The following is a quote from a colleague of mine. I find it to be a compelling statement that describes one aspect of ADHD, our difficulties with Executive Function, EF, very accurately. Please read on.
“Many people […], (like me) experience executive dysfunction. This important self-regulatory system when in deficit, makes it difficult to take steps towards a goal while incorporating information and making adjustments along the way.
“I liken the goal reaching issues to my sensory processing issues (and wonder if on some level in the frontal cortex of the brain they are related). My auditory system seems to be unable to filter out background noise, or hone in on a particular sound when required.
“There is no filter; everything is coming at me at the same time, fawning for my attention—now. There is no hierarchy of importance in these sounds, meaning the sound of a voice speaking to me is of the same importance to my auditory system as the sounds of the traffic in the background, and, therefore, seemingly as loud and distracting.
“The person’s voice blends into the backgrounds sounds, often disorienting me, and making all the sounds and words blend together. This is particularly problematic if I am stressed, distracted, or overloaded in any way.
“Making progress towards goals is very similar to this experience when you live with executive dysfunction. All the steps required to make progress towards a specific goal gets jumbled together.
“I often have trouble deciding what to do next (sequencing) in order to move myself closer to the goal because all the tasks needed to be completed, are of equal importance (prioritizing), and need my attention—now (no filter). This inability to sequence, and prioritize effectively often results in not being able to complete a project/goal.”
Nice to know …
… that there are other people who feel like I do. The lack of EF, or as my confrère has stated, the Executive Dysfunction, is the result of the brain developing differently. Some say that it is a lack of development of the area of the brain used for EF. We’ll leave discussion of that distinction for another time.
In the early part of the 20th century, ADHD traits were documented. In the second quarter of the 1900’s the effectiveness of psycho stimulants in treating ADHD became known, even though the disorder had not yet been called ADHD. In the third quarter and beyond, from 1951 on, studies repeatedly created data for analysis and more was learned each year about the disorder that was to eventually be named ADHD.
Hyperactive child, hyperkinetic child syndrome, hyperkinetic syndrome, minimal brain damage, minimal cerebral dysfunction and minimal brain dysfunction have all taken their turn as names for ADHD.
But what is it?
ADHD has been referred to as many things, but the one thing we can agree on is that it is a mental health issue. But what kind of issue is it?
Last month, in the wake of Sandy Hook, I spoke out in defence of mental illness. I spoke out against the idea that such tragedies could be prevented by institutionalizing those who might commit such acts.
During that post I stated, as if it were fact, that ADHD was on the Autism Spectrum. I received many comments from people wanting to “set me straight.”
We are always learning
The truth is, that ADHD is not on the Autism Spectrum according to the current DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. But in my defence, I would state that, like a living language, the DSM is constantly in flux, constantly being updated to account for new knowledge. We know only what we know so far.
In my humble opinion, there are too many similarities, too much overlap, between Asperger’s and ADHD, to ignore this possibility.
Understand me here, I am not saying that ADHD is Asperger’s, only that a position on the Autism Spectrum would explain a lot. I am not closing my mind to the possibility that ADHD will never be labelled as a disorder on the Autism Spectrum, I’m just not closing my mind to the possibility that it may.
And just so you know, my colleague whom I quoted at the beginning of this post is a wonderfully prolific blogger and social media activist … who writes about her Asperger’s. I would like to introduce Aspie Writer to you. Her website is here. It’s very much worth reading. Unless I miss my guess, her disorder and ours are first cousins.
What do you think? Time for a family reunion?