Saturday, July 14, 2007

This column by Dr. Dobson from today's paper explained some of what I went through as a child, who probably had some sort of ADD. I was very rarely described as quiet, withdrawn or sedate, though. I was more of a smart-aleck, class clown and quite often reprimanded for daydreaming, not paying attention, not finishing my work, performing poorly on tests, not turning in homework. Most of my teachers called me lazy and scatter-brained. "You are smart enough to make straight A's if you would work at it," they told me often. The repetition required for most students bored me to tears, of course, my mind was a million miles away! "Underachiever" appears in several places on my transcript.

Question and Answer

My daughter has some of the symptoms of ADD, but she is a very quiet child. Are some ADD kids withdrawn and sedate?

Yes. ADD is not always associated with hyperactivity, especially in girls. Some of them are "dreamy" and detached. Regrettably, they are sometimes called "airheads" or "space cadets." Such a child can sit looking at a book for 45 minutes without reading a word. One teacher told me about a girl in her class who would lose every article of clothing that wasn't hooked to her body. Nearly every day, the teacher would send this child back to the playground to retrieve her sweater or coat, only to have her return fifteen minutes later without it. She had forgotten what she went after. A boy or girl with that kind of distractibility would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get home night after night with books and assignments written down, and then to complete the work and turn it in the next morning.

Frankly, the "faraway" child worries me more than the one who is excessively active. She may be seen as a good little girl who just isn't very bright, while the troublemaker is more likely to get the help he needs. He's too irritating to ignore.

Those who are and are not hyperactive have one characteristic in common. It is distractibility. Even though they flit from one thing to another, the name attention deficit disorder is not quite on target. It's better than the old term ("minimal brain damage"), but there is also misinformation in the current designation. The problem is not that these children have a short attention span. At times, they can become lost in something that greatly interests them to the point that they aren't aware of anything going on around them. Instead, they have an insatiable need for mental stimulation during every waking moment. The moment they become bored with what they are doing, they dash off in search of the next exciting possibility. One father told me about his four-year-old son with ADD. He said, "If you let that kid get bored, you deserve what he's going to do to you." That applies to millions of children.

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