“You have a Ferrari engine for a brain – and bicycle brakes.”
That’s how Dr. Edward Hallowell explains ADD and ADHD to his younger patients. It’s an explanation he’s used in some of the numerous books and articles that have made him a nationally recognized expert on the subject. It’s also what he told me when I met with him last week – and it’s remarkable what a difference that metaphor makes.
I have ADD. I know I have ADD. I’ve known it for nearly a decade, and suspected it for far longer than that. But something about this diagnosis has made me resist admitting it, much less embracing it … and yet that’s exactly what Hallowell says I need to do, both to solve the persistent problem I’m having in developing a consistent exercise routine and to improve just about every other area of my life.
“This is the biggest change you can make, to really embrace your ADD,” he says, when I tell him of all the changes I’ve been trying to make this year, and of my recent wondering whether it’s ADD that’s keeping me from focusing on that last big goal, regular exercise. “Embrace it, not put up with it: ‘I’m so glad I’m not one of those boring attention-surplus people!’”
So why haven’t I embraced it? For one thing, when I first heard of ADD, it was as ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – and, as any regular follower of this project knows, hyperactivity is not exactly my problem. But it turns out that ADD, or distractibility and other symptoms without the hyperactivity, is more common in girls and women.
And when I was researching a book about helping your child learn to read and needed to bone up on common learning issues, I came across a self-assessment for this form of the syndrome. (I hate calling it a “disorder,” because who wants one of those? Especially if she already feels disorderly enough!) I’d point you to an online version, but I just spent 10 minutes haring around the Internet looking at different sites, and I can save you the trouble: Google it and pick one, because they’re all pretty much the same. (And if you can do that, you may not have ADD!)
Anyway … reading that simple checklist was a revelation. Continue reading