Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

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    Dear Reader:

    I was given a book as a gift, “Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder From Childhood Through Adulthood“, by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D, first copyright 1994. I haven’t read a book of any kind for about 5 years, I am guessing, so this is a first in quite some time. And because I spend so much time in these forums, I thought I’ll share about this book right here while reading it.

    From the introduction: “The old moral code dies hard… At the heart of the moral model beats the conviction that willpower controls all human emotion, learning, and behavior. Under this model, the cure for depression is to cheer up. The cure for anxiety is to suck it up. And the cure for ADD is to try harder

    I agree with the above, but following it I read something (still in the introduction) that looks like the author’s agenda (the reason I don’t read books is because of such agendas). The agenda, seems to me, is to motivate parents to buy this book by telling them right at the start, that in no way can their parenting cause ADD symptoms in their children. But this cannot possibly be true. I see this claim as a marketing strategy. It’s a common strategy, I now remember: can’t motivate parents to buy a book if you make them feel guilty!  This is a turn off for me but I will continue to read because this book was given to me by a thoughtful kind woman after I expressed to her my ADD-like cognitive difficulties, and I want to report to her that something about this book was useful to me.

    Ooops, as I continue to read, another turn-off: like other professionals who consider themselves experts on this or that mental/ neurological disorder, they tend to conclude that… almost everyone suffers from it. They expand the disorder’s parameters to include millions and millions of people (a marketing strategy, more buyers for the book?). My motivation to continue reading is further eroded.

    Here is a part I can very much relate to, page 22: “An important, and overlooked part of both learning disabilities and ADD is the social consequences of having them. ADD can interfere with one’s interpersonal life just as dramatically as it does with one’s academic or job performance. To make friends, you have to be able to pay attention. To get along in a group, you have to be able to follow what is being said in the group“- very true to me.

    I am skipping a lot, not because of attention deficit on my part (?) as much as my impatience with an author’s need to fill in a book with lots of print when he/ she can state things clearly in less than a 1/10 of all that print.

    Page 91: “8. Easy distractibility, trouble focusing attention, tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or a conversation, often coupled with an ability to hyperfocus at times. The hallmark symptom of ADD. The ‘tuning out’ is quite involuntary… The often extraordinary ability to hyperfocus is also usually present, emphasizing the fact that this is a syndrome not of attention deficit but of attention inconsistency” – I very much relate. I don’t remember reading or hearing that ADD is a disorder of inconsistency of attention. I like this new (to me) wording.

    As I go through the pages about case studies, different people, their life circumstances, what they said, how their ADD manifests (I skip almost all), I wonder why does the author provide ALL THESE DETAILS to people who suffer from ADD symptoms: why not write LESS, provide way FEWER details and names and… oh, because the author needs to FILL IN a whole book. Yes, I am frustrated. Did I mention that I did not read a single book for … I think it is more like 7 years?

    More case studies, more people’s names, more details, skip, skip, ADD-in-marriage.. the impact of ADD on sexuality… interesting, but not interesting enough for me to read (much) about it… ADD-and-parenting- I am not going to bother with the latter because of the agenda I mentioned above.

    Page 170 already, all within an hour… I am definitely driven to distraction as I skip through Driven to Distraction. Here is something on page 172 about negotiating methods: “separate people from the problem. The idea here is to get people’s ego and pride disengaged from whatever the problem is so that the problem can be attacked” without the person feeling attacked. I like this, it is parallel to the principle behind not judging our own thoughts and feelings as good or bad, right or wrong, so to be able to deal with our issues and heal, best we can. If a person does not feel judged and attacked (by his/ her own self or by another person)- healing is possible and effective communication is possible.

    Page 176: “Make it clear that ADD is nobody’s fault. It is not Mom’s or Dad’s fault” – here is the agenda. If a child’s mother or father screams a lot, judges a lot.. hits their child… it’s not their fault that their child suffers from ADD symptoms? A child will suffer in some way because of an aggressive parent: some are inclined or predisposed (genetically perhaps) to develop tics (Tourette’s), some are so inclined to develop schizophrenia, many are inclined to develop ADD symptoms, but every child gets damaged by a parent’s repeated aggression. Also, there is no such thing as human damage that is not physical: all our experiences are physical. The word “mental”, when referring to damage or harm, means a physical damage that is not clearly visible or  detectable by medical tests. Regardless of visibility and medical detectability, all mental damage is  physical damage.

    Page 197 about learning disorders: “The pain of learning disorders resides…is in the disconnections one can suffer, a disconnection from language and from thoughts” – bingo, “disconnection” is the word I use in regard to my own cognitive difficulties/ learning disabilities: sometimes, not infrequently, I read a member’s post and I have to google a word: not a word I am not familiar with, but a word that I am familiar with… because it so happens that I lose the connection to what the word means. Also, as I try to understand a member’s post, to connect the details provided,  most often I have to reorganize the member’s post, to re-type it, so to make the connections needed to understand what’s in front of me.

    I will continue to read this part tomorrow. Seems like what I need to read about is about learning disabilities and how I can possibly improve this part in my life.



    Dear Reader:

    From the previous post/ from the book, paraphrased with quotes: 1) Will Power does not control our emotions, we can not will ourselves to feel this and to not feel that. We cannot stop feeling depressed by.. cheering up, or stop feeling anxious by..  sucking it up, 2) ADD “is a syndrome not of attention deficit but of attention inconsistency“- often spaced out/ tuned out, inattentive, but sometimes very, very focused (hyper focused) (*A not very related advice: Attack/ judge Problems, not People).

    My comments from the previous post, rephrased: (1) Children always suffer in some ways because of an aggressive parent: some are genetically predisposed perhaps to develop tics (Tourette’s Disorder), others are predisposed perhaps to develop schizophrenia. Many lose their ability to pay attention (ADD) as a result of parental aggression,  but every child gets damaged by parental aggression in one way or another, usually in multiple ways, (2) Everything we experience is physical, including the emotional and the mental: it’s just that the physical phenomena involved in the emotional and mental are not detectable by a medical diagnostic tool such as a blood test or an X-Ray.

    Before I get back to the book, I want to address ADD and Learning Disabilities: the two involve deficits in executive functions ( the ability to focus, to pay attention, to engage with a task, to follow instructions, working memory, mentally flexible/ seeing the bigger picture vs black-and-white, rigid thinking).

    On Learning Disabilities from Wikipedia: “a condition in the brain that causes difficulties comprehending or processing information.. some people can be more accurately described as having a “learning difference”, thus avoiding any misconception of being disabled…  People with learning disabilities generally have intelligence that is average or higher… The effects of having a learning disability or learning difference are not limited to educational outcomes: individuals with learning disabilities may experience social problems as well. Neuropsychological differences can affect the accurate perception of social cues with peers…

    “Learning disabilities fall into broad categories based on the four stages of information processing used in learning: input, integration, storage, and output. Many learning disabilities are a compilation of a few types of abnormalities occurring at the same time, as well as with social difficulties and emotional or behavioral disorders. Input- This is the information perceived through the senses, such as visual and auditory perception. Difficulties with visual perception can cause problems with recognizing the shape, position, or size of items seen… Difficulties with auditory perception can make it difficult to screen out competing sounds in order to focus on one of them…  Integration– This is the stage during which perceived input is interpreted, categorized, placed in a sequence, or related to previous learning… unable to put the facts together to see the ‘big picture.’… Storage– Problems with memory can occur with short-term or working memory, or with long-term memory. Most memory difficulties occur with one’s short-term memory, which can make it difficult to learn new material without more repetitions than usual…  Output– Information comes out of the brain either through words, that is, language output, or through muscle activity, such as gesturing, writing or drawing. Difficulties with language output can create problems with spoken language… (to)  put the thoughts into words before we speak… Difficulties with motor abilities can cause problems with gross and fine motor skills. People with gross motor difficulties may be clumsy, that is, they may be prone to stumbling, falling, or bumping into things…

    “Reading disorder is the most common learning disability. Of all students with specific learning disabilities, 70–80% have deficits in reading… A reading disability can affect any part of the reading process, including difficulty with accurate or fluent word recognition, or both”.

    I suffer from learning disabilities in all the above quoted forms. It is clear to me (and this is true in regard to many if not most mental diagnoses), that ADD and Learning Disabilities are two separate diagnoses but they are not two separate conditions. The two are one condition that has been academically divided into two for .. academic reasons, insurance reasons and therapeutic reasons.

    Back to the book: “Since ADD affects all areas of cognition, it will exacerbate any learning disability“- my comment: the two are the same condition; the separation of ADD and Learning Disabilities is an academic exercise. Within a person’s flesh and blood brain- it is the SAME condition.

    I skipped and read a bit more here and there from this book and I find it useless, and especially frustrating for a person who fits either the diagnosis of ADD or learning disabilities. It is not written with the ADD-reader in mind (making information simple and easy to follow, minimizing details and case studies.. and number of pages: the useful information in these 355 pages of this book would have made a good 2-10 pages read, says I).




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