Complete Denial of ADHD

One of the most common myths is the complete denial of ADHD as a real problem. Often parents have to hear, including from specialists, that in reality there is “nothing terrible, it will pass with age”, or “this is not really a diagnosis, you are hiding behind it, the problem lies in education”. In fact, in most cases, the child does not outgrow ADHD, and it is not easy, given the gradual accumulation of secondary problems. Passive waiting only leads to the loss of valuable time, because the earlier the intervention is made, the more effective it is. The origin of this myth may be partly due to the confusion between the concepts of active temperament and ADHD. As mentioned above and will be discussed in more detail later, children with an active temperament are not so hyperactive, inattentive and impulsive that this leads to significant violations in the main areas of life – they are usually well adapted at school, in the family, and among their peers. The main characteristic of children with ADHD is excessive and age-inappropriate expression of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity, which leads to maladaptation with secondary learning disorders, social relations, etc.

Another myth: parents do not raise their children correctly — they need to be more strict, and sometimes the advice sounds even more definite – “carrot and stick”. For example, parents ‘ use of inappropriate disciplinary methods (both authoritarian, overly harsh, and very soft and inconsistent) can increase the problematic behavior of children with ADHD and contribute to secondary problems – in particular, oppositional and anti-social behavior; but parenting itself is not the cause of ADHD, its nature is biological. And physical violence as a disciplinary method is generally contraindicated in relation to these, and all other children. The initial accusatory position towards parents is also harmful, because it will in no way support them in the search for a solution to the problem in common with specialists, but will only aggravate distrust of the latter and add to the parents ‘ already frequently present sense of guilt.

The charge can also be directed at the child himself. For example, one can often hear: “it won’t work, he is by nature evil, lazy, irresponsible and selfish, he is kind, it does not change; he was genetically programmed that it will grow into a thug, etc.” And then the parents can perhaps give up or blame each other, to whom he is so ugly, which, of course, does not improve the child’s condition. In this case, it is simply necessary to explain that, although the causes of the disorder are biological and can not be changed, the prognosis of the child’s development, his future depends primarily on psychosocial factors, and above all – on the parents themselves.

The next myth concerns the methods of treatment. In our country, unfortunately, medicine is still moving to science-based treatment protocols based on the availability of evidence of the effectiveness of certain methods. Therefore, treatment for ADHD is often carried out in accordance with the standards of 50 years ago: sedatives (which in fact in smaller doses rather disinhibit children with ADHD or in large doses-suppress cognitive functions), nootropic and neurometabolic drugs (whose effectiveness in ADHD is not proven), not to mention various “paramedical” and pseudoscientific methods. In addition, we have very few specialists who competently apply behavioral therapy and teach it to parents and teachers of the child – and this remains the main effective psychosocial method of helping children with ADHD.

The mythic nature of the disorder is also associated with the historically large number of names that this disorder has had: postencephalitic behavior disorder, minimal brain dysfunction, psychomotor disinhibition syndrome, attention deficit disorder, hyperkinetic disorder, ADHD, etc. Today there is a discussion that the term “ADHD” also does not fully reflect the essence of the disorder, the main problem of which is not so much hyperactivity or inattention itself, but rather a biologically determined disorder of self-control development, and perhaps with the accumulation of a new understanding of the nature of ADHD, a new name for the disorder will be adopted. Such a large number of names, of course, sometimes confuses both parents and specialists. And if we consider that science sometimes moves much faster than social consciousness, then resistance to new approaches to diagnosis, terminology, and therapy strategies may have its roots not in information isolation, but rather in a certain mental conservatism.

Another myth is that this disorder affects only boys. It should be noted that although among children whose parents seek help, the ratio of boys and girls is indeed significantly higher in favor of the former – on average from 9: 1 to 6:1, research data in the General population of schoolchildren show that the gap in the prevalence of this disorder in boys and girls is actually much smaller – about 3: 1 (a detailed review of research data on this topic is presented in Barkley, 1996, Pp. 65-66). The reason for this difference between clinical and non-clinical samples is considered to be a slightly different presentation of ADHD in boys and girls and a significantly greater severity of secondary behavioral problems-primarily in the form of aggressive behavior-in boys. However, girls have more pronounced so-called internalized secondary complications in the form of low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety disorders. Thus, in girls, ADHD is much more often than in boys, is not detected and does not undergo timely treatment, because it manifests in them in a different, often mistakenly seemingly easier, form. This is discussed in more detail below.

The most common myths about ADHD

  • ADHD is not really a disorder, but an artificially created problem that does not require any therapeutic intervention.

✓ ADHD is the result of poor parenting, the fault of parents.

ADHD is a manifestation of the child’s innate “evil” (lazy, selfish, etc.) character, which cannot be changed.

Children with ADHD will grow up to be “psychopaths” and criminals.

✓ ADHD is an exclusively childhood disorder and the child “outgrows” it.

✓ ADHD occurs mainly in boys.

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