October is ADHD Awareness Month and although there’s a lot of awareness about ADHD, I’m not always sure there’s a lot of understanding about it. So many parents struggle with other people thinking they’re not doing their job as parents or that their kids are unruly and rude, but that’s just not true.
Mr. Learning Treehouse has ADHD, although he was not diagnosed until he was an adult. To some degree that’s because he has the A and the D and without the H.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but not everybody with the disorder have symptoms of hyperactivity. So today, I want to debunk some of those myths.
Myth: Kids with ADHD are “wild” and hyperactive.
Fact: Many kids with ADHD are overactive and some adults with it are too, but not all of them. Some people, like Mr. Learning Treehouse, only have trouble with attention and distractibility. That’s known as ADHD, Inattentive type. It doesn’t mean they don’t really have the disorder, just that the challenges it presents are different.
Myth: People with ADHD just need to “try harder” to pay attention.
Fact: Most of the kids and adults I’ve known with ADHD try harder to pay attention than anyone else I’ve ever seen. The fact of the matter is that the brain works differently in people with ADHD than in people without it. There’s a weaker release and response of the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that are responsible for stimulating the attention center of the brain. Interestingly, there’s also a delay in development of certain areas of the brain in children with ADHD, which may explain why some children seem to “outgrow” the disorder.
Myth: Food additives and sugar cause ADHD.
Fact: Nope, there’s no evidence showing that either of those things causes ADHD. The National Institute of Health found that parents who thought their kids were being given sugar were more critical of their behavior than parents who thought their kids were getting a sugar substitute. It is true, however, that some kids with ADHD (about 5%) are sensitive to food additives and with dietary changes there’s a reduction in symptoms.
Myth: Girls don’t have ADHD.
Fact: Of the 5.2 million kids between the ages of 3 and 17 who have been diagnosed with ADHD, about 3 million of them are boys. The rest are girls. Boys are more likely to have symptoms of hyperactivity, which make diagnosis a little simpler. Girls are more likely to have the inattentive type of ADHD, which can be mistaken as just being day-dreamy and scatter-brained.
Hopefully, you know a little more about ADHD now than you did ten minutes ago. And maybe now you’ll understand your child or relative a little better. Or, maybe, you have a little more understanding of the parent down the street. Pass on the knowledge and to learn more about ADHD, visit the Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) website.