).

So, to sooth my irritability and hoping this gets some attention too (as they say the truth rises to the top), here is my list of common myths that I work hard to debunk. Please feel free to share, especially to those who believe ADHD is a made up condition.

 

 Terry Matlen’s Top 10 ADHD Myth Busters

 

1. Myth: ADHD is not a real disorder.

Fact:  The American Psychiatric Society, The Centers for Disease Control, The National Institute of Health and basically all of the scientific organizations and government health agencies recognize ADHD as a true medical disorder. It is listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is the official mental health “bible” used by mental health professionals to diagnose psychiatric and other brain disorders.

 

2. Myth: Children outgrow their ADHD.

Fact: The great majority of children with ADHD continue to exhibit symptoms of ADHD into adulthood. More than 70% continue to have symptoms of ADHD into adolescence and at least 50% will continue to have it as adults, though many clinicians feel this estimate is low.

 

3. Myth: All people with ADHD are hyperactive and/or impulsive.

Fact: There are three subtypes of ADHD: a) hyperactivity/impulsivity b) inattentive c) combined. The inattentive subtype typically does not include hyperactivity/impulsivity. (note: the latest DSM no longer breaks these down into subtypes, but clinicians often refer to them this way)

 

4. Myth: Medications used for ADHD (stimulants) are highly addictive.

Fact: When used as directed, stimulants are very safe to use in both children and adults. In fact, studies are finding that those diagnosed with ADHD who are not being appropriately treated with medications, often self-medicate using substances that can be addicting.

 

5. Myth: ADHD is caused by poor or inconsistent parenting.

Fact:  ADHD is a neurobiological condition, often inherited. Parenting children with ADHD can be very challenging, causing much guilt for parents who are unsure how to best handle children who are hyperactive and impulsive. But parenting styles do not cause ADHD.

 

6. Myth: Sugar causes hyperactivity.

Fact: Earlier studies have debunked that myth, showing that children who seem to become more hyperactive while consuming a lot of sugar are often at parties and at other activities that stimulate them and their activity level. However, there is a small sub-set of children, approximately 1-3% that do seem to have food additive sensitivities.

 

7. Myth: Children and adults with ADHD have lower IQs.

Fact: People with ADHD do not have lower (or higher) IQs than the general public.

 

8. Myth: Children with ADHD are over-medicated.

Fact: Though more children are taking stimulants for ADHD than before, researchers believe this is due to clinicians identifying more children with ADHD who have been missed in previous years. In addition, it’s only been in recent years that more girls have been identified as having ADHD and thus receiving treatment for it.

 

9. Myth: There are fewer girls with ADHD and they are less impaired than boys with ADHD.

Fact: It’s believed that there are as many girls with ADHD as boys, but that they are less frequently identified and treated. Studies show that in some areas, girls with ADHD are more impaired than their male counterparts, in that in addition to their ADHD, they also more likely to struggle with substance abuse, anxiety and panic. Compared to non-ADHD girls, they have an increase in mood and conduct disorders and are more impaired in family, social and school functioning.

 

10. Myth: ADHD can be cured.

Fact: At this time, there is no cure for ADHD, but it can be well managed through a combination of medication, therapy, coaching, support and education.

What have YOU heard about ADHD that makes you want to scream and land a punch or two? Share your experiences in the Comment section below.

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