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Whether you have recently been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, were diagnosed long ago or you are the parent, spouse or friend of an ADDer, you have probably heard a few funny or wacky myths about ADDer signs, symptoms, behaviors and treatments. In my own experience, before my oldest child was diagnosed with ADHD in 1995, I had heard many humorous misconceptions and idea's about ADHD.

From the time my son was two to four years old, I did not understand why my little boy was much more active, misbehaved, destructive and always getting into mischief compared to my nephews, nieces and children his own age? While boys and girls may behave totally different, I understood that boys usually play more rough than girls.

Yet, I was mystified why my son did not get along nicely with other children, why he could not keep still for one second, why he did not listen to me or his father, why he was so aggressive towards children and pets or why he was literally bouncing off the walls 24/7?

Once, during a professional psychiatric evaluation of my son, I was told that my son could NOT have ADHD because he was not "hanging off of the ceiling fan or climbing on top of my refrigerator." (Bizarre & hysterical idea, but quite an inaccurate myth.)

Coincidentally, less than one year later, my son was evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD by another professional, but he never attempted to hang off of the ceiling fan or climb on top of our refrigerator. Not that this radical behavior would never happen to an ADDer because anything is possible! However, this is most certainly not the necessary criteria to consider to make a correct diagnosis of ADD/ADHD.

Another strange myth that I heard was that individuals diagnosed with ADD/ADHD could NOT possibly be able to read a book, due to their lack of attention, impulsive behavior or lack of follow through.

I do understand this wacky misconception of assuming that the average ADDer may not concentrate long enough to complete reading an entire book, may get easily distracted, may find reading to be more of a hassle or boring, rather than fun or enjoyable. Truth be told, some ADDers are able to successfully read a book from start to finish without any complications and enjoy every minute of it! Not all ADDers struggle with reading books, magazines or newspapers.

As an ADDer, I can vouch that I enjoy reading books, such as suspense, romance, auto-biographies & motivational books. I am an avid reader who is able to pay attention long enough to read from start to finish. As far as school or college books, that is an entirely different story! Those books are boring, time consuming and rather difficult for me to get through. Anyone else feel the same way?

Have you encountered any wacky, comical or outrageous myths or misconceptions about ADD/ADHD? If so, please be sure to add them to this post!


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My personal favourite was the first doctor I spoke to as an adult seeking assessment for ADHD -- "you watch Survivor? Oh. Uhm... *lists a bunch of other TV shows* No? Well what do you watch? Can you sit through an entire episode? Well then you don't have ADD, here have some antidepressants."

Never mind that I never /just/ sit and watch TV. Never mind that watching something that interests me is not a taxing exercise in attention regulation -- unless I need to tear my attention away for some reason. In my experience, people with ADHD are the ones who get "glued to the TV" and shut out everything else.
Mel, did you get a second opinion from another professional after this doctor claimed that you did not have ADD because you could sit through an entire episode of a TV show? How long did it take for you to receive an evaluation and diagnosis of ADHD?

My ADDer kids are able to tune out everyone and everything around them, while they are totally absorbed with their favorite TV show. From my experience with ADHD, we can actually successfully tune out all distractions when we "hyper-focus" at work and at home, but it may vary from one ADDer to another.

Whether it is hyper-focusing on an enjoyable TV show, listening to your favorite music, jamming on the drums, building or creating a piece of art, creatively writing a story, cleaning, cooking, balancing your checkbook or getting totally wrapped up in a major project at work, many individuals diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are quite able to manage EXCEPTIONAL focus and concentration successfully. I would not trade the ability to hyper-focus for anything! It is, by far, the coolest thing about being an ADDer!
Yeah I was intimidated, this was the first doctor I had seen about ANYTHING in a few years. It was consistent with my experience with doctors, really. I show up and say "this and such is wrong" and am told "no you're fine/it's really because of this totally unrelated thing/it's because you're fat" not really an experience that would inspire me to seek more humiliation and scorn by going to yet another doctor.

I finally found a college with a gread SSD department who referred me to my provinces DRES (disability-related employment supports) program, which referred me to the psychologist who assessed and diagnosed my ADHD along with my dysgraphia, and downgraded my "clinical depression" diagnosis to dysthymia and my "acute agoraphobia" diagnosis to social anxiety. This was after many years of trying to muddle through, and of seeking (mostly ineffective) treatment for depression.

Honestly the effects of the meds prescribed by that first doc are what caused my depression. They intensified every negative symptom of my ADHD to the point where I seemed manic.

Oh yeah also because I can devour a novel cover-to-cover in one sitting (without sleeping, going anywhere I'm supposed to be, doing homework, washing the dishes, etc.) but I can't get through one paragraph of a textbook for school without suddenly doing one of the things I just listed... that was another factor in his decision that I couldn't possibly have ADHD. I was just looking for an excuse to be lazy, apparently.

Hyperfocus is fantastic! I just wish I could make it work when I need it. Like right now when I have a term project with looming deadline!
You could throw things at myy father when he was watching tv and he wouldn't was like he was channeling tv not watching it! I think he has add too...but his opinion of mental health care professionals is not a good one.
I read too and I have been told if you can read a book, you can't have it.

The most common thing I have heard is that if you can focus on something you enjoy, then you should be capable of focusing on anything.

As a general rule, many ADDers can focus on something, if it is something that they find interesting. It is the boring things that are difficult (or impossible) to focus on. But people turn this on its head and say you can't just claim to be ADD when it is something you don't want to do and suddenly have great focus when it is something you want to do. It is not use to try to explain ... but that's how it works.

I huge myth when I went to high school (over 20 years ago) was that only children with below average intelligence have learning disbilities.

I have also heard that I can't possible have it because I am too functional. For example if I can do well in school or hold a job without medication I can't have it. This was told to me my a teen girl with severe ADD who is pretty nonfunctional if she doesn't take her meds.

There is a kind of sterotype of ADD which is generally someone with very severe ADD who cannot function without meds.
Thank you, Illah, for sharing some ADDer myths and misconceptions. I disagree with the theory or myth that if an ADDer can focus on something they enjoy then they should be able to focus on anything. The reason that I disagree with this theory or myth is because it is during a comprehensive evaluation for ADD/ADHD & learning disabilities by a neuropsychologist that reveal HUGE discrepancies in the evaluation & testing results.

When the evaluation & tests reveal that an individual has major discrepancies, usually the individual being evaluated/tested has results showing area's of below average as well as other area's resulting in average or above average. Due to the degree of discrepancy, there is acceptable criteria to indicate the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and/or LD.

The "red flag" is when children or adults have huge discrepancies in school, college or work resulting in area's of strengths and weaknesses. For example: A college student receives straight A's in English & the student enjoys this class. Yet, that exact same college student is failing accounting, struggles with math, does not retain math facts and the student has always disliked math.

The myth that only children with below average intelligence could have learning disabilities is suggesting that if a child was intelligent they would NOT have a learning disability, which is inaccurate. My son has been evaluated & tested numerous times throughout his life, from age 4 to age 16, and we were told that my son is intelligent. Ironically, during every single evaluation & test, my son met the criteria for learning disabled, due to the huge discrepancy in the results.

It truly concerns me that there are so many individuals, including professionals, who do not fully comprehend or grasp the facts pertaining to ADD/ADHD and LD. Once again, it is crucial for these individuals, especially teacher's and mental health professionals, to actively educate themselves continually to fully understand and stay updated with ADD/ADHD/LD facts.
As a kid I couldn't sit still (in reality, probably focus) long enough to read a book, I remember even as young as 10 or so figuring out that if I walked around my yard as I read, I could read the books I needed to for school (fiction that I was assigned). Still wasn't diagnosed as a kid though :-) Girls just didn't have ADHD back then...well, so the experts said.

I can sit and read just fine now, as long as it's interesting. Heck, if it's interesting enough my problem is hyperfocus....I have a really hard time stopping myself from reading to go and do something I'm supposed to do.

I use meds now to read the less interesting of my school text's. Thankfully, most of it is really interesting!!
Other than having ADHD, each individual has a particular learning style, which may have a huge bearing on how the individual learns BEST. When you were a younger child and walking around your yard, while you read your book, did you read silently or out loud?

Auditory learners usually need to hear the story, while they are reading the story. The auditory learner will learn best when they hear themselves read out loud, rather than reading silently. As an adult, when I continued my education, I discovered that I was able to comprehend what I was studying ONLY if I would verbally study out loud. When I would hear myself study out loud, plus I looked at the flash cards with information, I was able to successfully retain the information.

I think that most girls in the 1970's & 1980's were simply "overlooked" when they were children or teenagers because most of these girls were NOT acting rough or inappropriately. Due to the fact that many girls were NOT diving off their school desks, bullying kids or behaving negatively, girls with undiagnosed ADD/ADHD accidentally slipped through the cracks!

Back in the 1970's & 1980's, typically, it was the boys misbehaving in school. Due to their hyperactive, oppositional, aggressive or destructive behavior, the boys were instantly receiving immediate attention in an attempt to maintain control in the class rooms.

Girls are just as likely to have ADD/ADHD as boys. The gender should NOT make a difference in the symptoms caused by the disorder. However, if this myth continues today, boys will be more likely to be diagnosed than girls, especially girls who have undiagnosed ADD.
You know what is funny about all of this is that I was the kid who laughed so hard she fell out of chairs, had little impulse control and was always annoying my neighbors when I was done with my work (which, with a gifted diagnosis as well, I was finished very early). They literally would sometimes send me out to recess early just to get me out of the way...or to the library to READ....a lot....or to go tutor little kids or do algebra....funny, I fit all of the ADHD criteria and still no diagnosis until almost 40.
The official stats taught in colleges about ADHD currently state that it occurs in boys anywhere from two to four tomes as often as in girls. I get grouchy every time I see that because well... Society's expectations regarding gender roles allows girls to hide ADHD much better than boys can, and yes, girls seem to go undiagnosed far too often.
I'm a strong auditory and kinesthetic learner....but really I wonder how much of even that is influenced by the brain chemistry that makes me ADHD. Visual learning tends to be much more passive than auditory and kinesthetic learning....I wonder...since auditory (in this case speaking material aloud....which I do use quite a lot when I study) and kinesthetic learning require more activity....I wonder if they force my ADHD brain to be more engaged....providing that extra stimulation my head needs. Which of course would appear to everyone...including me....that I learn more effectively with auditory and kinesthetic learning styles.

In any case I agree with your statement re: education back in the day. I wasn't disruptive behaviorally (my parents would have killed me if I defied the teacher or "got in trouble" in any way) but I was very verbally impulsive, was famous for answering before raising my hand (never understood how the other kids remembered to do that) couldn't sit still to save my life....I was that kid who would break my pencil point so I'd have an excuse to get up and walk around the room...every one of my report cards explained that I would lose my head if it wasn't attached to my shoulders, I was disorganized, would forget homework assignments...or if I remembered the assignment I'd forget the books I needed to do the assignment, or I'd remember the assignment and what I needed for it and then forget to bring it in to school the next day. This was all explained as me just not applying myself. Oh and being lazy

When I was in the process of being diagnosed at 40 yrs old, they wanted to know how long I've had ADHD answer was that I've always been this way, it's just how my brain is made, it's just part of who I am. So, yeah, there's no doubt I was ADHD back then....they just didn't know, they didn't understand what to do with me. In spite of my obvious trouble with specific things like math and spelling and a documented learning disability in math, they couldn't put me in LD (according to them at the time, I know things are different now) IQ was to high, so the problem must be that I wasn't trying hard enough.

Anyway, I'm glad things are changing for the most part.
Not whacky, but damaging. It was a requirement that I take a human development class before I apply to graduate school. In this class my professor inaccurately indicated to a class of approximately 100 that ADHD is a sex linked disorder (a person ACTIVELY PURSUING HER DOCTORATE IN PSYCHOLOGY) context and response to a questiooon regarding GENETIC issues that are directly related to having the male chromosome...not behavioral expectations or gender roles...actual genetic linkage to sex...


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