ADHD Myths

Myths about ADHD

Information on this Site is provided for informational and educational purposes. Such information is not meant to substitute for the advice of any health care provider. Always tell your health care provider about techniques or technologies you are undertaking or intend to undertake. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or disease. Only experts in ADHD can diagnose Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Excalibur does not recommend or suggest any treatment or product.

1.Bad parents cause ADHD.

ADHD is a biopsychosocial disorder. That is, there appears to be strong genetic, biological, experiential and social factors that contribute to the extent of problems experienced. (Dr. Sam Goldstein). Bad parenting does not cause ADHD, however, parents can help by becoming knowledgeable about ADHD. Adults with ADHD would benefit from understanding their disorder as well.

2.People with ADHD are aggressive

People with pure ADHD are not aggressive.  Aggression is not part of ADHD criteria.  We all get angry and frustrated from time to time.  Emotional regulation can be difficult for people with ADHD. However, they can learn to express their emotions in an appropriate way.

3.Persons with ADHD have problems only in school/work.

People with ADHD display difficulties in more than one area, such as at home, school, work, playgrounds etc.

4.People with ADHD are Learning Disabled

People with ADHD learn in the normal manner. They are not Learning Disabled, however, they do better in a small class due to their difficulties with attention and impulsivity. They can have a co-occurring learning disability, however it is not part of ADHD.

5.A person with ADHD cannot concentrate.

If a person with ADHD finds something interesting, she or he can concentrate even hyperfocus. However, ADHD is not a bad fit in a boring class or work-situation. It is a neurological disorder. Working Memory training can help.

6.Children with ADHD are just unruly brats.

A child with ADHD has an inability to follow instructions, to sit still or to perform in a manner expected. This is not non-compliance.  The hyperactive symptoms will diminish in adolescence. Working Memory training can help with this.

7.People with ADHD lack attention.

A person with ADHD can have diffused attention. The problem is that he or she pays attention to too many things, thereby not being able to pay attention to for example the instructions the teacher/boss is giving as she or he may hear the first part of the instruction, but then Susie opens her book bag, and a bird flies by the window etc. A person with Inattentive ADHD tends to daydream. Working Memory training can help with this.

8.All a person with ADHD needs is a pill.

Qualified professionals with expertise in ADHD should treat a person with ADHD. Before putting your child on or starting a drug yourself, research it first to make sure you know all about it. Discuss your concerns with the expert that is treating your child/you.

9.ADHD Is Only A Childhood Disorder

Until recent publications on long-term studies, ADHD was considered a disease of childhood that either greatly diminished or extinguished upon reaching adulthood. However, long-term studies indicate that 70 to 80 percent of children with ADHD exhibit significant symptoms including impulsivity, restlessness, and distractibility into adolescence and young adulthood. Frequently, these symptoms are accompanied by social rejection, poor academic performance, decreased self-image. Thus, ADHD is considered a disorder that transcends childhood. By conservative estimate, perhaps 2 percent of the adult population has ADHD.

10.ADHD Occurs Less In Girls/Women

Some current research indicates that rates may be relatively equal between girls and boys, however longitudinal studies addressing ADHD in girls and boys are sparse. Other studies indicate as children, the boy to girl ratio may be 4:1. Pharmaceutical company Lily reports "females are often under-diagnosed among adults, almost as many women as men seek treatment." Girls typically display fewer behavior or conduct problems than do boys with ADHD. This may account for lower percentages of girls diagnosed with ADHD in school samples. The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health (2001) indicates that girls are diagnosed less frequently and therefore treated less frequently than boys. Further longitudinal research must be performed to understand the rate in which ADHD occurs in girls.

11.Too Much TV Or Video Games Cause ADHD

While too much TV or video game play does not cause ADHD they may exacerbate the condition. Two Japanese studies (Mori 2002 and Kawashima 2003) have demonstrated that chronic play of video games actually lowers metabolic rate in the frontal lobes thus diminishing attention, impulsive control, and other executive functions. Another study performed by the Indiana University School of Medicine using functional MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans found the brain activity of aggressive adolescents diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders (DBD) is different from that of other adolescents when both groups viewed violent video games.  Other studies have reported benefits from video game play including faster response or reaction times to video stimuli as well as increased capability to recognize the number of figures on screen as compared to peers not playing video games. More recent studies indicate that children only react to the stimuli of video-games i.e. they do not concentrate on it. While further study is necessary, careful supervision, screening, and scheduling of television and video game play can be part of a successful home management program.

12.Food Additives And Diet Cause ADHD.

While much research has been done on the subject of food additives, diet, and ADHD, this subject remains highly controversial. The following are positions of various authorities on the subject:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus conference (1982) concluded that controlled studies "did indicate a limited positive association between defined [Feingold-type] diets and a decrease in hyperactivity." NIMH has subsequently stated that restricted diets such as the Feingold diet "have not been shown to be effective in treating the majority of children or adults with ADHD.... families risk spending time, money, and hope on fads and false promises." The NIH's current position concurs with that of the Food and Drug Administration largely dismissing diet and food additives as agents that can trigger behavioral problems such as ADHD. The FDA has published a booklet (cosponsored with an industry trade association) that stated that "well-controlled studies conducted since then have produced no evidence that food color additives cause hyperactivity or learning disabilities in children," even though the FDA itself sponsored one study demonstrating that some children are affected by food dyes. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) whose board consists of members of Georgetown Medical Center; Yale Medical School; and Public Health Nutrition, University of California, Berkeley; among others, has found "more than 20 controlled studies of diet and behavior. Most of the studies found that food dyes and, in some cases, other additives and foods provoked symptoms of ADHD or other behavior problems in some children." CSPI has urged the federal government to perform further research into the possible link between diet and ADHD. With current contradictory information, it is difficult to discern whether diet plays a role in ADHD symptoms. However, in light of the information presented at the NIH consensus conference in 1982 and the current position of the CSPI, consulting a nutritionist as part of an overall management program for ADHD may be helpful.