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Attention-Deficit Disorder.

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 – the new flavor of the month diagnosis or is it one that has gone unrecognized and misdiagnosed for years?

Have you ever wondered why you, your loved ones or associates seem to march to a different drum?

Are not just another sheep in the fold but were/are considered a rather unique individual?

Why, despite being average or above average intelligence, you or your loved one are underachievers?

Or regardless best intentions, anxiety kept you or yours on the peripheral?

Why emotions seem to be more intense at times and detachment seemed easier at other times?

Why you more reactive than proactive or reflective? Why long standing relationships did not come easily to you?

When hearing the term ADHD or ADD, one usually thinks of male children who hyper, the class clowns, the troublemakers, the boys who were incapable of sitting still for very long, the interruptive, the impulsive, the daydreamer, the lazybones and the descriptors go on and on. 

When I was raising our ADHD children, parents were often blamed as having poor parenting skills. A Vice Principal even referred to my very ADHD son as being ‘possessed’.   Granted our son had other problems related to his family of origin and birthplace, but nevertheless the comment was inexcusable. 

Fortunately, most people are now more aware of the ADD/HD symptoms and understand that it is a neurologically based condition not a ‘possession’. 

It is a condition that is not gender specific and includes people of all ages  and about 4% of the adult population have it. 

One doesn’t outgrow the condition; one learns to manage their symptoms rather than being ‘managed’ by them.

Some basic information about this condition: –

There are 7 types of ADD   (Dr. Daniel Amen, G.P.  Expert on ADD/HD)

Classic AD
This is the easiest type to spot of the 7 types of ADD:
Primary symptoms are inattentiveness, distractibility, hyperactivity, disorganization, and impulsivity.

Scans of the brain show normal brain activity at rest, and decreased activity, especially in the prefrontal cortex, during a concentration task.

People with this type of ADD have decreased blood flow in the prefrontal cortex, cerebellum, and the basal ganglia, the last of which helps produce the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Inattentive ADD

This type, as well as Classic ADD, have been described in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders since 1980. This type is associated with low activity in the prefrontal cortex and low dopamine levels. Symptoms are short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, procrastination. People with this type

are not hyperactive or impulsive. They can be introverted and daydream a lot. Girls have this type as much as, or more than, boys.

Over-Focused ADD

Patients with this type have all of the core ADD symptoms, plus great trouble shifting attention. They get stuck or locked into negative thought patterns or behaviors. There is a deficiency of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. When the brain is scanned, you see that there’s too much activity in the area called the anterior cingulated gyrus, which is the brain’s gear shifter. This over activity makes it difficult to go from thought to thought, task to task, and to be flexible.

Temporal Lobe ADD

Of the 7 types of ADD, this type has core ADD symptoms along with temporal lobe (TL) symptoms. The TL,

located underneath your temple, is involved with memory, learning, mood stability, and visual processing of objects. People with this type have learning, memory, and behavioral problems, such as quick anger, aggression, and mild paranoia. When the brain is scanned, there are abnormalities in the temporal lobes and decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.

Limbic ADD

This type looks like a combination of dysthymia or chronic low-level sadness and ADD. Symptoms are moodiness, low energy, frequent feelings of helplessness or excessive guilt, and chronic low self-esteem. It is not depression. This type is caused by too much activity in the limbic part of the brain (the mood control center) and decreased prefrontal cortex activity, whether concentrating on a task or at rest.

Ring of Fire ADD

Patients with this type don’t have an underactive prefrontal cortex, as with Classic and Inattentive ADD. Their entire brain is overactive. There is too much activity across the cerebral cortex and many of the other parts of the brain. I call it “ADD plus.” Symptoms include sensitivity to noise, light, touch; periods of mean, nasty behavior; unpredictable behavior; talking fast; anxiety and fearfulness. In brain scans, it looks like a ring of hyperactivity around the brain.

Anxious ADD

People with this type have hallmark ADD symptoms, and they are anxious, tense, have physical stress symptoms like headaches and stomachaches, predict the worst, and freeze in anxiety-provoking situations, especially where they may be judged. When the brain is scanned, there is high activity in the basal ganglia, large structures deep in the brain that help produce dopamine. This is the opposite of most types of ADD, where there is low activity in that region.

In general, ADD/HD adults find it hard to manage clutter, time management is difficult (they are often late) and it’s a struggle to complete projects.  As with the children, adults may interrupt others or blurt out remarks without thinking first.  They are more easily distracted and seem unable to concentrate on tasks they consider boring or hyperfocus to the point of losing track of time. Many find it difficult to transition from one activity to another.  These aforementioned behaviours often mean adults under-perform at the workplace and have difficulties with relationships. 

Based on personal experiences and suggestions from Dr. Russell Barkley, the following strategies help both adults and children.

  1. Rehearse. Rehearse possible scenarios with appropriate responses. In other words be prepared rather than reactive.  If needed, coordinate visual clues with a friend or family member should things  look about to get out of hand.
  1. Learn from past mistakes. Replay less successful experiences and work out more appropriate responses to similar situations.   Be prepared.
  1. Incentives. If procrastination and or meeting deadlines is an issue, provide an incentive – a small reward for a job done on time as well as relish the sense of self satisfaction.
  1. Break it down. Break down long-term tasks or goals into smaller units. Allow for a few minutes breather.  A little break goes a long way and avoids unnecessary frustration.  If feeling exasperated, stop and walk or take deep breaths to relax.  Allow downtime after task, school, sports etc.

5.Keep a daily planner. . Having a visible, realistic daily agenda works very well with all ages. Check off  activities that are completed.

  1. Transition time/ use a timer. If needed allow transition time between activities.   A timer- a wonderful tool especially for those of us that hyperfocus, need motivation and timing for a break
  1. One thing at a time. Keep instructions minimal, first one step then another
  1. 8. Avoid clutter. There is beauty in simplicity and much less distraction
  1. “A place for everything, everything in its place.” This strategy helps one avoid the mad scramble to find keys etc.
  1. Consistency, routine and structure These 3 key strategies make for an easier flowing day.

Although there is controversy around helpful diets, I have found it best, especially with children, to avoid artificial colourants, preservatives, highly sugared foods and pre-prepared foods.  It may take more time and effort but the results are well worth the effort.  In our home we Friday Fun Food (treats) and Video day(videos were preselected and approved by parents).

Some children have difficulty realizing videos including games are NOT the way of the real world. Some do not foresee or understand real life consequences, so please monitor  what they view and play.



Written by Carol Fyfe-Wilson.

Carol is a mother of 6 with 5 boys, 3 of whom were adopted; one was Canadian born and the other 2 were from 3rd world counties and those 2 have moderate to profound ADD.

Her formal  education focused on Psychology  and Sociology. For the last 20 years she worked as an academic and behavioral  support person within 4 B.C school districts and one college. She also sat as a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome steering committee and was a resource person for special needs adoptive parents.



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