Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



An Elusive Disorder

Shlomo Dovid Freedman, MA, MBA

Most medical conditions are easy to spot. But attention deficit disorder (ADD) falls into a category of its own — not only is it similar to hundreds of other conditions, but the symptoms look like regular character flaws (think impulsivity and absentmindedness). The result: Millions of people remain undiagnosed — and untreated.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ADD

Since ADD has been so publicized over the years, most of us assume we have the basic facts straight. But that’s not actually the case. For instance, many people associate ADD with hyperactivity. But in truth, 40 percent of children with ADD aren’t hyperactive, and among those who are, the hyperactivity decreases with age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are three subtypes of ADD.

The least common is “primarily hyperactive.” In children this shows up simply as hyperactivity, while in adults it’s usually expressed by restlessness, impulsivity, or emotional outbursts. There’s also “primarily inattentive,” which describes someone who has difficulty sustaining attention over time, as well as resisting internal and external distractions. People with this type are also prone to over-thinking or daydreaming. Most commonly, ADDers fall into the third category, which is a combination of both types.

Although these subtypes are well established, there’s actually no simple profile for someone with ADD. For instance, while many ADDers find reading difficult and unrewarding, others become avid readers, writers, and academics. Many ADDers drop out of school or yeshivah, while others become talmidei chachamim and
PhDs. The ADDers of the hyperactive type are often highly emotional and excitable, while inattentive ones tend to be detached daydreamers.
 
While the cause of ADD is not completely known, genetics play a big role. In fact, your parents’ genes play a greater role in whether or not you have ADD than in
how intelligent you are. Few personal attributes are more “heritable” — i.e., determined by genetics — than ADD.
 
The genetic link is so strong that Dr. Umesh Jain — ADD authority and child and adolescent psychiatrist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) — will question an ADD diagnosis of anyone lacking relatives with strong ADD symptoms. Research has also shown that a person with ADD has a 50 percent chance of having at least one parent with the condition.
 
Other factors have also been linked to the disorder, such as birth trauma. If a woman smokes during pregnancy, it can also increase the risk of her child developing ADD.
 
It’s equally important to know what does not cause ADD. The condition cannot be brought on by bad middos, such as laziness or a lack of discipline. And despite popular notions, parents cannot cause their children to develop ADD through insufficient discipline, sugar, video games, or food additives. Although these things can aggravate the symptoms of ADD, they in no way give rise to the disorder. (For more ADD myths, see sidebar.) Furthermore, addressing these factors cannot alleviate the underlying condition.
 
ADD is a developmental disorder, meaning that it appears approximately by the age of seven. Although there’s no “adult onset” of ADD, it’s possible that a person’s ADD might not cause significant impairments until later in life. This was the case with me; I only discovered that I had ADD when I was middle-aged.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
No Misunderstandings
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Hashem revealed the secret of a balanced life
What Was the Court’s Rush?
Yonoson Rosenblum The Democratic Party’s descent into madness
Survey? Oy Vey
Eytan Kobre How could YAFFED promote such a farce?
Filling the Void
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik Jewish leaders don’t need to be declared or coronated
Top 5 Ways We Remember Our Rebbeim (and we love them for it!)
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin An ode to these pivotal people in my life
Hanging On in Newark
Rabbi Nosson Scherman Rabbi Nosson Scherman remembers the shul of his youth
A Fine Kettle of Fish
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman The “minor” chasadim are often the most meaningful
The Next Hill
Jacob L. Freedman The look on Malachi’s face nearly broke my heart
Tradition and Modern Meet in One Long Dance
Riki Goldstein Fusing tradition and modernity comes naturally to him
A Playlist for Shabbos
Riki Goldstein What does Moshy Kraus sing at the Shabbos table?
With Flying Colors
Riki Goldstein My 15 seconds of fame on the Carnegie Hall stage
Full Faith
Faigy Peritzman With emunah, everyone’s obligation is the same
Speechless
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Silence isn’t always golden
The Only One
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Within every Jew is the flame of instinctive emunah