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ADHD Module

Perceptions and Myths

AD/HD is considered by some to be:

a trivial problem that is often over-diagnosed and over-treated. Most of this skepticism is based on simple ignorance about the complex nature of the disorder, its often devastating effects on individuals and families, and the safe, effective benefits obtained by the vast majority of those who receive appropriate treatment. (Brown, 2005)

AD/HD is a neurobiological condition that impacts the executive functions of the brain, which may manifest in any or all of the symptoms associated with the syndrome. Often individuals with AD/HD are thought of as distracted, lazy, and procrastinators although they “are not constantly unfocused, but they are much more persistently and pervasively impaired in these cognitive functions than most other people” (Brown, 2005, p. xviii). Most people with AD/HD are able to focus their attention on topics and assignments that interest them.

image of students working in group

Students with AD/HD are often viewed as intellectually inferior, incompetent, lacking effort, or attempting to use unfair advantages when requesting accommodations (Quinn, 1994). However, research shows that individuals with AD/HD perform well on standardized intelligence measures and yet, still have severe impairments of executive function (Brown, 2005), which affect other areas relating to academic performance.

Often AD/HD is viewed as a childhood syndrome (Brown, 2005). By definition, its onset occurs in early childhood, but its diagnosis may not occur until adolescence or adulthood particularly for those with attention disorders without hyperactivity. It is also a fact that diagnosis of AD/HD in females is made at a much later age than their male counterparts, attributed in part to hyperactivity in males that leads to earlier referral (Brown, 1995; Ratey, Miller, & Nadeau, 1995). Contrary to a myth that one can outgrow it, AD/HD is a life-long disorder that affects both children and adults (National Resource Center on ADHD, 2008).



Brown, T. E. (1995). Differential diagnosis of ADD versus ADHD in adults. In K. G. Nadeau (Ed.), A comprehensive guide to attention deficit disorder in adults (pp. 93-108). New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Brown, T. E. (2005). Attention deficit disorder: The unfocused mind in children and adults. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

National Resource Center on ADHD. (2008). Diagnosis of ADHD in adults. Retrieved from http://www.help4adhd.org/en/treatment/guides/WWK9

Quinn, P.O. (Ed.) (1994). ADD and the college student: A guide for high school and college students with attention deficit disorder. New York: Magination Press.

Ratey, J. J., Miller, A, C., & Nadeau, K. G. (1995). Special diagnostic and treatment considerations in women with attention deficit disorder. In K. G. Nadeau (Ed.), A comprehensive guide to attention deficit disorder in adults (pp. 260-283). New York: Brunner/Mazel.