Attention Deficit Disorder is a collection of traits that reflects a child’s natural neurological nature. Positive traits include spontaneity, creativity and the ability to lock onto and hyper focus on tasks of the child’s own choosing. There are also some traits that present some potential problems. These include selective attention, distractibility, impulsivity and sometimes hyperactivity. Depending on how they are perceived and shaped, the combination of traits can work to a child’s advantage or disadvantage. ADD is a very wide-ranging group. In order to qualify for a diagnoses, the behaviours/traits must be out of line with children of the same age and they must be causing impairment of functioning at home or school. All children are impulsive, distractible, and inattentive some of the time, ADD children are like this most of the time. ADD poses a lot of challenges and understanding why your child behaves in a certain way, will help you meet these challenges.
- Sustained attention: “ He can’t stick to the assigned task”.
- Hyper focus: “He is fine when he is doing his own thing, like watching TV or playing video games, or when he is in a novel situation”.
- Switching of attention: “He finds it difficult to switch for one subject to another and will still be talking about mathematics even though the teacher has moved on to spelling”.
- “This is so boring!”: Often a complaint from an ADD student. Parents and teachers should understand that material itself is not the only problem.
- Filtering of information: “He is unable to filter out background information. Can’t hear instructions when there is background noise”.
- Distractibility: “His thoughts seem scattered. He has many different ideas popping into his mind, faster than one can keep up. He often tunes out while he is being spoken to”. Thom Hartman compares the ADD person, to a hunter who is constantly scanning his environment for signs of prey or danger. So in class the hunter’s mind notices someone’s new shoes, while supposedly listening to the teacher.
- Impulsivity: “He acts before he thinks. He blurts things out and makes careless errors, like adding when the sign is for subtraction”. The ADD person tends to be accident prone, loses things and breaks things, acts impulsively in social situations and in the classroom. Tells lies impulsively and is intensely curious.
- Hyperactivity: “He is always on the move and finds it difficult to keep his hands and feet still and when he is forced to sit still, he can even fall asleep at times”.
Other inborn traits:
- Intensity: Being very intense may get some ADD children labelled as trouble makers.
- Tendency to overreact: ADD children can be very enthusiastic, but can also react as if their whole world has just collapsed. They need their needs to be met now.
- Managed by the moment: They are governed by what is happening now. They don’t learn from their past, nor do they think very far into the future.
- A need for frequent rewards: ADD children cannot be tempted by a reward that is a whole morning or even an hour away.
Other traits include poor handwriting, low arousal level, lack of consistency, poor listening skills, forgetfulness, poor sense of time, trouble with transitions and egocentricity. On the positive side, ADD children are spontaneous, creative fast thinking, tenacious and have high energy levels with hyper productivity. Many children with ADD are extraordinarily bright and talented, but left unrecognised and not carefully managed can become a disability.
At The ADD Lab we specialise in the diagnoses and treatment of ADD and other neurological difficulties. The correct diagnoses aids us in customising a treatment programme for every client we see. Because no brain is the same.