[LMB] On ADHD

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Sat Oct 19 04:25:42 BST 2019


---- On Thu, 17 Oct 2019 14:03:02 -0700 Eric Oppen <mailto:ravenclaweric at gmail.com> wrote ----

If ADHD showed in adults we would place it in the mania spectrum, I believe.




Beatrice Otter
Wrong on two counts!

First: it does show up in adults.  People don't grow out of it.  Symptoms change with age but they don't go away.  Children with ADD grow up into adults with ADD.  (In the same way, autistic children become autistic adults.)  The fact that we look for it in children and not in adults says more about our prejudices about the condition than about the actual condition.

I hang out on tumblr a bit, and tumblr has high ADD/ADHD visibility.  That is, people with the condition often post about their symptoms and how they manage them.  Which leads to a steady stream people who have ADD but were never diagnosed* going "That's an ADD symptom?  I thought I was just lazy/stupid/bad for not being able to do $thing that everyone else does!"  Then they either learn better coping skills from other people with ADD or get medicated and find that things that most people can do that they never could suddenly become possible.

Like autism, ADD/ADHD looks different in adults than it does in children.  As the brain develops with age, so does the condition.  Not to mention, most people learn coping skills as they grow

Second, ADD/ADHD has nothing in common with mania.  Mania is a mood disorder, and ADD/ADHD is an executive function disorder.

Mania is when your brain gets very overactive and you get either euphoric or irritated, and get lots and lots of energy.

Executive function is the part of your brain that controls:
+Task initiation (getting started on something)
+Emotional control (your ability to regulate your emotions)
+Working memory (your ability to hold onto information you need for the current task at hand)
+Flexibility control (your ability to roll with the punches)
+Planning and prioritizing (your ability to figure out what steps need to be taken in order to achieve a goal, and what order those steps need to be in for everything to come together correctly)
+Self monitoring (your ability to keep track and evaluate your performance on regular tasks)
+Impulse control (your ability to stop and think before acting)
+Organization (your ability to keep track of information and things)
It has nothing to do with energy levels, but rather with your ability to productively channel your energy at whatever level you happen to have it at the moment.


*ADHD is overdiagnosed in white boys and underdiagnosed in everyone else; in girls and children of color, the hyperactivity is often dismissed as the child simply being bad or stupid.  ADD is underdiagnosed in everyone because there's no hyperactivity; the child is perfectly capable of sitting quietly when directed to, so the parent or teacher isn't annoyed enough to notice how they veer between completely unfocused and hyperfocused, and how many problems they're having with tasks that other children of their development stage have mastered.  When they do have problems with school and assigned tasks, it's often dismissed as them just "not trying hard enough".



Beatrice Otter


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