View Full Version : Some thoughts on understanding lectures and such.

07-04-13, 03:02 PM
Looking at an issue on ADHD reporting and education.

Over time the individuals have brought up that the descriptions of ADHD in books and in lectures on the web do not fit them. For example, "Someone said that ADHDers are bad drivers. The experts are wrong because I am ADHD and I have never had a ticket much less been in an accident. "

This is an issue that comes up from time to time and I think it can be a bit confusing. Mostly it is an issue of not clearly understanding what science/psychology can say and what it cannot say.

Here is where I think the problem may reside in many cases: A very important thing to realize is that Psychology is not very good at predicting what an individual might do. People are just too complicated and we do not yet have the skills or knowledge to say a lot about any one individual will do, at least with any consistency of accuracy.

What we can do however is to predict with good accuracy what groups will do. What percentage will do this and what percentage will not do that? We can tell what percentage of ADHDers in a given group will get tickets or have accidents as well as how severe the accidents will be especially in comparison with similar populations who are not ADHD.

The research is really good at this. The results on issues like this are normally very consistent, very reliable and the bigger the group the more consistent and reliable they will be. This kind of research is almost always statistical and as such deals with groups. If you do not understand this, a lot of what is being said will be confusing.

What often happens is that experts like Barkley will discuss what the impact of ADHD may be and the characteristics seen in the ADHD population. Some may see the statements to be directed at them and ge upset but, for the most part, they are not.

As an example of this, (and this comes up from time to time) Barkley states that ADHD children do not use knowledge or learning to shape their behavior. It is not that they don't want to but that they really can't; the old thing that ADHD kids know what to do but can't do what they know is applicable. He is not saying that ADHD causes a learning difficulty, he is not saying that your child cannot learn.

What he is saying is that ADHD kids can learn as well as any other comparable kid but they cannot use that knowledge very well to regulate behavior. They cannot effectively use internal language to the self to do what they know. It is simply a part of ADHD. This applies to most and is what we normally see but perhaps may not apply to all and there are big differences in severity.

Now we know that non of this will apply equally to all ADHD kids. Some parents and teachers will stress teaching ADHD good behavior skills. For some it may work at least to some extent but this does not take away from the fact that for most ADHD kids, teaching behavior/social/structure skills is not very effective, it just doesn't work very well. The research clearly shows this. For ADHD kids, the motivation to regulate behaviors must come from outside themselves. If a parent or teacher focuses on telling children what they need to do and expects this to solve the problem then there is likely to be a lot of fighting, yelling and battle. For the most, the best solution is to put the consequences in the environment. If parents and teachers ignore the research, chances will be missed to help the children.

I know that to some, this kind of language can sound absolute and even hard but it is not intended to be. It is discussing what we see in "most" ADHD kids. There can easily be cases with children where this does not play as big a factor but for most the statement is accurate. It is there where we normally see results.

In most lectures/publications, it is assumed that the audience understands this. If you note, in the books and lectures aimed at the general public rather than professional, more detail is usually gone into, more statistics and more probability statements are used.

Many of the lecturers do not do as good of a job dealing with issues under discussion in this post as they might so I thought it might be helpful to examine it a little.

Most in the field understand full well that if you know one ADHD person, you know one ADHD person. There is a huge variety of individual manifestations of the disorder, perhaps as many as there are people diagnosed with it so little can be said accurately about an individual that a clinician has not assessed.

But what is also understood by those in the field is that when it comes to understanding groups, psychology is very good at it and we can come to understand a lot about ADHD using these methods.

What I suggest is to keep the group issue in mind. Almost all research on this kind that I am aware of uses groups and not individuals in the studies. It is just the way science works in these settings.

So, I suggest that the individual listen or read with all of this in mind and not get upset if you or someone you know does not fit exactly into the lecture statements. It will help in understanding the science and perhaps keep the blood pressure down a little.

I hope this will help understanding of some of the videos and publications on ADHD. If you don't understand how this works, it can be very confusing and again, we don't explain it well enough in my opinion.

Just some thoughts. Simplified a little perhaps but overall, I think fairly accurate.

Take care,