RE: ADD/ADHD Problems and Tech Writing/Editing Careers

Subject: RE: ADD/ADHD Problems and Tech Writing/Editing Careers
From: "Johan Hiemstra" <webmaster -at- techexams -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 19:44:52 +0200

Nice to see this topic on this list.

First let me say I've never been diagnosed as having ADD, but I simply
know I have at least a light form of it. Like a previous poster said,
when I read about it I recognize pretty much every symptom in myself.

When I finally 'discovered' ADD, by reading about it actually quite
recently, everything fell into place. Especially my days at school and
at the office.

My non-medical-educated-opinion about ADD is similar to the one most
people in 'the' hacker community have ('hacker' in the positive meaning
of the word
), which is that ADD is over-diagnosed. I know that there are people
who's life becomes difficult because of having severe ADD. There is an
exceptional high percentage of people with ADD in the hacker community,
and it is seldom considered a bad thing. It's considered something
extra, something 'ordinary' people don't have, or better "can't do".
Like being able to taste DTP, or the X-factor. Of course too much of
anything isn't good, the same goes for ADD, and that's when medication
becomes an important consideration. The danger is that too many doctors
prescribe medication too soon/often/much, until the patient is "properly
docile and stupid and "well-socialized". ADD are "abnormalities in
neurotransmitter chemistry, especially the brain's processing of
serotonin." The abnormalities are only abnormal in the eyes of
'ordinary' people. It's often the same old issue: if people don't
understand it they are afraid of or intimidated by it.

Based on my own experience, I suggest the following:
- Make sure your kid has plenty of challenges, this is really important.
Many think that the focus is lost randomly, which may be true for many
ADD patients, but I experienced the focus is often lost when the
challenge is gone. (Done that, next!) Always keep it interesting.
- Don't complain if he spends too much time with a computer (games or
more serious stuff). Give the kid all the space he needs to develop
himself, in his own way. He isn't different, those that don't have ADD
are different. He's just special. ;)
- Watch Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Science channel and all
the alike.
- Caffeine helps, but what works much better for me is Red-Bull (an
energy drink with caffeine and taurine (I don't know if the latter even
has anything to do with it). 'Every time' is start to write I drink a
Red-bull first, it really helps me to focus on the things I want to
focus on, for the amount of time I want to. (This is not a suitable
suggestion for those that have ADHD as well, although I feel that is
something completely different, something more closely to ADD is AS...)
- A special class/school might be a good idea.

As mentioned also by a previous poster, they way I cope with it is to
wear different hats. I'm a tech writer, network designer, marketing
director, 3D modeler/graphics designer, teacher, sales person, computer
game addict, and much more. I wear each of these hats at least once a

I consider myself, and always aim to be, one of the best at what I do.
There is no reason to think someone with ADD won't make it in this
world. ADD is part of who I am, I don't consider it to be something
negative and it never really held me back. (again, I know for some
people who have a more severe form of ADD it can be completely
different, in that case I suggest finding a specialist who really knows
what he or she is talking about, and won't go the easy way directly by
prescribing Retalin.)

A common misconception about ADD, is that those people have a hard time
focusing on something. Nothing is further from the truth. ADD is the
'ability' to hyper-focus, albeit for a (too) short duration. If a
patient learns to cope with it, it can have some major advantages.

So my general advice to you Geoff, for your son, is to make sure he
won't feel less about himself, but 'more' instead. I'm sure you'll be
surprised and he will come a long way.

Good luck!

Johan Hiemstra


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