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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Stylistic changes may be coming here

--posted by Tony Garcia on 8/02/2006

Adults are more likely than children to realize that they might have ADD/ADHD. However, because the very nature of the condition makes a person likely to be poor at self-observation, it is important to seek a professional diagnosis.
And there's more...
The behavior of people with ADHD goes beyond occasional fidgeting, disorganization, and procrastination. For them, performing tasks can be so hard that it interferes with their ability to function at work, at home, at school, and socially.

* In adults the problem is often an inability to structure their lives and plan simple daily tasks. Thus, inattentiveness and restlessness often become secondary problems.
Very true.
Other symptoms observed in adults include inattention, impulsivity, and restlessness as well as frequently accompanying behavioral, learning, and emotional problems.

Adults with hyperactive-impulsive symptoms feel restless and constantly "on the go" as they try to do multiple tasks at once. They are often perceived as not thinking before they act or speak.

"In adults, it's a much more elaborate disorder than in children," says Russell Barkley, Ph.D., a psychiatry professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. "It's more than paying attention and controlling impulses. The problem is developing self-regulation." This self-control affects an adult's ability not just to do tasks, but to determine when they need to be done, says Barkley. "You don't expect 4- or 5-year-olds to have a sense of time and organization, but adults need goal-directed behavior—they need help in planning for the future and remembering things that have to get done."
Please, do go on.
For adults the most common symptom is a sense of underachieving. According to Hallowell, "No matter how well you are doing, you always have a sense of missing a lot in work, school, jobs, relationships. That is what most often finally brings adults in for diagnosis and treatment."
You got that right.
The Hallowell Center identifies the following indicators to consider when ADHD is suspected and recommends that individuals with at least twelve of the following behaviors since childhood—provided these symptoms are not associated with any other medical or psychiatric conditions—consider professional diagnosis:

1. A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one's goals (regardless of how much one has actually accomplished). (My wife has been crucial in keeping me grounded on this...keeping me focused on the step-by-step accomplishments.)
2. Difficulty getting organized.
3. Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started. (Captain Do-It-Tomorrow here to save the day...later.)
4. Many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow through. (I used to think this was overconfidence in my ability to 'multi-task' but there is an incredible difference that is difficult to articulate.)
5. A tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark. (Some of you may think this applies to me, but it is not a 'tendency'. It does happen, as with almost everyone, every now and then.)
6. A frequent search for high stimulation. (In every aspect of my life, this holds...even with the mundane. Counting cars passing by to pass time is not good enough. I try to track in my head the number of vehicles, cars vs trucks, one color vs the rest, etc. And when I miscount, lose my place or get distracted I feel I have failed...see #1 above.)
7. An intolerance of boredom. (The main reason I got a PDA was to give me something to do while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for the bus, etc. If there was 60 or more seconds of 'waiting' then the PDA came out.)
8. Easy distractibility; trouble focusing attention, tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or conversation, often coupled with an inability to focus at times. (You should see my drafts folder sometime...I have posts that 'I'm going to finish' from last fall, winter and spring.)
9. Often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent. (So I have been told many times...I think they're full of it, but they see me more objectively than I see myself.)
10. Trouble in going through established channels and following "proper" procedure.
11. Impatient; low tolerance of frustration.
12. Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as an impulsive spending of money. (This has been one of the few aspects I have been able to actually control.)
13. Changing plans, enacting new schemes or career plans and the like; hot-tempered.
14. A tendency to worry needlessly, endlessly; a tendency to scan the horizon looking for something to worry about, alternating with attention to or disregard for actual dangers. (Yep...and this has led to some pretty poor decisions in my past. Thankfully, my wife is strong as a rock and able to get us through.)
15. A sense of insecurity. (Some of the perceived ego of mine is reality...some of it, admittedly is a facade during my insecure moments.)
16. Mood swings, mood instability, especially when disengaged from a person or a project. (I think Marty can atest to this one.)
17. Physical or cognitive restlessness. (Both...in large quantities. That's why I get an average of 4 hours of sleep.)
18. A tendency toward addictive behavior. (I recognize that and struggle with this one in many facets. Have you ever noticed I do not drink at all? This is why. In high school and the military I lied and said it was because I was allergic. Now I lie and say I don't like the taste. Truth is I had an 18-ouncer, pounded it really, when I turned 21. It did nothing for me or to me and I was craving more of the taste. Poverty and homelessness prevented me then.)
19. Chronic problems with self-esteem.
20. Inaccurate self-observation. (Yeah, but who doesn't? This one doesn't count.)
21. Family history of AD/HD or manic depressive illness or depression or substance abuse or other disorders of impulse control or mood. (I'm finding out that this is very predominant in my bloodline.)
So, why do I mention this here publicly?

Not for sympathy...none is needed.

Not for immunity...that is stupid.

But as a warning to the readers. You may see a change in style on this blog. It may be a drastic change. I don't know. But this is why...and if you like the changes, great. If you don't, well, sorry. I won't be taking medication on the weekends so maybe the old style will be there then. And if I get a full time radio gig where I can quit the office world I will dump the medication as well.

The biggest reason I bring this up is that in going through all of the examinations and research and everything else for the past 6 months or so I have discovered a few things that I want to uncover.

There is a huge misconception of what Adult ADD actually is. In fact, the misconception starts in the name "Attention Deficit Disorder". It quite literally is only a different way of processing information and mental stimulation. Most people are able to think in a very linear manner. Hence the ability to remain focused, etc. ADD adults think in many different directions, hence the impatience and the constant drive for stimulation.

Even the websites dedicated to the "cause" of ADD do a poor job of educating anyone. They seem to want to include everyone and it makes it difficult to learn and properly assess anything.

THAT is the reason for this posting. All of the bold face items above seem "normal" on their own. Even maybe a few of them together seem "normal". The sheer number of them is what becomes very intrusive and a big obstacle in the "normal" world. Office settings, for example, are very difficult to survive in with all of these 'tendencies'.

BTW, I still think that ADD in children should go untreated until no earlier than high school!

So, please, if you have questions about any of it feel free to ask...send me an e-mail, comment...whatever. If you have anecdotes or personal stories, share them. Let's hear it.



Blogger bobby_b said...

Pre-teen son had all sorts of problems up to sixth grade. Teachers kept saying have him tested for ADD. I poo-poo'ed it all - nothing wrong with him, everyone has problems paying attention and concentrating. Finally gave in, he's diagnosed with ADD, gets meds, and now he's doing much better in school, and is happier because he doesn't feel like a dunce.

Move on to older son - class clown, 140+ IQ, erratic grades -everyone sees success with younger bro, so he asks to go in. I poo-poo it again - it's normal, shouldn't medicate for goofing off. But, give in, they say yeah, he has ADD too, he gets meds, gets straight A's three semesters in a row, happier, more self-confident.

I'd disagree with the "not before high school" part. Why not save a kid's self-esteem in the age where it counts the most, if you can?

So, now, here I am. Didn't want to medicate them for things that I thought were "normal" - but it turns out they weren't "normal" for everyone, just for me. Been hearing "you're not living up to your potential" since third grade. Score 14-15 out of 16 in most of the screens. I'm going in in a few weeks. Adderol, here we come.

August 02, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

Two things.
1) One of the big problems I found in the entire topic is "normal". All of the tendencies ARE normal. All of the tendencies are found in "normal" people. My wife's biggest contention with the initial diagnosis at first was that very thing. The REAL problem is the QUANTITY and degree of those tendencies. It doesn't mean someone with ADD is abnormal, they simply have all of those combined obstacles from the 'linear thought processing' society. Nothing wrong one way or another.

2) The two reasons I say that kids should not be medicated prior to high school (or maybe junior high) is the high number of misdiagnosis in kids and the higher tendency towards substance abuse among people who were medicated at younger ages. It was a bit of a hit to my own self-esteem to be told that I'm not performing to my potential, but I see what my nephews are missing out on by not experiencing the rambunctiousness they have sacrificed. They are performing, but they are not really experiencing. As an adult (or even a teen) we must perform. Experiencing work is less important. For a child that is devloping I think experiencing and exploring interests are crucial. A child with ADD will know what they are interested in. Turns out I was interested in baseball cards and statistics of all kinds, I was interested in broadcasting and games (intrigued by the rules, similarities and differences between them). Had I been medicated and instead performing I would have been able to explore my aptitude for math and science and maybe continued studying those fields into college and as a profession. I may not have realized my passions (broadcasting, etc).

August 02, 2006  
Blogger Marty said...

Misdiagnosis of ADHD is very easy at the younger ages. It is not natural to force children to sit for 7+ hours a day in a classroom. Doing so will cause ADHD-like symptoms in almost any child.

August 02, 2006  
Blogger Shawn Sarazin said...

I would be diagnosed with this today. I'm aware of what I've got going on, and have found ways to channel my energy. I get a ton of stuff done despite this "issue."

Kids should not be medicated for it. Cripes. It's a way out for the teachers, is all. Learn to control and motivate these kids; don't turn them into zombies.

August 03, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

To assauge what seems to be some skepticism...

The deeper thing is that this is not just a laundry list of tendencies, if you have a number of them then you have it. It is also a matter of degree. One of the doctors I spoke with said that sometimes the degree of tendencies is so strong that a doctor looking too narrowly at the tendencies may initially think of OCD. In some of the initial tests people with high degrees of ADD can appear as bi-polar instead. In my case I 'pegged the scales' on most of the tests which is why it took so many appointments, test, evaluations, interviews, etc. (including interviewing and obtaining observations from family) before they were ready to medicate.

One of the main misconceptions is that "these are all normal behaviors". Yes, they are. But they are in smaller degrees and in smaller quantities. Disorganization, just to take one of the tendencies, is a characteristic of people. For most is it the issue (and thus 'normal' and able to be control). With ADD is it a consequence of different mental stimulation...thus making it difficult to control.

Most disorganized people are simply not organizing anything. Their desk has no rhyme or reason. They might just leave things about. Filing...a foreign concept.

For me (and from what I understand this is common with ADD) disorganization is the result of too much. My notes, sources and articles are unfiled for weeks at a time. This is because I don't know if things should go in the "topic" drawer of folders or the "week by week" drawer of folders or the "got it from the blog" drawer of folders. I do not think in a linear way and one set of folders was initially not stimulating enough. Every reorganization leads to the same thing. (My wife had to organize the bills and files as a result.)

But there is more on top of that. ADD is also about those tendencies NOT being a result of environment. In other words, my file dilemma may be common for some non-ADD people in one environment...work OR home OR school OR whereever else. For me (and other ADD people) it happens regardless of the environment.

Understand the other major misconception that drove me to write this post. There is nothing to actually "suffer" by having ADD. There is nothing abnormal about ADD. It is a minority condition of the human existence...like being left-handed. Left-handed people are not "abnormal" and do not suffer for being left-handed. They have to adapt to the society run by a majority of right-handed people. That adaptation may cause 'suffering' of some sort, but not the condition of being left-handed.

ADD is a diagnosis of a different mental process for the input, output and activity of the brain. Because of that it is very difficult to survive in a society created by non-ADD. It is almost analogous to left-brain and right-brain people. If society were set up nearly exclusively for right-brain people then the left-brain people would struggle severely. Those of you who are not artistic in the broad sense (write music, real poetry, paint, etc) imagine if that was the only way to survive. That is what the society is like for ADD people.

For some, simply adapting is an option. For others they are not terribly bothered. (If my full time job were broadcasting I would not need to worry about the obstacles.) Some have it to the degree that medication is a more viable (not the only) route to survival.

I'm glad you commented because the entire point of this posting was awareness. Your skepticism helps focus the responses towards the misconceptions being perpetuated by many (both ADD advocates and skeptics).

August 03, 2006  
Blogger bobby_b said...


Only time for one comment:


Not even close. I watched both boys like a hawk when they started. I asked them how they felt differently. There is no "drugged flat" effect. None.

Jesu Cristo, man, they're taking speed! Ritalin, Adderol, dextrometh - talk about alert kids! But, controlled alert, not zipping along the ceiling.

The "zombie" fear was exactly why I resisted so long. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out that "zombie" is a comment that usually indicates a lack of personal contact with the issue - like, me, before they were diagnosed.

August 04, 2006  

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