Got some interesting email recently from the ADD/ADHD is not a disorder and is not something to be “fixed” crowd.
I have read many ADD/ADHD books including Thom Hartmann’s Attention Deficit Disorder : A Different Perception which as far as I know sort of started the whole, the problem is with the schools / world, not with me movement. I have also read many other resources that subscribe to the same worldview and view of ADD, so I am not unaware of this paradigm. If you read through the various postings here, you will notice that I am careful to not suggest that ADHD is a disease nor something that needs to be “fixed.” Rather, I simply not the challenges that it can and does present and potential solutions to those challenges.
I have ADD myself. I take enough Adderall (generic) each day to make a small rhino nervous, and frankly, I’d like to try a bit more, but no doctor I’ve encountered is willing to go higher, so I may have topped out. I do not believe that there is anything wrong with me. And, from this perspective, I am very supportive of the train of thought that suggests that people with ADD/ADHD are not defective. However, this is where my concurrence ends.
Welcome to Real Life
It may be that the schools are properly designed. It may be that our society and its workplaces may not be properly constructed. If you believe that, then by all means work for the changes you want to see in the world. I applaud such efforts. But, never forget, that in the meantime, you are living your life in the reality of today, and so are your children.
Harman contents that it is offensive to suggest that people, like his son, with ADD/ADHD be treated with medication, or try and find ways to handle the high frequency that their minds run on. Instead, he says that schools should change and that people with ADD should choose better careers that their minds are better suited for.
Frankly, I find that offensive. Replace the phrase, “people with ADD” with “women” or “Jews” or “Hispanics” and you’ll see just how offensive it is. I content that this is the “wrong” approach to ADD/ADHD and the one that is limiting to its adherents. Instead, I say that anyone, whether they have ADD or not, can do anything they want to if they are willing to do what it takes. So, if you have ADD and want to do a “non-ADD” suited job, then figure out what, if anything, you need to accomplish your goal, and go do it. Don’t let your brain hold you back.
Whether you have ADD or not, you can do anything you choose in this life if you have the right tools.
As I read Hartman’s book, I couldn’t help but thing it came off as a little naive.
For example, the suggestion that a person with ADD should choose different careers better suited to their “hunter” mentality like being a policeman was particularly uninformed. Ask any cop how much time he spends running through the streets chasing down criminals versus how much time he spends doing paperwork and you’ll find that this may not be the fast paced stimulating job it looks like on TV. In fact, virtually every job that Harman cites as good for ADDers comes with a very large non-hunter element. There just are no pure hunters anymore. (Even soldiers spend hours doing non-stimulating tasks every single day.)
Like Being Left-Handed – Different But Not Wrong
I find the best analogy for looking at ADHD and ADD is being left-handed. There is nothing wrong with being left-handed. It is not a defect. It is not a flaw. It is not a problem. But, you don’t just pretend that you are not left handed. You find and use the tools and accessories that work better for lefties. You don’t sit back and complain that the world has to be more left hand friendly.
Consider a child in school, we’ll call him Lucas.
Let’s say that Lucas is left-handed. Let’s say that his handwriting is not up to par. Let’s say that Lucas’ parents realize that the metal spirals on the left side of the standard notebook is to blame? Should they insist that the notebook industry change? Perhaps. Should they let Lucas fail subjects, lose self esteem, and be considered poor student while they wait for the notebook industry to change? NO!
There are numerous tools that Lucas can use that will help alleviate the various issues that he faces from being left-handed. Using these tools does not make Lucas untrue to who he is, rather they enable him to BE who he truly is, a smart, confident, student, who can write just fine when there isn’t a piece of metal in his way. All it takes is a notebook with the spiral on the top instead of on the side.
What if Lucas has ADD instead?
Everyone, ADD or not, can benefit from learning, knowledge, and having the right tools.
The same things apply. Lucas is not defective; there is nothing wrong with him. But, to sit back and ignore the fact that he might need something that other students don’t need it stupid and cruel, and will do nothing but injure Lucas.
If a timer or special notebook or watch or whatever will help Lucas, then for the love of all that is good, get it for him and let him thrive. Don’t sulk about what other people think, or about how our society is constructed. Instead, give him the tools he needs to succeed at whatever he wants to do, and if at the same time, you or he wish to work for a better world, do it. Just don’t throw away the opportunities he has today in the current world.
I won’t discuss medication here. That is a very personal issue.
I will say that many of us with ADD don’t give a flying leap about whether or not society is not optimally setup for us. We like it here just fine. All we want is a fair shake to do what we know we can do.
The above criticisms aside, Harman’s book does offer some food for thought, especially if you or your child has been recently diagnosed with ADD-ADHD. And, I always feel that people should make their own decisions. You can use the link below to get the book from Amazon, or it is in most book stores under “Psychology”. Also, many library systems carry the book as well, since it was fairly popular during its time.
ADDessories = Empowerment Through Tools and Knowledge
The goal of ADDessories is not to change the world, nor the place of those with ADD in it, nor does it seek to change those with ADD/ADHD into different people. Everyone, ADD or not, can benefit from learning and knowledge and tools.
The goal is to empower people with those tools and knowledge that allows them to achieve what they want with a little bit less friction and resistance. If we are successful, they might even help you change the world.