“God help us…”

Most people don’t believe in ADHD.

    AD/HD Inattentive Subtype

  1. Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:
    1. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
    2. Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
    3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
    4. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
    5. Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    6. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as school work or homework)
    7. Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
    8. Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
    9. Is often forgetful in daily activities
  2. AD/HD Hyperactive/Impulsive Subtype

  3. Six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level

    1. Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
    2. Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
    3. Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
    4. Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
    5. Is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”
    6. Often talks excessively
    7. Impulsivity

    8. Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
    9. Often has difficulty awaiting turn
    10. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g. butts into conversations or games)

(American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994.)

Then they meet me.Ohhh, now I get it…!
Yeah. Now please shut up and go away. Only the introductory lesson is free, sorry. Come back next week for our Ritalin™ special and get a free spin in the Distractadome™ May not be combined with any other offer. Virtual Deficit, LLC. takes no responsibility for any negative social consequences that may result from the residual effects of our programs. Free after $50 mail-in rebate. _Haha, suckers._

“Elinor saw nothing to censure in him but a propensity of saying too much what he thought on every occasion, without attention to persons or circumstances. In hastily forming and giving his opinion of other people, in sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment of undivided attention where his heart was engaged, and in slighting too easily the forms of worldly propriety, he displayed a want of caution which Elinor could not approve.”
-Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

There is no way to diagnose AD/HD without a frame of reference.
There is no value judgment, just a comparison and then an observation.
An impaired ability to parse culture
Individual A is an aberration, though they belong to an identifiable sub-group with defining characteristics

I stare at words
Ticks and scratches with hats and feet
Marching my eyes
Dart laughing behind, voices
Whispers, phone
Screaming, Slash
the pages, Drown
it all in Muted

The old VHS tape clicks into motion—rotational to lineal to magnetic to image.

The air is filled with echoes of deep past—I feel reverberations, but this video is my primary source. The camera settles on a fidgety boy of about five years that is not me, happiness and innocence bubbling from his grinning face. He begins his joke while my parents film and chime in at the appropriate moments and feigning just enough surprise. But only one eye is ever on this boy, for their attention is demanded by a more awesome force: ME.

There is a cartoonish blur; a body, celestial or earthly it cannot quite be told, streaking across the background. Light is faster but sound is not far behind, the words rattled off form a blur of their own. One parent’s voice splits off to the side, and we hear a stern, embarrassingly simple instructing only barely clinging to a distant pleading, to desperate God help us and our hellion of a child. The first boy completes his joke, delivering the punch-line twice, this time getting it right.

There is a disconnect between intention and behavior. Between your perception of your behavior and its perception by others. Between your perception of others and others’ expectation of your ability to perceive them.

I am five, in Kindergarten, and it is still two long years until my meetings with the school counselor, Mrs. Whiteside. Her kind dark brown face, one of only two among the lily-white faculty, and perhaps a dozen more among the 500+ students—heard first as a firm yet gentle rapping on the classroom door. Out I go, excited to be missing class, boring class. Mrs. Whiteside is slow and deliberate, but it is okay; she brings calm to my rough seas. She gives me blocks to fit together, pictures about which to tell stories. At some point the visits stop, and my parents tell me somehow (though I have no memory) that I have been diagnosed with ADHD. Their bookshelves sag with newly purchased tomes espousing the best way to “deal with your hyperactive child.” 15 years later my girlfriend will find these books on the shelf in our tv room and giggle in delight. I smile with a strange sense of pride in my hellaciousness (and repossessed “otherness”).

If life was a board game, and you had a different set of rules, what would happen when you tried to play with others? What would they think about you? About your intentions? About you as a person? Where does personality end and disorder begin?

I’m sitting in a Starbucks™, my eyes are fixed on the trail of ink left by my rhodium nib. My ears dart back and forth, from the the Starbucks™ brand Musak to the clang of a nearby cellphone. “A dysfunctional group, or a core group…” A meeting. A child eating, a cookie. A barista laughs, “It really is!” he chortles. “A life coach” “Cause I know a lot of people who are stuck…” Tamborines, the scent of coffee, the buzz of refined sugar and amphetamine derivatives dancing their dance with my neurons. My savory soup of neurotransmitters churning away inside my braincage. The pungent air holds the snarl of coffee. I’m wondering how the corporate bozos at Starbucks calculated that this “music” would make anyone want to buy coffee. It makes me want to buy an ice pick and a smile. Everyone else is writing more than me. not really, but my brainvoice is telling me so. I snarl, and with a wimper it retreats back into the damp cave from whence it emerged. The grind of beans splintering floats above the din. It isn’t quite a din. the music continues. How many cycles do I waste on hating it? How many process moments — bits of ethereal phytochemical liveliness? My mother wishes she could ask them to turn it off.

“Do rock climbers dream of falling or flying? Do hyperactive kids dream of solitude on a granite mountain? Or do they dream of this: dancing and laughing, surrounded by friends, the mountains a distant mirage?”Michael Shay, “Are We Distracted?” from In Short, Kitchen and Jones, Eds.

Michael Shay is distracted by his 8 year-old ADHD son, who is not me, but happens to be scaling an 80-foot sheer face of granite with reckless abandon. He was also distracted when, at two, his son began displaying his climbing proclivities by scurrying up a 50-foot spruce at the playground.

Why do we climb? To escape this world, with its hard chafing edges; to conquer the ultimate contain-er… gravity.

Attention; alertness, awareness, mindfulness, presence of mind, intentness, advertence, heed.

Individuals with AD/HD are often severe underachievers.

AD/HD has been associated with certain personality traits that can be seen as other defining “symptoms”: High energy, creativity, alternating extreme empathy/unempathy, strong sense of intuition, trouble/frustration making self understood…

Someone once posited that ADHD is a genetic remnant from our primal hunting days. Hyper-vigilance. Obviously, this person did not have Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder. Michael Shay used his experience with his 8-year-old ADHD son to intuitively reject the Hunter Hypothesis, on the ground that impulsiveness is not beneficial in such a context: i.e. Charging head-first into a herd of mammoths without forethought. But this misses the point almost entirely. Would he send an 8-year old non-ADHD kid out hunting? Surely not, at least if he was worried about impulse-control… Every child is impaired (undeveloped) in this regard, the ADHD kids just fall behind in their development (and may never fully catch up). While impulsiveness is at the core of what it means to be/have ADHD, in the hunting context, it is the much more bland distractibility that would be our downfall. Here’s how it would really go:

Me go hunt now. Oooga oohoooh.
…Uh, tiger! I go other way…
nice birdiees me smell boar, yes, mmmm. Me hungry.
(boar tracks! follows them…).
Ooh, flowers! Pretty flower! I pick some. mmm smells nice, Me make bouquet.

At this point the story takes on a familiar theme: insert Little Red Riding Hood, except instead of finding a wolf posing as my grandmother, I would return to the tribe with no food—but a very nicely styled 1/2 bouquet of flowers (got distracted), and some pretty rocks. Maybe I shot a bird, but forgot to bring it home. That would be my last time on hunting duty.*

Confidence, self-evaluation, judgment. The inner editor. The inner critic. Impatience. High levels of impatience. No ability to wait to see how things turn out. Why bother? We’ve seen this movie before; we know how it’ll end…

*Part two: Village elder is furious, throws rocks and flowers into fire pit. Flowers are incinerated. POOF. Rocks slowly crack apart, turn red, and start to ooze. One of the children notices, and is pulled back by his parents before he can lose a finger demonstrating the effect of molten copper on human flesh. ADHD was the true source of copper discovery.

“Neurology offers a biological explanation which distinguishes between the ‘maladjusted’ child and the AD/HD child.”(Rafalovich, 411)

There is a look that I have grown to recognize; one that creeps up mid-conversation and fills me with dread. It says “Ok, I hear you. Uh, yeah. Okay. I get it already”. It says “Why is he still talking?“ It shows a polite disinterest, a rising level of conversation-fatigue. My mind floods with questions: How long have they not wanted to listen? How do I rescue the situation? Why aren’t they interested? Was it the way I was explaining things? Did I say too much? Too fragmented? Too much detail? Too tangential? It only happens at parties, or at dining hall.

Attention: The span thereof. The ability to regulate and allocate the necessary attentional resources. Impulse supression; the ability to resist extraneous stimuli and retain task focus.

AD/Hyperactivity has several real-world manifestations beyond is theoretical murkiness, and perhaps more importantly, its skeptical appeal. Some of these effects are blatant and thus find remedy (for the lucky ___ %) in panaceaic medicines such as Ritalin™ and Adderall™.

Over 70% of all individuals diagnosed with AD/HD are also diagnosed with a related disorder. Depression. Mood Disorders. Conduct Disorder. Depression.

Depression: A rotting twine’s torsion, that one impossible organ deep within my chest where the feelings lie. lay. lye. lae. lae man lay-man serviceman. its spiny tendrils slowly killing cells, one at a time-mechanically tightening with each breath. In come the happy pills-Boom. Everything goes

Enter the blessed ones
Methylphenidate methyl a-phenyl-2-piperidineacetate C14H19NO2 Molecular weight: 233.31. Bioavailability: 11-52% when taken orally. dextro,levo-methylphenidate 50:50 racemic mixture: Ritalin® (Ritalina®). dextro-methylphenidate: Focalin. Also Concerta® (time-release), Metadate®, Methylin®, Rubifen®.
Adderall 25% Dextroamphetamine Saccharate 25% Dextroamphetamine Sulfate 25% Amphetamine Aspartate 25% Amphetamine Sulfate. Amphetamine 1-phenylpropan-2-amine C9H13N

“Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder is a neurobiological disorder. People with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder tend to have inordinate amounts of trouble maintaining attention-discipline, may be impulsive, and especially at younger ages are often hyperactive-uncharacteristically so for their age and level of development.”

disorder: lack of order, our minds are disorderedwe like to think they have thier own unique order.

This, the age of doom and destruction, the failure and betrayal of humanity by reason and modern progress—now the innovators are brought into the folds. We, the “thinkers outside the box,” are the prophets of the 21st century.

No-one has yet to recruit AD/HD-ers outright, and perhaps they never will, but we can dream…