ADHD Myths & Facts

“Eradicate The Myth That It’s Those With ADHD Who Need To Change.”

ADHD misconceptions are not only plentiful, they are enormously threatening to the mental and emotional health of people with ADHD because they cause delayed or missed diagnoses, feelings of shame, and dangerous behaviors. We asked our audience members what myths they would eradicate about ADHD if given the chance.

Myths or facts opposite road signs
Myths or facts opposite road signs

ADHD misconceptions are as persistent as they are pernicious — inflicting emotional and psychological damage on those (diagnosed and undiagnosed) individuals with ADHD who face (and face down) the myths.

Recently, we asked ADDitude readers to share the ADHD stereotypes they would most like to eradicate if given the opportunity. Read their answers below and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

ADHD Misconceptions and Myths That Must Go

“I would eradicate the notion that ADHD is ‘just a behavioral problem,’ and the idea that kids just need to be punished. It pains me that people truly believe this because they end up traumatizing neurodivergent children and punishing them for a true disability/mental health concern.” — Ashley

“I strive to eradicate the idea that those suffering from ADHD are lazy. I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was in my mid-20s, so growing up a lot of my behavior was labeled as lazy — especially when it came to getting started on school assignments or keeping my room clean. In reality, I was experiencing paralyzing anxiety prior to getting started on a task. Even today, after educating myself on my symptoms, I still hear that voice in my head telling me there’s nothing wrong with me and that I’m just lazy. This myth has been the most detrimental.” — Anonymous

“I would eradicate the myth that this is a ‘deficit disorder.’ People with ADHD have enormous amounts of focusing ability and attention for what is important and engaging to them. As a teacher, I now think of this as feedback for my own teaching – make it more interesting, exciting, fun, and engaging and I will capture ALL of my students. It has changed my pedagogy not demonizing the students in my room no matter what their differences.” — Anonymous

[Get This Download: Your Free Guide to Changing How the World Sees ADHD]

“If I could eradicate one myth about ADHD, it would be the idea that medication is not needed to help treat ADHD symptoms. ADHD medications have such a bad stigma around them that, as a recently diagnosed adult with ADHD, I am afraid to admit to people that I am medicated with a stimulant. People make assumptions that those who take stimulants are drug seekers or they do not actually have ADHD — they just need to try harder, stop being lazy, get over it, etc. When the correct medication is used to treat someone’s ADHD symptoms, it can be (and has been) life changing in more ways than one.” —Anonymous

“I would eradicate the myth that it’s those with ADHD who need to change. They operate in a world designed for more neurotypical people. But what if certain settings, systems, and environments were designed more with neurodivergent needs in mind?” —Anonymous 

“If I could eradicate one myth about ADHD, it would be that there is only one ‘type’ or presentation of ADHD — the stereotypical physically hyperactive type. This misconception results in so many incorrect or even missed diagnoses, preventing people around the world from getting the validation, personal understanding, support, and accommodations that they need and deserve.” — Kiloura 

“I would love people to know that just because a girl doesn’t exhibit symptoms that her parents and teachers notice prior to the age of 12 (as the DSM-V diagnostic criteria requires), that does not mean she doesn’t have ADHD. Even if she goes on to get good grades in school, be involved in activities, and be otherwise ‘successful’ in the eyes of her parents, teachers, and the world. What else is going on behind the scenes? Also, life gets more complicated in adulthood — more appointments to remember, more bills to pay on time, more people (i.e,. kids) to keep track of, etc. In addition, consider all of the hormones that can go bonkers through puberty, pregnancy and childbirth, and menopause.” — Anonymous

[Read: ADHD in Girls: Why It’s Ignored, Why That’s Dangerous]

“I would eradicate the name because that, in itself, is a myth. The negative connotation promotes ableism and prejudice by labelling two (inaccurate) behaviors that threaten to inconvenience neurotypical people in an environment created to help them pursue their education, career, social activities, hobbies etc. It advertises ‘a difficult, lazy person who won’t thrive, will fail to comply and do what is expected of them, and will shamelessly make other people’s lives a struggle.’ Instead of ‘a person who struggles every day with fear of failure and shame for working twice as hard to still have difficulty attempting to survive and live up to the typical expectations of society.’” — Rhona

Eradicating Myths About ADHD: Next Steps

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