How many ADD kids does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Can we go ride bikes?
I can joke about this because I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when I was really young. In an attempt to avoid the subject, I dove hungrily into school work to prove the diagnosis wrong. I felt like this diagnosis meant I was somehow behind my peers intellectually.
Here I am, 20 years later, and I have a slue of accomplishments to negate that ADD is a negative diagnosis. Not only from my own personal experiences, but from the research of others, I have found that ADD does not have to be treated with a medication.
The book “The Myth of the ADD Child,” by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., explains that throughout time, the progression of research has presented ADD as a negative diagnosis– as if these patients are lacking something. The initial names of this group of symptoms pointed to brain dysfunction, i.e. minimal brain damage. As information has been gathered over the last 80 years, the amount of diagnoses has grown exponentially.
The three main components of ADD could give most children a positive diagnosis. Hyperactivity, distraction, and impulsivity are the main symptoms of ADD. How many children do you know that aren’t hyperactive or impulsive? No wonder there has been an increase in diagnoses.
Regardless of the age-old debate on whether ADD is real or a myth, those who have struggled know better than anyone that these nagging symptoms are hard to overcome.
According to therapist Peg Snyder, Ph.D., the majority of those diagnosed with ADD are very intelligent. From my own experiences, I know this to be true. I got through school with high marks and managed to sail through two degrees without medicating my symptoms. In fact, I developed my own obsessive compulsive personality traits to offset my distractibility. I practiced reading and writing to the point of becoming more skilled than most of my peers.
The most influential aspect of my journey with ADD was the social aspect. With a mind that moved faster than my mouth, I was slow to counter the quips of my sassy peers. I stuttered and thus felt more unintelligent. I finally resorted to violence in order to create my revenge. Of course, this only added to the ADD theories behind my behavioral problems. I was overly sensitive, which is also a symptom of ADD. At this point in my life, I am still more sensitive than most my age, but I’m also a little farther along in many aspects. This isn’t an opportunity for me to stroke my ego so much as it is a testament for all those suffering with ADD that we are capable of just as much if not more than our “normal” peers.
Unfortunately, the way I dealt with my social issues created a lasting impact in a negative way. Sure, I was ahead when it came to academics, but this only intimidated my peers. On top of the intimidation, my sensitivity helped further dig the hole of social anxiety I ended up plunging into. I’ve always had great charisma with other, as I come from a long line of story-tellers and class clowns, but my social phobias gradually increased the gap. I was good at making friends, just not comfortable with it. A loner of sorts. I used to think this was some type of flaw too, until I realized that there is nothing wrong with enjoying quality vs. quantity on the friend front.
I’m sure I have only tapped the tip of personal growth concerning my past and future experiences with ADD, but I find solace in knowing I don’t have brain damage. I’m not stupid. I’m not somehow behind my peers in development. I’m just different. Unique. My thinking just takes a different route than most, but the way I see it is that I’m sure a lot of the great minds in America’s past were ADD.
Are you the next Einstein?