ADHD Awareness Month – Why is ADHD so misunderstood?

James Hourihan, Author

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is estimated that 2.6 million people in the UK have ADHD (708,000 children, 1,9m adults) and the condition is characterised by problems with executive functioning, self-regulation, and impulsivity. 

Despite being a commonly known disorder, ADHD remains one of the most misunderstood. This ADHD Awareness Month, we want to help spread the word and explore the misconceptions of ADHD so that organisations and individuals are better informed and supported. 

The causes and symptoms of ADHD

There is no one single cause of ADHD. Instead, it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. ADHD often runs in families, so there may be a genetic predisposition for the disorder. Environmental factors such as exposure to stress, premature birth and brain injuries may also play a role in the development of ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD can vary depending on the age of the person affected. In children, common symptoms include fidgeting, trouble paying attention, and acting impulsively without thinking about the consequences. Adults with ADHD may find it difficult to stay organised or follow through on commitments. Individuals can also find it hard to form and maintain relationships.

Why is ADHD often undiagnosed?

There is no one-size-fits-all profile for people with ADHD. Many are not diagnosed until they reach adulthood because the symptoms of ADHD can be mistaken for other conditions, such as anxiety or depression. If you think you or your child may have ADHD, it is important to see a doctor or mental health professional for an evaluation.

Common misconceptions of ADHD

A quick Google search will reveal a host of myths about ADHD. These include:

1. ADHD isn’t a real disorder

People often think that it’s not a real disorder, claiming that “Everybody has those symptoms” and is just the result of poor parenting. This couldn’t be further from the truth! ADHD is a real condition that can have a significant impact on people’s lives. 

As a result, not only does this myth contribute to the misunderstanding of ADHD, but makes it harder for people who have the disorder to get the help and support they need.

2. ADHD only affects children

Another common misconception about ADHD is that it only affects children. While it’s true that the majority of people with ADHD are diagnosed in childhood, the disorder can also affect adults. 

Around 3% of adults worldwide have ADHD, meaning millions continue to live with ADHD because the structural differences remain in their brains, according to some researchers. 

3. ADHD is an excuse for bad behaviour and laziness

People with ADHD often get blamed for their symptoms, leading to feelings of inadequacy or guilt. They may be accused of being lazy for not being as productive, or misbehaving over prolonged periods of time.

In reality, people with ADHD want to succeed like everyone else but struggle to focus, control their impulses, or complete what others would consider “simple” tasks. This can lead to problems at school or work, as well as in personal relationships. 

4. Medication is the only treatment for ADHD

Many believe that the only treatment for ADHD is medication. While medication can be effective in reducing symptoms of hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsivity, it’s not the only option.

There are a number of different treatments available for ADHD, including behavioural therapy, educational interventions and support groups. The best treatment plan will vary depending on the individual and their specific needs.

Be ADHD aware 

For many people living with ADHD, the condition can be a daily struggle. ADHD Awareness Month helps to raise awareness of the disorder, its effects, and provides a platform for people to share their experiences and stories. It is also an opportunity for charities like the ADHD Foundation to provide information and resources about ADHD.

If you or someone you know lives with ADHD, take some time this October to learn more! 

Understand behaviour with Timian  

Does your organisation support people with challenging behaviours? 

Book a course and learn how to understand the reasons behind behaviour and develop individual response strategies based on positive behaviour support approaches this ADHD Awareness Month.

Call 0800 987 4075 for more information and together, we can make a positive difference. 

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