Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Let’s say it up front:

It’s hard being ADD.

It’s hard living with someone who is ADD.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a neurological condition that can negatively impact lives of children and adults and can cause serious damage to family relationships – if not understood. 

The two words that may be a tip-off to an ADD child or adult are Lazy and Distractible.  But, two more words are Creative and Generous.  As one mother told me about her daughter, “She is the most loving kid and also the most awful.”

Typical behaviors include disorganization, impulsivity, hyperactivity, distractibility, physical restlessness, moodiness, forgetfulness , explosive anger.  These are hard to live with – for family members and for the ADD person.

People with ADD tend to be impulsive and have a low frustration tolerance.  They blow up, and then blow over, meaning once they express their anger, it’s out and they can carry on as before.  What they don’t usually understand is that the person on the other end of their fury can’t just carry on; the intensity of their explosion leaves a painful wake that doesn’t subside.

While the label is “attention deficit,” people with ADD also hyper-attend.   They get so busy at the computer, reading the paper, playing with their toys, daydreaming — whatever – that they don’t hear what is said to them.  Even if they give a response.

It’s hard to live with someone who is ADD; besides the disorganized mess, there are broken promises, chores not done, appointments not kept, so many disappointments.

Yet, people with ADD have many positive attributes that are often overlooked; they are creative, sensitive, perceptive, energetic, spontaneous, fun; they rarely harbor resentment, and they see situations from unique angles.

Therefore, it’s important for the ADD person and all family members to learn more about ADD and all the strategies for decreasing the negative aspects and enhancing the positive ones.  Medication may be helpful, but not necessarily productive if not combined with individual, couples, and/or family therapy.  Every one’s feelings about living in a home with someone who is ADD is important – all of their feelings need to be heard.  Then, strategies need to be devised so that home life (school and work) goes smoother.

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