ADHD and ADD – Similarities and Differences Explained.
Many of us grew up in an era where the diagnosis of ADD and ADHD was not yet established. So many of us, especially boys, who were identified as difficult children with attitude problems or a deliberate resistance to paying attention and following directions in school.
Because we were constantly in jeopardy of negative consequences at school and home many of us learned to use what we now call compensatory strategies for dealing with our attention issues. We had to learn how not to draw the negative lightening of harsh punishments and we had to learn how to be academically successful in a structured environment which was the exact opposite of the way our brains worked!
In today’s world those of us from that earlier time have found careers that allow us to function the way our brains work, or we have learned to disguise our inner workings while we appear to be following the expectations of the systems in which we live and work. Younger children and adults who came along after the two diagnostic categories of Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyper Active Disorder have it easier. Schools have learned to recognize the identifying behaviors and teachers have learned to teach to those issues. Families have learned to go to doctors and get medicines that help these kids not have static noise always going off in their heads. The ability to hyper-focus at times and not focus at all at other times can be regulated and controlled to a greater degree than in the past. However, therapists and mothers still try to teach their children compensatory strategies for success even if the child (or adult) is on medicine to help regulate the “brain storms” in their heads.
Time management is an issue for so many of the people who have ADD and ADHD. They get redirected and distracted so easily. You cannot give them global instructions like “get ready for bed”, or you cannot tell them to sit still and be quiet while they do their math. They must move around and fidget. They tap their pencils or kick their feet or make clicking noises that irritate the hell out of anyone around them. The need to learn to develop a behavior that acts like a suppressor channel for the energy of the brain storm or body storm so that the rest of them can take care of business. Learning to perform on demand is a basic life skill. People with this diagnosis find this difficult to do because of their distractibility.
Those of us who learned before the diagnosis and medicines learned ways to mask our issues if we were successful. Brett learned to disappear for hours at a time in books to avoid the tension and risk of being at home or to avoid the behaviors that would get me in trouble in school.
My son who is ADD has learned to use timers (or more accurately his parents have) because he has chronic issues with losing time he gets so hyper focused on what he is doing. Dr. Maupin leaned that she was more successful going home with her medical studies rather than working with her study group. She could break her work up into study periods followed by activity periods like cleaning house or sewing or cooking and then going back to study. These are all compensatory strategies that have helped those of us who are older and have perhaps never been formally diagnosed with ADD or ADHD to be successful and to have more positive social interactions.
If you or someone you love has these labels or these behaviors you would benefit from listening to this Healthcast for ideas and strategies as well as explanations for helping you understand that you or they are not broken, your brain just works differently. It is important to learn about those differences to learn how to manage your behaviors and acquire skill sets to help you become more successful and happy.
This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author, with Brett Newcomb, MA., LPC., Family Counselor, Presenter and Author. www.BioBalanceHealth.com.