“ADHD is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain with bicycle brakes. Strengthen the brakes and you have a champion.”
Dr. Edward Hallowell
This month, we’re continuing our series of “Myths and Facts” by highlighting the important topic of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a cognitive condition—a brain difference—marked by inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. It affects people of all ages and genders, presenting in childhood and continuing into adulthood.
The brain relies on chemicals known as neurotransmitters to send messages throughout its many pathways. ADHD brains have lower levels of these neurotransmitters, most notably noradrenaline and dopamine, which play a key role in focus, motivation, mood regulation, learning, and memory.
Unlike the name would suggest, the ADHD brain does not have a deficit of attention. More accurately, it struggles to regulate or “shift” attention. Sometimes it shifts too quickly, causing inattention and impulsivity. Other times it struggles to shift at all, allowing for hyperfocusing and making transitions difficult.
Myths vs. Facts
MYTH: ADHD only affects children.
FACT: Although it was once thought of as a childhood disorder that kids outgrow, research now shows that ADHD persists into adulthood.
MYTH: ADHD mainly affects boys.
FACT: Girls are more likely to have inattentive type ADHD with no hyperactivity. This causes less disruption and has made them more likely to be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
MYTH: Having ADHD means you can’t achieve at a high level.
FACT: Wrong! People with ADHD can achieve at the very highest levels and have many traits that help them do so. People with ADHD include CEOs, Pulitzer Prize winners, professional athletes, brain surgeons, and multimillionaires.
MYTH: If you’re quiet, well-behaved, and do well in school, you can’t have ADHD.
FACT: Many people have inattentive ADHD without any signs of hyperactivity whatsoever. This is particularly common in girls and women.
MYTH: There’s no point in getting diagnosed with ADHD as an adult because it’s already too late.
FACT: It’s never too late to treat ADHD. Whether you’re 25 or 85, you can change your life for the better through treatment.
MYTH: Stimulant medication helps everyone.
FACT: Stimulant medication helps around 80% of people with ADHD, and it helps to a varying degree. It’s also a myth that you can tell whether or not you have ADHD by taking stimulant medication. Even if stimulants improve your functioning, it does not mean you have ADHD.
By Edward M. Hallowell, M. D. www.drhallowell.com
As ADHD presents itself in different ways in girls, we’re sharing additional resources below that are specific to girls.
Understanding Girls with ADHD by Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., Ellen Littman, Ph.D., and Patricia Quinn, M.D. A ground-breaking book on the needs and issues of girls with attentional problems.
100 Questions and Answers about ADHD in Women and Girls by Patricia O. Quinn, M.D. Age-related checklists from pre-school to high school to help parents and professionals better identify and help girls with ADHD.
ADHD in Girls: How Is It Different? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315009.php
ADHD in Girls: What you Need to Know https://www.understood.org/en/articles/adhd-in-girls
At The Village Tutors, we are expertly trained to support students with ADHD, and their families. Learn more about our services, and contact us today to talk with our team about how we can best support your student's learning needs.