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Office Messes (Attention Deficit Disorder & ADHD, long read)
NY Times ^ | July 18, 2004 | LISA BELKIN

Posted on 07/17/2004 11:43:25 PM PDT by neverdem

When Vivienne Sales finally broke her silence, she did so loudly, losing her temper in the hushed library where she worked. It was August 2003, and she had been hanging on to her job as a reference librarian by the most fragile of threads. For more than a year her supervisors at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., had been warning her that she was sometimes sloppy and inaccurate. She was late for work too often, they said. She didn't dress neatly and appropriately. Her desk was always a mess.

Sales knew all this. She also knew why. Three years earlier, when she was 36, she was told she had attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder. (That's the full name of the condition, and while its initials are technically a.d.h.d., not all who have it exhibit the hyperactivity symptoms, so it is often referred to conversationally as simply A.D.D.) The news was a relief because it seemed to explain everything -- why she rarely seemed to fit into a workplace, why she left nine different jobs in 1999 alone, why, despite two master's degrees and years of dogged hard work, she never seemed to get anywhere.

Although the diagnosis was illuminating, Sales was determined to keep her condition to herself. ''Work isn't like school, where they have to give you more time on the tests'' if you have A.D.D., she explained. ''In the real world, if you tell during the interview, they won't hire you. And if you tell after you're hired, they can fire you.''

That's not a precise reading of the law, but it is an accurate reading of the stigma, and of the dilemma that will probably become more common in the coming years. First there was A.D.D. in children, and the debate over whether too many are being medicated for what is arguably normal behavior. Now that conversation has widened to include adults. Psychiatrists used to assure parents that A.D.D. was something their children would outgrow, but more recent research shows that the disorder is longer-lasting than originally thought. A.D.D. does not develop in adulthood, but neither does it always disappear after childhood.

Instead, up to 60 percent of children with A.D.D. grow up to be adults who still have A.D.D., and experts estimate that more than eight million grown-ups in the United States have the disorder. These numbers, presented by researchers from Harvard and the World Health Organization at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association this spring, mean that attention-deficit disorder affects 4.4 percent of the adult population, making it the second-most-common psychological problem in adults after depression.

A mere 15 percent of those eight million actually know they have A.D.D., however, and they have learned that fact recently -- within the last decade, give or take -- because psychiatric textbooks didn't even recognize adult A.D.D. as an official diagnosis until 1987. Now that A.D.D. is an accepted part of the psychiatric repertory, however, doctors are seeing a surge in adults looking for a label for their lifelong restlessness. And just as the rise in the number of children given a diagnosis of A.D.D. brought measurable change to the world of education, the wave of adults with the same constellation of quirks and needs is affecting the world of work.

''A.D.D. makes work more complicated,'' said Harold Meyer, whose organization, the A.D.D. Resource Center, in Manhattan, advises both employers and employees on how to manage the condition in the workplace. Already employers are expected to be exquisitely sensitive -- granting maternity, paternity and adoption leave; subsidizing programs for weight loss and smoking cessation; providing domestic-partner benefits; adapting physical space for every category of handicap; allowing for flextime, telecommuting and job sharing. Adding yet another responsibility -- and particularly for a syndrome whose symptoms look suspiciously like bad work habits -- creates some skepticism. Meyer is regularly invited to address large companies, and whenever there are ''15 or 20 managers in a room, they all think they have employees with A.D.D., and they don't know what to do about it,'' he said. ''They want to help. But they also ask: 'Is it real? Or an excuse?'''

Cheryl Moreno, a manager of human resources at Embry-Riddle, who has spent months working with Vivienne Sales, trying to save her job, said she feels the same tug -- a desire to do the right thing mixed with frustration. ''We're feeling our way here,'' she said. ''Years ago this wasn't on the radar. Now we're seeing more of it. There's a climate here for helping people with impairments,'' she continued, ''but sometimes the impairments are too great.''

It was Moreno, in fact, who inadvertently led Sales to reveal her diagnosis last summer. Sales's job description included being backup for the specialist in charge of interlibrary loans, but she said she felt shaky in that role and had been told during her training for it that she had an ''accuracy problem.'' As it happened, Moreno needed to borrow a book from another library, and she came in on a day when the interlibrary-loan specialist was out. Sales said she is certain that she entered that request into the computer and also printed out a copy for the specialist's records. But when Moreno returned to pick up her book a few weeks later, it wasn't there. Neither was the paperwork, nor any record in the computer.

What resulted was a heated argument between Sales and the specialist who ran interlibrary loans. It ended with Sales sending a memo to her supervisor saying that she had a ''documented disability'' and was requesting an ''accommodation plan.''

''My decision to come out of the closet was one of desperation,'' Sales told me. When she speaks, her head darts in a nervous, birdlike way, her eyes magnified behind glasses that constantly slide down her nose. ''The library director was ready to let me go,'' she said. ''I was playing the a.d.h.d. card.''

On the third floor of the New York Helmsley Hotel, in the red-carpeted Knickerbocker Suite, a steady stream of adults sat at long, cloth-draped tables and filled out a short six-question form. ''How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?'' the questionnaire asked. ''How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?''

''How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?'' it continued. Then: ''When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?'' And: ''How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit down for a long time?'' Finally: ''How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?''

The participants answered in gradations, from ''Never'' to ''Very Often.'' When they finished, they met one on one with staff members from the Adult a.d.h.d. Program at New York University, who were there to tell them whether they were, as one counselor put it, very good candidates for a.d.h.d. Between 8:30 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on this weekday in May, about 450 people registered for the screening. Of those who took the test, 85 percent were found to be at high risk for the disorder.

''That's far higher than in the population at large,'' said Dr. Lenard Adler, the associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine. ''This is a self-selecting group, and they came here in the first place because they were highly suspicious that they have this.''

What Adler was saying is this: Yes, the numbers from this screening are high, but final determinations, the real diagnoses, are not made willy-nilly; everyone who loses his keys once in a while or drives off with the coffee cup on the roof of the car does not have a syndrome. The reason Adler makes his point so carefully is that he understands that many people, whether they say so outright or not, have a sneaking suspicion that A.D.D. is little more than spaciness redefined as disease.

''You can't see it, you can't touch it, there's no litmus test for it,'' said Dr. John Ratey, co-author (with Dr. Edward Hallowell) of ''Driven to Distraction,'' which, when it was published in 1994, brought adult A.D.D. to a mainstream audience for the first time. ''It's a spectrum diagnosis. There's no real test for depression either, but we accept that people are depressed. There are no real tests for a lot of things.''

What is different about A.D.D., though, is that its symptoms are a cluster of behaviors that nearly every human has at some point: forgetfulness, disorganization and restlessness, along with the seemingly incongruous ability to focus intensely on one task to the exclusion of everything else. It is that very familiarity that breeds a level of contempt. So researchers like Adler and Ratey spend a lot of time explaining the difference between A.D.D. and run-of-the-mill messiness.

For starters, there are the physical differences. ''Brain scans show a difference in prefrontal cortex glucose metabolism in people with a.d.h.d. compared to control groups,'' said Dr. David W. Goodman, assistant professor in the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. ''And dopamine receptor density is greater in a.d.h.d. brains. Also, volumetric changes. In general, a.d.h.d. brains are smaller. If you have a patient do a color/word sorting test, a.d.h.d. lights up in a different area of the brain than non-a.d.h.d. The hard-wiring of the a.d.h.d. brain is different.''

Then there is the genetic evidence. ''If your child has it,'' Adler said, ''there's a 40 percent chance that a parent has it. If a parent has it, there's a 50 percent chance that a child will.''

These tendencies are not diagnoses, however. Brain imaging and genetics aside, A.D.D. really exists only if it affects your life. ''What makes this real is the impairments,'' said Dr. Margaret Weiss, director of the a.d.h.d. clinic at the Children's and Women's Health Center in Vancouver, British Columbia. ''There is a tremendous difference between having some of the qualities and having the disorder. What we are talking about here is chronic, it's prevalent, it causes severe impairment.''

In other words, doctors know it when they see it. And what they see is a cohort of people who ping-pong from career to career and job to job; who are dynamite salesmen but who never fill out expense accounts; who look like workaholics because they are at their desks until midnight, but only because they don't really start to concentrate until panic sets in at 11 p.m.; who are creative geniuses but forget to bring the data to meetings.

I've seen it, too, in recent months, while doing the research for this article. The interviews have been qualitatively different from those I have done with any other group in 20 years of reporting. The conversations could not be kept on track; the people I spoke to jumped from one subject to the next. And they were longer than most interviews I usually do, because the subjects were unusually animated, articulate and chatty.

They arrived late. They fidgeted while we talked. They started to ask questions but forgot where they were headed. They kept saying, ''One more thing,'' until I learned to be blunt to the point of rude in my goodbyes. One woman sent me long, bursting e-mail messages, sometimes several of them a day, one of which literally ended, ''running off to my next projecttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt zoommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!'' One man called me on my cellphone at 8 on a Saturday night because he thought of a question he had to ask. He would not be deterred, even when I told him I couldn't really talk because I was visiting my father in the hospital. Robert Tudisco, a lawyer whose A.D.D. was not diagnosed until he was an adult and who now represents clients with the disorder, tried to explain how it feels to live inside an A.D.D. brain. ''As I sit here and talk to you in a relatively calm conversation,'' he said, ''there's an amusement park going on in my head.''

But even once you come to accept the reality of A.D.D., the question lingers, Why now? If A.D.D. is a function of biology as old as humankind, then why this growing clamor for diagnosis at this particular moment? One answer is that medical diagnoses ebb and flow with the times. Looked at through that lens, Western society seems ripe for this disorder. Now is a time when diagnosis can lead to action -- not only are there more medications to treat A.D.D., but Americans are arguably more willing to take pills to change their temperament. Also, other eras provided more jobs for people who needed to move and do rather than sit and think -- more jobs in factories, on farms, in door-to-door sales. Go even further back, and there were adventurers and pioneers. Today we sit at desks, in cubicles, staring at screens.

Add to this the fact that the support systems that disguised disorganization for some people at work have eroded. ''People wouldn't suffer the effects of A.D.D. if they could have the classic executive secretary who would proof their expense accounts and keep their calendars and get them to meetings,'' Ratey said. ''If I were to create an environment that is bad for A.D.D., it would be today's typical office.''

Ratey is the first to agree with what he sees as the ''general public's belief'' that A.D.D. is probably overdiagnosed, in children and in adults. But, like most in his field, he also says that it is simultaneously underdiagnosed. ''Yes, there are people who will throw this label at behavior that does not fit the criteria'' of the condition, he said. ''But there's no doubt that the condition is real. And the much bigger number is those who have it but have not been diagnosed.''

A.D.D. looks different in adults than it does in children. There are two general categories of the disorder -- with and without hyperactivity -- and adults tend to exhibit the kind without. That may explain another difference as well. It was long thought that A.D.D. was primarily a disorder of boys (twice as many boys receive the diagnosis as girls), but psychiatrists like Adler are finding that the ratio of men to women in his adult clinic is a fairly even split.

The most logical explanation for the discrepancy is that boys are much more likely to have the hyperactive form of A.D.D., and it is the children who are bouncing out of their seats in class who are most likely to be given the diagnosis. The subtler inattentive form is more common in girls, who may well appear spacey or disorganized through their school years but who underachieve quietly and don't disrupt the class. They hit the wall only when they reach adulthood and need to juggle the demands of life and work.

Today's children -- or at least the ones who call enough attention to themselves -- may prove to be fortunate. Those whose condition is diagnosed early are armed with a modern arsenal of weapons, chemical and otherwise, and ''have spent their school years learning how to manage their A.D.D.,'' said Wilma Fellman, author of numerous books about A.D.D. and work. ''They have had the chance to become quite prepared.''

Those whose conditions are diagnosed when they are adults, however, like Vivienne Sales, have no such preparation. They have to undo decades of damage, and do so while somehow holding on to a job.

Carl Mandiola is 37, and he can list more than 50 jobs that he has run through in his working life. He has tended bar, served in the Air Force and been an e.m.t. He has sold Amway products, waterbeds, cookies, shoes and long-distance phone service. He has worked security at a supermarket, been a janitor in a medical lab, made pizza at a fast-food joint and assembled butyl rubber innards for compression tanks on a factory line. In all, he has been fired from a dozen jobs for poor performance and from a half-dozen more because he was downsized, and he left the rest because he became antsy and bored.

For most of these years he had no label for this restlessness. But he called himself quite a number of names: lazy, loser, stupid. In his late 20's, however, he found a niche in the world of graphic design. He taught himself to do artwork on the computer in a style that is whimsical and bold. He landed a position at a small publishing house in Boston, creating invitations, advertisements and brochures. It was one of the few jobs he had ever had in which he was closely supervised (an advantage for most workers with A.D.D.) but also free to set his own hours (another advantage). ''I turned on at night,'' he said. ''That's when I got things done. All I needed was a good cup of coffee. All the distractions were gone.''

Mandiola had been working at the publishing house for more than two years -- a personal record -- when he moved to New York to marry in early 2001. By then his field was changing rapidly, and cost-cutting meant that fewer people were expected to do more work with less

direction. He found, and lost, several jobs that had neither the structure nor the flexibility he needed. ''I'm not a multitasker,'' he said, words that could be a slogan for A.D.D. ''I was used to one or two projects at a time, and they were working seven or eight projects, and they wanted it all done in a day.'' It was this crisis that led him to a psychiatrist and a diagnosis of A.D.D. Now unemployed and with a newborn son, he is thinking of leaving the design field entirely. He says he wants to become a real-estate investor. Or a television writer.

A.D.D. shows many faces in the workplace, but Mandiola's story includes the features prominent in most of them -- the choppy resume, the tendency to rise to a challenge in the beginning but to unravel as the work devolves from interesting to routine. True, changes in the world of work mean that a peripatetic work history has become more acceptable to potential employers, and while that does make it somewhat easier than it might otherwise be for workers with A.D.D. to get a job (at least in a good economy), it does not make it easier for them to keep one. A recent Roper poll of adults who identified themselves as having a.d.h.d. found that they held 5.4 jobs over the past 10 years, compared with 3.4 jobs for adults without the disorder. The same poll found that only 52 percent of adults with A.D.D. are currently employed, compared with 72 percent of unaffected adults.

Vivienne Sales had an equally checkered work history. After graduating from Indiana University in 1986, she earned a master's degree in international studies from Ohio University. She then worked as a building inspector with the Indiana Department of Labor, did data entry for the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, waited on tables at a Japanese restaurant and taught English in Korea. Few jobs lasted for more than a year. In 1999, she was fired from two technical-writing jobs within three months, then went on to leave seven part-time jobs and fail a four-week teacher-training course.

Near the end of 1999, she entered graduate school again, for a degree in library science. ''I'm good at finding information,'' she reasoned. She was also better at being a student than being an employee. She said she thinks the discipline of the classroom kept her on track. While she maintained a B average in the program, concern over her fractured career path led her to see a job counselor in July 2000.

The trip to the counselor led to testing, which led to a diagnosis of A.D.D. (Like many others with the condition, Sales has other issues as well. As many as 50 percent of A.D.D. patients have another syndrome during their lifetime, most commonly depression, anxiety disorder, learning disabilities or bipolar disorder, Adler said. For Sales, the co-travelers were narcolepsy and dyslexia.) It was a diagnosis that brought both relief and regret. ''It explains so much,'' she said. ''Most people cannot believe that someone with three university degrees could be such a washout in the real world.''

The first step after diagnosis is often medication. Drugs tend not to work without monitoring and therapy, Adler said, but he also finds that counseling alone is not enough. Psychiatrists like Adler compare A.D.D. medications to driving a car. It's easier than walking, but only if you know how to drive. Robert Tudisco (the lawyer with the amusement park in his brain) describes the role of medication this way: ''Before the drugs, I could walk through a room and I wouldn't even see it was a mess. With the drugs, I see it's a mess. It bothers me that it's a mess. I want to do something about it. So now I'm ready to learn how to clean it up.''

Unlike nearly every other medicine on the market, A.D.D. treatments were first tested in children, because for decades it was not thought that they were needed for adults. Until very recently all these drugs were officially approved for A.D.D. only in those under 18 and were prescribed off-label for that purpose to anyone else.

These drugs were stimulants, like Ritalin, and they were dispensed in dosages meant to get a child through a school day. Recently the pharmaceutical world began to develop new formulations designed to last longer -- particularly helpful in the workplace. At the end of 2002, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first medication specifically for use in adults. Atomoxetine, which is sold under the name Strattera, is not a stimulant, but a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, and it can last for a full day. Strattera has an additional advantage because it allows workers to do jobs -- machine or truck operator, for instance, or airplane pilot -- that could be dangerous under the influence of such stimulants.

Even when drugs mitigate the symptoms of A.D.D., however, they rarely eliminate the complications of workplace interactions. At 50, Sealani Weiner has the typical wandering A.D.D. resume -- jobs in office administration, followed by jobs in sales, followed by her current profession, social work. In fact, she has struggled so much in her work life that she changed her name along the way. She became Sealani in 2002, in order to leave the failures of Cheryl Lani behind.

Weiner also battles depression and suffers from thyroid disease and diabetes. ''I think it's hysterical,'' she said, laughing (remarkably, she is often laughing), ''that it takes eight medications every day to make me feel normal.''

A longtime New Yorker, she moved to New Mexico seven years ago and went through five jobs there in the next six years. Since 2003, she has worked as a social worker for an area hospice and part time at a psychiatric hospital. Both jobs were at risk shortly after she began.

Her supervisor at the hospice found her difficult to work with and worried about her effect on families. ''It was hard for Sealani to focus,'' said Karen Newcom, who became Weiner's boss last summer. ''She'd come in and tell me she wanted to talk to me. She'd end up going in five or six directions. She couldn't decide what was the most important thing to talk about. She was just taking so much of my time. More so than any other employee.''

It didn't take Newcom long to decide that Weiner was creating other problems at work. ''She's in hospice,'' Newcom said. ''She's dealing with families in crisis. She was supposed to calm them down. I know the effect she was having on me, and I can't see how she would be very helpful.''

One of the myriad wrinkles of A.D.D. is impulsivity. In Weiner's case this shows up in her tendency to speak before stopping to think. In one staff meeting at a previous job, for instance, she voiced the opinion that a patient about to be released from the hospital ''won't pay attention to anything anyone says, and we should just let him drink himself to death.'' In another meeting: ''I said a patient was a bitch. It was true, and everyone knew it was true, but I was fired for it.''

The fallout from similar behavior in her current job sent her in tears to the therapist who had diagnosed her disorder. She met with a psychopharmacologist the next day and left that appointment with a prescription for Strattera. She had resisted taking medication until then, she said, feeling that she was already taking so much for her other medical conditions. But she started on this newest pill, she said, ''to save my job.''

She did not immediately mention that choice to anyone at work, but Newcom said she noticed a change within days. ''Out of nowhere she started coming into my office and was more focused,'' Newcom told me. ''I commented to her that I had seen a change, and that's when she told me about the A.D.D. and the medication.''

As Weiner described it, Strattera slows her frenetic brain. ''I've gone from 100 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour, which is still way faster than anyone I know,'' she said. ''I feel calmer inside. Instead of darting from one thing to the next and never finishing anything, I can take on one thing at a time.'' Which does not mean that she has become a shy and circumspect employee: medication addresses A.D.D. symptoms; it does not transform personality. In the year since she began taking medication, Weiner has been written up for ''inappropriate comments.'' But she said she feels victorious nonetheless, knowing what her bosses don't -- that many times she followed the advice of her therapist and did not ''fly off the handle.'' Instead, she waited 24 hours and used that time to role-play a more measured response with her husband.

So far she has managed to save her hospice job. ''If she had not gone on medication, she would have put her job in jeopardy,'' Newcom said. But she acted too late to keep her part-time position at the psychiatric hospital, where both patients and staff members have complained about her rudeness. ''I think before I went on meds, I burned my bridges there,'' Weiner said. When the time came for her annual review this spring, she said, she was taken aside by a supervisor and told that it would be best if she resigned. So she quit before she could be fired.

In this litigious age, where suits are brought over the temperature of a cup of coffee, you would expect a flood of employees with A.D.D. seeking job protection under the law. Yet, at best, there is barely a trickle.

''There's no landmark case,'' said Patricia Latham, who, with her husband, Peter Latham, is the author of a series of seminal books on disabilities and the law. The message sent by the scattered cases that do exist, she said, is not encouraging to others who might think of bringing more.

A.D.D. can be covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as state antidiscrimination laws. But those who try to prove they have been discriminated against because of their A.D.D. must show that they are highly debilitated by their disorder yet still capable of doing their jobs if their employer would provide ''reasonable accommodations.'' In short, plaintiffs must walk the tightrope of all disability employment law. ''You have to be substantially impaired,'' Latham said, ''but not so impaired that you do not qualify for your job in the first place.''

That narrow line is why more than 90 percent of cases brought by employees under the A.D.A. ''are not won,'' Latham estimated. That statistic includes all disabilities, she added, and does not account for the additional, intangible hurdles faced by workers with hidden syndromes like A.D.D.

Ours is a society in which excuses are inexcusable. Over the generations we have learned tolerance for some disabilities, but mostly those that we can see. Quirks in the wiring of the mind still generate very little sympathy. If you are missing a limb, I understand that you can't do the same job as I can without help. If you are chronically late for work, however, I am much less likely to understand why you can't try harder to be on time. It doesn't feel wrong to dismiss someone for disorganization, or laziness, or a brusque manner with customers. In fact, it feels right.

Taking A.D.D. to court, therefore, is often an uphill battle. Unless there is some clear evidence of discrimination -- glowing reviews that turn negative immediately after the boss is told a worker has A.D.D., for instance -- there isn't much chance of prevailing under the A.D.A., said John Beranbaum, a plaintiff's attorney who specializes in disability law. Employees who are not given reasonable accommodations have some recourse, but the definition of reasonable is limited under the law and does not involve changing the essential job description. Those who counsel A.D.D. employees, therefore, often advise them not to bother with the courts. ''I get calls saying, 'I need to come in late, and my boss won't let me, can I sue?''' said Harold Meyer, who, in addition to advising companies and employees on A.D.D.-friendly workplace strategies, is chairman of the New York City chapter of Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, known as Chadd. ''I tell them, 'You can sue, but you won't win.'''

In short, the realm of work is a universe away from the realm of education for those with A.D.D. In the public-school system, a child's diagnosis is like an admission ticket; districts are obligated to help students whose learning is impaired by their A.D.D. In the world of work, the burden is on the A.D.D. employee to help himself.

That did not stop Vivienne Sales from asking her employer for help. The day after her argument over the interlibrary-loan request, she sent a memo to her supervisor. It read, ''I have the following documented disabilities that require accommodation,'' then listed her A.D.D., followed by her accompanying diagnoses. ''I am requesting a 504 accommodation plan,'' the memo continued, using the language of disability law, which she had looked up on the Internet.

That first memo was followed by a second one, two weeks later, addressed to Cheryl Moreno, the manager of human resources, whose book request had been lost.

''I need an accommodation to be able to perform my job duties because of a disability,'' Sales wrote, and she went on to explain what steps she had already taken on her own:

''Using two different day planners. One is left at work; the other is always with me. Each day at work, I compare the entries in both day planners to make sure I do not have any scheduling conflicts.

''Create tracking charts for projects. I use tracking charts to keep track of the . . . seminars that I present for the semester.

''Using a small microcassette recorder, I record items that need to be done for the next day. Then I play back the tape and write down what I have said into my day planners.

''Using flex-scheduling to go to counseling and doctor appointments. I make up my time by working late.''

But these strategies alone were not enough, she wrote in her memo, and she told Moreno what else she would need:

''Educating my co-workers about my condition so they will get a better understanding of it.

''Having set deadlines on when projects should be completed.

''Giving weekly progress reports to my supervisor. In turn my supervisor checks on my progress on a weekly or biweekly basis.''

She sent the memo via interoffice mail. Then she waited to be fired.

Ayana Kee did not walk into Jennifer Koretsky's office on a recent spring day, so much as she swept in, radiating exuberance and energy. Kee is a second-grade teacher -- by all accounts the kind you would want your child to have. Koretsky is her A.D.D. coach. Their twice-weekly sessions are rivets in the infrastructure that is rising within the world of adults suffering from A.D.D.

Kee settled herself on the couch across from Koretsky and started to explain that she loves her job, loves teaching children. But while all the other teachers are gone by 4:30, after an eight-hour workday, Kee is sometimes there until 7. ''The custodian tells me I have to leave because he has to mop the floors,'' she said. Then she brings a satchel of materials home and works until bedtime.

The two women spent the rest of the session mapping out a time-management plan for Kee. ''Let's look at some things you can take off your plate,'' Koretsky said. ''It's not like you have an assistant you can delegate to, but what you do have are kids in the classroom. How much of the classroom management can go to them?''

Kee's eyes widened. She had never thought of this.

''Everything in your class is already clearly labeled, right?'' Koretsky asked.

''It is, it is,'' Kee answered.

''And the children like to help, right?''

''Oh, yes, they do,'' Kee said, and she was off and running. ''The books in the classroom library are labeled on the back to show what baskets they go in. They can put the books away. They can put away the crayons and pencils and things that I am forever cleaning up after they are gone. I can make a list of all the possible jobs within the classroom. We already have a daily job board. I can also make an afternoon job board, and each afternoon we could stop and take just a few minutes to do those. I have 19 students. If we spent 10 minutes. . . . I just thought of a job! Museum curator! They could help me set up the boards where their work is displayed.''

''So this idea sounds like it would work?'' Koretsky asked.

''It's a plan,'' Kee said.

Coaches are not therapists. They are either self-taught or, like Koretsky, they are graduates of places like the A.D.D. Coach Academy, which charges $3,695 for a nine-month curriculum taught over the phone and online. ''Coaches concentrate on what, how and when, never why,'' said Nancy Ratey, a nonstop whirlwind who helped create this field from scratch as a roundabout way of managing her own a.d.h.d. Married to John Ratey, co-author of ''Driven to Distraction,'' she coaches from her home, which is covered, bedrooms to boiler room, with notes reminding her to close this door, leave that one open, plan a vacation, fix the garage door.

Unlike Koretsky, who meets with Kee in person once a week (and again by telephone or e-mail that same week), Ratey does nearly all of her coaching by phone. She has coached clients as far away as Moscow and as close as across town without ever seeing them, charging up to $400 an hour for her services. Ratey takes 15 clients at a time, and she describes them as a mix of executives, professors, lawyers, doctors and authors. One attorney called her because his secretary threatened to quit unless he found himself a coach. One chronically late advertising executive asked Ratey to train his administrative assistant to check on his preparation progress every 15 minutes. Ratey has instructed assistants to ask the boss to empty his pockets of all accumulated business cards when he returns from meetings and to take the boss's car keys until important reports are finished.

(Permit me a detour here, since detours are certainly fitting for this story. My favorite adaptive strategy was used by Robert Tudisco. His son was enrolled in a preschool directly across the street from his law office. Yet every afternoon, Tudisco arrived late for pickup. Tudisco tried everything he could think of to get himself out the door on time -- reminders on his watch, his computer, his Palm Pilot, his alarm clock -- and then he noticed that his paralegal, whose workday stopped at 5, always left precisely on time. So he told her ''that she wasn't allowed to walk out the door without me,'' even if she needed to physically yank him from his chair.)

Most often, though, it is the A.D.D.-afflicted individual, not the support staff, who signs up for coaching. While the coach's role is technically to help with the day-to-day mechanics of work, most coaches find themselves advising clients on less concrete problems, like whether their particular job, and even their entire profession, is a good fit. It is accepted wisdom in A.D.D. circles that certain types of work are a nightmare for those with A.D.D. (accounting comes to mind) and that others are virtual magnets for those with the condition: sales, contracting, waitressing, hairdressing -- any job that involves chatting and moving around. Stock trading, acting, law enforcement, emergency medicine -- any job that runs on adrenaline and deadline. Journalism is thought to be full of people with A.D.D., doctors and coaches tell me. (Yes, I took the screening test. I have many of the tendencies, but not the disorder.) Entrepreneurs with A.D.D. often thrive as well, but only if they have a partner who is good at paperwork.

Unfortunately for Vivienne Sales, librarian is not on the list. And yet, it is what she most wants to be.

Sales was not dismissed after her argument in the library last summer. Instead, she found an unexpected advocate in Cheryl Moreno. The h.r. manager said she believed that the rules would have permitted the library to dismiss Sales until the moment Sales declared that she had a disibility. At that point the rules change. ''The median cost of accommodations for impaired employees is $240,'' Moreno said, quoting a statistic in vogue at human-resource conferences. ''So we tried to help.''

In Sales's case, the help cost more than $240 and came in the form of a job coach whose $100-per-hour services were paid for by the university. Finding such a coach in Prescott, Ariz., took most of last autumn, and it was not until the end of last year that Sales began working with Evelyn Larriba, a vocational specialist from the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic who was not specifically trained to work with adults with A.D.D. but who brought up a grandson who has the condition.

During January and February, Larriba met with Sales at the library. Their work started with her desk, which took two hours to straighten up. Then they tackled her time management, dividing Sales's workload into sections and creating interim timetables. That worked when it came to ordering her quota of graphic novels, which she finished on time, but was not quite as successful when it came to reviewing periodicals for the library's collection. Despite a detailed template, the first batch of reviews that Sales turned in were handwritten, and her boss had to advise her to type them up on the computer. Larriba said she has never seen a client work harder. ''You couldn't ask for anyone who is more dedicated to doing a good job,'' Larriba said of Sales. ''She tried desperately hard.''

Once a month, Sales met with her supervisor, Evelyn Harris, to discuss her progress. The portrait painted in Harris's memos is one of incredible determination and effort but only incremental change. Harris said that both she and Sales were determined to make it work. ''I approached Vivienne's training as I would with a brand-new person,'' Harris said. ''We agreed we would start from ground zero and build.''

In the January report, Sales was chided for missing a deadline for a student newspaper because of a computer problem; missing a meeting because she forgot, despite three e-mail reminders; and missing a day of work because she forgot to take her medication. She failed to straighten the library bulletin board where students post ''for sale'' and ''for rent'' notices. She yawned through an entire meeting, without covering her mouth, leading Harris to reprimand her for ''unprofessional behavior.''

''From our discussion today and the list of things that are not getting done, I feel that you are not multitasking,'' Harris wrote. ''You focus on one or two projects and ignore the other daily/weekly tasks that need to be done on an ongoing basis. You will work with Evelyn Larriba during the next two weeks on time-management skills and prioritizing techniques.''

startling fact about the world of A.D.D. is the number of people who are grateful for the disorder, who consider it the best part of themselves. David Neeleman, for instance, the founder of JetBlue Airways, has said that he will not take medication for his A.D.D., fearing that it would make him just like everybody else.

''It's the source of my creativity and my drive,'' echoed Thomas Apple, who was given a diagnosis about seven years ago, when he was in his early 40's, and went on to create the world's largest video display for stock market quotations. ''You can think outside the box because you're not in a box.''

''A.D.D. is the greatest thing that happened to me,'' said Sam Grossman, who became a partner in the Albert Corporation, a real-estate company based in Brookline, Mass., two years ago, when he was 22. ''I wish I could hire four or five people like me with A.D.D.,'' he said. ''The impulsivity that comes with this means I can walk into a building, see things an ordinary person wouldn't see and act on my gut right away.''

Even the slim chance that such success is possible kept Sales going. ''I see things in ways that other people don't,'' she said. As an example, she told me about how another librarian happened to mention that a copy of the ''Seabiscuit'' dvd was missing. That same morning, Sales happened to pass the interlibrary-loan shelf and was distracted by a glimpse of something out of place. It was the wayward dvd.

At about the same time, Sales was training students to enter information in a database of aviation-themed periodicals. It was boring, repetitive work -- year, month, volume number, titles, features, keywords -- and Sales hated it. While trying to find new books for the collection, Sales accidentally found herself not in her library's database but in a commercial one that included almost exactly the same information. ''Our project was reinventing the wheel,'' she said. ''Other companies were already doing this work.'' So she wrote a memo (on the computer, not by hand) and presented it to her boss, practically giddy at her efficiency.

She told her coach these two stories over and over, certain they would save her job. Success, however, is a matter of perspective, and what Sales saw as victory, Larriba saw merely as what others do effortlessly every day. She did not share that with Sales, however, letting her client savor the feeling of accomplishment.

''That memo was my best work,'' Sales remembered. ''It only had one typo.''

Sales's determination to do the job right was certainly noticed. There was praise in her next evaluation.

''Your presentation was well organized, your PowerPoint slides were effective and your personal demeanor was professional,'' Harris wrote in March. (Larriba had advised Sales on her outfit, double-checking that it was pressed.) ''That was very good.''

But there was criticism too -- and a tone that sounded like a boss building a paper trail. Sales was cited for lapses that she says she suspected would not be held against any of her co-workers. It gave her the feeling that she couldn't win, no matter how hard she might try. By April, it was clear that the fight was over. Sales was told that she had taken too much time with too little result preparing a display for Black History Month and too little time updating the library's emergency and disaster manuals. She had introduced items in meetings that were not on the agenda. She had recommended the purchase of books without realizing that the library had already ordered them. She had recommended the purchase of electronic devices without first conferring with the electronic-services librarian. (''Your response when I questioned your recommendation was, 'Whoops!''')

This final evaluation came with an attached list of available positions elsewhere in the university. Of those, seven required advanced training or degrees that Sales did not have, one was a part-time slot in the copying center and one was interlibrary-loan specialist, the job that started all the trouble in the first place. After reading the list, Sales went home and lay in bed with an ice pack on her head.

As a part of Sales's severance package, she received 16 hours with her vocational coach, and Larriba spent much of that time discouraging Sales from applying for jobs that involved too much multitasking or would require her to relocate. Sales said she thinks a move to another state, or even another country, might provide a clean slate and a new start; Larriba said she thinks a move would be nothing but overwhelming.

''You have to ask yourself, Are you running to something or are you running away from something?'' the coach told her client. ''You can't run away from A.D.D.''


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: Arizona; US: New York
KEYWORDS: add; adhd; lronhubbard; mentalhealth; scientology
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To: mikegi
"''There is a tremendous difference between having some of the qualities and having the disorder. What we are talking about here is chronic, it's prevalent, it causes severe impairment.''

Educating my co-workers about my condition so they will get a better understanding of it.

Where's the BARF alert???

None indicated for those who want to get some understanding and the ability to distinguish between normal behavior, especially in young males, and folks who are significantly impaired in the activities of daily living.

I was sceptical at first of the validity of the diagnosis. I think it may still be overdiagnosed, e.g. normal boys tagged with ADHD, and worse, forced to take drugs. But I'm increasingly convinced that there's a segment of the population that can't cope, and that it's not a character flaw or failure of will.

51 posted on 07/18/2004 10:11:40 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: webstersII

That's the first I'd ever heard this (not that I've actively looked for it). But I'd always wondered how on earth stimulants were supposed to make someone more focused -- I always thought it'd be the opposite.


52 posted on 07/18/2004 10:18:44 AM PDT by BlackRazor
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To: ExtremeUnction
I'm too busy perfectly lining up the soup can labels in the cupboard.

That's an example of an obsessive/compulsive trait. If it's such a big deal that you ignore really important things to do, e.g. turn off the water in the bathtub and regularly flood your bathroom, that's a disorder.

53 posted on 07/18/2004 10:19:44 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem

Most of the problems appear to actually be EMD.

Excuse Making Disorder


54 posted on 07/18/2004 10:25:32 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: Diddle E. Squat

And a few Sight Hounds...


55 posted on 07/18/2004 10:27:54 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: Diddle E. Squat

56 posted on 07/18/2004 10:42:13 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: neverdem
I was sceptical at first of the validity of the diagnosis. I think it may still be overdiagnosed, e.g. normal boys tagged with ADHD, and worse, forced to take drugs. But I'm increasingly convinced that there's a segment of the population that can't cope, and that it's not a character flaw or failure of will.

It's definitely overdiagnosed. My wife's niece was properly diagnosed with ADHD. She is mentally retarded but with an aggressive bent. Her father, who was not the husband at the time, died in prison and the mom was also difficult, so there is a family history of problems.

The part about little boys having more ADHD is bogus. My daughter is almost five so I get to see the behavior of kids all the time. Yes, most of the boys misbehave but it is due to two things: the moms have no concept of discipline and the kids don't have sleep routines.

The lack of meaningful discipline causes most of the problems. I don't know how many times I hear moms say "Stop doing that, stop doing that ... 1 ... 2 ... 3", then nothing happens. The kids realize that there are no consequences to bad behavior. They have no guidance on good behavior. Kids naturally want to stretch boundaries and its our job as parents to show them the boundaries. You tell your child that what they're doing is wrong *one time* and what the consequences will be if the behavior continues. If they continue to misbehave, then you begin the consequences *without* negotiation.

The other cause of bad behavior is the lack of regular sleeping schedules. Kids need a routine so that they get a good nights sleep. When our daughter's schedule gets disrupted, she displays some of the ADHD symptoms the next day (defiance, overly emotional). Many if not most of the families around here have chaotic sleep schedules. Their kids don't go to sleep at a relatively fixed time, etc. so they are just tired all day.

Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now...

57 posted on 07/18/2004 10:46:27 AM PDT by mikegi
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Bingo


58 posted on 07/18/2004 11:09:21 AM PDT by thoughtomator (End the imperialist moo slime colonization of the West!)
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To: searchandrecovery

And you could also have D.A.M. - Mothers Against Dyslexia


59 posted on 07/18/2004 11:59:16 AM PDT by mean lunch lady (Stupidity is not a handicap - park elsewhere!)
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To: thoughtomator

I think you are ignorant of the issues that I and a lot of other people face every day. I can see a clear difference, just between my 3 kids. 2 don't have it, one does. You don't know what you are talking about.


60 posted on 07/18/2004 1:01:26 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: mikegi
"I don't know how many times I hear moms say "Stop doing that, stop doing that ... 1 ... 2 ... 3", then nothing happens. The kids realize that there are no consequences to bad behavior."

Believe me, we know this. We are very disciplined with our parenting approach. Our kids are fine on the discipline front, we are consistent and firm. And I agree that ADD is overdiagnosed. Without a doubt it is something that helps drug companies push unnecessary medicine and lazy parents a way to control challenging children. But to those who really do have it, and the people around them, there is positively no guessing involved. Maybe in the past they had other names for it, but ADD is very real to those who really have to deal with it.

61 posted on 07/18/2004 1:05:21 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: thoughtomator
You'd be surprised how far actually caring about one's work goes in getting one to work on time, getting the work done properly, etc.

If they are lollygagging around all the time and are just late, yes. If they are constantly getting distracted into things, then perhaps not. I know a person that prior to setting up computer alarms would almost never make meetings because they were distracted by doing their projects and would get completely wrapped up in them. They had more output than any two other people for several months at a time, but would always be late, and their work would peak and valley every few months.

Of course an annual review would show that they were constantly late for work, and would go through spats of missing deadlines. It wouldn't note that they were also often late going home, and had learned how to do every job function in a diverse department.

Kinda bipolar ADHD.

62 posted on 07/18/2004 1:06:46 PM PDT by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: thoughtomator
You'd be surprised how far actually caring about one's work goes in getting one to work on time, getting the work done properly, etc.

If they are lollygagging around all the time and are just late, yes. If they are constantly getting distracted into things, then perhaps not. I know a person that prior to setting up computer alarms would almost never make meetings because they were distracted by doing their projects and would get completely wrapped up in them. They had more output than any two other people for several months at a time, but would always be late, and their work would peak and valley every few months.

Of course an annual review would show that they were constantly late for work, and would go through spats of missing deadlines. It wouldn't note that they were also often late going home, and had learned how to do every job function in a diverse department.

Kinda bipolar ADHD.

63 posted on 07/18/2004 1:06:46 PM PDT by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: paulsy

I respectfully suggest that it is you who needs to further educate yourself on this matter. ADD is an excuse for massively widespread child abuse, nothing more. Disorders that affect millions do not just appear out of thin air.

There are real disorders that affect children and are diagnosed as ADD, but I would estimate that those are less than 5% of all such cases.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/keyword/add
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/keyword/adhd


64 posted on 07/18/2004 1:07:31 PM PDT by thoughtomator (End the imperialist moo slime colonization of the West!)
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To: Diddle E. Squat
"Most of the problems appear to actually be EMD."

I'm waiting for someone who has actually been diagnosed with it, or who actually has it, to come forward with these kinds of statements. ???

65 posted on 07/18/2004 1:07:40 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: lepton

Those aren't ADD symptoms... that's a bipolar disorder, something completely different. But it does go to show that ADD has become a catch-all for a lot of different things that aren't ADD.


66 posted on 07/18/2004 1:09:04 PM PDT by thoughtomator (End the imperialist moo slime colonization of the West!)
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To: thoughtomator
"ADD is an excuse for massively widespread child abuse, nothing more."

Well in my case I'm an adult who is not really being abused by anyone. But I agree with your sentiment, though "nothing more" precludes ADD as a viable option in even one case.

There are real disorders that affect children and are diagnosed as ADD, but I would estimate that those are less than 5% of all such cases.

I actually agree with this statement. But is there a psychologist in our community who can step forward and say what they think? I get tired of "experts" who haven't been there acting like they know it all.

67 posted on 07/18/2004 1:12:07 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: neverdem

I need a psychotropic drug to read articles that long ...


68 posted on 07/18/2004 1:13:48 PM PDT by spodefly (I can't handle the pressure to come up with interesting taglines for every post.)
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To: mikegi
Yes, most of the boys misbehave but it is due to two things:

Perhaps not what you are talking about, but certain types of misbehaving are simply "tactile learning" in an environment set up for girls (who sometimes have the same tendency, but at a much lower rate).

69 posted on 07/18/2004 1:13:53 PM PDT by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: thoughtomator
I guess, I'm trying to understand your position on this.

Are you saying that ADD doesn't exist? If so, we disagree. Or are you saying that it is over-diagnosed and a trojan horse for laziness and abuse? If so, we agree.

70 posted on 07/18/2004 1:16:05 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: paulsy

The problem with getting a professional psychologist's opinion is that psychologists have a vested interest in saying that it does exist. ADD = money for them.

I have no such interest. All I have to say for myself is that I did have problems as a child, that if I were born a decade or two later I would have certainly been diagnosed as ADD/ADHD and drugged out with Ritalin; that those problems were the direct result of the absence of parental guidance, too much TV, and schools which did not have the tools to provide for an intelligent child; and that later in life, when I was able to sort out these problems without outside interference, the elimination of television, self-education, and religious study were more than sufficient to cure all the legacy problems that I did have.

Thus, I believe it is nothing more than child abuse to give psychoactive drugs to children in place of taking these other, commonsense steps. In the extremely rare case where that is not sufficient, I would say a real disorder exists. The fact that, after all this time, there is still no hard-and-fast definition of ADD that can be put to an objective test, despite enormous resources from the psychology and pharmaceutical industries, is as close to proof of the non-existence of ADD/ADHD as one can get.

On a very basic level, if a child is raised by a television in a family where both parents work, and taught by government schools, one would expect an otherwise healthy child to develop all the symptoms associated with ADD/ADHD.


71 posted on 07/18/2004 1:25:58 PM PDT by thoughtomator (End the imperialist moo slime colonization of the West!)
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To: paulsy

I'm not talking about legitimate cases(and I strongly disagree with the blowhards who claim ADD is ENTIRELY made up.) But there are a heck of a lot of persons who claim to have ADD who really are just excuse making, in jobs poorly suited to their personalities, lacking self-control, etc.

You have my prayers and understanding for your situation. The excuse makers who try and jump on the ADD bandwagon end up doing the most harm to recognition of ADD by the general public, because they are the loudest ones and those most likely to be encountered by the public, who then attaches a gereral skepticism about the existence and severity of actual cases.


72 posted on 07/18/2004 1:26:10 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: paulsy

Continue to Not Medicate them.

Contrary to what popular opinion is, ritalin, and it's brood....will leave your child with a sweet tooth for narcotics later in life. God help them if they ever fall into methamphetamines. Ahhh, that calm surreal childhood feeling.

Personal experience, and opinion...but you're doing the right thing.


73 posted on 07/18/2004 1:27:36 PM PDT by 1_Inch_Group (Gun Owners. The front line of homeland defence)
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To: thoughtomator
It's certainly not bipolar deppression. I don't recall ever seeing this person depressed. The variation was clearly a measure of focus. Driving for this person was an adventure, as after a few months they'd begin to get lost on the way to work, apparently daydreaming.

In this persons case, the lateness to meetings was resolved with meeting software (they would always remember that there was supposed to be a meeting and when, but not in a timely manner). The variation in performance was resolved by constantly changing their tasks. Any task you gave this person would be mastered within months, and would begin to decline soon thereafter, until they'd get lost staring blankly at the screen.

Management decision: Set them to learn new (widely varied) tasks, train others to do them and take them over, and go onto new tasks. Worked fine.

Now...why would this only show up relatively recently? Well, for starters, we were designed to go chase bunnies, not to sit at a desk for years, performing repetitive functions, operating on a schedule. Lots of ADD traits would not be notable, or would be actually helpful in other environments.

74 posted on 07/18/2004 1:30:46 PM PDT by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: MHGinTN
Sort of opiatic. Writing to dull the senses and lower the eyelids.

A good NY Times writer is like the ol' ugly Wicked Witch of Oz: "Lotus flowers ... yes, my lovelies ... that will make them sleeep ..."

A good read? Wake up a sheep. Are you baahhing yet?

75 posted on 07/18/2004 1:36:22 PM PDT by bvw
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To: Diddle E. Squat
ADD is ENTIRELY MADE UP!

BLOWHARDIAN OR NOT ... THAT'S THE WAY IT IS.

* * * * *

The world depends on blowhards and flakes. The rest of you are just sheep, penned for the slaughter.

76 posted on 07/18/2004 1:39:57 PM PDT by bvw
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To: thoughtomator
A Catch-all.

Right. It's a fad. Like the general "neuralgias" and "distempers" of bygone eras for which magical elixers were sold.

But it's more than that too. It's in the same line as Margeret Sanger and the racial and social purifiers. The offical eugenists who sterilized the "addled" and the negroid. It shows that official society has tolerance only for a an extremely curtailed set of behavioual patterns. A very boring and dull set, by the way. Not a very productive set, what "they" would allow.

An unhealthy attitude "they" have.

And they are just the people who buy into this claptrap, or the ones who go along with it. "They" are us.

But not me.

77 posted on 07/18/2004 1:49:59 PM PDT by bvw
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To: spodefly

"I need a psychotropic drug to read articles that long ..."

Funny you should say that. Despite my ADD tendencies, I never had any trouble sitting and reading, sometimes for long stretches. I do have a nasty habit of sometimes missing whole paragraphs or sentences while reading. That cost me quite a few times on tests and exams in school.


78 posted on 07/18/2004 1:58:13 PM PDT by -YYZ-
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To: thoughtomator

Another type of depression is bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. Not nearly as prevalent as other forms of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, overtalkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state.

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION AND MANIA
Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences every symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. Severity of symptoms varies with individuals and also varies over time.

Depression
Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
Restlessness, irritability
Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

Mania
Abnormal or excessive elation
Unusual irritability
Decreased need for sleep
Grandiose notions
Increased talking
Racing thoughts
Increased sexual desire
Markedly increased energy
Poor judgment
Inappropriate social behavior

What lepton described is not bipolar disorder, but it sure sounds that "spacey" behavior described in the article. The above definition of bipolar disorder and symptoms was from the National Institute of Mental Health(NIMH). Here's the URL:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depression.cfm#ptdep3


79 posted on 07/18/2004 2:23:02 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem
but it sure sounds like that "spacey" behavior described in the article.
80 posted on 07/18/2004 2:33:48 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem

Other disorders, such as Asperger's Syndrome, can sometimes look like ADD/ADHD, particularly in children.


81 posted on 07/18/2004 2:34:33 PM PDT by ncdrumr
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To: Diddle E. Squat
I think you are entirely correct; thanks for the note. The fakers irritate me too, for the reasons you suggest.

toughtomater wrote: "On a very basic level, if a child is raised by a television in a family where both parents work, and taught by government schools, one would expect an otherwise healthy child to develop all the symptoms associated with ADD/ADHD." This is a true statement based on what I've seen in the behavior of my non-add kids v. the one who has it.

For the "blowhards" (Neal Boortz among them, though I otherwise enjoy his show) a number of clinical studies have found clear differences in brain functioning between brains of people with and without ADD. Here is a link to one such study: http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:hdZPWWUFJE0J:www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981124063106.htm+ADD+AND+%22brain+chemistry%22+AND+difference&hl=en

82 posted on 07/18/2004 3:26:50 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: lepton
About why it wasn't "found" until recently. In addition to the obvious push from drug companies for profit reasons, you wrote: "...we were designed to go chase bunnies, not to sit at a desk for years, performing repetitive functions, operating on a schedule. Lots of ADD traits would not be notable, or would be actually helpful in other environments."

We've also more recently been able to establish a nexus between classes of behavior/symptoms and differences in brain chemistry, with the more sophisticated and revealing imaging diagnostics.

83 posted on 07/18/2004 3:31:52 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: -YYZ-
"Despite my ADD tendencies, I never had any trouble sitting and reading, sometimes for long stretches."

A lot of ADD people can "hyperfocus" really well, where a bomb could go off in the room and they (almost literally) wouldn't notice. In fact they might do this sort of thing for hours. That alone wouldn't mean you have it, but just to say that you being able to focus on certain things doesn't mean you don't have it.

84 posted on 07/18/2004 3:36:20 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: ncdrumr
"Other disorders, such as Asperger's Syndrome, can sometimes look like ADD/ADHD, particularly in children."

It can also mimic some of the symptoms of Tourette's syndrome.

85 posted on 07/18/2004 3:39:25 PM PDT by paulsy
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To: jim macomber; mean lunch lady
They can join forces with DAM - Mothers Against Dyslexia.

I guess it could be MAADD-DAM or DAM-MAADD.

86 posted on 07/18/2004 8:02:29 PM PDT by searchandrecovery (Socialist America - diseased and dysfunctional.)
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To: Wilhelm Tell
I don't know where lack of skills ends and "disability" begins.

Nice post. The above is my keeper. I don't trust the Psych orgs (apa, etc.) to draw the lines. Drawing a line between normal and a disability or disorder or disease (in a legal sense) is too powerful to be left to a bunch of liberals - the courts, lawyers, and psychologists/psychiatrists. Unfortunately "invading academia" by liberals has really bad ripple effects.

On a more positive note, in my professional opinion, you are suffering from CDD - Chat Deficit Disorder. You don't like to talk to people as much as, say, a normal person like myself does. Please seek treatment tomorrow at the latest (or preferably this evening). There are new drugs coming online, and many new therapy modalities that can help you work through this. Admitting CDD publicly was a brave first step - congratulations! Soon you will be back as a fully functioning adult, working for the state. Please keep us posted of you progress.

87 posted on 07/18/2004 8:22:48 PM PDT by searchandrecovery (Socialist America - diseased and dysfunctional.)
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To: thoughtomator

People with ADD often cannot focus on something unless it is a highly stimulating topic/activity.


88 posted on 07/18/2004 8:56:42 PM PDT by KittyKares
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To: paulsy
I can't believe we've gotten this far into the thread with no one mentioning the Americans with Disabilities Act. What will we do when businesses are forced to retain people who just cannot adequately perform their jobs?

I think there is a lot to be said for being realistic with a job search. What CAN you do, instead of what you really, really WANT to do. People who are chronically late or disorganized are only kept around if what they do accomplish is done very well.

But I won't do business with a company which cannot get done what I need done in a reasonable manner.

89 posted on 07/18/2004 11:34:22 PM PDT by Dianna
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To: KittyKares

Yeah, I had that problem too. Learning self-discipline solved it.


90 posted on 07/19/2004 3:10:29 AM PDT by thoughtomator (End the imperialist moo slime colonization of the West!)
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To: neverdem

Adult ADD? Now that's just silly. We used to call people like that scatterbrained.

ADD, ADHD, Global Warming, the Easter Bunny, an honest Democrat- all fictional....


91 posted on 07/19/2004 10:11:27 AM PDT by petercooper (In the end, Democrats are just a bunch of jackasses.)
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To: searchandrecovery

"I guess it could be MAADD-DAM or DAM-MAADD."

If I was a madam, I would be dam mad!


92 posted on 07/20/2004 7:49:26 PM PDT by mean lunch lady (Stupidity is not a handicap - park elsewhere!)
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To: mikegi
My wife's niece was properly diagnosed with ADHD. She is mentally retarded but with an aggressive bent. Her father, who was not the husband at the time, died in prison and the mom was also difficult, so there is a family history of problems.

Inability to pay attention at all would be rare and for cases like this girl you describe -- a true learning disability. Much of what is wrongly called ADD is really just inability to pay attention to a particular teacher or the ability to pay attention to several things at the same time --- which looks like not paying attention. A child can be sitting at his desk, paying attention to the eraser on his pencil, paying attention to the kid sitting behind him, and to what is going on outside the window, and to his plans for after school, and to the fly on the wall, and not paying too much attention to the teacher. This child is bored but doesn't really have a learning disability --- sometimes this type might also be paying attention to the teacher and learning just fine but the teacher doesn't think he's paying attention because he's a multi-tasker --- capable of paying attention to several things at one time.

93 posted on 07/20/2004 8:36:39 PM PDT by FITZ
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To: Dianna
I can't believe we've gotten this far into the thread with no one mentioning the Americans with Disabilities Act. What will we do when businesses are forced to retain people who just cannot adequately perform their jobs?

That's just it. For children it's hard not being completely average and not being molded exactly the same --- but for adults it's much easier because there are many different kinds of jobs --- a job that might be boring means you need to look for another kind of job. If you can't focus on one thing but are better at multitasking, then find a job that suits your personality.

I know a woman who used the ADA and her "depression" to manipulate it so she only had to show up to work when she felt like it. Often times she claimed she was too depressed to even get out of bed for the day --- so of course didn't go into work. She held a full time job but they were lucky if she showed up 2 days a week and she'd be somehow less depressed on lighter work days and would manage to come for those.

94 posted on 07/20/2004 8:46:26 PM PDT by FITZ
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To: martin_fierro
ROTFLMAO!!

"Ann? ANN?!?"

95 posted on 07/26/2004 6:46:13 AM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: Constitution Day

<|:)~

(where ya been, bro?)


96 posted on 07/26/2004 7:22:10 AM PDT by martin_fierro (Zydecodependent.)
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To: paulsy

Very interesting about the hyperfocus - that is the way I am with reading. I read 3 or 4 books a week normally, but I am ADD.

I'm fortunate that I have been aware of it for a long time and try to work with it. It is the greatest source of my creativity - an unending curiosity to learn how to do everything then set it down and go on to learn the next thing that catches my eye.

I can teach dance, make my own soap from scratch, sew complicated figure skating dresses, knit, crochet, paint and do enough carpentry to do things around the house my husband doesn't get to. This year I took the Master Gardening Certification class just to prove to myself I could commit to a semester long program and finish it. Who knows what will catch my eye next.

In my professional life it has been a disaster. I'm lucky that we have our own business now and I haven't fired myself :).

Thru trial and error I found a combination of medications that work for me and I order those online. I haven't tried the Straterra yet to it sounds tempting if it would work.


97 posted on 07/26/2004 7:51:51 AM PDT by Clintons Are White Trash (Helen Thomas, Molly Ivins, Maureen Dowd - The Axis of Ugly)
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To: thoughtomator

My little brother was a poster child for ADHD and this was back in the mid 60's before the disorder was well known.

Everything he did was X50. He didn't walk into a room - he burst into a room. He talked loudly and quickly and was in 10 different directions at once. He was one of 4 and while I am moderately ADD (self diagnosed in my adulthood) none of the rest of the kids in the family was anything like our brother.

It has followed him into adulthood - I wish I could take any non believer of this disorder and make them spend a day with him.


98 posted on 07/26/2004 7:59:00 AM PDT by Clintons Are White Trash (Helen Thomas, Molly Ivins, Maureen Dowd - The Axis of Ugly)
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To: neverdem

I'm not replying specifically to you, neverdem. First, I'm a conservative, and probably agree with 99% of the opinions of those who have commented on this topic. But you're way off base here.

First, there's not doubt that ADD exists. There are brainscans of people with it and without it, and they are consistently different in the same way.
http://www.brainplace.com/bp/atlas/ch12.asp
There's lots of other research into this area, and the scientific evidence is piling up and allowing the study of ADD to go in new directions of understanding about the brain.
Second, as someone with ADD, I know from personal experience that it exists and is devastating if untreated. I'm going to give you a quick bio sketch, but I hope you can read between the lines for what I don't say, but which is implied.

I have a PhD in Electrical Engineering. I work for NASA. I put myself through engineering school working at night, and it took 15 years to go from freshman to PhD. I never took a dime in loans, and never got help from anyone. I work, on average, 12 hours/day, and have since I was 19. I'm now 50. (you can see why I'm a conservative veering towards Libertarian :-) ) I won't list my accomplishments, but I'm no slacker.

I was diagnosed with ADD last year. I had no idea what it was. I was at the end of my rope, and went to see a shrink to see if I was crazy because I couldn't seem to work like the people around me. My life was a disaster and I couldn't seem to fix it. I forgot to pay bills regularly, I couldn't keep track of what I had to do, I was always on the edge of, or in the middle of, a major crisis. I got my phone, my power, and other utilities turned off regularly. I overdrew accounts regularly. I forgot to pay parking tickets which I got regularly by forgetting about parking meters. I had huge piles of papers on my office floor. Everyone I knew was always mad at me for things I said I would do and then forgot, even though I would write them down (I would lose the paper). I progressed in life because it seemed that I could only function when the world was about to collapse on my head. I've been in jail for forgetting to pay a speeding ticket, and I've been in trouble with the IRS my whole adult life. My wife left me because she couldn't take it anymore. This in no way covers, but is only a brief sketch, of what my life was like. I was a screw-up in every area of life.

I tried everything I could think of to get on track. I attributed my condition to the fact that I was lazy (working 12 hour days), undisciplined, a n'er do well, programmed for failure, you name it. I never whined, or tried to find a reason outside of myself. I bought every book, tape, CD, or program I ever heard of that promised some help for someone who was as disorganized and out of control as I was. Right now from where I'm sitting I can see around 25 self-help books and the complete set of Tony Robbins tapes that I bought in 1990 and have listened to around 7 times since then. I have books on improving your memory, self-hynosis tapes and CDs for memory and procrastination. I have books on goal setting, books on organizational systems, books that have titles like "Psycho-Cybernetics" on how to reprogram yourself. I've spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on trying to figure out how to function normally. Two years ago I started to pray every morning for help. My prayer was, "Please God, help me to focus and work today."
Since I've been diagnosed, my life has changed completely. I'm almost normal, and my life resembles a normal life. Most of my messes are cleaned up, and I feel hopeful about life for the first time since I was a teenager. But it's not easy. Here's what people who have ADD have to do if they want to have a normal life.
1) medication (I hate medication. but the difference between me on and me off medication is huge. Most ADD people I know hate medication and would stop immediately if there was an alternative).
2) Health: We have to eat a very strict and healthy diet. No or low sugar, bread, alcohol, junk food, etc. We have to very carefully watch what we eat. I have to exercise a lot. Not just to help my body, but to increase the blood flow to my brain. I run for an hour 5 times a week and do yoga every day. No exceptions.
3) Structure. My life is regimented in a way now that is excesive compared to my old completely unstructured life. Every minute of every day is structured in a routine I worked out with my shrink. I have a complicated work system of lists, inboxes, reminders, files, to keep everything flowing smoothly. I have regular calls with family members and friends so I can keep up and not forget.

This is only the outline, but you can see that having ADD is not a get-out-of-work free card. It's a serious condition that is hell to have undiagnosed, and hard to deal with diagnosed. I've had to come to terms with the fact that I'll never have the same type of life as most people. But what I have now is a million times better than what I used to have.

I didn't go into all this for sympathy, I don't want sympathy. I don't want help. I don't want special favors. But I won't have people who don't know what I've been through make silly and ignorant statements that insult my diginity and my character.

We all have our burdens. This is mine. I hope you handle yours with as much character and fortitude.




99 posted on 08/02/2004 8:18:08 PM PDT by Kettlebelly_0
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To: msdrby

ping


100 posted on 08/02/2004 8:32:28 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (Platoon leader, TreadHead aerial demonstration team. Ever do an Immelman or a Split-S in a tank?)
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