On A.D.D.

I’m not an ADD specialist; I’m just a relatively experienced end user with ADD who also has kids with ADD. Back in the early 60s, my parents had me tested for ADD (although it wasn’t called ADD back then). In fact, they had me tested twice, once at UCLA and once with an educational therapist in Westwood, California. Due to my extremely bad grades in school, my parents didn’t believe the test results when my I.Q. test came back at 165 -- they were a tad skeptical to say the least, which is why I was tested a second time with the same results. Had they had the proper diagnostics and treatment forty years ago, then my life as an ADD’er would have been less painful all throughout my education.

In my profession there is a saying, “behind every successful composer, there is a very surprised mother-in-law.” This doesn’t correlate directly to ADD; however, there has been a disproportionately high number of successful ADD composers and other artists throughout history. I hope this writing will inspire those who secretly wish to seek treatment. In many ways, this text is written as my way of saying thanks to those professionals who have helped me realize my full potential through the appropriate use of ADD.



It is assumed that you have already had your child properly diagnosed by a knowledgeable, well-trained clinician. Good clinicians can be developmental pediatricians, child psychologists or pediatric neurologists and psychiatrists. It is also assumed that you are familiar with general AD/HD symptoms such as hyperactivity, trouble following through with instructions, distraction, anxiety, predisposition to addiction and impulsive behavior. As a parent of an ADD child—and as an individual with ADD himself---the goal of this primer is to help fellow parents deal with a child’s ADD on an emotional and practical level.

By shedding light on the rarely discussed positive aspects of ADD, this primer should allow parents to start thinking about the social relevance of ADD rather than the negative attributes of the condition and its social stigma. This document is not intended to provide professional advice or diagnostic service; it is assumed that you are already consulting a qualified healthcare professional. For those of you who wish to learn more about ADD in general (i.e. the different types of ADD and their clinical treatments), I have listed the Web sites of several support groups on the back pages.

I cannot stress enough the importance of having your child clinically diagnosed by a qualified ADD specialist before assuming that your child has ADD, or ADHD (as all forms of ADD are now called). Unfortunately, off-handed assessments by non-professionals often leave children in need of treatment for entirely different disorders. This is why you must be absolutely certain that your child has been properly diagnosed by a knowledgeable, well-trained clinician specializing in ADD before proceeding with any form of ADD medical treatment.

ADD Put in Perspective:

Albert Einstein, Galileo, Mozart, Henry Ford, Robin Williams, Nelson Rockefeller, Gen. George Patton, Louis Pasteur, Benjamin Franklin, Agatha Christie, “Magic” Johnson and Walt Disney are just a few of the extraordinary people who had or who currently have some ADD symptoms. If talented people have ADD, why is ADD an issue today? If it wasn’t for college entrance exams, you probably wouldn’t seek treatment for your child; you most certainly wouldn’t be reading this document. Social perception is a powerful force. While the 1991 decision by Congress to classify ADD as a disability has helped many people financially, it has also added to ADD’s social stigma. The label ‘Attention Deficit Disorder’ is somewhat misleading, or at the very least incomplete, because like everything else in life, ADD is not a black or white issue -- it’s gray. The ADD label helps obscure our society’s view of the big picture. ADD could just as easily have been labeled “Learning Curve Difference From the Norm,” or “Emotional Development Difference From the Norm,” to name a few.

Attention Deficit Disorder – the label that stuck – is negative in description and reinforces how our culture is predisposed to disconnect ADD from the meaningful contributions certain individuals with ADD have made to society. To add insult to injury, the powers that be decided to change the generic reference of ADD to Attention Deficit Hyperactivy Disorder (ADHD.) Out of respect to my fellow ADD’ers, I’ll still use the old generic term ADD, which is degrading enough. Regardless of the label, ADD symptoms do exist, and through treatment we can effectively integrate ADD into our daily lives. However, it is essential to accept that ADD never goes away completely; it’s here for life and needs constant attention. The best way to learn how to deal with ADD emotionally is to break down ADD issues into their basic components.

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