Just call me Jiji

…me, just pretending to be me ….now, where did I put that cape??

On the Positive Side

 I am writing this in response to a negative comment I received last month on this older post I had published back in Aug 2009.

The author of the comment seemed extremely opposed to the idea that there could be anything at all positive about ADHD, in fact he is very confident in his statement that “ADHD has NO positive symptoms.” . He also stated that “the idea that ADHD has benefits is an urban myth“. He seemed to imply that I don’t have my facts straight, and that I was devaluing my son by crediting an illness with certain positive traits that are enhanced and heightened by his ADHD. He also implied that I am doing my son “more harm than good, by trying to convince myself that the bad symptoms are balanced by supposed good ones in order to make myself feel better about his condition“.

He also seems to assume that I have done NO “real” research what-so-ever on this devastating disorder that has turned our lives completely upside down.

He suggests I come to terms with the fact that Leon has a mental disorder. And if I do not choose to manage illness properly I will be setting him up for a huge amount of problems later in life.  He put it this way “you can either come to terms with the fact that most of the behaviors you described are NOT positive now… or you can come to terms with it when he ends up in financial trouble or addicted to something or a thief or unable to hold a steady job“.

Woo-boy was I really steamed up about this!! So much so that I just could not respond… not yet anyway. I just could not stop thinking about it, I was just so mad at this man. This bitter, bitter, evil, uninformed man, with a chip on his shoulder. I did read a bit of his blog, as he suggested I do, so I knew where he was coming from. Even so I was still pissed off. So I had to step away from it for a while.

Now as I reread it all I am still quite annoyed by it all, but at the same time I mostly feel very, very sorry for this man. It seems that with his recent diagnosis of ADHD, he has found something to blame for all the bad things that have gone on in his life without needing to take ownership of it. Going through life focused on how much it sucks because you have ADHD, just makes for a very miserable life! 

On the Positive Side….    

I can agree with him on one point, and that is we have a choice about how to manage ADHD. But I wonder if he understands that there is no one right or wrong way of doing it. Every person’s struggle and accomplishments with ADHD are unique onto themselves. What works for one may not work for another. And just the same what may work this week, or this month, or even this year may not work in the next one.

 I have in fact come to terms with Leon’s neurological disorder, ADHD, which is classified as a mental disorder, as well as a disability. I have done the ‘real’ research and have educated myself about my son’s ADHD. I’ve read dozens of books and articles, joined CHADD and attended several meetings, consulted with wonderful doctors and professionals in the field of ADHD, including psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, and therapists. The psychiatrist who diagnosed him started us on our ADHD journey, we found an exceptional psychologist who did an extremely thorough educational/behavioral assessment on him, and confirmed the diagnoses of ADHD/ODD and made some very good suggestions for us and the school to follow. His neurologist has him on the right medication combination of Concerta and Clonodine, they work wonders in keeping him stabilized and putting his inhibitions, impulsivity, and inattentiveness in check. We as a family visit a therapist, specializing in special education and social skills, regularly. His school has a wonderful team of people who are implementing his 504 Plan, including the school psychologist, a OT, and a TA. 

And with all the bad that we experienced last year when he was just 6 years old; from hour-long homework sessions, to having to replace a toilet bowl due to his flushing several toothbrushes, to his public and private temper tantrums, to stabbing his OT teacher with a pencil, to journaling about killing his parents, to cutting his clothing while they are still on him, to having him fear going to school because he knew he would get in trouble yet again, to the school losing him, to him jumping out of his bedroom window at 5am, to so much more….; there is still NO ONE who can tell me that there is nothing positive about ADHD!!!

~~psst! did you notice all the links to previous posts? you can get the back story that way~~

 

Here are some excerpts about the positive side of ADHD:

Positive effects of ADD & ADHD in children

from HELPGUIDE.ORG

In addition to the challenges, there are also positive traits associated with people who have attention deficit disorder:

  • Creativity – Children who have ADD/ADHD can be marvelously creative and imaginative. The child who daydreams and has ten different thoughts at once can become a master problem-solver, a fountain of ideas, or an inventive artist. Children with ADD may be easily distracted, but sometimes they notice what others don’t see.
  • Flexibility – Because children with ADD/ADHD consider a lot of options at once, they don’t become set on one alternative early on and are more open to different ideas.
  • Enthusiasm and spontaneity – Children with ADD/ADHD are rarely boring! They’re interested in a lot of different things and have lively personalities. In short, if they’re not exasperating you (and sometimes even when they are), they’re a lot of fun to be with.
  • Energy and drive – When kids with ADD/ADHD are motivated, they work or play hard and strive to succeed. It actually may be difficult to distract them from a task that interests them, especially if the activity is interactive or hands-on.

Keep in mind, too, that ADD/ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. Many children with ADD/ADHD are intellectually or artistically gifted.

AND……

Some positive characteristics of adults with ADD/ADHD

from mitalk.umich.edu 

The symptoms of ADD/ADHD are not all negative. People with ADD/ADHD also have many positive traits that are directly tied to their active, impulsive minds. The important part is to focus on the positive aspects, while trying to control the negative aspects.

  • Creativity: People with ADD/ADHD often excel at thinking outside of the box, brainstorming, and finding creative solutions to problems. Because of their flexible way of thinking about things, they tend to be more open-minded, independent, and ready to improvise.
  • Enthusiasm and spontaneity: People with ADD/ADHD are often free spirits with lively minds — qualities that makes for good company and engrossing conversation. Their enthusiasm and spontaneous approach to life can be infectious.
  • A quick mind: People with ADD/ADHD often have the ability to think on their feet, quickly absorb new information (as long as it’s interesting), and multitask with ease. Their rapid-fire minds thrive on stimulation. They adapt well to change and are great in a crisis.
  • High energy level: People with ADD/ADHD often have loads of energy. When their attention is captured by something that interests them, they can have virtually unlimited stamina and drive.

Hyperfocus: A Positive Symptom of ADD/ADHD

While adults with ADD/ADHD have great difficulty maintaining attention, those same individuals often are able to “hyperfocus” for long periods of time on tasks or projects that they find interesting. This is particularly true of interactive or hands-on activities. They may even be compulsive about it, spending hours immersed in the activity without a thought to anything or anyone else. When they’re “in the zone,” people with ADD/ADHD often lose all concept of time. Hours pass as if they are minutes. This single-minded ability to hyper focus when used appropriately can lead to significant accomplishments, discoveries, and creative breakthroughs.

AND…

In the video,

 ADD & Loving It 

from GLOBALTV.COM

(which I very, very, strongly recommend and urge you to watch)

 ~Dr. Edward M. Hallowell  says; “Without proper diagnosis ADD can ruin your life, having said that, the tremendous good news is, if you get the diagnosis and you get proper treatment, not only can you avoid all those disasters, you can achieve spectacular success. You can be at the absolute pinnacle, not only in the terms of success, but in happiness, fulfillment, and a rich and wonderful life”.

~He also says; “It’s important to embrace a strength based approach that does not in any way deny that there is a downside but emphasizes the positive as a way of developing the positive”.

~It is also pointed out that, Dr. Lynn Weiss Ph.D, a ground-breaking pioneer who has been working with ADD patients for over 30 years, lists 29 Positive Attributes of ADD. 

As listed in her book Attention Deficit Disorder In Adults: A Different Way of Thinking

1. Sensitive

2. Empathetic with the feelings of others

3. Feels things deeply

4. Creative in nature (including problem solving)

5. Inventive

6. Often sees things from a unique perspective

7. Great at finding things that are lost

8. Perceptually acute

9. Stand-up comic

10. Spontaneous

11. Fun

12. Energetic

13. Open and un-secretive

14. Eager for acceptance and willing to work for it

15. Responsive to positive reinforcement

16. Doesn’t harbor resentment

17. Quick to do what one likes to do

18. Difficult to fool

19. Looks past surface appearance to the core of people, situations, and issues

20. Down to earth

21. Good networker

22. Sees unique relationships between people and things

23. Cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary

24. Less likely to get in a rut or go stale

25. Original, with a sense of humor

26. Observant

27. Loyal

28. Intense when interested in something

29. More likely to do things because they want to than because they should, thus often wholehearted in efforts

 Keep in mind not everyone who has ADHD has all these traits, and sure people who aren’t ADHD have these traits too, but many of them appear over and over in people with ADHD.
So you see, not only have I read about the positive side to ADHD, gone to lectures about the positive side to ADHD, and spoken with professionals about the positive side to ADHD, but we have experienced the positive side of ADHD as well.

Leon has become extremely well-adjusted, all the school’s accommodations along with our accommodations here at home, and his being on the right medication regime and seeing a therapist regularly are making all the difference in the world. We are teaching him to play to his strengths and never to use his ADHD as a scapegoat.

We do not in any way deny the negatives of ADHD, yet we CHOOSE to remain on the positive side.

And would you believe we are all doing just fine, Thank you very much!?!

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More links on the positive side of ADHD

 Positive Aspects of ADHD and ADD: Benefits to Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder

The Positive Side of ADHD

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I just want to add that I in no way harbor any resentment to the person who prompted this post. Nor do I think he is Evil. 🙂   I wish him only the best, and many, many, positive things in his journey going forward with his ADHD!!

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “On the Positive Side

  1. “I feel VERY strongly that the public be aware that ADHD is in fact a legitamate mental illness. I also feel strongly that the perception of ADHD not be a purely negative one. ADHD is so widely misunderstood as it is, and has such a bad rap as being something ‘completely’ negative, when that is just not true.”

    I still argue that this “benefits of ADHD” attitude does nothing but diminish the severity of ADHD in the public eye.

    None of the sources providing nice lists of the wonderful positive benefits of ADHD site a single research study demonstrating that any of the traits listed occur at higher rates in people with ADHD than in the general population. As I believe I mentioned in a post on one of my own blogs, it is very likely that many of the so called experts making these observations are doing it from the vantafe point of observing the patients they are treating… who in most cases are middle to upper class people who can afford treatment. They have provided no statistical information to be peer reviewed. They have no data to compare against control groups. Doing a google search for “adhd benefits” does not count as research as you are not given any way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Anyone can claim to be an expert. Anyone can pass their opinions off as fact. Where is the legitimate, research supported, peer reviewed proof to their claims. I tried to find some supporting the material you listed (took me the last three weeks) and have been unable to find any.

    “To attribute ADHD with only the negative aspects of it rather than embrace the positive that can come with it when properly developed only serves to further the misconceptions of ADHD.”

    ADHD has no positives. It never ceases to amazw me how confused people get when it comes to causation and correlation.

    “I am fully aware of where my anger stems from, while I am sure you meant no harm or disrespect with your ‘opinions’ , the delivery of them left much to be desired. It also stems from the fact that in my opinion you are perpetuating the negative perceptions people have of sufferers of ADHD by only presenting one side of it.”

    Why would I present a side that I feel is wrong. Just about everyone else is presenting that side. I am truly sorry about you finding my delivery being poor. You are right. I have never been gifted in the diplomacy department. Causing offense is usually fairly effortless for me. I apologize.

    “I would also like to clarify that I do not think you are in anyway evil or uninformed, that was just a knee-jerk reaction to my emotional feelings at the time. Bitter?… well yeah, I do sense a bit of a bitter tone in your comments, but maybe I am reading it all wrong.”

    Not bitter. Just obnoxious and abraisive. (see apology above).

    “You do come across as extreamly well informed, and well read. I just think that it is irresponsible to report the parts that you personally don’t agree with to be a lie or a ‘myth’ as you put it. As it only serves to further the misconceptions of ADHD which as I’ve stated I feel very strongly about.”

    Thanks. I hope so. I have read just about every scientific study done on ADHD done in the last 30 years (that I could get my hands on). I like to think I retained a bit of it. I do not report things that I do not agree with as myths. I do report claims that are unsubstanciated and completely unsuported by evidence as myth.

    The biggest misconception about ADHD is that it has positive symptoms. I have a few good traits. These are not symptoms of ADHD. They my positive character traits.

    The majority of people who carry ADHD into their adult lives have significant problems that are experienced at a much higher rate than the general population. Many have positive traits. These positives do not occur at any higher rate than the rest op the population.

    ADHD sufferers have higher rates of: addiction, motor vehicle accidents, financial problems, marital problems, employment problems, criminal records, etc.

    ADHD suffers do not have higher intelligence, more creativity, better problem solving skills, quicker thought processes, more flexibility, etc than the general population.

    I am unsure as to why you, and many others, want to attribute the good qualities in people to a mental illness. I am confused as to why you feel it is detremental for ADHD to be regarded as having only negative symptoms. It is not a different way of thinking… it is a underdeveloped way of thinking. I would much rather have my good qualities be inspite of my mental illness than because of it.

    All the best.

  2. And futher to your comments directed at me personally…

    I am neither bitter, nor evil, nor uniformed. I base my opinions on hard science… not warm fuzzy fluff designed to make people feel better about having a mental illness.

    It warms my heart that despite what a nasty person I am you still have room in your heart to feel sorry for me.

    My recent diagnoses of ADHD explains my life. It does not absolve me of taking responsibility for my life and getting the help and treatment I need to function normally. I have had to take reponsibility for all of my past actions. I have had to repay debts. I have had to seek the forgiveness of those I hurt.

    The person I became was due in a large part to my illnesses. Now that I am aware of my illnesses I have taken full responsibility for getting better. I did not ask for ADHD anymore than someone asks for cancer, heart disease, or parkinsons. I fail to see why I should pack around guilt and remorse for the rest of my life for things that were ultimately out of my control. If you actually read all of my posts you would see it was a very difficult thing for me to learn to forgive myself for the horrible things I did.

    It is not your child’s fault he flushes toothbrushes, but it is my fault I became a pathological gambler?

    You can choose to be as angry at me for as long as you want. I would suggest you take a deeper look at why my opinions make you so mad. Sometimes the truth hurts.

    • I do not take your opinions to be personally insulting to me (or my son).
      You are passionate about your opinion, I get that. So am I.

      I disagree with your statement; “To attribute these good things to a mental illness with potentially severe consequences is naive and only serves to lessen the perception of ADHD as legitimate illness.”

      I feel VERY strongly that the public be aware that ADHD is in fact a legitamate mental illness. I also feel strongly that the perception of ADHD not be a purely negative one. ADHD is so widely misunderstood as it is, and has such a bad rap as being something ‘completely’ negative, when that is just not true.

      To attribute ADHD with only the negative aspects of it rather than embrace the positive that can come with it when properly developed only serves to further the misconceptions of ADHD.

      I am fully aware of where my anger stems from, while I am sure you meant no harm or disrespect with your ‘opinions’ , the delivery of them left much to be desired. It also stems from the fact that in my opinion you are perpetuating the negative perceptions people have of sufferers of ADHD by only presenting one side of it.

      I would also like to clarify that I do not think you are in anyway evil or uninformed, that was just a knee-jerk reaction to my emotional feelings at the time. Bitter?… well yeah, I do sense a bit of a bitter tone in your comments, but maybe I am reading it all wrong.
      You do come across as extreamly well informed, and well read. I just think that it is irresponsible to report the parts that you personally don’t agree with to be a lie or a ‘myth’ as you put it. As it only serves to further the misconceptions of ADHD which as I’ve stated I feel very strongly about.

      And despite what I percieve to be sarcasm, I do feel for you and I wish you well.

  3. Like I said in my initial comments on the so called benefits of ADHD… you can believe whatever you want the science says you are wrong.

    Not a single one of the benefits described above has EVER been demonstrated to occur at a higher rate in people with ADHD than the general population.

    If ADHD actually had positve symptoms they would disappear or reduce with treatment like the negative ones do.

    People who take concerta or other stimulants do not report being less creative, sensative or fun. They do report being better able to manage impulse control and inattention.

    I am sorry that you have somehow interpreted my opinion as a personal insult as it was not intended as one.

    People with ADHD do have positive character traits. They often develop positive skills as a result of the challenges life throws at them (which is not exclusive to ADHD sufferers). However there is NO EVIDENCE that any of these good character traits or skills are any more prevelant in people with ADHD than in the general population.

    Everyone has good things about them. To attribute these good things to a mental illness with potentially severe consequences is naive and only serves to lessen the perception of ADHD as legitimate illness.

    I am sure Leon is a wonderful child with many wonderful gifts (including an obviouly very passionate and caring mother). These gifts are a part of Leon (as is ADHD) but are not because of a developmental disorder of the the prefrontal and premotor cortexes.

  4. Sheila on said:

    Heres the thing about opinions, they are like ass holes everybody has one.

  5. Hey Jill – I love you alwayshaving the ability to remain positive on many different issues. You are a wonderful mother who put the energy of planning a fun-loving Disney vacation into researching something “negative” for you and your family. You are such a role model to me and I wisj I had your strenngth and outlook to deal with every situation in my life. Love and hugs to you and your family!! Keep positive!!

    • Sorry for the spelling errors! That’s what happens when you respond on your phone because you’re too impatient to wait until you get to the computer! You’re one of the most positive people I know and I’m thankful for that!

  6. Jill,

    You said it all so completely and eloquently here. You even PROVED you have done your research and are knowledgeable about ADHD by backing up your position with several quotes from reputable sources and professionals.

    Here’s my favorite:
    The important part is to focus on the positive aspects, while trying to control the negative aspects.

    This is how we have chosen to raise our ADHD son. We are not going to mope and wallow in the mucky negative traits. We are going to deal with them as necessary and focus on the creativity, ingenuity, and kindness of our special, ADHD kid.

    Yes, this gentleman does seem to be using his new-found disability as an excuse for all the negative things that have ever happened in his life. And ADHD may very well be to blame for many of the things that have happened to him, at least the lack of knowledge that he has ADHD could be to blame. I hope for his sake and the sake of his family that he reads more and more on ADHD, not just the scientific facts of the disability, to realize he really can live his life much happier and more enriched.

    I was fired-up when I read his comments on your blog too. Judgment is one of the hardest things to accept as an ADHD parent; I find it can be harder to deal with than the actual ADHD at times. But you know you are a great parent who is doing EVERYTHING you can to lead your son to a happy and successful life. As much as you want everyone to understand that, the important thing is that you understand it, and someday Leon grows up and understands it.

    I have an adult family member who struggled with ADHD all his life. He was not diagnosed as a child and feels he was never understood, always in trouble, always the outcast. He has really struggled for a long time. He has said to me on many occasions that all the effort and understanding I give to Luke’s ADHD will make a huge difference in his life and one day he’ll see that and thank me.

    We are doing the best we can for our sons. And keeping it positive is always better than focusing on the negative, ADHD or not!

    Penny
    http://adhdmomma.blogspot.com

  7. Jill, you’re absolutely right.
    I know you have DONE A LOT of research and the good type of research, from different sources and levels of cpomplexity.
    Looking for the positive side of negative things/events is the right way to go, especially the way you do it, aiming at the good without losing sight of the negative and keeping yourself open to all possibilities. That should be the life philosophy of all, for every situation and not only towards ADHD, and I think that that philosophy of life is one of the things that made you the great person you are.

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