I’ve spent the entire month of December commenting on ADD.  I neither think it’s a disorder nor do I see the current medical treatment for this non-disorder as being on track in any capacity.  So what would be my solution?  Well, I always say that ADD is just another way of saying “genius”.  Inside every person lies a genius–the secret is to find and nurture what that genius is.

Studies have shown that highly creative people have a greater propensity for mental illness in their families.  No surprises there, as many have the perception that creative genius and mental disorders go hand-in-hand–think Vincent van GoghA recent Swedish study, however, has shown that highly creative healthy people have similar brain chemistry features as schizophrenics.

The similarities are in the levels of dopamine receptor activity in the thalamus (the area responsible for sorting information before it reaches conscious thought).  People in the study that had the lowest dopamine receptor activity also had the greatest ability for divergent thinking (e.g. finding many solutions to a problem).  Previous studies have also shown that schizophrenics have lower dopamine activity in the thalamus.  But more importantly, who sees the connection to ADD?

If the current thought on the pathophysiology of ADD is correct, then the brain of an affected individual also has diminished dopamine levels.

Disorder?…or genius?

I’m not making a statement on whether the current thought on dopamine levels in ADD is right or wrong.  I am simply making the point that we do not yet know every working detail of the brain.  Treating what is seen today as a brain disorder with very powerful drugs has to have ramifications.  And when we consider that this pharmaceutical treatment is being tested on our children (you better believe the kids are guinea pigs—read my previous posts…and here….and here), it makes anyone wonder how this must be affecting and shaping the developing brain.  I’m sorry, but I just can’t advocate this kind of experimentation on children.

I contend that having an attention deficit is common to all people at one time or another—no health professional or serious thinker will dispute this fact.  The question, then, is whether the ADD-labeled child actually has a “disorder” that is disrupting his or her life.

Answering this question really takes thinking outside the box. Consider that we are all, to one degree or another, subordinate to societal norms and parameters.  But norms change. Case in point: Fifty years ago it would have been unheard of for cursing to be a viable part of mainstream communication. To do so repeatedly might have led the cursor to be branded with his own diagnosis of mental illness. Today, however, cursing is not only “in”, it appears to be making great strides within the mainstream, inserting itself into the common language.

My point is this: Yesterday’s norm is today’s old-fashioned behavior. Staying focused in a 19th-century classroom setting is hardly a virtue today. Education is bound to change as we have seen gross inadequacies of our educational system. Perhaps then we will see that children who are currently considered problems in the classroom simply have a different way of learning. Perhaps they are inspired by things not taught in the classroom—that was most definitely my experience up until college.

albert-einstein-62931_640 (Copy)Perhaps your ADD-labeled child is a genius musician, or welding artist, or skateboarder, or party promoter, or social networker, or computer programmer, or business person, or something else we don’t even know exists yet. How will we freakin’ know if we numb and shape our children’s brains with hard-core drugs?

I’ve avoided attacking parents in these posts because I understand how difficult it must be to make decisions when the cultural health authority dictates how it is. But, now, I must say: Parents, why would you even consider giving any mind-altering drug to your child when you don’t know how it might affect their brains in the long-term? Why would this even be a consideration? Is it because you don’t know what else to do? I’ll accept that. But you’re reading this now; and if you haven’t read the previous posts, then please do so. If it comes down to the choice between tampering with your child’s brain or doing everything you can to tap into his or her hidden genius, then c’mon…is this really a difficult choice?

student-315029_640 (Copy)Every child has a genius inside waiting to be expressed. Some know it from day one, but most of us have to find ours. It can be a godawful labor trying to focus on something that…is…just…as…interesting…as…a bag of rocks (which is certainly interesting to a geologist!). Help your child find his or her genius—it’s there! Then relate all academic material to their inspiration, their loves. I guarantee that your child will be able to focus when seeing how it relates to what he or she loves. Just as every person has trouble focusing at one time or another, every ADD-labeled kid has things that they do that present no attention problems whatsoever—this is also an indisputable fact.

I hope these posts have given you adequate information to make good decisions. Remember that ADD is just another term for “untapped genius”. Next post, we’ll see some people that have done something with their lives despite being labeled ADD. Your ADD-labeled kid may just be the next one on that list.

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6 Responses to ADD = Untapped Genius

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with kids but I think adults are a different story. Most adults with this brain profile get by fine career wise ESP if highly intelligent but it’s hell I’m relationships. Add isn’t just forgetfulness and inability to multitask its poor impulse control. Not learning from errors. I don’t know if the milder meds can help this and most adults aren’t hyperactive but many couples suffer terribly when there’s a spouse who really doesn’t process and retain well and then blurts whatever is in their head generally not sensitive. I don’t advocate treating add for life function but

  2. Alex Barringer says:

    I don’t consider what the first commenter listing as adult on-set ADD or ADHD 100% valid. What people have termed and defined as adult ADD and ADHD are a hodge podge set of somewhat related symptoms while others are not at all related to the actual condition. There is a lot of misdiagnosis going on in the medical and psychiatric trades today. Some people are labeled as such because the drug companies and doctors want to try a new drug and not actually find out what the real cause is and work with that from a natural holistic approach.

    For example, ADD and ADHD real set of symptoms don’t include not being able to remember / forgetfulness. People that tend to have genius or near genius potential tend to have a lack of short-term memory. Although, if they are able to take and use their long term memory, often times that is much more vivid and in greater in detail than anyone’s short term memory. If you don’t learn from errors, that’s another cognitive disorder altogether, not necessarily fixable by drugs but more like sessions therapy to help them access their long term memory directly during learning and then reflection.

    Here is something that may or may not make sense to you, people with ADHD / ADD / Dyslexia all have a similar thought pattern in response to external stimuli, as I should know, I am partially dyslexic myself and went to school with people with ADHD and ADD. People at an early age are basically trained to react badly to people that don’t understand them. They don’t learn like everyone does, people pick on them, it’s a defense mechanism. Unless the spouse understands the mechanics of the other person, yes, it will be hell and can get a lot worse. Many people expect these people to just snap out of it but they can’t, that’s the problem. This has now become a part of their personality. When people say we are difficult to deal with, imagine what we feel like when we try to interface with the rest of the world. What is obvious to us is quite apparently not to you.

    If you get married, you should know all the person’s quirks and know how to complement each other, if you are not at that level or refuse to work at that level, learning as you go. You should then never marry a person like that, it’s an equivalent of “I told you so” moment. What I am saying is, if you don’t know what you are getting into, in general, don’t marry. If you don’t understand how the person works internally instead of guessing and listening to what doctors that don’t know jack about the problem your partner has don’t go forward. It takes two to screw up a relationship, not one person, without the other, there is no “relationship”.

  3. Alex Barringer says:

    Now there are other brain maladies that can look like ADD / ADHD and be caused by something quite different even though they are lumped together in the medical community. The spouses should have a brain scan and neurological tests done to rule that out, the treatment for that is quite different if that is the case and none of them contain drugs.

    Also, the inability to multi-task isn’t necessarily true in the case of ADD / ADHD and dyslexia, they do it in their own way and for different reasons. It’s just you don’t recognize it as being such, that’s the problem. It’s the failure to recognize they go by the beat of a different drummer than the one you use, your instinct is to try to point him in the direction of your drummer in the marching band you follow however that won’t work, it never does. You are trying to normalize someone into society norms but what you are really doing is marginalizing their chances of success by forcing them to work like you do for which it’s completely foreign to them, let alone doesn’t make any sense.

    You should celebrate the diversity of the different types of people instead of beat them over the head and say they have a problem. They’ve been hearing that their whole lives, they don’t need a spouse doing that too. It’s only a problem if you see it as one, I would like to convey that not many people with my kind of problem have spoken up because many fear ridicule by their “seemingly normal” peers. There is no such thing as normal, everyone has their hang ups, me, you and everyone else.

    Put it this way, I like what Dr. Nick Campos is saying in that, instead of trying to “fix or normalize” someone, which is in effect neutralizing them and their likelihood to survive in the future. By not marginalizing someone and assigning them a ticket number in the medical industry they can show their true talents which as what Dr. Campos says, can very be genius or close to it.

    Technically, people who see ADD / ADHD and dyslexia as a problem, are in and of themselves, part of the problem. It all comes down to responsibility of the ones that try to right someone else’s path to left them be and see if they can assist them in reaching their highest attainable knowledge, skills and accomplishments (KSAs) instead of being aggressive and trying to force you hand to get them to be like you which you know darn well that will never happen, even with medication.

    They’re just different, deal with it (in a positive way)!

    • Thank you, Alex–and exactly right. That’s what society has been doing, trying to fit square, yet perfectly healthy, pegs into narrow, faulty, seemingly round (yet more like jaggedly round-like) holes. That’s the real ‘disorder.’ Appreciate your comments; hope to see (read) you around more.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Nick, my grandson is diagnosed ADD and PDD. Yes, I think he’s a genius. But he suffers SO AWFULLY in school because he can’t conform or sit still or fit into the round hole, and our laws say school isn’t optional. The medications he’s been taking for the past few months have enabled him to fit in at school. Other kids have stopped ostracizing him, the teachers have stopped tormenting him, and he’s happier. I totally do not believe this is right, that he should have to be forced to conform. But in choosing between medication and watching him suffer, his mom, my daughter, alone with three boys while her husband is in Afghanistan, caved to the pressure of the teachers, counselors, doctors, and agreed to give the meds a try. This is a horrible choice to put to parents. Either medicate your child into conforming or we’ll torture him every day of his school year until you do. The system needs to change.

    One solution I can envision is for parents to create their own home schooling units where they share the work of educating their kids together, outside the system. I’m convinced this would be preferable for parents who have to work and don’t have time to home school. I believe a child could learn at home, in a couple of hours what it takes all day for them to learn at school.

    Anyway, this is impacting too many kids and too many families. What’s really happening? I believe little souls are coming in, refusing to conform in order to force us to meet them on their terms. They are evolving-have evolved-beyond the current system. It’s the system that needs to change, not the kids.

    Thanks for a wonderful series.

  5. Suzy says:

    This sums up my thoughts and experiences (I work in a primary school in England). Very frustrating how children like this are treated. Not all children suit the traditional school set-up and we have to realise that that is ok and find what does suit them. Thank you

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