On the Stereotypes of ADD

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."
-Stephen R. Covey
 ADD has a common stereotype in today's culture. While most people know of ADD and/or ADHD, few people know what it actually is.
Since I have ADD myself, I actually don't know any of the stereotypes that people have about it.
Oh, look... It's a butterfly...
I mean, it's a complete mystery to me what people think about it. I guess they think we're easily distracted, or something like that.
Regardless, I hope to shed some light on the subject. I'll be covering the culture and treatment of people with ADD, and how the subject ought to be treated instead.

I, being someone who has ADD, am not offended when people joke about ADD. I can't speak for everyone, of course, but I don't typically see others with ADD being offended by jokes about it, either. Doug and Dory are hilarious. I like them. What does offend me is when people who don't have ADD think that they know more about ADD than I do.
After hearing that I have ADD, it's rather common for people to approach me with their opinions on ADD. A common one is "I think we all have a little bit of ADD inside us." To anyone who actually has ADD, that's annoying at best and offensive at worst. We may all have personality traits that to some extent mirror ADD, but ADD is a physical condition. You can scan a person's brain (if you have enough money) and say, "this is how I know that you have ADD." I don't mind people giving me their opinions, as long as they're willing to listen as well. I don't have dyslexia, so I wouldn't dream of going to my friends who do have it and speaking my opinions as fact. If I have an opinion, I ask them if it's accurate.

 The main issue with our culture's response to ADD is people (mainly who don't have ADD) thinking that they know more about it than they do. But another major issue is the stereotype. While I have no problem with the stereotype as a joke, many people take the stereotype seriously, as well. This causes some people to think that they have ADD when they really don't, and others to think that they don't have ADD when they really do. The stereotype isn't a good judge of this. While most people don't have enough money to get their brains scanned, you could pick up a few books on the subject if you suspect that you have ADD.

The culture surrounding ADD is based mainly on stereotypes. I understand what it's like to be part of that, because I once understood only the stereotype of dyslexia. Then, at the library, I picked up a book on dyslexia and read the table of contents. My knowledge about dyslexia instantly quadrupled. And no, that isn't an exaggeration. It wasn't because it was a particularly informative table of contents. It was just like any other, from any book you would find. It wasn't because I knew a very little bit about dyslexia; I knew as much as most people do: the stereotype. I knew that I didn't know a lot about the subject, but I didn't realize how little I knew about it. With ADD, as with many things, people don't understand even the most basic pieces, and while they don't claim to be experts, they do claim to know more than they do. We need instead to become educated about what we claim to understand, and when we know only stereotypes, we must not claim to know more than that.
"Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in."
-Shannon L. Alder


  1. I take no sides on the topic at this time, but have you seen this? http://www.realfarmacy.com/the-man-who-discovered-adhd-makes-a-startling-deathbed-confession/

  2. I hadn't seen it, but it doesn't really surprise me, for a number of reasons. I'll start with the quotation from Leon Eisenberg. According to Snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/adhd.asp), the interview in question was in German, and was slightly mistranslated. According to Snopes.com, what he actually said was, "ADHD is a prime example of a fabricated disorder. The genetic predisposition to ADHD is completely overrated."
    "Fabricated disorder" as opposed to "fictional disease" may seem like a small difference, but not when you take the next sentence into account. He isn't saying that ADD is fictional, but rather that people assume that ADD is the case far too often.
    The article also states, "While some have described Dr. Eisenberg’s statement as an “exaggeration,” many doctors are coming to the belated conclusion that ADHD is often “over diagnosed” by the use of “fuzzy diagnostic practices.”"
    In both cases, I would agree. As I said in my post, it's common for people to say such things as, "I think we all have a little bit of ADD inside us." It's similar to what's happening with OCD. People are misunderstanding the differences between personality and ADD. So I absolutely agree, it's often a fabricated disorder. Because of the fuzzy diagnostic practices, I'm sure many people are being diagnosed with ADD, even though they don't actually have it, which would account for the many children who seem to "grow out of their ADD." However, some children don't grow out of it. ADD is a real condition; it just isn't as overwhelmingly common as some would have you believe.