Myth: ADD goes away with age, usually around puberty.
Reality: ADD becomes evident in early childhood and usually continues throughout a person’s life., The most popular myth about ADD is that it disappears when childhood ends. On the contrary, experts now believe that the condition lasts a lifetime. How, then, does one account for the mistaken notion that ADD symptoms disappear by adolescence? One answer may be that the symptoms don’t disappear—the 5 kids do! Most ADD students experience incredible difficulties in school, so a disproportionate number of them, though they may be highly intelligent, drop out. Another reason for the myth that ADD disappears is that many people develop coping skills as they mature, so they are much less likely to act out in childish ways. Also, hyperactivity tends to diminish toward the end of the teens—which might mislead the observer into thinking that the ADD itself has gone away.
On the other hand, many clinicians believe that some ADD traits, such as distractibility and forgetfulness, actually may become more pronounced as the ADDer grows older. Especially as ADDers reach middle age, whether because of the physical and biochemical effects of aging, the increased stresses of daily living, or a lifetime of less-than-adequate coping skills, many people seem to experience an increase in ADD symptoms. Often, these people arrive in the physician’s office only halfjoking, “Maybe I have Altzheimer’s!” Some of these middle-aged ADDers never before have been diagnosed, but recognize only in adulthood that untreated ADD has been with them for all of their lives. These patients respond especially well to treatment, because they are highly motivated and have an adult understanding of their problems.