Myth: "ADHD only affects boys"
Boys are around three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, but a growing number of girls are being diagnosed with ADHD and some people think that the true number of girls with ADHD is much higher than previously thought – in many cases they may have the ‘inattentive’ form, Attention Deficit Disorder, without the hyperactivity. Because their behaviour at school is not as disruptive, they may not be noticed as having difficulties with attention – but they may still be really struggling with it.
Myth: "ADHD is a childhood condition which doesn't last into adulthood"
Research has shown that for most people with ADHD, it’s a lifelong condition. As children grow into adulthood, they may find it easier to control some of the behaviour associated with ADHD, but they will still get ADHD symptoms. Any type of change in a person’s life can make ADHD symptoms improve or worsen. For example, teenagers who have had lots of support from parents with organisation when they are at school may find it really hard to cope with the independence required for leaving home or going to university. Adults with ADHD may thrive when living on their own, but when they get married and children are added to the mix, the additional attention required to function in a family unit can complicate things for them.
Where does the information on these pages come from?
There is lots of information out there on the internet, some great and some less so, and with something like ADHD it’s really important to get the facts. The information on these pages has mainly come from three reliable sources:
The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) National Guideline on Management of attention deficit and hyperkinetic disorders in children and young people (Guideline 112) 2009
Brown, T, A new understanding of ADHD in Children and adults, Routledge 2013
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Many people don’t fully understand the facts related to ADHD, which can sometimes lead to wrong and even damaging assumptions. Here are some of the most common ones…
Myth: "People with ADHD will never succeed at school or in life"
Nothing could be further than the truth! There are huge strengths associated with ADHD and nothing to stop people with ADHD achieving anything they want to in life – especially with a supportive home and school environment. The list of successful people with ADHD is a long one and includes Bill Gates, Emma Watson and Will Smith. Many historians believe that Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill had it. This is a good poster to print out and stick on the fridge! Some people have even linked ADHD to genius because of the ability of people with ADHD to think laterally ('outside the box') and take risks that other people might not be willing to take. This BBC article about the work of Professor Michael Fitzgerald highlights this.
Myth: "My child can concentrate when he is interested in something, so that means that he can’t really have ADHD"
This is not true. Research from many studies has shown that people with ADHD perform differently in different contexts – if they really enjoy or are interested in the task, or have a big reward in mind for doing it or a big threat if they don’t get it done, they will find it much easier to focus. That’s why kids with ADHD may find it very difficult to get started on homework, but if a big deadline is looming and they really feel it’s urgent, they can do it. Kids who have a hobby or computer game that they really enjoy can spend hours at it, when something of less interest loses their attention really quickly.