View Full Version : The Myth of the ADD Child


StayWithMeHere
10-18-04, 04:08 PM
50 Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion -by Thomas Armstrong, PhD.

It think it's important not to overlook this book, and I think it WILL be overlooked by many because the title is off-putting in my opinion. It does have some good ideas inside for helping ADD kids, whether you believe in them or not.

Armstrong starts off by saying he doesn't "believe in" ADD but it's just splitting hairs in the end. By the time he explains himself, you will be thoroughly puzzled as to why he doesn't believe in ADD. He obviously recognizes that there are kids out there who fit a certain description, i.e, ADD. He ends up calling them "children labeled ADD" throughout the book, much like "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince." Removing the name doesn't change much!

The main points I got out of this book:

The author believes that ADD has some root cause, which varies from person to person, and therefore the diagnosis of ADD should not be the end of the discussion.

I happen to agree with that one. I don't think that my own ADD is "just ADD" either. I can make lifestyle choices that improve my functioning, but I have yet to see the ADD symptoms completely go away. So for now, the "ADD Label" is the one that seems the most suitable.

The book provides the usual non-drug strategies, such as eating a balanced breakfast, the Feingold Diet, Limiting TV and Video Games.

He believes that labeling a kid as ADD usually results in significant damage to self-image.

I was surprized by this thought, because being diagnosed as an adult, I found my diagnosis to be a huge relief! But he argues that kids, especially in the special education system at school, don't typically have a positive experience. So, the question is, do you ever want to "come out" as having ADD? We've all heard stories of adults who would have been better off keeping ADD a secret from their employers. The author suggests that there might be some benefits to NOT seeking formal accomodations, but to try some of his suggestions instead.

Overall, worth the read. Not sure what to make of his "non-believer" status, since he seems to understand ADD pretty well. He has a lot of good suggestions. I also think that much of the book applies to adults as well.


Jen

f_wcomboadhd
10-19-04, 11:55 PM
wow jen ...WOW..this is a really interesting post:
I totally agree w/ your opinion that this title is off-putting , that would be the least in terms of describing the negativity of that title. he is refuting the dsmv, he's disputing every one of us that has adhd...
now i am actually looking at this in a very calm manner and i'm willing to consider his premises.
if in fact most children in 'special education' settings suffer from negative experiences then perhaps rather than saying "avoid it all costs including being in the closet about a potentially life altering disorder" is ridiculous. how about addressing that the system itself is in need of change- or even that there are other alternatives also. (right now i'm way too damn tired to think of those alternatives - i'm running on empty from barely any sleep+school+fulltimejob+family)
to say don't tell your kid or anyone else that he may have adhd -and saying the only other option is a terribly negative experience i think is itself untenable
as far as the first statement, certainly this needs to be investigated. that goes without saying, for if we do not have a satisfactory conclusion on why we have adhd present in the population than what hope do we have for any major improvement on our outlook in life? we need to know the root causes that is the essence of a decent scientific line of thought...

"I happen to agree with that one. I don't think that my own ADD is "just ADD" either. I can make lifestyle choices that improve my functioning, but I have yet to see the ADD symptoms completely go away. So for now, the "ADD Label" is the one that seems the most suitable."

what does 'just add' mean? (controversy disclaimer: keep in mind here i'm not trying to attack or offend you in any way, just trying to understand your perspective better-and simply stating why i respectfully disagree)
you say also that 'you can make lifestyle choices that improve my functioning..and that you have yet to see the symptoms go away completely.
wouldn't this be the same as saying:
there are different root causes of cancer
therefore we must investigate those variety of causes
therefore if i can actively improve my lifestyle choices: i.e. eating more vegetables, exercising properly, being positive-if i still have symptoms, than i have more than 'just cancer' or even 'just the propensity to develop it'
then this means there is no such thing as cancer.
hmm.
i totally disagree with this line of thinking. i think that its fallacious and doesn't have a leg to stand on.
do we need to know more about our condition ? yes
can we actively participate in improving our lives for ourselves? yes
must we act like this is 1) an easy thing for a lot of us to do b/c of our very condition and 2) we suck b/c of that...b/c that would mean geez. we're lazy.
guess what?
normal ppl are too. normal ppl are also unmotivated.
but in the grand scheme of things there is a spectrum and a range for everything.
and what i mean by this is: there are those that fit in the middle ..yeah the bell curve scenario and we represent a particular extreme...
some ppl are smarter..some ppl not so..same w/ creativity, height, sense of smelll ETC

so why is it so hard to say that a particular group of ppl exist on this planet that exhibit out of a whole class of symptoms a case whereby they have more than the average joe and consistently through our lives and its affected us ...that ADHD EXISTS.
i know that you say its not a big deal b/c we can just learn from the concepts he puts forth
but i disagree.
i dont even think that his whole line , based on what you're telling me, is worth it.
but you know what? i will read that book.
i'll find out for myself.

thanks

f_wcomboadhd
10-20-04, 12:12 AM
oh yes i forgot
as far as the impact of finding out in one's adulthood that you have a disorder that you've been suffering from your whole life, that SUCKS
i wouldn't have personally been put in a special education system as i personally do not have any issues learning most normal academic concepts -my weaknesses being spatial physical things like learning how to drive etc, which is not a big deal in school, plus my main issues at school are: deadlines-i've failed classes specifically b/c of that, impatience-and issues organizing and particularly writing a paper for college b/c it was just difficult organizing my ideas in that format, i could speak to you and tell you exactly what would impress upon you that i understand the concepts in any of my classes back then 'pre diagnoses' period of my life..
why am i explaining all of this?
talk about the horrible self image we get when we've faltered trying to jump through life's average hoops? when most others can do so and very swimmingly?
i had a horrible perception of myself, my abilities and lack thereof and what that meant in terms of being able to do anything with my life if i can't even manage to turn homework in on time and i'd forget ton's of important crap all of the time...
finally knowing i have adhd was key. i hated it at first. i was in denial completely and only when i married and had my son did adhd impact me so hard as to make me seek within myself to get a handle on my life.
i agree with you jen it was a huge relief.
if i had known when i was a child-maybe some adults around me could of helped me knowing that i had some particular weaknesses and thinking of ways to cope with them instead of shaking their heads b/c a particularly bright student was LAZY and UNMOTIVATED. etc.
i am the most motivated and unlazy person i know.
i just can't follow through in a way that other ppl can. i get overwhelmed easily.

please don't think i'm harping on you.
it is true that this is very rant like, and hell it may even be an authentic rant

but its just sooooooo frustrating
to have the ONE disorder in the world that people think is FAKE

you know what?
in freud's day women didn't have trauma due to early forced sexual experiences, they had something called 'hysteria' which meant pretty much that all these suffering women who were traumatized or otherwise mentally ill were just lumped into a box titled weak woman syndrome. it wasn't pretend. it wasn't fake. it wasn't b/c those women were weak. it was b/c ppl refused to see what was actually before them in the context that they were living in-science wise and culturally.

i surely do hope i'm making sense.
b/c i could use a coma's worth of sleep right now...

sincerly
mary

StayWithMeHere
10-23-04, 02:38 AM
Well I am similarly sleep deprived, and I hope I make some sense here....

What I meant by saying that I didn't think my ADD was "just ADD": There are many different root causes. Rather than ADD *being the cause,* it is caused by many different things. That's what this guy is getting at.

In the end, it's a fairly trivial distinction rather than a practical distinction. We all still have the symptoms, whether ADD "exists" or not. Well, I hope you read the book because I think it's an important idea, and it has a lot of other good (practical) ideas in it besides.

Jen

GirlDriver
10-23-04, 12:51 PM
Jen,
You continue to be an excellent book reviewer. Very good work here girl.
GD

50 Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion -by Thomas Armstrong, PhD.

It think it's important not to overlook this book, and I think it WILL be overlooked by many because the title is off-putting in my opinion. It does have some good ideas inside for helping ADD kids, whether you believe in them or not.

Armstrong starts off by saying he doesn't "believe in" ADD but it's just splitting hairs in the end. By the time he explains himself, you will be thoroughly puzzled as to why he doesn't believe in ADD. He obviously recognizes that there are kids out there who fit a certain description, i.e, ADD. He ends up calling them "children labeled ADD" throughout the book, much like "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince." Removing the name doesn't change much!

The main points I got out of this book:

The author believes that ADD has some root cause, which varies from person to person, and therefore the diagnosis of ADD should not be the end of the discussion.

I happen to agree with that one. I don't think that my own ADD is "just ADD" either. I can make lifestyle choices that improve my functioning, but I have yet to see the ADD symptoms completely go away. So for now, the "ADD Label" is the one that seems the most suitable.

The book provides the usual non-drug strategies, such as eating a balanced breakfast, the Feingold Diet, Limiting TV and Video Games.

He believes that labeling a kid as ADD usually results in significant damage to self-image.

I was surprized by this thought, because being diagnosed as an adult, I found my diagnosis to be a huge relief! But he argues that kids, especially in the special education system at school, don't typically have a positive experience. So, the question is, do you ever want to "come out" as having ADD? We've all heard stories of adults who would have been better off keeping ADD a secret from their employers. The author suggests that there might be some benefits to NOT seeking formal accomodations, but to try some of his suggestions instead.

Overall, worth the read. Not sure what to make of his "non-believer" status, since he seems to understand ADD pretty well. He has a lot of good suggestions. I also think that much of the book applies to adults as well.


Jen

StayWithMeHere
10-23-04, 02:20 PM
OK, I'm back and now I understand what you are saying here, I'll try to answer it as best I can....

you say also that 'you can make lifestyle choices that improve my functioning..and that you have yet to see the symptoms go away completely.
wouldn't this be the same as saying:
there are different root causes of cancer
therefore we must investigate those variety of causes
therefore if i can actively improve my lifestyle choices: i.e. eating more vegetables, exercising properly, being positive-if i still have symptoms, than i have more than 'just cancer' or even 'just the propensity to develop it'
then this means there is no such thing as cancer.
hmm.
i totally disagree with this line of thinking. i think that its fallacious and doesn't have a leg to stand on.



What I have experienced as I worked with an ADD Coach for two years is that a lot of my problems are not the ADD, but they are things that are common to ADDers. The more research I do, the muddier the waters become for me, as to what ADD is and is not. I think that too many people only take their treatment as far as taking meds, when they could get so much more back if they dig deeper.

I am very sensitive to fluctuations in blood sugar, although I do not have hypoglycemia or diabetes. I must eat regularly (every 2 1/2 to 3 hours) or my cognitive function declines, and I am limited for the rest of the day on what I can do. Before I recognized this, I was at the mercy of my blood sugar fluctuations. I would have "bad brain days" and not know why.

I have terrible PMS. I didn't even think I had PMS when I started working with this coach! Just goes to show that a lack of self-awareness can cost you big-time. I am able make the PMS-related insomnia go away by using light treatments in the mornings, 15 minutes a day. I also take an herbal product, intended only for PMS, that helps me to focus, in fact it works so well that I was able to turn the tables on PMS and now function BETTER during that time than during the rest of my cycle.

I feel a lot better and can get more done, be more focused, if I exercise. Time passes more slowly, so in effect I have longer days when I exercise.

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For me, this means that I experience some real difficulties when I don't use my light box. For years I had recognized that in February I became depressed and had trouble functioning. It was getting worse every year. When I read up on SAD, I discovered that it's not uncommon to experience the symptoms as late as February, or March. And then again after switching from Daylight Saving Time around April. Sure enough, when I tracked it, I was able to see the pattern.

So it turned out that the things that other things besides ADD were affecting my functioning MORE than ADD. And I have a feeling that the more I learn, the more I can help myself.

I am not saying that I don't have ADD, because I do fit the DSM description, and the meds help tremendously. So far I have not found an adequate substitute for medication.

It's just that the more I educate myself the more I have trouble seeing ADD as "just ADD." It reminds me of the story of the blind men trying to describe an elephant. Well, I'm trying to figure out the whole elephant! I know it's a big job, but I've got nothing better to do....


Jen

f_wcomboadhd
10-25-04, 10:03 AM
that makes total sense jen...

jenni4476
11-17-04, 07:22 PM
if in fact most children in 'special education' settings suffer from negative experiences then perhaps rather than saying "avoid it all costs including being in the closet about a potentially life altering disorder" is ridiculous. how about addressing that the system itself is in need of change- or even that there are other alternatives also.

to say don't tell your kid or anyone else that he may have adhd -and saying the only other option is a terribly negative experience i think is itself untenable

I totally agree with you there..couldn't have said it better myself.

I homeschooled my son for a while as an alternative...made that decision before I knew I and probably he are ADHD. I just knew something was wrong...and yes, society is messed up that way!

I still am reluctant to have him dx'd b/c of the stigma. I'm an adult and only have told my close friends, I have judgment as to when it's appropriate but he doesn't and shouldn't have it forced on him. I also have very little confidence in our local school district...the school he was in originally labeled him as a troublemaker and did nothing but come down on him more harshly, so I pulled him out and taught him myself for a while. that increased his morale tremendously, I unconsciously knew what he needed, having suffered through it myself.

Because of problems I now know were caused by my own ADHD, I had to put him back in school, but I fought with the district to have him attend a different one and it has made a world of difference. The whole environment is much more supportive, every kid is on a point behavior system (not just him as was the case in the original school), and he is doing wonderfully.

So for now, I'm just going to continue monitoring his situation and try and teach him strategies to deal with it without labeling it or making him feel different b/c of it. Try and help him without him knowing anything other than that I am like him and I understand him even if no one else does.

The effect of singling him out in any way as different was traumatic enough the first time through, I'm not going to risk it again unless it becomes absolutely necessary. So far he's functioning relatively well with just my help...

mctavish23
08-16-10, 12:42 PM
Wow,

After nearly 27 years of clinical practice and a life time of living with what I thought

was supposed to be ADHD, this one individual has suddenly called BS on everything

I live & suffer with,studied for 25 years, and work with everyday.

Damn.

Go figure.

There are MANY comordid conditions connected with ADHD, as well as other conditions

that can "mimic" it.

However, as a Licensed Clinical /Child Psychologist with severe ADHD-C type, I can tell

you that unless the clinician has used an evidence based protocol, which is rarely the

case, then I don't know if the child (or adolescent/adult) really has ADHD.

I DO KNOW however, that ADHD isn't a "myth".

I also know that any douchebag with a PhD or MD after their name can write a book.

tc

mctavish23

(Robert)