Re: The Myth of the ADD Child

P Rehn (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 20:18:34 -0800 (PST)

HI all,

First, let me say that I dont believe in medicating children
for ADD or ADHD. I agree that the side effects are dangerous and most
of the "problem" would seem to lie with situation, either at home or at
school. My children attend alternative schools, Bend Community School or
a local montessori for the younger ones. They all excel in their environments
and are happy with a great peer group. Although my son is prone to
what might be termed daydreaming or whatever in a conventional
setting, in a school where he is allowed to structure his own day and chose
his own interests, he is considered to be one of most effective learners
in the school.

I have debated whether to share my own story as I have been reading these
posts regarding ADD. Now since Theresa has shared her experience,
perhaps people would be interested on my slightly different experience.
After running into a friend from grad school 20 years ago and hearing
her experience, I read a book called Women with ADD by Sari Solden.
I was absolutely astonished to see myself, my mother and my grandmother
described in the book. The book is about women with ADD but without
the hyperactivity. I have since seen a local shrink and have recently
begun taking Dexadrine. All of the symptoms which I had written off
to laziness, sloppiness, stupidity or just generally being a "bad" person have
diminished dramatically. I can clean my house. I can remember numbers.
I can leave my home and function in the community without having a
crisis to motivate me. In short, I can now do what others take for
granted as "normal".

I did go to college, at 15. I did go to grad school and have a MS
in geochemistry. I started my own business with a device I invented
and patented. I was considered extemely successful by almost every
measure. I cannot tell you the price of all this though and how incredibly much
easier it would have all been for me if I had figured all this out years
ago. I would not have thought I was stupid or insane or whatever when
I flunked a test simply because my mind went blank. As recently
as last month, I ended up in tears because I could not figure out the
number of samples to recommend to a client who was trying to contract
a $60,000 job in South America.

While it would be easy to think that my problem is "genetic" since
other members of my family seem to have the same problem, I am not
so sure that is the case. I am the last survivor in a long line of abused
children. I am convinced that my neurotransmitter deficiencies are a
result of living in crisis for my entire childhood, from infancy. I function
extremely well during horrible crisis. I continued to create crisis throughout
my life to feel "normal". As I healed from my childhood and quit creating
crisis, I effectively got stupider and stupider. I thought it was just my
true colors shining through. I cannot tell you all what it did for my self
esteem to be able to function like other people seem to, without the cheat
sheets, without the fear of all of a sudden being unable to do a simple
math problem. I am sure not all attention issues are due to child abuse but
I also expect that a great many might be.

I know this is a long post but I hope it continues to promote thoughtful
discussion on these issues.