RE: TECHWR-L ADD Therapy (Warning: very long)

Subject: RE: TECHWR-L ADD Therapy (Warning: very long)
From: "Diane Evans" <diane_evans -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 13:33:29 -0700

The point I was trying to make was that people with ADD/ADHD are
different, not diseased

I have been terribly busy lately, and haven't had time for this discussion (debate?), but will take a little time to chime in.

Several years ago, I extensively studied the Davis Method for correction of dyslexia, as outlined in the book "The Gift of Dyslexia" by Ronald D. Davis. The book changed my life, and the training gave me a deep understanding of ADD/ADHD and its relationship to dyslexia. This is what I learned:

When a child is born, it has no language. Therefore, all thoughts must be visual. Slowly, the child develops language skills to go along with the visual thinking.

Some children, at a very young age, learn to "fill in" whatever is missing from their field of vision. Since they can't move their head much or walk around, they learn that a small part of something implies the whole thing is there. For example, seeing a cat's tail implies that the cat is in the room, and that a body and head are attached, even though they can't be seen. So, the child pictures the entire cat in his "imagination". The cat that the child "sees" is very real to that child.

At around the age of two, a child's vocabulary skills have advanced to the stage that they are able to think in words, not just pictures. Most children do fine thinking verbally, so adopt that method of thinking. For other children, though, this "picture thinking" has served them just fine, so they continue to think this way.

When a child enters school, they are introduced to the written language. For a verbal thinker, this is a new way to communicate. For a picture thinker, though, this only gets more confusing. "CAT" does not have a head or tail, therefore cannot be a cat. Some of these children will try to organize the word into something that looks closer to a cat -- "TAC" or "CTA" or worse -- but they never succeed. They just get more confused.

Now, here is the "gift" part of being a picture thinker. Verbal thinkers only think as fast as they can read. Picture thinkers think many times faster than this -- as fast as the speed of light, in some cases. So, while a verbal thinker is listening to a question, the picture thinker has finished the question, mulled over the possibilities, and answered the question. The picture thinker will make what appear -- to the rest of the world -- as rash decisions. Teachers or others will then label the child as "ADD" because they never seem to pay attention to the things that the teachers think they should. These children become bored very quickly, and then jump from one task to another as a result.

A picture thinker will seldom finish a project, such as building a model. That's because it is finished in their brain, therefore there is no need to physically finish it. (Side note: I have a whole room full of these "nearly finished" projects.)

There are two ways for the picture thinker's body to cope with this constant thinking. One is hyperactivity: the body tries to keep up with the constantly changing thoughts. The other is hypoactivity: the body can never keep up with the thoughts, so it just shuts down. I have two children: one with ADHD who is constantly on the go and trying new things (he's the cute one on the right -- and one who is ADD with hypoactivity. He is content to sit in Starbuck's corporate office and answer phones. Two different ways of dealing with the same learning difference.

Tech writer tie-in: It doesn't matter what type of a thinker or learner that you are if you want to become a technical writer. What does matter is that you understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and turn them into value for an employer.

Diane Evans
Technical Writer

Washington State Coordinator, Tombstone Project

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