While those of us with Classic ADHD are often told that a good spanking will fix us right up, those of us with Inattentive ADD are often labeled as lazy, spacey, random, or unmotivated. Those labels hurt. As we know, the whole “disorder” issue is controversial. Is it a disorder or a gift, or both? What I can tell you is that for kids, and for those diagnosed as adults, the road is tough.
I was diagnosed not as a child but as a young adult, at age 23. As a child, people had plenty to say about me. Mostly I was told that I wasn’t motivated and wasn’t working to my potential. Someone told me those things every week when I was in 4th-6th grade. In fact, while many graduates of my experimental/alternative grade school have very fond memories of their time there, my memories are so negative that I refuse to attend class reunions. I did ask my best friend (who had a good experience at the school and goes to reunions) to say “hello” to my favorite teacher for me. His response, “Oh! How is she now? I really felt sorry for her.” Ouch.
And adults with Inattentive ADD have a hard time as well. If they can find the thing that will capture their interest, they’re in luck and can have a great life doing that. If they can’t find that thing, they will bounce from one experiment to another to another, searching aimlessly for happiness and self-esteem.
As a Coach and ADHD Strategist, it’s my job to accompany families on that search to find what “lights up” their kids, and then to map out how to get there.
In his studies, Dr. Daniel Amen notes that: “ADD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, and other conditions are not single or simple disorders. They all have multiple types. ADD affects many areas of the brain—the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum primarily, but also the anterior cingulate, the temporal lobes, the basal ganglia, and the limbic system.”
In his article in ADDitude magazine, Amen explains: “This type is associated with low activity in the prefrontal cortex and low dopamine levels. Symptoms are short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, procrastination. People with this type are not hyperactive or impulsive. They can be introverted and daydream a lot. Girls have this type as much as, or more than, boys.
Dr. Amen recommends:
“The goal, as with Classic ADD, is to boost dopamine levels. I use the supplements like the amino acid L-tyrosine, which is a building block of dopamine. Take it on an empty stomach for maximum effect. I often prescribe a stimulant like Adderall, Vyvanse or Concerta. I put patients on a high-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet, and I have them exercise.”
(I don’t know about you, but I’m off to get some L-tyrosine. Or, at least, to do more research! If you or your child is a “carbo fiend,” the cause is often low levels of dopamine).
What I see in my practice:
Inattentive ADD is so misunderstood. I get so upset when these clients are called “lazy.” They are not lazy but they do need coping skills – how to get focused, stay focused, and follow through with activities until they’re completed.
I also see these folks as less able to be stimulated. Unlike with Classic ADHD, which can feel like there’s an internal motor running, people with Inattentive ADD can feel more easily tired or bored.
It may also be very difficult to take in verbal instructions or directions because it’s hard to stay interested if the direction-giver is either talking for too long, or has interrupted work that the ADDer is actually focusing on!
For example, it takes a lot of focus to take a test or to do a class assignment. When a teacher interrupts to announce something “by the way,” the student with Inattentive ADD has a split second to decide whether to continue focusing on what’s in front of him/her, or to break that hard-won attention and switch the focus to the teacher. Which would you choose? Assignment/Test or Teacher? How does one make a right decision here? Either choice brings problems.
When a 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is in place, it’s important to make sure that directions are presented in a couple different modalities (e.g., written and spoken) and that the teacher doesn’t just check for understanding with the class as a whole, but that he/she check for understanding one-on-one with the ADD student (and not at a time that will disrupt the student’s focus!)
Take this assessment to get some idea of your or your child’s type of ADD/ADHD. This is not a substitute for medication, seeing an Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor, or getting the therapeutic or coaching help that you or your family might need.
(My information comes from ADDitude Magazine, Smart Kids with LD, Amen Clinics, and from my own experience as a former teacher and school counselor, and current ADHD Coach and Strategist.
Copyright 2017 Yafa Crane Luria All Rights Reserved
About Yafa Crane Luria
Yafa Crane Luria is a 30-year veteran teacher and school counselor, a Positive Discipline Trainer, and the author of the Mom’s Choice Award®-Winning book: How To Train Your Parents in 6 ½ Days and the Amazon Kindle Best Seller: Getting Schooled: 102 Practical Tips for Parents, Teachers, Counselors, and Students about Living and Learning with ADHD. She was diagnosed with ADHD (then called “Minimal Brain Dysfunction”) in 1980, one of the ﬁrst to be diagnosed as an adult. Yafa specializes in helping ADHD families who have tried everything and are still frustrated by their child’s or teen’s Blocked but Brilliant brain. Fun fact: Yafa’s nickname as a child was “Mountain Goat” because she climbed on EVERYTHING! She can be reached at her website: BlockedToBrilliant.com
To read about the other types of ADHD view all posts by Yafa Crane Luria here.