Despite overwhelming scientific evidence endorsed by the most prestigious medical organizations in the world, there is still a multitude of inaccurate information circulating about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), leading to confusion and even doubt among those who are uninformed or misinformed. The recognition of ADHD Awareness Month in October presents a timely opportunity for CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)—the nation’s leading resource on ADHD—to share the facts, with the goal of guiding children with ADHD and their families, and adults with ADHD, toward proper diagnosis and treatment.
“ADHD is a very real neurodevelopmental disorder that affects people of every age, gender, IQ, religion and socioeconomic background,” says David W. Goodman, MD, FAPA, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of CHADD’s Board of Directors. “It’s characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with daily functioning and life’s achievements, and can have potentially devastating consequences when not properly identified, diagnosed and treated.”
Following are some of the most common myths about ADHD and the facts debunking those myths.
Myth #1: ADHD is an American disorder that results from our hyper-fast lifestyle.
Fact: ADHD is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a neurodevelopmental disorder of international proportions, with scientific research conducted on every continent.
Myth #2: Bad parenting is the cause of ADHD in children.
Fact: ADHD is found around the world in a diverse range of cultures, economies, social and educational systems. It is not the result of bad parenting.
Myth #3: There is no clear medical proof for ADHD.
Fact: Thirty years of medical imaging proves that there are multiple differences in the ADHD brain versus the normal brain.
Myth #4: Children outgrow ADHD.
Fact: At least 60 percent of children with ADHD will continue to exhibit symptoms of the disorder to an impairing degree during adulthood.
Myth #5: If you weren’t diagnosed with ADHD as a child, you cannot have ADHD as an adult.
Fact: In the largest U.S. study of psychiatric disorders among the general population, 75 percent of adults with ADHD were never diagnosed as children.
Myth #6: ADHD is not passed down through genetics.
Fact: Current research shows that 75 percent of ADHD diagnoses are linked to genetic causes.
Myth #7: ADHD is a condition that doesn’t cause severe problems.
Fact: ADHD life is riddled with difficulties in functioning, interpersonal, social, academic and professional skills. It can lead to significant issues at school and work, relationship problems, anxiety, depression, financial struggles and legal difficulties. Among adults with ADHD, there is lower educational achievement and career attainment, co-occurring psychiatric disorders and higher suicide rates. Children with ADHD have higher rates of retention in grade level, high school dropout, substance abuse, co-occurring psychiatric disorders, unintentional injuries and emergency department visits.
Myth #8: Medications are toxic and therapy doesn’t work.
Fact: ADHD is highly manageable with an individualized, multimodal treatment approach that can include behavioral interventions, parent and patient training, educational support and medication. Medications for ADHD are among the most effective treatments in all of medicine.
Myth #9: ADHD is over diagnosed.
Fact: It is estimated that 17 million children and adults in the United States have ADHD. In many populations, ADHD is actually underdiagnosed. For example, studies show that black and Hispanic students in grades one through eight are significantly less likely to receive an accurate diagnosis, and when diagnosed, are less likely to receive medication. According to current numbers reported by the leading science-based organizations, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the rate of prevalence in the U.S. is eight percent of children and 4.4 percent of adults. Ongoing research indicates those rates may actually be higher. Many children and adults remain undiagnosed, while many who have been diagnosed are not receiving the proper treatment. ADHD may be diagnosed in error if the clinician is not adequately trained or does not spend the time needed to perform a comprehensive evaluation.
Myth #10: 8. There is no single reliable source of science-based information on ADHD.
Fact: CHADD serves as home to the National Resource Center on ADHD, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the most trusted purveyor of reliable, science-based information regarding current medical research and ADHD management. CHADD is the leading resource on ADHD, providing support, training, education and advocacy for families, adults, educators and healthcare professionals impacted by ADHD. At the national level, CHADD offers a comprehensive range of programs and services including peer training for parents and teachers, educational materials, webinars, local support groups, a helpline, an annual international conference and public advocacy. At the local level, CHADD is an invaluable resource to the community, with 124 ADHD support groups across the United States that encourage mutual support and information exchange among individuals and families, and improve access to local resources.Learn more at CHADD.org or call 301.306.7070.