There is a common misconception that individuals with ADD are hyperactive. The truth is – these people live in a state of low arousal, are easily distracted, impulsive and have a short attention span. This state of low arousal affects a person’s entire life as the level of attention required to meet the expectations of life is not sufficient. As a result, in an attempt to try and compensate and help to focus, the body attempts to wake up the system with self stimulating activities. This activity is what is commonly labeled as the hyperactivity. This is different than the child who simply has a high energy level and requires constant activity throughout the day. Individuals with ADD also have difficulty with independent functioning, problem solving, behavioral control, social difficulties and may have problems with health maintenance.
Medications used to treat ADD increase alertness, decrease impulsivity and sharpen focus. Medication alone is not the answer. Sleep, exercise, healthy diet, stress management, counseling, structure, routine and therapy all need to be used together to manage ADD. If you have any concerns about ADD talk to a medical professional – seek out someone who has experience with ADD and who will treat the whole individual. The diagnosis of ADD is a complex one and should not be made after a two minute discussion but rather should involve multiple assessments and evaluations.
By Tara Deringor, PT