Busting Myths about ADHD
By Katherine Kilcullen, LSW, School Social Worker and 504 Coordinator
October is ADHD Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is Understanding a Shared Experience.
About 14 million people in the US – including more than 6 million school-aged children – have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. So you likely know someone – a friend, family member, teacher, classmate — who is living every day with ADHD.
Myths and stigma surround ADHD partly due to lack of education, and partly due to behaviors being equated to an ADHD diagnosis. ADHD Awareness Month is an opportunity for everyone to learn about the diagnosis, and to support those with ADHD. Find resources on our Parent Resources page.
Check out these facts that bust common myths about ADHD:
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder does not just concern focus/attention, excess activity, or impulse control. ADHD disrupts mechanisms of the brain controlling self-regulation and executive functions including the ability to plan, focus attention, initiate tasks, and control emotions.
- ADHD is not a behavior problem to correct through disciplinary measures. ADHD symptoms, such as – calling out, and fidgeting, etc. – are rooted in brain chemistry. The idea that being disruptive is the same as having ADHD is a false narrative.
- More than 14 million people in the US – about 4% of the population – have been diagnosed with ADHD.
- ADHD looks different for each person. For example, not everyone with ADHD will show hyperactive behaviors. Research shows girls/women are diagnosed less frequently with ADHD precisely because they are less likely to engage in the stereotypical hyperactivity.
- Though the word is in its name, ADHD is not a ‘deficit’ disorder. Those with ADHD have the ability to focus on activities that engage and interest them. Finding out what the student with ADHD is interested in can be a great tool in engaging them in lessons
- Persons with ADHD aren’t “lazy” or “unmotivated.” Starting tasks can be daunting and create extreme anxiety, specifically when there is pressure around completing the task.
- ADHD is treatable and mangeable. Typical treatments include medication, therapy, and behavior modification. It’s most helpful to get educated on how ADHD affects the brain, and make adjustments or accommodations to manage.
- Sometimes, ADHD can impact a child’s ability to be successful in the classroom. When the impact is substantial, accommodations can be provided by either a Section 504 Plan, or through special education with an IEP (individualized education plan). Accommodations, such as extra time, chunked assignments, and breaks, help students with ADHD learn as successfully as their classmates!
- Many successful people have ADHD. Some examples include Justin Timberlake, Simone Biles, will.i.am, Solange Knowles, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasson, Michael Jordan, and Walt Disney!