Attention Deficit Disorder


For centuries children have been grounded, beaten, or even killed for
ignoring the rules or not listening to what they\'re told. In the past it was
thought these ”bad” kids were the products of bad parenting, bad environment, or
simply being stubborn, however it is now known that many of these children may
have had Attention Deficit Disorder, or A. D. D., and could\'ve been helped. A.
D. D. is a syndrome that affects millions of children and adults in the United
States and is a very frustrating and confusing syndrome that often goes
undiagnosed.
While there is no clear-cut definition of A. D. D., it\'s known that it\'s
a genetic disorder that affects males more often than females, in a 3:1 ratio,
and is marked by a classic triad of symptoms, which are impulsivity,
distractibility, and hyperactivity (Hallowell 6). There are two general types
of A. D. D., the stereotypical, high-energy, hyperactive group, and the less
known underactive ones that often daydream and are never mentally present
anywhere. Typically, people with A. D. D. are very likable and are usually very
emphatic, intuitive, and compassionate, however they have very unstable moods
that can range from an extreme high to an extreme low instantly, for no apparent
reason. Usually, they procrastinate often and have trouble finishing projects,
while conversely, they can hyperfocus at times and accomplish tasks more quickly
and efficiently than a normal person could. Often they have short tempers and
lack the impulse to stop themselves from blowing up over minor details
(Hallowell 10).
Although A. D. D. has just recently been discovered and there is still
relatively little known about it, it has an interesting history. In 1902,
George Frederic Still first thought that the dilemma of problem children was a
biological defect inherited from an injury at birth and not the result of bad
parenting. In the 1930\'s and \'40\'s stimulant drugs were first used to
successfully treat many behavior problems due partly to Still\'s hypothesis. In
1960, Stella Chess further boosted research in the field by writing about the “
hyperactive child syndrome.” She stated that the behavior problems weren\'t a
product of injury at birth, but instead were inherited genetically. Finally, in
1980, the syndrome was named A. D. D., due in large part to Virginia Douglas\'
work to find accurate ways to diagnose it (Hallowell 12).
Formally, A. D. D. comes in two types: A. D. D. with hyperactivity and
A. D. D. without hyperactivity (Hallowell 9). However there are several other
subtypes that are used to diagnose the syndrome and aren\'t formally recognized.
The six most interesting, though not necessarily most prevalent, are A. D. D.
without hyperactivity, A. D. D. with agitation or mania, A. D. D. with
substance abuse, A. D. D. in the creative person, “high-stim” A. D. D., and
pseudo-A. D. D.
The first subtype, A. D. D. without hyperactivity, is the most
frequently seen subtype. A common misconception about A. D. D. is that it\'s
only present in hyperactive people, while in this subtype the people are
underactive, even languid. These people are the daydreamers that drift off to
their own world during class or during conversations. This type is most common
in females and the core symptom is distractibility. This, while being the most
frequent, is also the hardest to diagnose because it seems that the people
simply “need to apply themselves” or “get their act together (Hallowell 153).”
The second type, A. D. D. with mania or agitation, can often be mistaken
for manic-depression due to the high energy levels involved in both and the
rapid changes in mood. However, on can distinguish between the two by their
response to medication. People without a favorable response to lithium, the
drug prescribed to manic-depressives, quite likely have A. D. D. A difficult
twist to diagnosis is that the two may coexist. This occurs when the person
cycles between mania and A. D. D. (Hallowell 169).
The third subtype is A. D. D. with substance abuse. Substance abuse is
one of A. D. D.\'s hardest “masks” to see through because the abuse itself can
produce A. D. D.-like symptoms. Often when a person with A. D. D. has
substance abuse problems they unknowingly are self-medicating themselves with
the drugs. They do this when they choose to use the drug continually simply
because it clears the static from their mind (Hallowell 174). The three
substances used most by A. D. D. sufferers are cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana.
With cocaine, the person feels focused and alert as opposed to the average state
of being