Recently I was chatting with a mom who kept apologizing for being late, not turning in assignments on time, and generally failing to be organized. Classic behaviors of ADHD which goes undiagnosed among girls and women missing the H (Hyperactive) component.
Having observed this young mom for a year and knowing she was smart, talented, and competent in other areas of her life, I asked her if she thought she might be ADD. “Oh, I’m sure!” she said.
When my daughter was seven, I didn’t know what Auditory Deficit Disorder was. An educator suggested S. was ADD based on how she pronounced breakfast (as brefdest). I quickly dismissed the notion with “Oh, we don’t DO that.” S. was a bright, active, happy child – she was certainly not that ADD thing!
To clarify, the term ADD is no longer used in professional circles and is a sub-type for ADHD under Neurodevelopmental Disorders categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5, for 5thEdition).
A couple years ago S., now in her thirties, and I took online assessments for Adults with ADHD. Our scores were off the charts! “Well, that explains a lot!”
In a way, I’m glad we didn’t know when she was a child. We found our own tools and strategies to manage how we lived and learned together, and we weren’t burdened by a learning-disabled label which carried enormous negative connotations twenty years ago.
We figured out tricks for breaking tasks into manageable chunks, incorporating physical activity into learning, and how not to rely on other people’s opinions as a barometer of our self-esteem. We learned how to control our restlessness in common situations, such as waiting in line (that's why there are magazines at the check-out counter!) or when listening to someone repeat information we already knew. We learned about multiple intelligences and learning styles, and that there are lots of different ways people's brains process information.
(For a comprehensive assessment for disposition, talents and learning modalities check out Power Traits for Life by pioneering researcher Mariaemma Willis.)
Now ADHD is well-known, commonly understood, and the stigma which was attached to it thirty years ago is diminished. ADHD and its sub-types: Inattentive, Impulsivity, Hyperactivity (or a Combination of these three) affects thousands of children and adults. There are 9 behaviors for Inattentive and 9 for Hyperactive-Impulsive. My daughter and I display a combination of behaviors, as is common in women who are missing that H factor.
Dr. David Rabiner, a Duke University Researcher, published a clear article on ADHD symptoms and criteria in 2013. It is worth reading if you or a family member displays these behaviors, or just to understand more about your creative friends!
These are just a few common behaviors. Go to Dr. Rabiner's article for the complete list.
Too quick in their work, make careless mistakes
Difficulty sustaining attention on routine tasks
Disorganized, messy, poor time management
Reluctant to engage in tasks – such as writing reports, filling out forms
Loses or misplaces pencils, books, purse, keys, etc.
Restless or fidgety
Often interrupts or completes other people’s sentences
Difficulty waiting in line
Note: “To possibly warrant a diagnosis of ADHD, individuals younger than 17 must display at least 6 of 9 inattentive and/or hyperactive impulsive symptoms. … For individuals 17 and above, however, only 5 or more symptoms are needed. This change … was made because of the reduction in symptoms that tends to occur with increasing age.” Rabiner
The good news is people with ADHD behavior tend to be “creative, intuitive, original… independent thinkers…imaginative, … big-hearted, generous” and “when it is managed properly, it (ADHD) can become a huge asset in one’s life.” (Dr. Hallowell. Links to his work below.) Knowing the behaviors to watch out for allows S. and I to support each other, accomplish our goals, help others, and live more fully.
So, focus on yours and your child’s strengths.
And, as always, Enjoy the Journey!
RESOURCES – You’ll find many more resources on our Special Needs page under Parent Resources.
Research article from Dr. David Rabiner, Duke University.
Dr. Hallowell – Psychiatrist and author. I like how he focuses on the positive traits of ADHD. The sidebar has links to Adult ADHD, ADHD in teens, ADHD and Marriage… lots of good stuff to read.
Healthline’s article on the difference between ADD and ADHD. The site has a ton more articles on ADHD, just scroll down for more. (contains sponsors and ads)
An online assessment for fun! (this site is also ad-based)
Also from ADDitude: https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/treating-adhd-without-medication/
When I started teaching my children in 1980 I was greatly inspired by John Holt and Maria Montessori. We blended an eclectic semi-structured approach to education.
Along with the traditional 3 R's we included music, art, drama, rock-climbing, ropes courses, group athletics, museums, natural history, hiking, magic shows and competitions, youth camps, 4-H, Scouts, gardening, personal tutors, and one-on-one instruction from friends.
It was a
It was our life - and I loved all of it!
It is my hope our experiences will inspire you in your homeward journey. Much love and joy!
Resources shared are from my own curiosity, research, and concern to find effective learning modalities and teaching aids. There are NO ads or affiliate reimbursements anywhere on this site.