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What Do Neurotypical People Think About ADHD
We only let people see the parts of us that we want them to see. As someone diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder fairly recently, the image I wanted to project to others is that I am doing well despite the struggles I have to face because of this neurodivergent disorder. I am eager for people to know that an ADHD diagnosis is not equivalent to having a disease that affects my ability to handle my life: my brain just works differently.👌
The thing is, it's not always easy to explain to others how my brain works and why I do what I do. Still, I want people to know that I am just like them - I just do things and cope with challenges differently - just like many people with ADHD.
There are a lot of misconceptions about ADHD out there. Even though we are trying our best to redefine the impression of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, we cannot fully control their point of view. So, what do neurotypical people think about ADHD?
ADHD Myths You May Encounter
There will always be many myths floating around the issue of mental health. That’s why it's important not to believe everything you hear and to do your research to learn the facts.
The same goes for ADHD. There are a lot of misconceptions about what it is and how it affects people. Sometimes, these common myths about ADHD are shallow and plain wrong. Other times, they might have some basis and may come from a misunderstanding. Let’s look into some of these common myths:
Kids That Often Jump Around 🧒
"No, you cannot possibly have ADHD because you do not have the same characteristics as the young boy that often disrupts everything and continuously jumps around."
From time to time, I come across some followers’ comments on our Instagram account along the lines of the above statement. Let it be known that it is a myth.
Though the statement is not true, it is one of the most common myths about ADHD. Interestingly, it also has some basis.
When Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was first discovered, though it was not yet named as such, Sir George Frederic Still observed it in disruptive, yet, intelligent children. From there, the picture of ADHD diagnosis created was a child who is disruptive and couldn't focus on anything for long. Adults weren't considered to have ADHD because they could "act their age" and perform better in work or school environments.
Now, of course, we know that ADHD can occur in males and females even in adulthood.
Have an Unlimited Amount of Energy
Aside from the “disruptive children” stigma, many people still often say that ADHD equates to having unlimited energy resources💪. They often believe people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder run around tirelessly, doing anything they want, or getting into physical activities with little breaks. Some people might only see the aspects of having an overly active ADHD body, but they do not know what goes on inside their brains.
Of course, we now know that people with ADHD can and will get tired if they do too much work or become too active - just like neurotypical people do! But, this myth also has a basis: stress hormones.
One expert, Peter Shankman, explained that “ADHD is the brain’s inability to produce as much dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline as “regular” people’s brains produce.” 🧠 As such, the brain can work faster, giving a false sense of endless energy.
Furthermore, reports say some studies noted that people with ADHD have higher levels of cortisol, one of the stress hormones responsible for the fight or flight response.
Bad Parenting Causes ADHD
When children with ADHD exhibit a different behavior or do things that are not up to the neurotypical standards, some people tend to blame the parents💏. They feel that ADHD is a conduct issue that may be related to inadequate or poor parenting. However, that’s not the case.
True, conduct disorders can sometimes coexist with ADHD symptoms, but it is essential to know that the root causes of these disorders are two different medical conditions. One may affect the other, but neither is directly caused by bad parenting. Instead, we can say that parenting styles have some sort of influence on mental health conditions.
For instance, reports say parental rejection or neglect appears to increase a child’s risk of having conduct disorder. Likewise, an appropriate parenting style for a child can help them manage their ADHD🙌.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, some of the known causes of ADHD can be genetic, neurobiological, and environmental. These three factors can play a role in the development and progress of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Research shows that ADHD can run in families, meaning there is an increased risk of having this condition if somebody in your family has it. Studies also show that people with ADHD tend to have structural differences in their brains compared to those who don't have the disorder.
ADHD Seems to be a Trend Everyone is Hopping In
When I read the comments on our Instagram accounts📱, I often see posts like "Everybody has ADHD then," or "It's just a fad diagnosis that people are hopping into." These kinds of statements can sometimes invalidate how we feel. Many people who have these misconceptions about ADHD may also think the condition is just an excuse for people who want to act out or don't want to focus on anything.
According to reports, it is estimated that fewer than 20% of adults with ADHD are diagnosed and/or treated by a professional. This means more than 80% of those who have ADHD remain to be in need of an actual diagnosis or treatment. They might continue to struggle with symptoms of ADHD while having a lack of support and accommodation.
In other words, it’s likely that people who seem to be “hopping into the bandwagon” may actually have ADHD - they might just be undiagnosed!🤔
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They Can Be ADHD, Too
Sometimes we overlook that other people, who don’t fit into the “usual” criteria for ADHD, might likewise have the neurodivergent condition.
Confining the symptoms or traits of ADHD into the “hyperactive box” can sometimes drive people suspecting they have ADHD away and make them start to question their struggles. As they try harder to compensate for their perceived "shortcomings," they’re also confused as to “what’s wrong with them.” They may not even come forward in diagnosing ADHD officially because they do not seem to conform to society's standards concerning the neurodivergent condition🥺.
For this reason, it is crucial to understand that the following representations may also have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The Quiet Lady
When we see someone quiet and shy claiming to have ADHD, we often think that this person might be faking her diagnosis or making an excuse not to do anything. However, this is not always the case, as not all people with ADHD are outgoing and "hyper." Some people with ADHD are more introverted and may struggle to maintain eye contact or start a conversation. They may also distance themselves from their environment, thinking people might give them a cold treatment for being different.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, ADHD doesn't only exhibit extreme restlessness or physical activity. There are also other symptoms, such as being mentally hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive🙋♀️ .
The Neat and Pretty Organized
Another myth surrounding ADHD is people with this neurodivergent condition are always clumsy, disorganized, and messy. This is not always the case, as some people with ADHD can be pretty neat and organized. They just organize their thoughts and belongings differently. For example, they might have a system where their things are stored in an unusual way that only makes sense to them. With ADHD medication💊, they can also have better impulse control or focus. Or sometimes, they are just masking symptoms and ADHD traits to avoid being judged and misunderstood by others.
ADHD Masking can sometimes work like a double-edged sword. There are moments when we feel relieved when people don't judge us, and we get along with them just fine. But on the other hand, it can also be taxing and tiring to constantly put up a facade, pretending to be something we're not. It is essential to know that we don't always have to mask our symptoms and let ourselves be😘.
The Academically Bright and Career Oriented
Many children with ADHD may seem distracted all the time, but still excel in academics during childhood and up until adulthood. You might think that ADHD may hinder academic study and future careers, but many people already proved this wrong. Some of the most successful people have ADHD. They just learned how to work with their symptoms in a manner conducive to learning and working. Their interests in certain activities, like going to school or learning new things, may have sparked their drive to succeed academically.
ADHD can be an advantage in some career paths that require creativity and out-of-the-box thinking😉. With the right environment and support, people with ADHD can do great things and achieve their goals in life.
The Bottom Line
Misconceptions about ADHD can sometimes do more harm than good. It not only invalidates the experiences of those who have it but also contributes to the discrimination and judgment they face daily. So next time you hear something about ADHD, try to think twice before believing it. Remember that every individual is different and that everyone has their struggle that we know nothing about.
What we can do for people struggling with ADHD is to be more patient and compassionate. We can try to see things from their perspective and be more considerate of their feelings. We can also learn more about ADHD to be better equipped on how to deal with people who have it. After all, an effective way to support people with ADHD is through awareness and better understanding❤️.
ADHD and Misconceptions: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why are there so many myths and misconceptions about ADHD?
The complexity of ADHD as a mental health condition, as well as the scarcity in information campaigns, contribute to the development and persistence of myths and misconceptions.
What are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
Two of the most common myths surrounding ADHD is that 1) it can only happen in children, and 2) it only includes hyperactive behavior. We now know that it can be diagnosed in adults who are neat, organized, and quiet.
How can myths and misconceptions harm people with ADHD?
Myths can drive people who suspect they have this neurodivergent condition away. They might not come forward for an official diagnosis because they heard that their symptoms are not typical of ADHD or they might mask their symptoms for fear of being judged.