What ADHD is NOT

What ADHD is NOT: Fighting Stigma Against ADHD

Whether it's your child, or you are the one with the diagnosis, understanding what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not can help you learn what it really is. Learn more here. 

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Debunking Myths and Misconceptions Against ADHD

People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder need to be strong and resilient when it comes to being judged, labeled as something else, or misunderstood. As there can be many negative connotations regarding this neurodevelopmental disorder, a good level of information campaign can go a long way to change people's outlook on ADHD. This is why it is essential to know what ADHD is not to better understand  the condition and how to support somebody who has it🙋‍♀️.

When we hear the words Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD, we often think of the stereotypical image of a hyperactive little child 🧒 who is constantly fidgeting, playing actively around, can't sit still, and has trouble staying focused in school. However, this is not always the case with ADHD. There's more to that than just having a lot of energy or being hyperactive.

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What Exactly is ADHD?

People diagnosed with ADHD may exhibit different symptoms involving their executive function skills. 

For many children with ADHD, symptoms present might include difficulty waiting, trouble paying attention, or even a learning disability that can hamper the development of their intellect. Because of the symptoms, a child's behavior can also be affected🥺.

More difficulties might occur for grown-ups who struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They may have trouble sleeping😪, have difficulty managing certain behaviors, or find it challenging to focus on work duties. However, these signs and symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg. The good news is that many facts and studies are available to expand our knowledge about this.

But this article is not for what ADHD is. After all, there are plenty of other resources out there defining what ADHD is in full detail. A resource center can be found online 📱 to learn more about ADHD and how a mental health professional can diagnose it. 

This article aims to debunk some myths and misconceptions about ADHD that are unfortunately still prevalent in society 💪. These false beliefs can be damaging not just for people with ADHD, but also for their loved ones. So let's get started with the list of what ADHD is not. 

ADHD is Not a Result of Bad Parenting

Since many people wonder about the origin of this mental health condition, they might start to build around theories that seem to make sense. 

ADHD is not the result of "Bad parenting"

For example, they might suspect: "ADHD might be caused by premature birth or low birth weight because of some medication treatment taken by the mother during pregnancy." or "Did you let your kid watch too many cartoons or animated movies? They seem to mimic ADHD symptoms from there?" 

At one glance, they might seem “legit,” but in reality, they are not scientifically-based ❌. 

Reports say there’s a strong genetic link in having ADHD. In other words, if your parents 👩‍❤️‍👨 or relatives have this neurodivergent condition, your chance of having it increases. There are also certain environmental factors, like lead exposure, that can contribute for this neurodevelopmental disorder to occur. 

Not once will you see a science-based source say that bad parenting causes ADHD. 

ADHD is Not a Disease

"I hope you get well from your ADHD symptoms and start acting normal." 

When I was passing by a school dedicated to neurodivergent people, I overheard someone making such comments, referring to a child displaying some ADHD traits during leisure activities. You see, ADHD cannot be cured like some disease; it also doesn’t go away permanently because of taking medications💊 .

ADHD is not a disease

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodivergent disorder associated with imbalanced neurotransmitters inside our brains🧠. The dopamine and norepinephrine system might be why many people with ADHD have difficulty focusing and maintaining concentration on a task. This might also result in them appearing fidgety or impulsive at times. Treating ADHD only means managing its symptoms through behavioral therapy, taking stimulant medications ⚕️, or combining both.

ADHD is a lifelong mental health condition with no "cure." Its symptoms can be controlled and managed, but the condition will still be there for the person to live with for their entire lives. Hence, people with this disorder need to find ways to cope with their symptoms.

ADHD is Not Laziness

Often, when a person with ADHD is not interested in doing a particular task, some people would immediately conclude that the person is just lazy. However, ADHD is not laziness at all. Many people with ADHD often find it hard to focus and retain information due to their hyperactivity or impulsivity. They also find it challenging to finish specific tasks because they are easily distracted by other things around them, like music🎹, noises coming from the television, or any environmental stimuli. When ADHD brains become focused and interested in a specific task, they might accomplish things way better than other people who do not have ADHD.

ADHD is not laziness

Experts made several studies on our existence inside a bubble where we seem to devote our utmost attention without worrying about anything. Everything can be easily done when we are in a hyper-focused mental state 💭. Paperwork and completing forms, routine tasks, or a long novel can be finished in a snap. It seems like a problem only arises when we’re not interested in the activity we’re engaged in. 

The better term for us who find no urge to do those things we dislike, even purposeful tasks, is Avolition. It can be part of our ADHD experience or can be from other mental health conditions like depression, conduct disorder, or mood disorder. 

Although unofficial, avolition can be an ADHD symptom that affects our daily functioning. Most of the time, it can be hard to understand where this is coming from, but it is important to note that this is not laziness. It only means that the person with ADHD has a hard time completing the task at hand.

ADHD is Not a Phase that Everybody Goes Through

"What you said is something that can happen to everybody." Comments such as this can invalidate our feelings. They make it seem like our symptoms are typical for anyone, “so we don't have to fuss about it.” 

ADHD is not a "trend"

However, having a thousand thoughts, difficulty organizing tasks to the point that it affects your productivity, and making careless mistakes, does not seem like a phase everyone goes through. The struggles we experience are real, affecting more than one set of our everyday life, whether in school, the office, or even at home 🏡.

A phase is something that goes away after some time. However, our difficulty sustaining attention, mistakes, impulsive behaviors, and tendency to interrupt people when talking, are NOT going away. All these ADHD symptoms, whether the predominantly inattentive presentation or predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, can affect how we function in our everyday lives.

For example, I have difficulties talking at moderate speed because I need to get the message across as soon as possible 💬. I also tend to forget the details that were relayed minutes before, so I tend to talk fast during conversations or phone calls📞. But the problem happens when the other person on the line cannot understand me well or wait for the time she needs to clarify some things. Ultimately, we missed something important, and my ADHD mainly caused it.

But You Don't Look Like You Have ADHD

You cannot look at a person and tell them instantly what mental illness they have. Doing so may be considered judgemental, inappropriate, and just plain wrong ❌. The thing with ADHD is it's a neurological disorder that alters the way our brain functions, just like with other mental health conditions. It cannot be seen on the outside, but it very much exists. So, just as it’s wrong to assume someone has a mental disorder, it’s also wrong to say they don’t simply because they don’t show it - especially when they are already diagnosed. 

ADHD is not always obvious

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be diagnosed only by a qualified mental health professional 👩‍⚕️ , not just by anyone who saw some symptoms online and told others "You do look like you have ADHD." An established Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders is used as a ground for an ADHD diagnosis. These diagnostic criteria are used to evaluate a person's current functioning to see if they meet the standard for an ADHD diagnosis.

Also, there's a predominantly inattentive presentation for ADHD, which can have a discrete set of symptoms that we cannot quickly identify with one look. 

Having ADHD is Not the End

Having ADHD is not the end of the world. It is a start and the beginning of an exciting life that you will learn to manage and take control of. It is a neurological disorder we need to understand and accept because it will be with us for the rest of our lives. But that doesn't mean we cannot achieve great things and enjoy beautiful moments 🥰.

We can still do the things that we love, just maybe differently. There are lots of people out there who became successful in their field and have ADHD. So don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something because of your ADHD. You can and you will. Always remember that having ADHD is not the end. It's only the beginning🙌.

Surround yourself with people who treat ADHD as something that is still worth fighting for and not as a lost cause. Find your tribe, the ones who will love and support you, see your potential, and never give up on you💏. These people will be your strength when you feel like you can't go on anymore. They will be your light amid the darkness. And they will remind you that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not bad.

What ADHD is Not

What ADHD is Not: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is ADHD due to bad parenting?

Many people believe that ADHD is caused by bad parenting. It's not, but it's important to remember that parents can play a role in the development of their child's symptoms. A parent who constantly tells a child to be quiet or criticizes them for not paying attention at school can make the child feel like they're wrong for feeling this way and cause them to hide their symptoms even more.

Is ADHD laziness?

It's not laziness. If you have ADHD, you might have been told that your behavior is lazy or unmotivated. It may be frustrating to hear this from others, but it's even more frustrating when you think it yourself—because it isn't true. In fact, the opposite is actually true: many people with ADHD tend to work harder than those without the condition and are often high achievers in their fields.‍

Why is ADHD NOT a Disease?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means that the way your brain functions is different from someone who does not have the condition. ADHD is not a disease because it doesn’t cause any physical changes in your body or damage to any part of it; however, some people with ADHD may experience learning disabilities as well as anxiety or depression

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