Attention Deficit Disorder

My Way of Doing “Art”: ADD

ADD and ADHD are the same thing, there is no meaningful difference in the classification, in case you thought there was. ADD (or add the H if you want to be outdated) is one of those hot topics in America that really doesn’t make sense to me. Giving children medicine for being overactive is the stupidest shit I have ever heard of. They need more recess, more adventure, less of those four walls and desks. It is a lacking on the part of our schools and our teachers to properly administer education to our leaders, the rebels, the gifted, the children who are not going to just sit and listen to someone who is boring and doesn’t really care about what they are teaching. The ones that need to be doing, not sitting still and listening. Our culture is so inoculated with pharmaceuticals and convenience that these two concepts have cascaded into our schools and we think that our children need to conform to these principles. But you know that there is not a single neuroscientist out there that can define ADD chemically, right? It is a psychiatric label that doesn’t actually exist! The only way to diagnose, like many other bullshit misunderstood psychiatric illnesses, is through personality diagnoses and self diagnosis through personality traits. Neurologists are sure ADD is a variance in the dopamine pathways in the prefrontal cortex and executive center of the brain, but they have no idea why and not a one can define the difference between a normal brain, and an ADD brain beyond personality traits and semi-formulated dopamine regulation theories.

So our culture is labeling something that we don’t understand and calling it negative when children with ADD tend to have higher IQ’s, be more active, more rebellious, more disrespectful towards authority, and unique in their view of the world. Sounds like we need more of those kids…We call it a problem and fix it, when there is nothing to fix; these are our future leaders! This isn’t a disorder, it’s a gift, and we need to understand these children and help them to flourish to find peace and fulfillment. Our schools need to change so these children can succeed in their natural creativity, not stifle it with amphetamine analogues that are just as powerful, maybe sometimes more so, than cocaine.

When I was young, I did a lot of stupid shit. Like pouring water buckets onto other kids heads, or pushing kids off slides, or kicking my sister. That’s how I learn, by making mistakes. I was a pretty wild kid, with a lot of energy and my mom would take me to the park a lot to run around and scream. This translated nicely when it came to sports, but in school, it was no-good. My first grade teacher was the first to say, he is disruptive but he seems to be learning the information just fine himself, he’s distracting the other children. Cue the dramatic piano music and thus begins my relationship with pharmaceutical drugs, particularly amphetamine analogues, and this would continue into my 20s. But I was better behaved for my teachers at school and I didn’t care about taking a pill in the morning. I was six. I even won student of the month. One time, in first grade. I don’t think I was a very good student, as far as the teachers were concerned though, I had great relationships with most of my younger teachers, but as I grew older I grew more disagreeable with my teachers.

Anyways, according to modern neurologists and psychiatrists I have a brain disorder, but no one really knows what causes it, they just know it has to do with the prefrontal cortex and that stimulants seem to provide the stimulus saturation needed to keep someone with ADD focused. So there really is a huge unknown here, something that we really can’t explain with the current state of neuroscience.

So I kept taking medication until high school, which was the first place I started to really question ADD. I read books about it, learned about the personality types of people with ADD and thought it wasn’t so bad. Maybe I would try no medication for a while. One semester during summer school, my history teacher said he was willing to do an experiment. Three weeks on the medication, three weeks off the medication, so see where I performed better. The three weeks with medication won, by far. This is a perfect examples of the problem with the schools; the amount of learning I was achieving was less important than my behavior. I actually think the idea of ADD is 100% a result of America’s current schooling system. I’m not saying that a chemical basis for ADD doesn’t possibly exist, but that our schools should be fully able to handle these students with ease.

I’ll tell you a bit about my personal experience with ADD. Boredom is a constant for someone with ADD, we are always looking for new way to stimulate ourselves, entertain ourselves, whatever. So when I was younger, I was extremely impulsive; I would just do things all the time to see what would happen and a lot of times these actions were very intrusive. So its easy to be annoying when you have ADD. Sports were tough until I was older because I really couldn’t regulate my attention or focus yet. My focus something I really had to tame.

Focus is the key to ADD, learning to use it and keep it constant rather than constantly fluctuating up and down. Having ADD as a kid is like riding a dragon, seriously, its terrifying, rewarding, painful, and bumpy. But as I learned to harness it, the tool of my focus became more and more powerful. Hyper-focusing became rather easy and now I am in control of my attention. Really dealing ADD is really more about hormone regulation than anything else. Thank god for yoga. Now onto the awesome stuff, the legendary, the reason why we have to stop alienating and medicating these kids. When I started creating art, I realized I had a gift for translation, for expression, for getting down to the core of ideas, the humanity of things. The best teacher I ever had was David Bischoff, because he taught me how to see art, how to trace influence, and visually analyze anything really. He taught me how to see things differently than I ever had and I was captivated every class. I needed more teachers like that when I was a kid, people who told me to look outside of the box of the classroom and go see the world. But in truth, I was very lucky, and absolutely could have seen myself not being as successful as I was in the system (I have my BA, yay!).

I found yoga when I was 20 and that sealed the deal. Yoga is how I regulate my attention and my hormonal balance and I would put yoga into the first grade at public schools if it were up to me. No one ever told me there were ways I could regulate my own attention. Everyone turned to medicine, which I am not mad, sad, or judgmental about, I just think there might be a better way.

I think what really needs to change is the education system, not the pharmaceuticals. Children need personalized education, group education is great too, but one on one time is so valuable for our younger generations. If kids with ADD had adults that could keep up with them in one on one situations, the attention span of the child will stop being a problem. Personalized teaching for someone with highly creative, highly intelligent, and extreme intuition sounds like a good idea to me. So where does that leave us?

The biggest problem in the world right now is education; we can solve the problem soon, if we put our budgets and our minds to it, but we are too busy waging war in the Middle East and letting the UC system go to shit. Let’s reprioritize. Kid brains and kid happiness over weapons and defense.

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