Re: The Myth of the ADD Child

Teresa Gallagher (
Fri, 27 Mar 1998 22:18:54 -0500

Part I - vaccinations
Part II - More books

> Sile Na Gig wrote:

> I just finished reading "A Shot in the Dark" by Harris Coulter and
> Barbara Loe Fisher, and I have a suspicion about the "increasing"
> incidence of ADD/ADHD and a possible connection to vaccination &
> vaccination reations- Anyone out there willing to bite?
OK, I'll bite. I love formulating theories on the fly.

I'm not familiar with that book, but I've heard that early immunizations
may be responsible for immune system problems like asthma. I assume
that's the angle (?). ADDers have a much higher rate of allergies/
asthma, so some connection seems reasonable.

On the other hand, there's a question of cause and effect. ADDers
usually have hypersensitivities and overexcitabilities, often including
mental, physical, emotional, sensual and imaginational. (BTW, so do high
IQ and highly creative individuals). The entire nervous system is
delicate and responds quickly. Allergies may simply be a manifestion of
that tendency towards "hyper-reaction." Another common condition is
hypoglycemia (the opposite of diabetes, sort-of), which is caused by an
over-reactive pancreas. OK, and eating too much sugar. Moodiness results
as neurochemical levels bounce up and down, and ADDer apparently have
fewer, but more sensitive, neuroreceptors.

ADD is now believed to be largely hereditary; a creative temperament one
is born with. I wouldn't be at all surprised if ADD prone infants were
more likely to have a severe reaction to immunizations than others
because of their general hyper-reactivity. Then, on top of a tendency
toward ADD, they now also have to deal with asthma or allergies, both of
which aggrevate ADD. If that's the case, then the immunization wouldn't
be exactly creating ADD, but aggrevating it.

BTW, I'm reading a book called ADD and Creativity - Tapping Your Inner
Muse, by Lynn Weiss, Ph.D, 1997, and I just got another article about
the coincidence of ADHD and creativity from Dr. Bonnie Cramond. It's
really good and I'll probably ask her if I can reprint it. It was
originally published in the Journal of Creative Behavior, Volume 28,
Number 3 Third Quarter 1994 ("Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
and Creativity - What is the connection?"). The article lists the traits
of ADHD and Creativite individuals side by side: it's amazing how
similar the two are. Cramond is opposed to the standard of breaking
down cirriculum into small parts and making classrooms more rigid. In
her view, this only makes the school more boring and intolerable, when
the kids actually need creative teaching.

Her second article (more technical than this one) I reprinted online at

A book I would highly, highly recommend to anyone involved with kids or
teaching is "The Edison Trait - Saving the Spirit of Your Nonconforming
Child" by Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D., 1997. The "Edison Trait" is loosely
applied to about 20% of the population, going beyond clinical ADD (all
ADDers have the Edison Trait, but not all Edison Trait kids are ADD).
An amazing book that describes what are often highly intelligent and
creative kids, their sensitivity, how they see the world, and how they
should be related to. The author created three basic types of Edison
Trait kids: Dreamers (pretend world), Discoverers ("What if I put the
cat's tail in an electrical socket? And I could charge admission!"
<dtzzzz>") and Dynamos ("I'm a superhero! <crash, bang, wonk, 5
stitches>). Kids are often a combination of the three. The author also
believes that most ADD is really caused by a mismatch between
environment and child.