The Many Faces of ADHD

Simply understanding Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a disorder of inattention and/or hyperactivity is not enough.  While on internship in Chicago (2009), my very-insightful supervisor, Dr. Gene Carroccia, helped me to better understand this complex disorder.  The following are just a few important aspects of the brain-functioning condition called ADHD:

ADHD is a motivation or boredom disorder.  People with ADHD are usually not motivated to do things except what they are interested in at the moment.  If they are interested in something then they can do it for long periods.  This is confusing for parents and teachers because they will see the ADHD person persisting with things they like, but then struggling with chores, following rules, and homework.  Dr. Carroccia explains that ADHD people often appear as lazy, selfish, insensitive, and self-centered because they pay more attention to things that are new, highly stimulating, or interesting, and struggle with things that are routine, ordinary, boring, or tedious (such as schoolwork, chores, lectures).

ADHD is an organization disorder.  ADHD people often are quite messy and disorganized.  Dr. Carroccia posits that, most people with normal brains take for granted their ability to be organized and follow steps to complete everyday tasks, like cleaning a room, doing homework, or doing a project.  They have trouble starting a project or activity, remaining focused, and persisting in the small tasks in order to complete the entire task.  Because of this problem, ADHD people are notorious procrastinators and will also struggle to maintain things in neat or orderly ways.

ADHD is a frustration disorder.  People with ADHD can appear angry, but it is often really frustration.  ADHD people often have frustration tolerance problems, meaning they do not tolerate frustration as well as others their age.  When things don’t go their way or when they are told to do things they do not want to do, they can become frustrated.  When frustrated they can have temper tantrums or outbursts where they yell, cry, scream, or say mean things.

ADHD is a self-control disorder.  Because some ADHD people have impulsivity, they have a harder time controlling their actions.  They do and say things without thinking about the consequences of their behaviors, and this can cause them to be rude and get into trouble.  They have serious self-control problems, and struggle with the ability to stop, think, inhibit, plan, and then act, as well as to continue doing things while other distracting things are occurring.

ADHD is a time-disorder.  They often have time management problems due to having difficulties with planning ahead and anticipating negative outcomes from their behavior.  They lose track of time more easily and are often late for things.

ADHD is not a common sense condition and may appear strange to parents, teachers, spouses, and co-workers who have not been educated about ADHD.  For more information on this disorder or to schedule a psychological evaluation to help identify if ADHD is present in your child, spouse, or you, contact Fresh Start today!


Love & Communication

When we think back to past, failed relationships, it’s easy to attribute blame to the –ex, negative circumstances, and/or poor timing.  Oftentimes these memories are long-lasting and impact subsequent relationships.  It is clear that we are all different people, with different life influences, different values and beliefs, and different coping mechanisms.  Couples’ differences are generally the cause of degenerating or failed relationships.  In considering ALL the differences couples may have, the misinterpretation or inconsistencies of one’s love language is also imperative to understand.

What is a love language?  Author Gary Chapman stresses the importance of being able to express love to your partner in a way that he or she can understand. He calls this type of communicating, love languages.  He posits that there are 5 main love languages that we speak: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.  Imagine your attempt to communicate love in a relationship, but you speak it in Spanish and your partner speaks it in German.  More specifically, imagine that, throughout childhood and adolescence, love was communicated to you through physical touch (e.g., hugs, kisses, pats on the back) and your partner’s was through receiving gifts (e.g., flowers, new clothes, money).  Then, in your adult relationship, a gift may be meaningless when all you want is to be held.  For your partner, a passionate kiss could be misconstrued, if he or she is expecting a token or gift that represents love.  Though you’re genuine in your communication and you strongly desire to convey, “I love you and I’m committed to you,” your partner hears a foreign language and may rely on your actions to do the communicating.

Without understanding each other’s love language, an individual’s actions or lack thereof, can be misconstrued or disregarded.   After years of unhappiness, arguments, and dissatisfaction, many couple’s counselors often find that the problem isn’t love, it’s the love language.   Amongst many valuable reasons, counseling is an opportunity for individuals and couples to build healthy and long-lasting relationships.  Not only can counseling help clients understand their and their partner’s love language, it also can help protect against the consequences of these languages not being understood or respected.  These might include anxiety, depression, anger, arguments, and even, divorce.   It is a worthwhile investment to help couples navigate life and love in a healthy way.

For more information on love languages, read Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate (2004).