ADD - attention deficit disorder

I recently found out that I have ADD-- attention deficit disorder. This should probably be called VAS-- variable attention syndrome. Variable since in fact many/most ADD people *can* often have intense periods of focus. And syndrome vs. disorder since it has many strengths not just weaknesses. (ADD is sometimes called ADHD with the H meaning hyperactive, although not all ADD people are hyperactive.)

ADD is a well known condition for kids, but people are just now starting to learn about ADD in adults.

ADD is probably genetic (you don't catch it, and can't eliminate it), has something to do with neurology / brain wiring. There is no known chemical test for it yet. Estimates are that as many as 15 million children and adults in the US have ADD! (Thus, it is often attacked as being overly diagnosed, yet it is real.)

If you have ADD, you can improve the negative parts of this condition (without much reduction of the positive parts) by medication and/or with therapy (for education and skill development).

Most people have some of the symptoms of ADD, although you are only ADD if you have many of the symptoms most of the time, if they cause you real problems in work or relationships, and if you have had those real problems since childhood (e.g., causing you notable problems in school).

Here are some of the most commom symptoms:

  1. Distracted easily and often, impossible to resist. Start one task but end up doing 20 other things: cleaning your desk, etc. Tangents always come up (one part of ADD) and are usually followed (another part of ADD) vs. staying on the initial topic. (Can also lead to parenthetical writing. :) A positive part of this is it can help a creative person exploring multiple paths for new inventions.
  2. Very impulsive, likes to make rash decisions. Also likes to take risks, seeks excitement.
  3. Impatient and easily frustrated with process (does not like to do things the same way over and over), and does not suffer fools lightly.
  4. Rapid mood switches: quickly enraged or ecstatic. (A key condition difference between ADD and manic depressive illness, which does not have frequent rapid switches.)
  5. High energy bursts can last for several hours. Can cause you to work until 3am or start at 3am! Some people have to pace or move during these bursts.
  6. Lists are used as a way to attempt to staying organized, else you will forget what to do next. (I've also found that QuickBase is a life saver.)
  7. Appointments are often late or skipped.
  8. Losing stuff all the time. Desk is a mess, as things are just put on the pile with the intent to take care of them but then gets distracted and never gets back them.
  9. Driving anywhere results in often getting lost, forgetting to take a turn or taking the wrong turn. This is an example of not being able to keep all the required steps in memory, perhaps since they were never formed into memory since you were thinking of other things while reading the map. Sometimes become shocked arriving somewhere "suddenly" without remembering the journey (the last 20 miles etc). Also frequently forgets where car is parked in public garages etc.
  10. Can not handle large social situations, or shopping malls etc, due to stimulation/distraction overload causing lots of stress.
  11. Communicating can sometimes be difficult, not wanting to take the time to explain something step by step, which is frustrating to do.
  12. Writing often done with skipped letters or words.
  13. Reading comprehension can sometimes be diminished (requiring frequent re-reads of the current page), due to the difficulty of focusing only on the item being read.
  14. Can be socially awkward, sometimes missing cues, sometimes interrupting people midsentence.
  15. Assembling things must be done in order, else will got lost.

How do I feel about having ADD? Fine. I like reading about it and knowing that all the symptoms above relate to each other. I don't consider ADD an illness or a cancer to eliminate. I am ADD. ADD is a part of me. I don't want to get rid of it. And some of my favorite people in the world have ADD too. I am looking forward to learning how to better manage the negative parts of ADD. And I also have a sense of humor about it.

If you want to learn more about ADD: - articles - startups - nonprofits - press 13-Jul-2006