Myth: There is no such thing as ADD. People with ADD just need to try harder to get focused and organized.
Reality: There is absolutely no doubt in the scientific community that ADD is real. “ADD is not a controversy. It is a demonstrable reality” (Dr. Ned Hallowell, Driven to Distraction). It has been documented by years of observation and, more recently, by modern brain imaging technology. Federal laws guarantee the rights of people with ADD to fair and equal access to education and allow ADDers the accommodations that are necessary for them to succeed in school. It is very unlikely that laws would have been passed to cover a condition that does not exist!
In the past, ADD has been called by many names, such as “minimal brain dysfunction” and “hyperactivity syndrome.” But in 1972, educational psychologist Virginia Douglas realized that the most important feature of this phenomenon is distractibility, so the term Attention Deficit Disorder was born. ADD is an inherited neurobiological disorder. It is not the result of “brain damage,” but research seems to indicate that the ADD brain processes information in ways that are different from others. ADDers have difficulty selecting from a flood of input and focusing on what is important in a particular situation. Since ADD cannot be wished or tried away, “trying harder” usually does not solve the problem.