Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Deficit?

My eldest read an article about ADD the other day, and now she thinks she is afflicted with said disorder. I looked at the list of "Signs You May Have It" from the article: You have trouble concentrating, and are easily distracted or bored. You don't pay attention to details, make a lot of careless mistakes. You often forget assignments, books, papers. You have trouble finishing work. You may seem spacey or daydream a lot. Well, yes, I have to say that sounds like her.

But then, doesn't it sound like most kids? And even a significant number of adults? These could be signs of "Attention Deficit" -- they could also be signs of laziness and/or not caring much about the task one is engaged in. I realize that many kids with ADD are falsely accused of just that, which is a genuine injustice. But I don't doubt that there are also lazy, undisciplined folks out there using the label as an excuse for slopping through life.

And then, how much of this "disorder" is simply a different way of mentally approaching the world? The "right-brainedness" that I describe Leslie as having? Our society is a left-brained one, which is why we drug our ADD square pegs to make them fit into the round holes of our classrooms. How much of the creativity and insight that God has gifted our children with are we medicating right out of them?

Many years ago, a friend told me that I seem to be an "Initiator", that I'm good at starting things up (she was referring, at the time, to our church's drama ministry). She said that she was not an initiator at all; she was a "Maintainer". She could take over what's been initiated and do the maintenance and tweaking to keep it going long-term. Only in recent years have I realized what a lousy maintainer I am. And how not a lot of people are good initiators.

I decided then that I need to stop looking at myself in terms of what I can't do ("I can't keep up with a long-term activity I've started.") and start looking at myself in terms of what I can do ("I can think through and start up a great program -- for someone else to step in and maintain.") I need to stop thinking of myself as having a deficit and start thinking of myself as having a gift.

"Attention Deficit Disorder" is an unfortunate label. I'm not convinced that there is a deficit involved at all. Maybe it's the rest of us who have the deficit -- we just don't know enough about what we're missing to value it and miss it.

That said, there are also times when people just need to figure out how to buck up and make themselves get the work done whether they like what they're doing or not. Life is not a barrel of monkeys.

I find this topic fascinating. I'm sure there are many of you out there with direct experience with this subject; any input and insight from my faithful readers would be appreciated.


Steel City Knitter said...

Have you read Dr. Sears' new book about what he calls "Nutritional Deficit Disorder?" It's wonderful (as is anything by Dr. Sears- his book got us through 7 weeks in the NICU last year). He talks about how so many children and adults in the US who show signs of or are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD can be treated solely with diet change rather than medications. I bought a couple copies- one for me and one for a friend. I may get one to my oldest's dad as well because she eats total crap there and comes home a wreck as a result.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot to what Steel City Knitter said. Diet and all of the garbage injected into our "good" food can cause many problems like ADHD.

I also liked what you mentioned about started and maintainers. In our house, Irene is the starter and I am the finisher (instead of maintainer). She starts the painting, I finish it. For some reason, I feel compelled to completely plan things out which means I am never ready to get it started. Irene feels very little compulsion to plan it out.