ADHD: Fact vs. Fiction

Myth: ADHD is not a “real” condition.

Fact: ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects the functioning of the brain, which can cause serious difficulties. It is the most common mental health condition in children.

Myth: ADHD only occurs in boys.

Fact: While boys are four to nine times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, girls are affected by ADHD as well. However, because girls are more prone to inattentive symptoms than to hyperactivity or impulsiveness, their symptoms often go unnoticed, so they are often diagnosed later. By adulthood, the rate is almost equal.

Myth: ADHD results from poor parenting or teaching.

Fact: ADHD is mainly caused by genetics. It is not caused by parenting and teaching styles, though these can aggravate the symptoms.

Myth: Food allergies, refined sugar, food additives and poor diet cause ADHD.

Fact: These things don’t cause ADHD (but a poor diet can affect attention and function in anyone, including people with ADHD).

Myth: ADHD can be diagnosed with a simple test.

Fact: There is no lab test or X-ray that can diagnose ADHD. An ADHD diagnosis requires a detailed evaluation from a doctor or other healthcare professional. In addition, many children with ADHD have other factors that mimic ADHD, which can complicate the diagnosis.

Myth: All children with ADHD are hyperactive.

Fact: Not everyone with ADHD is hyperactive. Some people with ADHD seem to lack energy, or can appear quiet and reserved. Hyperactivity is also not the target symptom. Trying to stop a child from moving too much will lead to over-medicating the child. The target symptoms are inattention and impulse control.

Myth: Children with ADHD can never pay attention or complete their work.

Fact: Like anyone else, children with ADHD tend to find it easier to focus on activities that catch their attention, such as sports, music, video games and art. However, they may struggle more with tasks that require mental effort or tasks they don’t enjoy, like schoolwork or highly structured games.

Myth: Everyone has ADHD because we all have low attention spans.

Fact: While all of us have trouble paying attention from time to time, people with ADHD have this trouble more often and to a greater extent, and often have additional symptoms that further impair many aspects of their lives.

Myth: Medication alone can manage ADHD.

Fact: While medication can have positive effects on ADHD symptoms, the best treatment approach combines education, medication and behavioural therapy.


Understanding ADHD