Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder...doesn't sound very attractive, does it? The two major dimensions, as the name implies, are inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. It's pretty commonplace so you probably know someone who has it. You know - the person who can't sit still, who can't wait his turn, who talks too much and doesn't seem to listen enough, who can't follow directions, who always loses things, who is chronically late for appointments (or worse, missing them altogether).
Son #1 is one such person, although he displays those characteristics in varying degrees. For example, he's 10 so he's not late for appointments, because I make sure he isn't. He's pretty good about waiting his turn, but he will sometimes blurt out the first thing that comes to mind (that's the impulsivity). He's also very fidgety.
To those people who feel that it's not a physiological condition, but rather a 'behavior' problem, I should point out right now that Son #1 is a very compliant kid - very eager to please. He's not contradictory or aggressive in the least. And to those adults who wonder why ADHD "didn't exist" when they were kids...well, it did. I also have ADHD (yes, professionally diagnosed). I was the student who brought home slightly better than average grades, along with the following teacher comments:
"She is very bright, but needs to apply herself."
"She is a very sweet little girl, but she talks too much in class."
Of course, it generally wasn't tested for back in the 70's so we just plodded through the school system and hoped for the best. I've learned to compensate. For example, I've been using a DayTimer since highschool so I don't miss appointments. I'd also take extremely detailed notes in class or in meetings (almost verbatim transcripts!) otherwise my mind might wander. At least the act of writing keeps me in the 'here and now' and doesn't allow me to drift off into dreamland. Ironically, I would rarely ever need to read back the class notes and would still do very well on tests. I guess it would be fair to say that I've overcompensated by becoming anal-retentive.
I don't take medication - as a stay-home mom I don't really feel it's necessary, but Son#1 does. Obviously there are no miracle cures, but we've found that medication does help him focus and although he's still fidgety, he's not bouncing all over the place.
Anyway, the reason I chose this topic is because I've been particularly inattentive in the past week and therefore couldn't focus long enough to blog, and a couple of people noticed (thanks, y'all). There's a TV commercial where they compare the mind of an ADHDer with a TV where someone is constantly channel surfing. It really is like that. Random thoughts pop in and out of your mind, sometimes before you have the opportunity to process them. I found painting my bathroom on Thursday very therapeutic. I hope it was the non-mental task and not the paint fumes. :-)
So I leave you with the following thoughts:
* I don't believe in either of the "D's" - it's not an attention deficit, but rather an attention inconsistency. We ADHDers can often hyperfocus on one thing to the point we tune out all else. Also, it's a 'difference' not a 'disorder.'
* Many ADHDers are gifted in ways that are not appreciated in elementary and secondary education, but are very much desired in adulthood: social skills, consensus building, multi-tasking, anyone?
* Finally to paraphrase Lara Honos-Webb from her book The Gift of ADHD,
"If one were to apply the logic of seeing differences as disorders to gender, the medical profession might well label women with a 'penis-deficit/hypermammary disorder.'"
That, folks, concludes ADHD 101.