Of all the mental disorders out there, none is taken less seriously than ADHD. Lots of people believe that it’s made up. Some people believe that ADHD is nothing more than bad parenting. And plenty of people believe that it’s an excuse to medicate otherwise normal children. But here’s the thing:
ADHD is a very real disorder, and it profoundly affects the lives of those who have it.
Let’s look at some facts about people with ADHD:
– 35% of teens with ADHD will not complete high school – that’s double the dropout rate of average teens.
– 30% of kids with ADHD will fail a year of school, or be required to repeat a grade.
– 45% of kids with ADHD get suspended from school at some point.
– Only 5% of teens with ADHD will earn a college degree, compared to 28% of the general population.
– Only 0.06% of people with ADHD will earn a graduate degree, compared to 5.4% of the general population.
– They have four times as many car accidents as the general population.
– They are 4 to 9 times more likely to go to prison.
– They are 11 times more likely to be unemployed.
– 61% will be fired at some point, compared to 43% of the average population.
– They earn, on average, $2 less per hour than their non-ADHD counterparts.
– They run a significantly higher lifetime risk of depression, anxiety, and antisocial disorders than people without ADHD.
ADHD is not a made-up disorder; it is a very real thing that has a profound effect on the lives of people who have it.
So what other myths about ADHD are floating around?
– Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is under-diagnosed. While there is some evidence to suggest that little boys are being over-diagnosed with it, girls are being grossly under-diagnosed. Teachers and parents’ are quick to recognize the disorder in boys; girls with ADHD, on the other hand, are dismissed as ‘ditsy’ or ‘spacey’, preventing them from getting the help they need. Doctors estimate that ADHD occurs equally in boys and girls, but boys are six times more likely to be diagnosed and treated.
– ADHD is not a childhood disorder. Studies have found that anywhere from 30% to a whopping 80% of childhood cases of ADHD continue on into adulthood, affecting sufferers for the rest of their lives. Even when cases don’t continue, the education gaps created in early years can affect a person long into adulthood.
– ADHD is not caused by diet. The vast majority of cases of ADHD are genetic. Other major causes include prenatal exposure to alcohol, and traumatic brain injuries. No cases are caused by food dyes, or excessive consumption of sugar.
– ADHD is not a “short attention span”. People with ADHD do not lack attention spans, they lack the ability to regulate their attention. When people with ADHD discover an activity that highly interests them, they can focus on it single-mindedly for hours, ignoring all other activities, much like you’d see in autism.
– ADHD medication doesn’t turn kids into “zombies”. At least, not if they’re on the right one. The medications prescribed for ADHD are not addictive or dangerous. In kids with ADHD, the proper dose of of the right medication can ease symptoms and allow children to regulate their attention and control their impulses. Untreated children with ADHD are more likely to grow up to be drug or alcohol addicts; medication significantly reduces that risk.
ADHD is one of the most common mental illnesses that any of us will encounter, but despite that, it remains poorly-understood, and is not treated as a serious disorder. People have grown skeptical of the disorder entirely, and look down on cases of ADHD as poor parenting or simple ‘drug-pushing’. The reality is that ADHD can make it extremely difficult to lead a normal life or achieve goals, and no one should look down on the treatments that make it possible for so many people to function.