What ADHD Is Not

An excuse for bad parenting

How many times in the course of trying to get help for our children do we come up against this old chestnut? Often, from the very people we have gone to for help!

In actual fact, parents of ADHD children are usually BETTER parents because of all the difficulties they have had to overcome. Our children challenge more rules, overstep more boundaries, get into more trouble at school than the average kid.

Many times though, it's not the challenging behavior which causes the greatest issues for us, it's the knock-on effects of the behavior. For example, having to go into school repeatedly to apologize for the child's difficulties, trouble with neighbors who sometimes just have these children down as 'bad uns.' Having psychologists and psychiatrists who we have gone to for help, doubt our word and listen, but not hear and understand what we tell them.

If bad parenting causes ADHD, what then accounts for the fact that often there are other children in the same family who are perfectly well-behaved and/or normal, who have never in their lives had any sort of behavioral difficulty?

An American fad

Although a lot of our information these days comes from The States, and much of the research into the causes of ADHD goes on there, ADHD is not "American." In fact, the symptoms were first outlined in Britain in the early part of this century by Professor George Still.

Although the actual name of the condition has changed many times since 1902, the condition has not, although our knowledge of ADHD has grown somewhat since then. In the UK, we are in the early stages of accepting, understanding and treating the condition, lagging somewhat behind other countries. Unfortunately, there are one or two professionals who were taught a certain way, many, many years ago, who are very resistant to change and staying up-to-date with modern ideas. Eventually though, as more people learn about the condition, more professionals will have the correct knowledge to diagnose and treat it.

An excuse for lazy, uncooperative children

How many times have we heard a teacher say to us, "Well, little Johnny did it yesterday, so he can do it today." No he can't!

One of the major factors of ADHD is inconsistency, and although frustrating for parents and teachers who don't really understand this disparity, it is also frustrating to the sufferer too. A child who cannot perform at the same level from hour-to-hour, never mind from day-to-day, can appear lazy or uncooperative, that's true. But unless the people working with children, like ours, understand that this is part of their make-up, the battles will continue to go on.

I once heard a S.N.A. say "He can concentrate when he wants to," but the word she left off the end of that sentence was ... SOMETIMES. Yes, these kids can concentrate when they want to-sometimes. Sometimes they can't. Only education will help these people work more successfully with our kids.

I'm not knocking all educational professionals, of course. The above are only isolated examples and there are some excellent teachers and special-needs workers out there. But if your school has entrenched ideas about how ALL children do/should perform, you need to bring them up to date on ADHD.

It's another name for a boisterous child

True, kids with ADHD tend to be on the boisterous side, but the cluster of problems which appear when the condition is present are so extreme that they cause considerable problems educationally, socially and in the home. Boisterous children do settle down over time and learn by experience as they develop. ADHD kids largely do not. If anything, if left undiagnosed and treated, over time they get worse.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2007, June 6). What ADHD Is Not, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Last Updated: February 13, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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