Busting Myths about ADHD Once and For All

Are you tired of defending ADHD to skeptics? Despite the fact that one in ten children in the United States is diagnosed with ADHD, I am frequently asked about the ‘reality’ of ADHD. Parents tell me that they face questions about its legitimacy with teachers, friends and athletic coaches. What can you do differently when someone questions ADHD and your child’s very real challenges?


When facing common myths about ADHD, it’s best to respond with the information about the diagnosis.

MYTH #1: ADHD is not real and is a recent psychiatric invention.

FACT:  ADHD is a very real, biologically-based condition. Kids with ADHD are wired differently. Hyperactivity, impulsivity and distraction seriously and persistently interfere with daily living. ADHD is not a fad. It’s been documented in the medical literature since the early 1900’s.

MYTH #2: ADHD is a lack of willpower; kids could focus if they really wanted to.

FACT: Living with ADHD means living with a broad range of executive functioning challenges related to impulse control, planning, motivation, organization, working memory and emotional regulation among others. Lower levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain make it much more difficult to muster up the energy and concentration for things that seem uninteresting or unfulfilling.

MYTH #3: ADHD is over-diagnosed and medication is over-prescribed.

FACT: There’s definitely been an increase in the diagnosis of ADHD over the years. On the one hand, we understand it much better and know how to assess for it more skillfully than in the past. On the other hand, when people are not given a thorough assessment, they may be misdiagnosed with ADHD without properly ruling out other possible conditions with similar symptoms. That’s why a proper, detailed assessment is so important.

MYTH #4 Only boys have ADHD.

FACT: Boys are diagnosed twice as often as girls. Why? This occurs because boys tend to be more hyperactive and girls tend to be more inattentive. Her type is less obvious and therefore more difficult to diagnose. If children are doing well enough at school or getting by without significant academic or social challenges, their ADHD may go unnoticed longer. This situation happens often for many girls. By the time kids get to middle school where the organizational demands and personal responsibilities increase, their executive functioning challenges emerge and the possibility of ADHD becomes clearer.

As parents of kids living with ADHD, you are their best advocates. Your experience and understanding of ADHD pave the way for their acceptance and self-advocacy in the face of skepticism. Stay armed with these facts and share them with your son or daughter too!