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ADD, ADHD, Will it Get Your Attention or Not?

I’m not quite sure how to start this blog today. The road map is a little fuzzy as psychologists will attest to ADD “Attention Deficit Disorder”, and ADHD “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” as a challenge to get your arms around. We’ll call these disorders, “Disabilities” as they would fall under the ADA or “American with Disabilities Act of 1990” if diagnosed and recorded. For a person with this disability it’s a problem of not being able to focus, being overactive, not being able to control behavior, or a combination of all three. A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD would mean these symptoms would be out of the normal range for a person’s age or development. The question being “What is Normal?" It’s further defined as “A neurological condition involving the under activity in the frontal cortex of the brain which is responsible for the regulation of: Attention, Impulse Control, and Motor Activity”. So as a Supervisor, HR Professional, Teacher or Parent what do we need to know to understand these disorders?

The symptoms are generally evident before the age of 7. Boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with either ADD or ADHD. Fact is; it is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children. To be clear on this, Parents and teachers do not cause this. There is more and more information available regarding this disability. This disorder takes off in two directions: ADD “Attention Deficit Disorder”, and ADHD which is similar and adds Hyperactivity to the mix. The ADD sufferer tends to be less disruptive, and typically has low self-esteem. This is due in part to chastisement and criticism from unknowing adults, teachers, peers, or supervisors. There is a lot going on in their heads. They are inattentive because everything gets in their way. The ADD sufferer has keen senses and is easily distracted by sounds, smells, touch, or sight. One time it was explained to me like this. “If a fly landed on your desk you might swoosh it away, for the person with ADD it’s like a 747 jet landed on his desk”. Paying attention to detail is not even on the scale, or even paying attention for that matter. The result is real friction in a classroom and at home. As an adult with ADD the results are more acute, functioning on the job with peers or even holding a job becomes a major hurdle. Now let’s add Hyperactivity to this. This person cannot sit still, they are very impulsive, with sometimes uncontrollable or unreasonable behavior, often acting out to gain attention, cannot wait for his turn, acting before thinking, and they cannot complete a task before jumping into another. This is a lifelong event. This disability as we know it can never be outgrown. In time and with understanding it becomes manageable. Behavioral therapy is used by psychologists to teach children along with parents, and teachers, healthy behavior and how to manage disruptive behaviors. Asking questions like “What are you doing? What should you be doing?” In some cases it can be partially controlled by medication.

My purpose here is not to cover all of the symptoms or all of the answers, but to challenge all of us to become more familiar with this disability, as it becomes an ever bigger part of our lives, and that we are able to be more attentive to it. We need to develop an awareness, and understanding that would allow us to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem at home, school, or on the job. For more information on this topic please visit; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002518/#adam_001551.disease.causes


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