Understanding Solutions to ADHD
by Valerie Maxwell, Ph.D.
As our understanding of ADHD evolves, the definition of "ADD" is changing. ADHD is not what it used to be. Experts disagree. Dr. Russell Barkley believes there is no difference between ADD and ADHD (Please see note below). Doctor Thomas Brown believes there is, and I agree. It may be that ADHD features hyperactive behaviors, while ADD features slow processing of information. Either way, 70% of those with attentional disorders have learning disabilities. Their brain lacks a 'spark' that stimulant medication does not fully correct.
According to Dr. Amen, through brain scans, 6 different kinds of ADD exist:
1) Classic ADHD: inattentive, distractible, disorganized, hyperactive, restless, impulsive.
2) Inattentive: inattentive, slow-moving, daydreaming, 'spacey' ("girl ADD" in the past).
3) Overfocused: gets stuck in nit-picky behaviors, worry, negative thoughts, obsessive,inflexible, argumentative.
4) Temporal lobe: angry, dark thoughts, mood unstable, seriously impulsive.
5) Limbic: inattentive, chronically depressed, negative ("glass is half empty"), low energy.
6) "Ring of Fire": angry, irritable, inattentive, hyper-verbal, extremely oppositional, cyclicmoodiness, potentially dangerous.
There may be even more types of ADD identified in the future. Each type requires differenttreatment. Proper treatment requires comprehensive diagnosis! No one size fits all. Dr. CliffCorman believes: "Ultimately, ADHD will become a catchall with many subtypes, eachrequiring a different treatment, correcting different biological deficits in different areas of thebrain." ADHD is basically a disorder of brain speed, or poor regulation of performance. ADHDis not a deficit of attention; it can be a surplus of attention, often unfocused.
The brain (with over 16 billion brain cells) is an infinitely expandable and teachable resource. In the Learning Gym, we refer to these learning disabilities as simply the absence of learning ability. We like to refer to the learning problem with neurological language, so we call thesedisorders: Processing problems. There are 5 senses which process information: taste, touch,smell, vision and hearing. Most ADDers have their senses in tact, (e.g., they can see and hear),but their brain must organize the information the sense delivers to it. 95% of what the retinasends to the brain is chaotic, random, disorganized. The data is ambiguous. Therefore, the braindoes the lion share of the work in organizing. Since the ADD brain (the prefrontal cortex, orthinking brain) is naturally disorganized, due to its under-activity, brain training assists the abilityo organize information and process the world appropriately.
Natural approaches: Many people are referred to me because they know in their hearts that thereare other ways to help with ADD or learning disorders, especially when traditional tutoring ormedication has not given them the solution for which they are looking. The following is a list ofthe treatment approaches I personally have researched or seen clients report bona fide success:
Medication in the smallest of doses. Our clinic psychiatrist is Dr. Corman who titrates medication with the TOVA (800-729-2886).
Disclaimer: Consult with your medical doctor for all treatment. I am not a registerednutritionist, nor an M.D. This is simply what I have gleaned working for years with ADHD as aPsychologist.
NOTE: I am not sure when Dr. Maxwell wrote this article but it was years ago. It has been brought to my attention in 2008, that Dr. Barkly clearly now states that there is a difference between ADD and ADHD.
Dr. Barkley i.e. at his site: http://www.russellbarkley.org/factsheets.html,
"There is considerably less research on the Predominantly Inattentive Type of ADHD, or what used to be referred to as attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity. What research does exist suggests some qualitative differences between the attention problems these individuals experience and those with the other types of ADHD in which hyperactive or impulsive behavior is present. The Predominantly Inattentive Type of ADHD appears to be associated with more daydreaming, passiveness, sluggishness, difficulties with focused or selective attention (filtering important from unimportant information), slow processing of information, mental fogginess and confusion, social quietness or apprehensiveness, hypo-activity, and inconsistent retrieval of information from memory. It is also considerably less likely to be associated with impulsiveness (by definition) as well as oppositional/defiant behavior, conduct problems, or delinquency. Should further research continue to demonstrate such differences, there would be good reason to view this subtype as actually a separate and distinct disorder from that of ADHD."