Friday, February 03, 2006

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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.


~d said...

This is awesome. Very thought-provoking. I never thought about it but you are right, when we were kids we were very bright, but talks too much. So they thought that maybe we were 'gifted'...but try to give us alot to do, and we cannot stay focused, so it is right back into regular classes: or for some ( hello! ) remedial classes!
As far as note taking! OMIGOD! I was/am like that I have to write VERBATIM what I hear or I will end up doodling. Which for some could be nice, but for me it was messy b/c I am not artistic with pen and paper...
Nice, nice post! good blog. So does Son #1 take meds? and does HE notice a difference-at 10...
AND shouldn't we be singing Happy Birthday to Son #3 soon?
Glad to see you post again. You are a very bright woman, you just need to apply yourself. ( hahaha! )

Elle*Bee said...

Yes, he does take meds and yes, he does notice a difference. He's a fast talker anyway (which doesn't help w/ his speech issues), but without the meds, it's like he's at warp-speed. I hope the time will come when he matures enough to develop some other management techniques and may not have to rely on the meds (which aren't magic pills BTW), but we'll do whatever works for him. As for Son#3, his bday is on the 18th. Your boys' bdays are coming up, too, right? And thanks for the last sentence. LOL! Maybe that'll be my epitaph - She was very bright but she just didn't apply herself. Ha Ha.