The ADHD Circuit® (Article 1):
Introduction to the ADHD Circuit®
Dear Parents and Educators,
ADHD affects nearly 8% of the world’s population. Regardless of country or culture, one in thirteen people have the condition. Many are quick to think that ADHD is “over diagnosed,” “just an excuse,” or simply “not real.” For anyone who has it, or has lived with someone who does, you know very well that this is not the case.
ADHD is a neurological condition in which the brain does not have enough dopamine and norepinephrine to make neuron connections efficiently, particularly in the frontal lobe of the brain. To illustrate the power of these chemicals, consider that Parkinson’s Disease is caused by a loss of dopamine in a different part of the brain. Very few people will argue about the devastating effects of Parkinson’s. So, why is ADHD so largely disputed?
One significant reason for the debate over ADHD has to do with its name. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” is a name that describes behavior. Compare that to names like “Parkinson’s” or “Multiple Sclerosis.” These proper nouns simply label the conditions. They do not describe behaviors associated with the conditions.
Over time, our understanding of ADHD has evolved significantly. At the same time, the importance of an academic education has grown exponentially. A couple generations ago, when it was determined that a child (who likely had ADHD) was not a good fit for school, there were other options. For boys, they could pursue agricultural and manufacturing jobs. Girls were simply expected to be home-makers and could get their “education” at home.
The coinciding paths of both situations leads many who are not informed about ADHD -or have not lived with it- to assume it is an excuse. Perhaps even a ploy by pharmaceutical companies to drug more and more of our children. I’m not saying that drug companies are saints. I am saying that there are a lot of emotionally charged opinions about ADHD that are not grounded in fact.
Three members of my immediate family have been diagnosed with ADHD as adults; all the men in the family. When my son was two years old, his pediatrician looked at me over her bifocals and said, “You’re gonna want to be on the lookout for ADHD!” I had already suspected ADHD because his activity level was far greater than most other two-year olds. His pattern of activity was also distinctly different from other children his age.
Fast forward to kindergarten and first grade. By that time, there was no doubt. We had two different evaluations (due to additional concerns over a reading disability) and both confirmed ADHD with consistent results. One of the assessments involved 5-6 different visits, allowing the evaluators to see my son at several different times.
At the conclusion of this intense testing, my husband and I were given a thorough review of our son’s results, including a graph highlighting specific patterns of concern. It is hard to articulate how or why, but looking at the patterns in this data, I could see with crystal clarity how smart he is…and how disabled he is by ADHD. Of course, I didn’t express this to him because I don’t want to give him any excuses. But, my sensitivity to his challenges was heightened.
I spent the summer researching information and resources to help him. Along the way, I stumbled across articles that seemed to be describing ME. One article, included interviews with seven adult women who had ADHD, all holding leadership positions in their careers. I shared the article with my husband. He replied, “Oh man…they are all YOU!”
I observed my behavior more closely and began to notice that it takes me three attempts to do anything: get my children a drink, brush my teeth, get out of the house to run a simple errand… I am a very organized person, so I fly under the radar of what you would expect from someone with ADHD. But, I have always felt like a scatter-brain. Still, I was not truly convinced that I had ADHD, too.
Then, D-Day came. My mom dug up my old file where she kept all of my school records. The folder contained every report card, standardized test results from grades 1-8, and results from an IQ test. If I had graphed the results of these assessments, the pattern would have been a perfectly identical match to the graph we received for our son. I was stunned!
I headed off to the doctor where I completed three different self-evaluations with standardized scales. I also did a new, bio-feedback test that is normed against 2000 women my age. All results were very consistent with ADHD.
So, here I am…the “former struggling student,” expert in study skills, and mom to an extraordinary seven year-old…and just learning that I have ADHD, too! It has been a very interesting journey on many levels. Just as I have written about my son’s reading disability, I believe our challenges with ADHD are evolving in this manner so that I can learn from them and, in turn, help others.
Article 1 – Introduction to the ADHD Circuit®
Article 2 – A Breakdown of the ADHD Circuit®
Article 3 – My Personal Journey Through The ADHD Circuit…for a Cup of Milk!
Article 4 – ADHD Is Not an Excuse!
Article 5 – Is it Creativity…or ADHD?
Article 6 – How to Avoid the “Tasmanian Devil Tailspin” of School Work
Article 7 – A Simple Learning Solution Hiding in Plain Sight
Article 8 – “EVERYTHING Is Wrong With My Kid!”
Article 9 – Improving Social Skills
Article 10 – When ADHD Children have ADHD Parents