“If you judge a book by its cover, you may miss out on an amazing story.”

“You can’t tell by looking!” 

Many people worldwide are affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), whether you know someone with the disorder or have the disorder yourself. There are many misconceptions about ADHD, such as its cause, who is affected, treatment options, etc. The fact of the matter is that ADHD does exist, and that there is something you can do about it.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and adults around the world. The primary characteristics of ADHD include the inability to maintain attentiveness and hyperactive-impulsive behavior. Typically, these behaviors will start before age 12 and sometimes can be noticeable in children as early as three years old. The three subtypes of ADHD include: predominately inattentive, predominately hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. 

Signs & Symptoms of ADHD

Parents will often see signs of ADHD when their child fails to pay close attention to details, makes careless mistakes in school, appears not to listen when spoken to directly, or is easily distracted. Children with ADHD may have difficulty in school due to their inability to maintain attention for extended periods. It is important to note that many children exhibit some or many of these same characteristics, which can be typical for development stages. Parents should be sure to express any health concerns with their child’s pediatrician. As adults, ADHD symptoms are very similar. Many times the individual is not diagnosed until adulthood, which can make situations more complicated. Some adults with ADHD experience symptoms such as poor time management skills, problems focusing and staying on task, frequent mood swings, and difficulty completing tasks. Many of us may experience some of these characteristics from time to time, but it is important to understand that ADHD is not a “come and go” disease; therefore, if you only exhibit these traits every now and again, it is not likely to be ADHD. If you do have concerns, talk with your primary care provider for more information. 

Treatment Options for Those with ADHD

There are treatment options for people who have ADHD. The CDC states that some of the treatment options for this particular disorder include behavior therapy and medication. Behavior therapy is the first to be recommended for children diagnosed under the age of six. The goals of behavior therapy are to strengthen positive or desired behaviors in an effort to try and reduce the behaviors that may be considered disruptive. Additionally, some doctors may prescribe either stimulants or non-stimulants to treat ADHD, even in children as young as six years of age. Stimulants are the most widely used ADHD medications, but non-stimulants are also prescribed sometimes, and though they don’t work as quickly as stimulants, their effect can last up to 24 hours.

Is ADHD “Real?”

You may often hear that ADHD is not a “real” disorder and that bad parenting causes it. That is entirely not the case. According to the ADHD Awareness Organization’s website, there are more than 100,000 articles in science journals that specifically discuss ADHD, and references to ADHD in medical textbooks date back to 1775. Additionally, the cause of ADHD comes from the accumulation of various environmental and genetic risk factors, proving that “bad parenting” could not cause this disorder. There is also a misconception that girls do not tend to be affected by ADHD. This is a myth, and the fact is that boys are diagnosed two to three times more frequently than girls, though roughly 4.2 percent of girls have received an ADHD diagnosis in their life. 

ADHD is real. It affects so many people across the world, and you cannot identify whether or not an individual may be battling ADHD just by looking at them. If you understand the disorder itself, you can help raise awareness by clarifying these common misconceptions stated so frequently. Be kind and know that you can’t tell what an individual is going through by what they display on the outside.


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About the Author

Chelsea Woods has a Master’s degree in special education and is an Educational Diagnostician. Her passion is children, particularly children with special needs. Chelsea has been married to her husband Dylan for 6 years, and they have two girls, Kamdyn, five, and Emersyn, one. She enjoys time with her church family, working in their garden, and taking vacations and making memories as a family.