ADHD: Myths vs Facts

First posted to this site on 9th October 2017

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told that ADHD does not exist and read people proffering judgemental ‘insights’ into what ADHD really is.

There is an adage, that always rears its ugly head in any debate or discussion when one party has run out of ideas, exhausted their bank of relevant opinions and chucks in the towel- but can’t quite leave it before one last snarky comment…

“I’m entitled to my opinion.”

This phrase is, of course, a logical fallacy that you always find in debates pitting science against pseudoscience. The implication is that the pseudoscientists’ “entitlement” to an opinion somehow trumps the scientific basis of the debate.

It doesn’t.

As my son and boyfriend often point out, my ODD symptoms put me at odds with anyone who thinks they are “entitled” to anything, but when I see it being used in professional dialogue, I despair.

Some of you may have opinions about ADHD that conflict with science because you just haven’t had the time to do any research, or just hadn’t thought about researching that topic before, that is ok! As I said in a previous blog, I knew NOTHING about ADHD beyond the hyper boys’ stereotype until I was diagnosed with the condition myself.

The table below includes some commonly believed myths about ADHD on the left, and on the right is the science debunking it. If reading through the list and you would like more information, contact me and I’ll send you on some links to articles or publications that I have found useful.



ADHD does not exist ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition backed by medicine and science.
ADHD is caused by bad parenting. All the child needs is discipline. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition and is not caused by bad parenting.  Parenting techniques can often improve some symptoms and make others worse.
ADHD is caused by a poor diet with too much sugar and e-numbers. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition and is not caused by dietary choices. A healthy and nutritious diet may benefit children with ADHD, as it would benefit all children.
ADHD is caused by children watching too much TV or playing too many video games. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition and is not caused by too much screen time. Many children with ADHD struggle to pay attention to television programmes or computer games due to inattentive and impulsive symptoms and often prefer to play outdoors or in active play tasks.
ADHD is a life sentence. While ADHD symptoms continue into adulthood, the person often learns ways to cope with the symptoms and may choose a career path that suits their personality.People with ADHD have plenty of energy, are creative, and they are known for developing a variety of interests so can often accomplish more than people who do not have the condition.
Having ADHD means the person is lazy or they are not very clever. ADHD has no connection to a person’s intellectual ability. Some highly intelligent people have ADHD.
People with ADHD should be in a special needs school. Most people with ADHD do not have any special educational needs or need an adjusted curriculum. They will function well in mainstream schools if supported appropriately.
Medicine for ADHD will make a person seem drugged like a zombie, ADHD medication is a stimulant so, if administered properly, medicine for ADHD sharpens a person’s focus and increases his or her ability to control behaviour.
Medicine for ADHD changes a person’s personality. ADHD medication is a stimulant that helps with focus and concentration. It is not a hallucinogenic drug and does not make people change their personalities.
Prescriptions for ADHD have increased because the condition is being over diagnosed. There is little evidence to support claims that ADHD is over diagnosed and that ADHD medicines are overprescribed.
Psychostimulants are no longer useful after puberty. Teens and adults with ADHD continue to benefit from medicine.
Children with ADHD and their parents’ use the condition as an excuse for their behaviour. Children and parents may attribute behaviours to ADHD. It is very likely that a parent of a child with ADHD has gained knowledge of the condition through support groups, the GP, CAMHS or online so they are probably quite knowledgeable about their child’s condition.Before making judgements or challenging parents, it would be prudent to undertake specific ADHD training.
If a child has ADHD, he or she can always be diagnosed in the doctor’s office. A child is diagnosed by a specialist after periods of observation, an examination and a lot of evidence has been gathered. The process can take a long time.

I am sure there are other myths and misrepresentations about ADHD floating around there, we can abolish those myths by making one simple commitment…

The next time you are told a fact or statement about ADHD that you are unfamiliar with or is unsupported by several references, google it to fact check.

Hopefully this has helped bust some common myths- please share with anyone you think needs it!


Useful Websites

9 ADHD Myths and Fallacies That Perpetuate Stigma

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