The Complexity and Superiority of Attention Deficit Disorder
The Complexity and Superiority of Attention Deficit Disorder
Here is something I am working on….
The Complexity and Superiority of Attention Deficit Disorder
At a desk, you sit as your skin quivers each time the clock “ticks”. The sound of the clock creates restlessness in your body as you become erotically hypersensitive. Your vision tunnels.
Hyper-focusing on the minute hand; time slows down – till a raindrop collides and bursts into the glass window beside you. Your senses ripple into your consciousness, still sensitive to the clock on the wall, you smell the damp maple walls that separate you from the trickling rain outside. Your senses dance to the exquisite harmony of nature. You can hear the individual droplets as they hit a variety of surfaces.
Each surface is like a specific instrument in an orchestra. The different sounds of the droplets condense into an illustrative symphony. You lose focus, and your mind wanders back to the mantra of the clock.
The second-hand ticks, you feel —more and more— vulnerable.
Vulnerable, to the intense power elicited from the clock.
It fills your inner organs. Causing back-blistering restlessness. You have just initiated a war. You versus everything.
Have you ever met someone who always plucked your last nerve; or remember that time in your childhood when you got so evocatively angry you didn’t know what to do with your hands or how to use the correct words to explain yourself? Imagine that gut sucking feeling x 10.
The core of your body is the magnet which grabs on to every last sensation not allowing you to retreat or ignore.
Sooner or later you have no choice, but to surrender.
An instant relief of impulsive — AAAAAAAHHHHHH! —Puts you in a state of frenzy.
This is a feeling many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can relate to. Unfortunately, our society views ADHD as a weakness. Causing families to feel embarrassed and vulnerable.
Unfortunately, our society views ADHD as a weakness. Causing families to feel embarrassed and vulnerable. Which makes them less likely to seek help and more likely to isolate their child.
Which may cause their child to feel unloved, weak and worthless.
Despite society’s contrary perspective on ADHD, such a child’s greatest so-called weaknesses could also be his or her greatest strengths. With the right tools, these weaknesses can become the greatest gift. However, to accomplish this, our community needs to be more aware of ADHD and Its positive attributes.
To then unlock these gifts associated with ADD/ADHD. The key is to provide the right tools to enhance the children’s abilities while also having ADHD.
Famous author and psychologist Dr. Edward Hallowell also has ADHD, and he explains ADHD as:
a[n] inherited neurological syndrome characterized by easy distractibility, low tolerance for frustration or boredom, a greater-than-average tendency to say or do whatever came to mind (called impulsivity in the diagnostic manual) and a predilection for situations of high intensity. — (Hallowell, 1994, preface p. x)
ADHD is neither a disease nor the end of the world, yet it is the beginning of greatness.
Dr. Hallowell wrote his books to inform people about what ADHD is and then how to manage it. He also believes ADHD is “greatly in need of detection and treatment. Untreated, leaves millions of children and adults misunderstood and unnecessarily floundering, even incapacitated” (Hallowell, preface p. Xi).
Unnoticed and unexplained cases a chain reaction of avoidable illnesses to emerge later in life.
These children living in a blind world. Feelings of invisibility and worthlessness shade their true inner-self-esteem. Hidden forever.
I believe if society focused on the intrinsic learning capabilities of all children and explored ADHD in the classroom. Their implemented research, could uncover the underlying secrets of ADHD. These secrets are the keys to opening the golden gates that once caged the brilliant world of these special children.
According to Dr. Hallowell (1994), short-term focusing problems, disorganization, and in need of constant stimulus. However, those are only a few of the many symptoms of ADHD.
The Different Combinations
Some people perceive ADHD as one specific disorder, and anyone who has ADHD is often classified as any other person who has ADD.
A few that Hallowell (1994) presents are:
1. ADD without hyperactivity
2. ADD with anxiety
3.ADD with depression
4.ADD with other learning disorders
5.ADD with agitation or mania
6. ADD with impulsivity (p.152).
The question remains, “Does ADD have different severities?” (Hallowell, 1996, p. 8)
According to the book, Answers to Distractions, a sequel – Q&A of his previous book Driven to Distraction –
Dr. Hallowell (1996) answers that important question: “Yes, ADD exists on a spectrum from mild to moderate to severe…” (p. 8-9). He also claims “mild” is like being >normal based on society’s values), and severe is if the child is unstable or need of hospitalization.
Many people don’t know the differences because of their hasty generalization or assumption that all ADHD sufferers are the
same; therefore, children are not accurately supported. Besides generalizing all ADHD symptoms, another uninformed person might believe there is.
ADHD Doesn’t Exist
I argue otherwise. I live a life full of restlessness and stress, yet I have learned how to accomplish things that others can and couldn’t do.
It is achievable with practice. However, since society lacks knowledge about this disorder, some unlucky kids are unable to obtain the help they need to succeed.
This causes these children to feel weak and sometimes end up giving up their dreams.
Survival and coping techniques
The ways a child with ADHD can learn adequately in a classroom, according to Dr. Hallowell (1995), is to make sure the teacher knows the child has ADHD. Leaving no room for surprise when the child goofs off or moves constantly around class room. Not only that, but the teachers can then accommodate that child’s needs.
Another key element is that a teacher should know ADHD children will not volunteer, but they are rather “intuitive” instead. Afraid to volunteer because they fear they may be wrong.
Some teachers may lack enthusiasm when teaching in a classroom, and boredom often leads to distraction and lack of attention. (Hallowell, 1995, p. 225)
ADHD Comes With its Weaknesses
But those weaknesses can become a person’s greatest gift. According to Hallowell (1995), a child and adult psychiatrist and writer of best-selling ADHD books, “there is also a ‘gifted’ side to ADHD that packs the power to propel the child or adult who has it to success, even greatness.
It’s all about tapping into the ‘mirror traits’ of the negative symptoms associated with ADHD, which can become amazing assets” (see Figure 1). The negative traits when channeled can unleash a dynamic, creative, energetic spirit in an individual which can lead that person to be innovative and successful.
Learning disabilities and ADHD traits do not limit the success a person may achieve; instead, it’s the society that impacts a person’s perspective of him or herself and makes him or her think he or she cannot succeed.
Thom Hartmann, a psychotherapist, agrees that society intimidates and pressures children with ADHD into doing things they aren’t capable of doing. Includes forcing children to sit still in a classroom or to a follow a specific career path that may not be right for them and their talents.
When the Edison-gene children [a term Hartmann uses to describe ADHD children] aren’t recognized for their gifts but instead are told that they’re disordered, broken, or failures. A great emotional and spiritual wounding occurs.
This wounding can bring about problems later in life, which then can impact our society. (Hartmann, 2003, p. 5)
Negative ADD-Associated Trait
Can’t stay on point
Accompanying, Positive Trait
Sees connections others miss
Totally involved in what he/she is doing
Persistent, won’t give up
Shows flashes of brilliance
The Edison Gene
Author Thom Hartmann teamed up with many different scientists from different fields of  research and professions. They concluded that ADHD children are not best suited for public school education because those schools are “set up for children whose brains are wired to make them good workers in the structural environment of a factory or office cubicle,“ (2003, p.5).
According to Hartmann (2003), ADHD children are wired to become innovators, adventurers, small-business owners, brilliant people and tycoons (p.5).
A list of successful people with ADHD
Famous actors and entertainers with ADD/ADHD: Will Smith, Jim Carey, Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bill Cosby.
Famous athletes with ADD/ADHD: Michael Jordan, Bruce Jenner, Magic Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Terry Bradshaw, Babe Ruth, Greg Louganis, Vince Lombardi, Pete Rose, and [Michael Phelps]
Famous artists with ADD/ADHD: Pablo Picasso, Ansel Adams, Vincent Van Gogh, and Salvador Dali.
Famous authors with ADD/ADHD: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Leo Tolstoy, Robert Frost, and Edgar Allen Poe.
Famous business people with ADD/ADHD: Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Malcolm Forbes, Andrew Carnegie, William Randolph Hearst, Henry Ford, FW Woolworth, and Walt Disney.
Famous inventors with AD/ADHD: Henry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, and Alexander Graham Bell.
Famous musicians with ADD/ADHD: John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Cher, Buddy Rich, Beethoven, Mozart, and Handel.
Famous politicians with ADD/ADHD: US: President John F. Kennedy, President Thomas Jefferson, President Abraham Lincoln, President Dwight Eisenhower, President George Bush, and President George W. Bush.
Famous scientists with ADD/ADHD: Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Nicolai Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Galileo, and Sir Isaac Newton
Other famous people with ADD/ADHD: Eleanor Roosevelt, General George Patton, Norman Schwartzkopf, Christopher Columbus, Socrates, Napoleon, Nostradamus, and Evil Knievel
Figure 2 (Rougeaux, 2011)
In the scheme of things, people who perceive ADHD as a weakness do not realize that ADHD makes the weak stronger. The list below (see figure 2) comprises some famous successful people with ADHD. Even though they have ADHD, it does not impact their ability to become successful.
However, the person with ADHD that I will emphasize is Thomas Edison, as I explore how ADHD affected him and as I explore how he “mirrored” his bad attributes into good ones with the help of his mother.
According to Thom Hartmann (2003) and his book The Edison Gene, “Thomas Edison was expelled from school for behavior that today would label him as having Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)” (inner cover). In addition, Hartmann (2003) compares ADHD to an “Edison gene”, which means a person with ADHD are, “to be natural: explorers, inventors, discoverers, [and] leaders” (p. 5). Thomas Edison, for instance, is the creator of the light bulb which means all the lights surrounding us today originate from Thomas Edison’s work and ADHD mind. However, the innovation didn’t happen overnight. It took about 100 different tries, 99 of which weren’t a failure but just one step closer to creating light.
In contrary —
Edison found 99 ways how not to create electric light.
Optimism is key in the life of an ADHD child, and knowing we can succeed and have the support we need is crucial.
Thomas Edison would not have had the ability to be without the help of his mother. She gave him the support he needed to succeed.
I would not be where I am today without the support of my family. My mother incorporated different techniques to help me prosper. After reading a boatload of books, she mastered how to help me succeed at home.
My mother also read, therapy might help strengthen a child’s emotional weaknesses.
So, when I was a child she let me try a therapy session, maybe they could help me cope with my ADHD by talking with me.
But rather, instead of helping me learn how to strengthen my abilities, they were telling my mother how to fix me; in addition, they broke our code of conduct by telling my mom everything I said during the session.
My mother responded with the words “fix what? My child is not damaged, and why are you telling me what my child told you isn’t that confidential?” I never went to another therapy session again. Whoops.
Afterward, as I got older it got harder for my mom to help me with my homework; therefore, she enrolled me in a tutoring center called “Huntington” where they taught me how to learn. People with ADHD are not stupid. They can learn; however, it takes longer for them.
Based on my experience, the more knowledge I gain, the faster it sticks.
Yet, childhood was the hardest because it’s what sets a sense of structure to your life.
I was consistently sent to the office for being noisy, bothering other students, acting like a class clown, all behaviors related to my ADHD.
Two embarrassing examples are me acting like a pig in the middle of the classroom and ripping off the head of my teachers stuffed animal during show-and-tell (her father gave it to her before he passed away in the military). –Again, Whoops
In reality, though, ADHD is just the opposite of antisocial; I was a very likable kid. I played on a soccer team, and every day I played with friends. My outbursts of energy were just too disruptive for the teachers to handle. Yet, in contrast, my outbursts of energy turned me into the fastest sprinter on the Montgomery College soccer team, and my social abilities helped me become an ambassador for my college.
Huntington Learning Center and my mother taught me how to succeed; thus, I am a 4.0 college student with many friends, and soon to be a part of the honors society.
In addition, my weaknesses as a child were distractibility, forgetfulness, impulsivity, and inability to control my unpredictable thoughts, and my “mirror traits” today are the ability to focus on everything, to focus fully on activities, to be innovative, outspoken, and to invariably have a mania of genius responses. Those are just a few; if I were to list all my traits that once restrained me, it would be virtually impossible. Besides, with a little extra push, nobody can hold anyone down forever.
ADHD is like a hot air balloon; all you have to do is cut loose the excess weight of negative thoughts, and once you do that, you’re flying to success and nothing can bring you down. As you get higher into the sky, the winds pick up, and you’re flying past the people who once held you down, and before you know it, you’re flying through life with ease. The sky’s the limit unless your goal is to become an astronaut; then there’s no limit at all. The only limiting factor is oneself. In addition, there are a few steps to success once people with ADHD figure out they are not weak.
Through nurture, the child’s abilities are enhanced, and then all hell breaks loose, and endless possibilities emerge.
Nurture & Coping
Helping a child cope with his or her ADHD takes a lot of effort and time. This may cause parents to hand over their dirty work to a professional. Yet a parent’s support trumps any amount of money spent on a certified individual.
There is no price tag on a child when he or she enters the world. A parent signed up to be a parent; it is a full-time job, and there are no shortcuts. Society needs to understand that it is not a matter of trying to fix an ADHD child since the child is not damaged.
It is a matter of being aware of the gifted attributes the child possesses. ADHD is nothing more than a different personality, which does not coincide with the mainstream acts of society and the norms of society’s standards. Therefore, the key factor is helping a child cope with society standards.
Nutrition & Diet
According to the book Healing ADD by Daniel Amen (2001), M.D. and child and adult psychiatrist, diet is important, as some foods may affect people with ADD negatively. It is important to purchase foods without preservatives, synthetic food dye and artificial sweeteners; because these foods seem to heighten ADHD symptoms (chap. 18).
My teacher noticed I was behaving in class, so she would ask me to do certain tasks like taking papers to the office.
When I came back, I was refreshed and ready to learn. Without conscious effort I focused more. It was a way of reinforcing good behavior. By focusing, it would mean I could have a walk. I did not realize the conditioning to sit in class.
Years later, I asked my mom why I liked my history class. She explained because I could take breaks I was more relaxed and attentive. To this day, I remember everything about medieval times.
Key to Success
The most import key when helping an ADHD child succeed, according to Amen (2001), is “optimizing the ADD life” and teaching ADHD children to become optimistic. This may seem cliché, but a happy environment is, in fact, a happy kid. However, an environment that contains negative role models, can influence the ADHD child or any child.
A child pays attention to everything, and how a parent acts reflects on the child, no matter what it is. Parents are the role models. If the child sees, a parent arguing, yelling, and being lazy, the child is likely to mimic that behavior. Amen (2001) states that parents who have a close bond with their ADHD children, the child will feel a sense of comfort.
So, heightening their behavior skills will be easier to accomplish. This is important, and it helps the ADD parenting process. In addition, building trust is important, when a child wants to share something, a parent needs to “be a good listener,” sit down, and listen. Even if what the child is saying makes the parent mad, this builds trust (p.278). Amen (2001) states that important point when raising a child with ADD is to “[b]e careful of the nicknames and phrases you use to describe your children. Children live up to the labels we give them” (2001, p.279). That’s why it’s important for a parent, according to Amen (2001), to not only notice the good qualities rather than the bad but also to make sure the child knows they notice. Recognition is crucial; it helps children with ADHD recognize what they like about themselves; instead of, living in a childhood where neglect and no recognition is present, which can lead to their unique superior capabilities to go unnoticed (p.278).
In addition, when raising children with ADHD, parents should give them options to choose from encouraging them to make their own decisions. This aspect is important because ADHD children face challenges when having to make their own decisions on tasks (i.e letting the child pick out their own clothes, make his or her own lunch) among other things, certainly goes a long way.
A Reward System
A parent should find something the child loves so that can help condition the child into certain habits (Amen, 2001, p. 281).
When I was younger we had a board up with chores it felt like a game more than chores.
Disciplining an ADHD child effectively is a hard concept to grasp; since ADHD children tend to have extreme temper tantrums. Author Amen (2001) recommends that’s parents do not “yell at, hit, or berate an ADHD child. The more intense you get, the more they will bring the animal in you” (p.279).
When I was younger, I would slam my head on everything around me, scratch the skin off my arms, and bite myself. However, this is all normal for some "textbook” children with ADHD, and, according to my psychology professor, causing pain on a second place on your body diminishes the first pain. In addition, children with ADHD have different sensitivities. Such as having a lower tolerance for emotional triggered pain.
So, when a parent becomes angry, it causes the child’s emotions to skyrocket, since, children with ADHD have a low emotional tolerance; they hurt themselves, to replace the emotional irritable impulsive distress they may have with physical pain.
When this happens, according to psychologists Amen, Hartmann, and Hallowell, there’s nothing a parent can do, but let the children lash out. If children with ADHD get distressed and hurts themselves, and the parent does not react, then the child can recognize hurting themselves will not change the punishment – they are still in trouble.
When an ADHD child is angry, it’s scary, but according to Amen, “don’t allow guilt to cause you to back down on what you know is right” and don’t let parenting guilt get the best of you. When a child with ADHD breaks a house rule, it’s important to have a familiar response to a specific disciplinary action, or according to Amen, “the cycle [will start] all over again” (2001, p.279). So, if a parent keeps rules straightforward and does not fall into guilt, the child’s behavior can improve.
Since society does not have a clear view of ADHD, it may spew negative thoughts towards people with ADD. However, if children with ADHD learn to recognize that they are genetically superior, he or she can learn to be the driver of his or her own life, and no one can tell them to go left or right.
Once the child with ADHD learns that there are no limitations to what they can do. The child with ADHD can strive to live and succeed, and they won’t turn back.
Reflecting back to the visual endeavors of an ADHD child, and after the impulses release and memories flood the brain of the young man mentioned in the introduction, the optimism gained from strong nurturing gives him the ability to realize he wants to be a musician. This man’s name is Beethoven. Just like Beethoven, children with ADHD all over the world are looking for recognition and a stronger understanding.
A fraction of realization of his or her potential for success in a child with ADHD can go a long way. It can mean the difference between a very depressing unfulfilling life or a life saturated with opportunities given by the people who believed and supported the child. Therefore, society must understand and increase their awareness of ADHD, and the superiority of that inborn gene. This is the key to open the golden gates that once caged these children. Once the gate is opened endless possibilities emerge.
Amen, D. G., M.D. (2001). Healing ADD the breakthrough program that allows you to see and heal the 6 types of ADD (Paperback ed.). New York, NY: Berkley.
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