Myth #1: All children eventually grow out of ADHD.

Fact: ADHD isn’t a disorder that only affects young children. But studies show that ADHD can persist into adolescence in about 50% to 80% of cases, and into adulthood in 35% to 65% of cases. Even when considering the lower end of that estimate, that means about one in three children with ADHD will still have it as an adult. 

This also doesn’t take into account the fact that many people don’t receive a diagnosis until adulthood. In fact, adult ADHD diagnoses are growing at a rate that’s four times faster than that of ADHD diagnoses in children.

There isn’t a cure for ADHD, but it can change over time. Some people who required treatment as children find that their symptoms fade as they grow older or they become better at managing their behaviors. For others, it continues well into adulthood and never really goes away.

Myth #2: Kids with ADHD are just behaving badly.

Fact: When a child has ADHD, many of the behaviors they exhibit are out of their control. Their failure to focus on an assignment, for example, isn’t due to laziness or poor discipline. They are a result of real difficulties in functioning.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that directly affects several areas of the brain. It primarily affects the frontal cortex, which controls attention, organization, and executive functions. Also affected is the limbic system, which regulates emotions and attention. Impairments in the basal ganglia and reticular activating system of the brain can result in symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. 

Myth #3: All children with ADHD are hyperactive.

Fact: This common misconception likely stems from the prevalence of “hyperactivity” in the disorder’s name. And while it’s true that some children with ADHD do exhibit excessive fidgeting and movement, these behaviors are not consistent in all kids with the disorder. In fact, there are three types of ADHD:

  • Impulsive/hyperactive type, which is the least common type of ADHD. Children with this type have predominantly impulsive and hyperactive behaviors, but they don’t struggle with inattention or distractibility.
  • Inattentive and distractible type, which is like the inverse of the previous type. Kids with this type exhibit inattention and distractibility, but not hyperactivity or impulsiveness.
  • Combined type, which is the most common type of ADHD and involves all of the behaviors associated with ADHD: impulsivity, hyperactivity, inattention, and distractibility.

Myth #4: Boys are more likely to have ADHD than girls.

Fact: This myth has some truth to it, as boys are about three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. However, many experts believe that there aren’t necessarily lower rates of ADHD in girls. Instead, there’s an imbalance in diagnoses due to the way the disorder presents in each gender.

Boys are more likely to show noticeable symptoms like hyperactivity and impulsivity, and their frustrations are often expressed externally. Because this creates more disruptions in the classroom, they are referred for ADHD evaluation more frequently.

The symptoms in girls, on the other hand, aren’t always as easy to spot. Girls with ADHD tend to have more symptoms related to inattentiveness, and when they struggle, they’re more likely to internalize it. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other issues like stomach aches and fatigue. It’s important to recognize that more girls may be undiagnosed due to the general differences in the types of ADHD behaviors exhibited by each gender. 

When confronted with certain information about ADHD, make sure you know the facts. Search other articles in our Knowledge Base to learn more about ADHD in children and adults.

It’s estimated that about 8.4% of children have ADHD. And even though ADHD is one of the most common youth mental disorders, there are a number of myths about ADHD in children that have persisted over the years. Learn more about these misunderstandings and what the facts tell us about how this disorder actually affects millions of children.