ADHD Awareness Month is in full swing, and even though ADHD has been proven to be a brain-based medical disorder, you'll still find plenty of people who think it doesn't exist; that it's simply an excuse.
That's probably why we need a whole month for awareness!
If your child has ADHD, you may have a hard time separating fact from fiction when it comes to the condition. Maybe you've heard that kids with ADHD can't sit still, but your child can sit in front of a video game or good book for hours. Maybe you think ADHD means that kids who have it are destined to do poorly in school.
Let us lay out a few ADHD misconceptions here, and explain their truths.
Misconception #1: All Kids With ADHD Are Hyper
Truth: Some kids with ADHD are, indeed, hyperactive. Those kids are the ones who are noticed more than any others. Those kids are the "lucky" ones -- they're the squeaky wheels, so they get the grease first. Meanwhile, there's a whole other segment of kids with inattentive ADHD. They're spending their time daydreaming, and aren't getting the attention they need.
Misconception #2: Kids With ADHD Are Naughty
Truth: Kids with ADHD are impulsive. Their ability to manage their behavior or to think about future consequences is actually disrupted, making it difficult for them to stay on task and follow the directions you just gave them 3 seconds ago. (Frustration City!) Sure, your child with ADHD will act up and misbehave; all kids do. But much of what looks like misbehavior is a reflection of impulsiveness, forgetfulness, or an inability to pay attention.
As a parent, the more you can understand about how your child's brain works, the better you'll be able to direct your child's attention towards the right things.
Misconception #3: Kids With ADHD Can't Focus on Schoolwork
Truth: ADHD makes it difficult for children to sustain attention when their task doesn't interest them. Consequently, many children with ADHD do have a difficult time focusing on things like homework. But when the subject really interests a child, she can harness the power of hyperfocus, and be a superstar task finisher. For some kids, reading and homework are interesting enough to sustain attention. For others, those tasks are worse than nails on a chalkboard.
You've also probably noticed your child can sit completely still for a movie or video game. Or maybe he can stay focused for hours, building Legos, playing a sport, or creating a piece of artwork. That's hyperfocus. And just because your child can focus on the things that interest him, doesn't mean he knows how to pull out all the focus stops when it's time to do something that holds no interest.
Misconception #4: Willpower Will Fix the Problems
Truth: Blaming your child's repeated homework forgetfulness on a lack of discipline is short-sighted. Likewise, she doesn't just need more willpower to keep her room clean. You can't expect your child to simply "change her behaviors." It doesn't work that way. She needs tools -- sometimes tools come in the form of behavioral therapy, diet change, structure and routine, medication, or other alternative therapies. ALL tools need to be accompanied by love, understanding, and acceptance.
Misconception #5: ADHD is a Boy Thing
Truth: Girls have ADHD too! It's true that more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD, but that's because the common symptoms that girls exhibit are often unnoticed. A girl's hyperactivity might come out as excessive chatter rather than a boy's bouncing and wiggling in his seat. Girls with the condition also often have inattentive ADHD, meaning they are more prone to daydreaming, distraction, and forgetfulness than rambunctious behavior.
Misconception #6: Kids Outgrow ADHD
Truth: ADHD is a brain-based disorder, not a behavioral disorder. It isn't something that is "outgrown." However, with the right treatment, kids can develop strong coping mechanisms to live productive, happy lives.
Brili, the brilliant visual schedule for kids, keeps kids with ADHD focused on their tasks, leading to higher self-esteem, less parental frustration, and a huge development of skills. Check it out today.
Need more helpful ADHD info? Check out some of these helpful websites and blogs on ADHD:
- CHADD -- The National Resource on ADHD
- ADDitude: Strategies and Support for ADHD and LD
- My Little Villagers: It takes a big village to raise a child with ADHD
- Parenting ADHD and Autism
- ADHD and Marriage by experts Melissa Orlov and Dr. Ned Hallowell
- An ADD WOman -- for moms with ADHD
- About.com's ADHD blog
- The Distracted Mom: ADHD Resources and Stories From the Trenches
- A Mom's (and Dad's) View of ADHD