With so many myths surrounding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it’s often difficult to separate the facts from fiction. Can geniuses have ADHD? Can you have ADHD if you’re a calm person? The reality is, there are an estimated 6.4 million children diagnosed with ADHD in the U.S. alone. In fact, this neurobehavioural disorder now seems to be as prevalent as the common cold! But, let’s get our facts straight and expose the 5 myths about ADHD.
Fact: ADHD is a broad term, and the condition can vary from person to person. There are three main types of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined. In hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, the person has symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity but not inattention. Some of these symptoms may include excessive talking, interrupting others incessantly, inability waiting for their turn.
Fact: People with ADHD are able to hyperfocus on things that interest them. As a result, there is a misconception that if they really wanted to, they could focus on other tasks. Unfortunately, ADHD is not a willpower problem; it’s a chemical problem affecting the management systems of the brain. Neuroscientists believe that hyperfocus results from abnormally low levels of dopamine. This dopamine deficiency makes it difficult to shift attention from one thing to another. If they are doing something they enjoy or find psychologically rewarding, they’ll tend to persist in this behavior. The brains of people with ADD are drawn to activities that give instant gratification.
Fact: ADHD usually overlaps with other disorders. New neuroscience studies have discovered direct neurobiological links between ADHD, OCD and autism. As many as 70% of all people with ADHD will suffer symptoms of depression and/or anxiety at some point in their lives. In addition, a person with ADHD is six times more likely to have another psychiatric or learning disorder than most other people. Sometimes these comorbid conditions arise independently of ADHD. They could also result, however, from the chronic stress and discouragement that comes from living with ADHD.
Fact: ADHD affects people of all levels of intelligence. In a study conducted among children with ADHD, all of them had IQ scores of 120 or more. This placed them in the top 9% of their age group on basic intelligence. The students in the study all had significant impairments in working memory and processing speed. One thing that was evident was their chronic inability to deploy their smarts in effective work and getting along with other people.
Fact: Many adults may struggle all their lives with unrecognized ADHD symptoms. Attention deficit disorder often looks quite different in adults than it does in children. Furthermore, symptoms are unique for each individual. Consequently, many adults do not receive the help they need. They assume that their chronic difficulties, such as depression or anxiety, are caused by other impairments that did not respond to the usual treatment.
Now, you know some of the facts about ADHD, and learning about it is the first step. From structured strategies to cognitive training tools for ADHD, people are finding meaningful ways to manage their symptoms. Fortunately, there are lots of ways individuals with the disorder can help themselves and get their symptoms under control.
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