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Some of the misconceptions about attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) include the following:
There is no such medical condition as ADHD.
ADHD is a medical disorder, not a condition of the child's
will. A child with ADHD does not choose to misbehave.
ADHD is caused by bad parenting. All the child needs is good
ADHD is not caused by bad parenting. But parenting
techniques can often improve some symptoms and make others worse.
ADHD is a life sentence.
Although ADHD symptoms usually continue into adulthood, the
person learns ways to cope with the symptoms. People with ADHD have plenty of
energy, are creative, and can often accomplish more than people who do not have
Having ADHD means the person is lazy or dumb.
ADHD has nothing to do with a person's intellectual ability.
Some highly intelligent people have ADHD.
The diagnosis of ADHD is confirmed if certain medicines
(psychostimulants) have a positive effect on what seem to be symptoms of
Children without ADHD respond to psychostimulants similarly
to children with ADHD. A trial of medicine is not used to diagnose the
Medicine for ADHD will make a person seem
Properly adjusted medicine for ADHD sharpens a person's
focus and increases his or her ability to control behavior.
Medicine prescriptions for ADHD have greatly increased in
the past few years, because the condition is being overdiagnosed.
ADHD is estimated to affect about 3 to 7 out of 100
school-age children in the United States.1 There is
little evidence to support claims that ADHD is overdiagnosed and that ADHD
medicines are overprescribed.
Psychostimulants are no longer useful after
Teens and adults with ADHD continue to benefit from
Children with ADHD are learning to use the condition as an
excuse for their behavior.
ADHD is a disability. Children with ADHD have to learn ways
to deal with their symptoms (inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity) that
cause them to have difficulties in life.
Children outgrow ADHD.
About 70 out of 100 children with ADHD continue to have
symptoms during their teen years and about 50 out of 100 have symptoms into
If a child has ADHD, he or she can always be diagnosed in the
A child may not always show symptoms of ADHD, especially in
an unfamiliar setting. Evaluating a child from one office observation may
result in failure to recognize or diagnose symptoms.
American Psychiatric Association (2000).
Attention-deficit and disruptive behavior disorders. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th
ed., text rev., pp. 85–103. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric
McGough JJ (2009). Adult manifestations of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In BJ Sadock et al., eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3572–3579. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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