Thursday, January 21, 2010

The ADD Label

Labels bother me. I’m sure I myself use them much oftener than I want to admit. But one of the labels that really bothers me is “Attention Deficit Disorder [ADD].” These are some characteristics often associated with the ADD label: scattered thinking, inability to complete tasks in a timely manner, frequently forgetting important things/tasks, having little sense of time. Those who enjoy qualities that are the opposite of these, find persons with ADD more than a little irritating.

Recently I recognized that I myself probably grew up with ADD in an era that had not yet come up with the label (“Praise God”). Persons who have brains that are wired differently than the thought-processes of those living with ADD, can find themselves baffled by ADD behaviors they frequently witness. It doesn’t take a giant leap for a non-ADD person to attribute “assumed intentions” to the behaviors of a person with ADD. It’s not the irritation that bothers me, it's the “assumed intentions” attributed to my behaviors and my friends with ADD that often startles me. So far, those who tell me “You certainly don’t…” followed by a description of what they assume are my motives for a recent behavior, have been almost 95-100% incorrect in their explanation.

Currently, I have a personal calmness about my ADD-brain. I redefined ADD for myself. When someone tells me that they have and advanced degree, I assume they have a Masters degrees or PhD. Therefore, I now define ADD as an Advanced Degree in DISTRACTIBILITY. It surely beats having a Deficit Disorder. So feel free to share this definition with any friend or relative you might know who has been given an ADD label. Maybe it won’t help them, but it surely helped me.

It wouldn’t surprise me if more than a few inventors followed their “distractions," and ended up discovering something really exciting and useful. Who knows, maybe your ADD friends are inventors or creative minds in the making.


  1. Excellent. I believe I also have this, but most of the time, find it a plus in my life. Yes, there are those times when it frustrates the dickens out of me, but overall, it's ok. Thanks for your definition.

  2. As a former teacher, I saw parents lulled into thinking that their son or daughter needed medication so they wouldn't be so fidgety. (I taught high school French.) I had one boy in particular and I could not believe how he behaved under the medication--he was almost always falling asleep in my class and almost unresponsive whereas without the medication he was a happy, excited, interested student. I think we are too quick to label and then treat, with medications that can have very bad consequences for teenagers. There have to be other solutionns.