A.e.a. / A.d.d.

If you have ADD, Welcome Aboard! I am blessed with ADD and enjoy every minute of it.

Approximately three to six percent of the American population is believed to have ADD. ADD stands for “Attention Deficit Disorder.”

My belief is that ADD is misnamed. Instead, it should be named "Attention Expansion Advantage" (AEA). People with AEA/ADD have certain mental and physical characteristics that give them distinct advantages. These same characteristics also present several drawbacks. I believe the condition was named by focusing on the drawbacks and completely overlooks the advantages. AEA/ADD people are not normal. They can rarely be controlled. Thus, normal (non-ADD) people have labeled ADD people with the "Disorder" tag. The term "Disorder" being defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as a "disturbance of the normal physical or mental health."

People with AEA/ADD are very special.

AEA/ADD people can and do perform remarkable things, when they understand their advantages and utilize them, and understand the drawbacks and overcome them. For example, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, Henry Ford, Mozart, Galileo, and Winston Churchill, were believed to have AEA/ADD. Terry Bradshaw, Robin Williams, Magic Johnson, Henry Winkler, and Mohammed Ali are also believed to have it. (I personally conversed with Mohammed Ali for three hours and was privileged to see how special his mind worked.) They were and still are very special people BECAUSE they have AEA/ADD.

Physical characteristics of AEA/ADD.

People with AEA/ADD do not have the filters normal people have that restrict the volume and capacity of the brain to receive input from the five basic senses. Smell, Sight, Touch, Hearing, and Taste. AEA/ADD people hear, taste, smell, feel, and see things that normal people do not. It can be said that ADD/AEA people do not have an attention deficit. Instead, their attention is expanded, because AEA/ADD people are far more attuned to their surroundings. They receive and process much more information through the five senses. As an example, I understand that a normal person can hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 Hz. An AEA/ADD person might hear sounds between 10 and 30,000 Hz. This relative difference is true for the other four senses as well. They also have more difficulty blocking out input from the five senses. For example, it is much harder for ADD/AEA people to ignore noises that normal people can ignore, or do not even hear.

In addition, the brains of AEA/ADD people operate much faster than those of other people, estimates range from two to three times faster. For one thing their brains have to operate faster to process all of the additional input they are receiving from the five senses. In fact, their brains seek constant input. Their brains are almost always on full throttle. Consequently, AEA/ADD people appear to have much higher and longer lasting energy levels.

AEA/ADD people are most often very intelligent. But their intelligence is not always readily apparent. Albert Einstein had to take the fifth grade over again. AEA/ADD people are most often very impulsive, because their brains naturally circumvent the “rational” part of their brain that restricts clear thoughts by considering the input of others. The impulsive conclusions that AEA/ADD people so readily make are virtually always very accurate, and are frequently outside the comprehension of normal people. AEA/ADD people then frequently quickly act on their very astute conclusions and these “impulsive” actions most always create uncomfortable, reactive, and unfortunately retaliatory reactions by the normals who do not understand what is really taking place. Since the normals constitute about 95% of the population they outnumber the AEA/ADD people and we ADD/AEAers are told we are disruptive and that we have a disorder, because of their negative reactions to our impulsive conclusions. As an example, I used my ADD to quickly (impulsively) grab two passengers in my car before a very likely accident occurred to keep them in their seats upon impact. This was before seat belts. I was the driver. I managed to avoid the other car that ran the red light. The impact did not occur. I would have clearly saved their lives upon impact, but they both reacted angrily at my impulsive action. To this day they have never accepted that the other car ran a red light and my swerving missed that car by only inches. They only remember my quick arm pinning them against their seats.

However, when AEA/ADD people are able to use their exceptional information gathering capabilities, because of their faster, less restricted, ability to process this additional information, and they are able to channel their impulsiveness, they can present their remarkable conclusions and results to the normals in a way that will be readily accepted.

Sometimes AEA/ADD people will feel down, because of the frustrations of dealing with the normal, slower world, which can be troublesome if they let these frustrations get to them. However, AEA/ADD people frequently bounce back to their normal energetic levels.

It is also my experience that AEA/ADD is passed down directly from parents to their children. We have found that a vast majority of AEA/ADD people has, at least, one parent who also has it, whether they know or admit it. This is a blessing, because this gives ADD/AEA children, at least, one parent who can easily relate to them by operating at their same speed.

Blessings of having AEA/ADD.

AEA/ADD people operate in a mindset that is outside the world of normal people. Consequently, they constantly think out of the box. AEA/ADD people see more of the world and are able to process the additional information to see the truth in things that normal people frequently overlook. They are very creative and constantly take themselves, their thoughts, and their ideas places that normal people rarely know exist. AEA/ADD people want to be trailblazers and they most often are. They are very adept at reading other people, especially in one on one personal interactions. AEA/ADD people can recognize, understand and organize extremely complex ideas, concepts, and processes. They have an extremely sensitive, very acute and very accurate sixth sense. Their hunches and intuition are remarkable, and are almost scary at times.

They frequently have spurts of boundless energy, and then they like to hibernate. They have the unusual ability to hyper focus, and do so for long periods of time. By hyper focus I mean they can direct their entire mind and body on complex, yet specific activities and get into zones of concentration that are very remarkable. This hyper focus produces spectacular achievements. Thomas Edison was legendary for his spurts of hyper focus. He tested over 5,000 different light filament materials, before he finally found the one that worked. They can think extremely fast on their feet and react faster than most people. They can also conduct multiple activities at the same time. This is called multitasking.

In summary, AEA/ADD people are blessed with the ability to receive additional information through their senses, they are able to process all of this additional information and reach accurate conclusions very quickly, and they have the intelligence, energy, focus, and motivation to go places and create things that normal people are most likely not aware of.

Drawbacks of AEA/ADD as seen by normal people.

In the eyes of normal people, AEA/ADD people have the following impediments that provided the basis to call it a "Disorder." AEA/ADD people cannot be controlled. (They can be convinced, but not controlled) They can be fidgety and impatient, especially in confined meetings, like school classes (because they get bored). AEA/ADD people appear to be disorganized (invariably messy). They appear to be easily distracted, (because they react to sensory information not perceived by others). They appear to have difficulty focusing on anything for very long (because they get bored). But they also get into zones where it is difficult to interrupt them. They appear to frequently forget to complete things (like completing paperwork), or forget about important dates and events (like meetings). They can have brilliant ideas but often forget about them later.

They can be difficult to talk to, because they frequently interrupt normal people and sometimes even finish their sentences, and they regularly bounce from subject to subject. They appear to be very impulsive and frequently do or say things that are out of the norm. They frequently address the truth in things, and appear to have fewer social graces. They are frequently stubborn and challenge information presented by others, and are far more often than not right. They tend to get bored easily. They normally do not perform repetitive tasks well. They seek challenges and change. They have difficulty turning their brains off, or slowing them down. Their minds are either seeking more input or creating more ideas.

The special relationship between ADD/AEA people.

Yet, when two AEA/ADD people meet and interact, few of the above drawbacks occur. Watching two AEA/ADD people talk about matters they both enjoy can be a trip. That's because many of the "drawbacks" that frequently bother normal people, do not affect ADD/AEA people. Thus, some of the drawbacks represent the uncomfortable ways normal people (only) react to the behaviors of people with AEA/ADD. Two AEA/ADD people will have similar energy levels, think at the same speed, focus at the same levels, are tuned into similar input from their expanded senses, and process the information at the same speed. They are much more in tune with each other and communicate with much less difficulty. AEA/ADD people are not bothered as much by bouncing from subject to subject, fidgeting, impatience, boredom, lack of social graces and impulsiveness when they communicate with each other.

Drawbacks ADD/AEA people want to overcome.

However, there are some drawbacks that AEA/ADD people want to overcome to live a more effective and enjoyable life. These drawbacks include the tendency of forgetfulness, the tendency to be over impulsive, and the tendency to be impatient in communicating with normal people. ADD/AEA people also appear to have difficulty completing tasks and projects required by others. They appear to lack control over their desire and ability to focus. They also have difficulties in remembering names of others. The main cause for all of these drawbacks is BOREDOM! That’s right, AEA/ADD people much too often allow themselves to be placed into situations where they become easily bored, and the above drawbacks result from this boredom. Yet, there are solutions to boredom that will virtually eliminate these drawbacks.

ADD/AEA people are in the minority.

The reality is that “normal” people far out number ADD/AEA people. Thus, ADD/AEA people are frequently disparaged, degraded, and criticized because they do not conform to the way "normal" people think and interact with others. Normal people apply considerable pressure on ADD/AEA people to get with the program and adjust to be like everyone else.

The common solution to correcting ADD impediments.

One of the most common solutions to "fix" ADD people is to prescribe drugs (normally amphetamines). They are frequently used to convert ADD people (especially children) into being more "normal" and more controllable. These drugs generally slow the brains of ADD people down, reduce their tendencies to be over impulsive, to be fidgety, and they decrease tendencies to be distracted. There are a number of drugs available that affect ADD people in different ways. Unfortunately, ADD patients are not always matched with the right drugs for them. When this happens, ADD patients have frequently felt that they lose the blessings of AEA/ADD, and that they lose control over their own minds and turn into less than alive people. In my opinion, drugs are not the fix all solution for people with ADD. Not all ADD people respond favorably to the drug solution. (I have never used any drugs for ADD, and my two ADD children voluntarily chose to cease their prescribed medications, and prospered thereafter). When done right, drugs can provide beneficial solutions to some of the drawbacks of ADD, but not all of them.

Unfortunately, the powers of drug companies to push their ADD medications caused at least one supposedly “ADD support group” to demand that I change this section and recommend ADD medications as the only solution, before they would publish this article. I declined.

Other solutions to AEA/ADD drawbacks.

There are other ways to overcome these drawbacks. These include the full understanding of the behavioral differences of being AEA/ADD, and adjusting behavioral practices to control these issues at a very practical and desirable level.

As an example, let's discuss a solution to the forgetfulness drawback. AEA/ADD people need to create a "to do" list that they have by their side at all times, and constantly monitor and review. Whenever they come up with an idea or agree to do something (without a time limit) they must immediately write the key words to each matter on the "to do" list. The "to do" list becomes their index for action items. In addition, they want to have a calendar with them at all times that they also review frequently. Whenever they decide to do something that is time dependent, like meet someone for lunch, remember a birthday (AEA/ADD people are notorious for forgetting birthdays and anniversaries) or turn in a report, they need to put it on the calendar.

The Life (ADD) Coach Solution.

Another example of a non-drug based process to is to use a life (or ADD) coach to accomplish, at least, one coachable goal. Sometimes, using a life (or ADD) coach is done in conjunction with using the right medication. By using a coach, AEA/ADD people will discover what their true (and special) talents are, what their unique self-imposed obstacles (drawbacks) are, what their true passions (zeal for creativity) are, what their true priorities are, and what their values and beliefs (spirituality) are. The unique blessings they have because of their AEA/ADD will also be discovered and recognized. AEA/ADD people will work with their coach to achieve their coachable goals around their special unique priorities and characteristics uncovered in the discovery process. This way the AEA/ADD person will be able to use their special and unique gifts in a natural way to achieve their goals. In other words, they create the situations where they achieve their goals by being themselves. By focusing on achieving their coachable goals by living and acting on their terms, they basically change their environment to suit them. (What a concept).

There are other behavioral solutions to virtually all of the "drawbacks" that do not include drugs and that allow AEA/ADD people to gain control over their brains and maximize the unique blessings they were given.

Conclusion

Having AEA/ADD places people in a very special and blessed category. AEA/ADD people can easily enjoy a very wondrous and rewarding life because they have it, when they understand their AEA/ADD, manage their drawbacks, and accentuate their unique gifts to reach whatever life and other goals they set. Two of my four children also have ADD and they are shining because they have it. I have thoroughly enjoyed my gifts from AEA/ADD, and I have prospered because of what the blessings from AEA/ADD have allowed me to do. You can too! 



     
Whateverrrrr Whateverrrrr
36-40, F
3 Responses Jul 31, 2010

Hi kjdng: I am sorry to hear about your brother...my sympathy! It is nice knowing it was positive news before he left. This article is one of my favorite on ADD, well writtenm precise with good points. Thanks for commenting.

Hi pearl99; thanks for sharing your story and for the great tips, I appreciate...All the best to you too. :)

Hello, I am in a similar boat ... don't despair, there is a LOT that can be done. Being diagnosed with ADD (no H) is fantastic - it means yes, there's a biochemical imbalance in the way your brain functions, which can be treated, and no, you're not CRAZY! I'm 48, diagnosed at 45 because I took my children to be checked out when they were in about grade 5 and still couldn't read, write, 'rithmetic as well as expected. As I was sitting in the watiing room reading some literature, I got to the page that talked about how ADD (and most brain developmental disorders) are INHERITED ... hmmm, only two parents involved and their father doesn't behave in any kind of ADD way so, duh, maybe it was me. I resisted for a while, did lots of reading on the net, read a couple of books from the library and finally went in to have electrodes stuck to my head and bingo! My brain acts in accordance with a diagnosis of ADD (no H).<br />
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I have tackled it in a number of ways, and although I have lapses frequently, my life is much improved. Here are some suggestions from my personal experience:<br />
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Find a psychologist who specialises in treating ADD - preferably adults, but even one who works with children will recognise that you have grown up andyou have COPED as well as you could.<br />
To say you have survived" implies it is a disease and now it's better ... that's not the case. Do some reading about the brain science related to ADD - it's only biology gone a bit wrong, and it will never correct itself. Hopefully, you're psychologist will give you some "mindfulness" exercises. There are some excellent sites on the web that you can go to. It helps you to settle the monkey chatter in your brain, to focus on one thing at a time.<br />
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Meds: yes, you'll probably need meds. Depending on which country you live in, your GP / MD can prescribe Ritalin. Otherwise you'll need to go to a psychiatrist to get something because these are government authorised drugs. All methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) does is for a period of time bring up the chemicals that promote your brain to function like a normal brain. The dose lasts for a number of hours, and expires at the end of the dose. This is great in one regard - it's not addictive, however, it does mean that at the end of the dose your brain is back to a low level of neurotransmitters i.e. your brain as the organ that controls your mind, body etc. is gong to be struggling to kick start itself.<br />
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Meds by the bed: have your meds and a glass of water by the bed so that when your alarm goes off in the morning, you can EASILY take them. The slightest difficulty / obstruction will most likely prevent you from doing the single most important thing of your morning, and before you know it, you’re an hour late for work, or it’s 12 noon on Saturday and you’re STILL in bed!<br />
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Symptoms: do some reading so that you can understand what the stable of symptoms are. Easily distracted is the least of your troubles. Poor risk analysis. Poor communication / business/ social skills because you just never learnt them properly (e.g. people do NOT like to be interrupted by you, no matter how entertaining or funny or critically important your comment is going to be.) An inclination towards self medication – alcohol, drugs etc. This is an attempt to settle your monkey brain. The horrendous statistics relating to children / teens with ADD who end up self medicating with alcohol, drugs and/or sex at an early age, compared with their non-ADD peers are astounding. I did all of that myself, and the disproportianetly high incidence of self medication amongst ADD teens was the clincher for me when deciding whether or not to put my children on Ritalin (I resisted for years).<br />
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Do one thing at a time: forget about what they call "multi tasking". You wlil overload yourself and do everything badly, rather than one thing well done. And you'll find that you're getting pinged by low speed traffic cameras, you nearly run up the back of someone's car because you're um looking in the passenger seat for you sunglasses ... the tiniest distractions will hijack your concentration if you don't help your brain to function at a NORMAL level by feeding it some pharmaceutical assistance.<br />
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Mobile phone alarms: set an alarm for everything important, especaily taking your meds. I have an alarm set 8 / 1 / 6pm to take my next does of Ritalin, otherwise I'm stuffed! Ooops, meant to move my car from the parking meter ... SET AN ALARM. Start cooking dinner NOW ... set an alarm!<br />
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Minimise the visual distraction in your living environment: take down everything off the fridge, keep the colours neutral, focus on keeping one surface clear of mess so that you have somewhere to eat etc. If you need notes (phone lists etc.), tape them up to the INSIDE of the kitchen cupboard doors where you can find them easily, but they reduce the visual "noise" in your environment.<br />
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At work: write a short list of tasks for the morning, including "take a break, walk around the block". Max 5 items on it. Then at lunchtime, take a break even if it's only for five minutes, clear your head. Write a short list for the afternoon, max 5 items. Don't overload yourself, be realistic.<br />
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Personal admin: deal with one item of personal admin in the morning each day, and one in the afternoon. This could be going online to pay a bill or phoning someone to make an appointment. Only ONE thing at a time ... not "go online pay the bills" (plural), instead write "go online into banking, pay the electricity bill". One task, then get out of the online banking and go on to the next thing.<br />
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Procastinating: read David Allen's "Getting Things Done". It changed my life. Not doing things is often related to making a mountain out of a molehill e.g. “I have to do the ironing. The basket’s full. It’s going to take hours. Hmmm, I’ll do it tomorrow when I have more time.” Or “I’ve got to clean the car. It needs washing and polishing,and there’s a ton of stuff accumulated in there to take out and sort before I vacuum it. It’s gonna take hours. Hmmm, I’ll do it tomorrow when I have more time.” <br />
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If you find you've got a ton of things you haven't done and it’s not helping you to live your life like that, write down a few things you want to get done. Pick ONE of them. Write it on another piece of paper, and under the heading write each of the steps, in order, that you need to follow to finish it. Do the FIRST action, and if you’ve got a bit more time, do the next action, etc. In the above examples, I’d write on a piece of paper “IRONING”, and then “Get ironing board out of the wardrobe, put it up in the living room”, then “Get the iron out from the cupboard under the sink, get the extension cord, put them on the ironing board”, then “Get a jug of water and put it on the table” … “Get some coat hangers from the wardrobe” … “Iron one shirt, hang it up on the door.” Short, precise, detailed, steps.<br />
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The idea is that you keep the instruction sheet for later (in a chores folder / file). You only have to think the “ironing” task through once, the next time you effectively tell yourself what to do by reading the list. And you don’t attempt to do more than a couple of steps at a time. <br />
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Same idea with the car. And with tidying up your bedroom, doing university study, etc. etc. <br />
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Find a team member to help you: either your partner or a friend or someone who you can say “I really need to have left the house by 10am this morning to do such & such. If I’m faffing around, could you please help me get organised.” This has made a huge difference in my life. I didn’t have a partner for a long time, and now that I have one who is supportive and sort of understands, he is a godsend in the tiniest of ways. “Honey, it’s 5:30 … what are we planning for dinner?” “Dinner?”, I think, “What a nuisance. It’s such a hassle, I don’t want to have to cook dinner.” But I LOVE cooking, it’s just my ADD brain again.<br />
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Strengths: ADD generally means a person operates on a wide band-width of skill levels. Very good at some things, really crap at other things. Not much that your averagely, consistently good at. Draw a horizontal line with 0-100 marked up the left hand side of the page above the line, and 0 to -100 down the margin, under the line. Turn the page sideways and along the line write some of the life skills / tasks we all have to manage (reading, writing, maths, relationships, job skills, that kind of thing). Put a dot on the scale -100 to 100 for each thing. Join the dots. It’s probably a giant zig zag up and down the chart, not a gentle zig zag between say the -50 and 50 marks. What are your strengths? Congratulate yourself for the things you are good at, and see if you can structure your life to capitalise a bit more on those good points. E.g. Personally, I’m good at cooking, lousy at cleaning house, so I pay a cleaner to come in once a fortnight, and as a result I cook better meals with the resulting time / energy / inspiration.<br />
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Be glad: glad it’s only ADD, be glad it’s not something worse. Be glad there’s been such a huge amount of research into the brain and how it develops. Be glad there are forums on the web to relate with people who have similar experience, who can share their personal experience, wisdom, etc.<br />
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So, ‘nough said. Copy this into a word document, print it off. Read it again later.<br />
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NOW … do ONE constructive thing (e.g. set an alarm in your mobile phone to remind yourself to get back to work or something!) and GET ON WITH LIVING YOUR ADD LIFE!!<br />
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All the best x