A Common Misconception: ADHD, ADD, & Adderall
More often than not I hear of the general consensus which has conclusively deducted the characteristics of ADHD& ADD into a category otherwise known as disruptive. I am here to tell you that in my experience as an adult with ADHD that the common dialogue concerning said learning disability is a bit disconcerting. For one, rarely are kids or adults with this condition “disruptive”- not in the conventional sense. Contrary to popular belief the poster child of ADD/ADHD is not buzzing around the classroom disrupting students and teachers alike in an either uncontrollable or inconsolable manner; the child with ADD/ADHD is not starving for attention, in all actuality. They more often than not go unnoticed, you might have noticed something, but never could put your finger on it, though unmistakably you did notice something… as a teacher I have seen ONE. I have seen one child out of roughly 100 display the characteristics of ADD/ADHD… yet, in that pool of children can you guess how many others mistakenly believe to have ADD/ADHD? … By the dozens… Think about it, there has always been a troublesome child that is hungry– starving for attention– who disrupts the classroom by intentionally acting out of order for attention; they display conduct disorder which is behavioral. ADD/ADHD is NOT a behavioral disorder, it is NOT behavioral, period. The general understanding of ADD/ADHD only shows how little people actually know or care to know about the condition, if you want to call it that. It is not depression, it Is not bipolar, it is not a mental illness. It is not a behavioral “problem,” which is to say that the behavior displayed by those with ADD/ADHD is not problematic. Some research shows that people with ADD/ADHD are said to have higher IQs- perhaps that is because it is an intellectual problem. Seemingly both children and adults are quiet, aloof, and in their own world— yet, if you were to ask one to tell you what was going on, you might be surprised by how attentive they are actually to what is being said and what is going on around them. Why the surprise? Because they do not appear to be paying attention or listening- most often they are staring at the books on the book shelf or at the sky, as in to day dream- day dreamers… their genius lies in the fact that they can hold two thoughts and/or ideas in their mind at the same time. Intellectually multi-tasking, not to be confused with physically multi-tasking. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Secondly, Adderall and Ritalin act as sedatives to make a person who may not be as aware more alert of themselves and the world around them to help them control their quiet disruptions. What are those quiet disruptions? Nail picking, zoning out, fixating on the books in the room or otherwise distraction, speaking without thinking, having no filter, saying what is on their mind without thinking about what they are going to say first, to name a few… and that is just at one end of the spectrum. Pay close attention to the word spectrum, for ADD/ADHD is not a one size fits all. Diagnoses and the variations within the learning disability itself are as vast as those of Asperger’s and Autism, with the crucial misunderstanding that ADD/ADHD is a behavioral problem controlled by stimulants, that is not the case. The purpose of this article is not to blame or accuse but rather to gently inform the reader that it is unacceptable to diagnose the “problem-child” as having ADD/ADHD. It is to impart knowledge on what actually constitutes the learning disability and to clarify that it is not primarily behavioral. The loud, disobedient, disruptive, quarrelsome, ornery child people have mistakenly come to know as having ADD/ADHD is nowhere near the quiet child who looks at the books on the shelves in the library who volunteers when asked to demonstrate an End-Game in Chess and knows the play-by-play, piece-for-piece by heart, and displays a deep sense of sincerity and compassion when corrected (they do not talk back to, challenge, or question authority figures). Further, they demonstrate a deeper understanding of the game than would otherwise be common of a child of his/her young age. It is surprising that this child is the highest achiever in the class, but by no common standard- strictly by their own understanding- which was not memorized. Theirs is a deep-rooted understanding. The former, the ornery and disobedient child most likely will not know the class material, and will especially not understand the class material on a deeper fundamental level than would be common for a person of their age or experience…
Lastly, they are calm. They do not challenge others and do not expect others to challenge them. It has been shown that marijuana acts similarly to the stimulants Ritalin and Adderall in those with ADD/ADHD and it has been proven that marijuana helps them focus and get higher grades. If anything, they might be mistaken for a marijuana smoker. The mistaken understanding of these learning disabilities does not do anyone any good; not those with actual learning disabilities, nor those with behavioral disorders which have come to be known as demonstrative of ADD/ADHD… there has been a cultural misdiagnosis and it needs to stop.