Debunking the Four Most Common ADHD Misconceptions

If your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), friends, family, and even strangers might dish out well-meaning but flat-out wrong advice. As a parent, it can be frustrating to hear remarks such as “ADHD is all in their head,” or “If you didn’t let your son eat so much candy, he wouldn’t have ADHD.”

Despite decades of research, ADHD misconceptions abound. Below, a trusted psychiatrist in Mandeville, LA, at Crescent City Psychiatric dispels the top four myths about ADHD.

The Top Four ADHD Myths and Misconceptions

ADHD misconceptions number in the dozens, but here are four of the most common. 

Myth #1: Kids With ADHD Are Always Hyperactive

When people learn that your child was diagnosed with ADHD, they probably picture a kid bouncing off the walls and running aimlessly in circles because they cannot sit still. While it’s true that kids with the hyperactive variant of ADHD fit that image to some degree, not all children do.

Symptoms of hyperactive ADHD include:

  • Talking excessively
  • Trouble playing or studying quietly
  • Interrupting others a lot
  • Constant fidgeting
  • Quickly becoming frustrated, impatient, or angry when things don’t go their way

If your child has more inattentive ADHD symptoms, they might:

  • Seem overly forgetful
  • Appear distracted when spoken to
  • Have trouble following instructions or remembering important dates
  • Make careless mistakes on schoolwork
  • Lose things often

Many kids with ADHD have a combination of inattentive and hyperactive symptoms, so the myth that all children with ADHD are hyperactive is just that: a myth.

Myth #2: ADHD Only Affects Boys

This is one of the most common ADHD misconceptions, and it’s simply not true. Girls are just as likely as boys to have ADHD, but boys are more likely to receive a diagnosis from a psychiatrist because of the way their symptoms present.

Girls with ADHD tend to be less hyperactive, aggressive, and impulsive than boys. This can make diagnosis challenging, and girls tend to receive a diagnosis an average of five years later than boys do.

Myth #3: Too Much Sugar and Caffeine Can Cause ADHD or Make Symptoms Worse

If you’ve ever seen your child eat an entire bag of Halloween candy and bounce off the walls with the sugar rush, it’s easy to see where this ADHD misconception comes from. Sugar can make children more hyperactive, but it does not cause ADHD.

Regardless, experts recommend limiting sugar intake whether your child has ADHD or not. That extra slice of cake won’t do them much harm, but as your child grows, years of eating too much sugar can cause or contribute to:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain kinds of cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney problems

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids aged 2 to 18 limit their sugar intake to six teaspoons per day.

What about caffeine? That can of soda doesn’t cause ADHD, but the caffeine could make children with ADHD more hyperactive. However, some people with ADHD say that caffeine helps them concentrate.

Even if caffeine seems to help your child focus, it’s a good idea to limit their intake. Most pediatricians say that kids should have no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine (about two cans of soda) per day.

Myth #4: Kids Who Can Focus on Their Favorite Hobby Can’t Have ADHD

Does your child love sports or video games? It’s puzzling when your child can focus on their favorite video game but can’t sit still to do their homework. Just because your child can concentrate on their hobby, though, doesn’t mean that they do not have ADHD.

Kids with ADHD often struggle to focus on things they find boring or mundane. Put them in front of a beloved movie or video game, though, and they can often concentrate with little trouble.

Compassionate ADHD Treatment From Crescent City Psychiatric

Now that you’ve learned about the most common ADHD misconceptions, we welcome you to make an appointment with Crescent City Psychiatric. We can assist with ADHD in adults, as well as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other common psychiatric conditions.