Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Gift of ADHD

Found this article today on MSN.com. The author, Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., is waxing poetic about how wonderful it is to have ADHD because it helps you "get the big picture", "take risks" and "be creative". While I agree that recasting the problems of ADHD in positive terms is a good thing, I think she's got the wrong horse here. The children she's describing are visual-spatial (v-s) learners, not ADHD.

This is the kind of confusion you run across when people declaim that there's no such thing as ADD and it really means gifted. Not so, my friends. As I've mentioned before, you can be identified as gifted and have ADD that gets in the way of your giftedness. While I agree that v-s kids don't fit well into the traditional a-s (auditory-sequential) teaching in traditional schools, and that may lead to them being labeled ADD when they're clearly not, the two are completely different animals.

Think of it as convergent evolution. Even though the dolphin and porpoise are not related, they look similar because they've evolved to exist in the same environment, which necessarily rewards the same types of adaptations. Similarly, ADD and v-s may be evolutionary adaptations to our current profoundly visual, information overloaded society. Because they are both adaptations to the same environment, they would share characteristics, but that doesn't mean they are the same thing.

Having a fantastic mental picture of a fascinating project is v-s and can very easily be the behavior of a gifted child. But having ADD that keeps you from completing the project in your head is not a "gift."

1 comment:

DrumsNWhistles said...

You're so right -- it is NOT a gift to have vision and be unable to complete it or get so overwhelmed by details that it dies before it's born.

BUT, I do appreciate seeing ADHD framed in a positive light for once. It seems as though it's usually presented as something that's all negatives, no positives. I do see gifts inside of ADHD, but untreated ADHD is similar to putting those gifts in a tightly locked container and throwing away the key.

It's all about balance. Thanks for your post, I needed that today!