Attention Deficit Disorder


Attention Deficit Disorder
Another problem has been the location of a support network or the fact that one of the family members does not believe in the diagnosis. They prefer to believe that it is a "cop out".

It is not uncommon for a family member to lose contact with the ADDer due to personality traits & misunderstandings. Many women have found themselves on their own when their partner has left. There is a high incidence of divorce amongst families where there is undiagnosed ADHD.

Let me explain what it is like to be a woman with ADHD symptoms·. We are not stupid, lazy, crazy, space heads, nerds & not worth knowing. We have difficulty in organising our minds when things appear boring. Our brain effectively bombards our minds with so many possibilities that it almost becomes impossible to choose! So where it has been thought that we are not paying attention, really what can be happening is that we are trying to process the information just heard. Unfortunately that means we could well miss pieces of the ensuing conversation, whilst this is going on, and it may appear we are not listening or ignoring what we are supposed to be hearing! Also in stress situations we can space out, or we can hear one word that can trigger a whole different mode of thought in our minds! Daily tasks become overwhelming, and if there is an impulse to do something, like a hobby or shopping for instance, we find it very difficult to not do the activity "calling to us" without treatment. There is an addictive side to our personality. This can come out as an obsession with a hobby that has a creative edge to it such as painting, writing, ceramics, cross stitch or website design to an addiction such as food, shopping, alcohol and drugs. It is all addiction of one form or another.

Women have many different issues to contend with in their life, especially if married & with children. Keeping the house clean is a major obstacle in many cases, organising lunches, school excursions, bill paying & cooking. Remembering birthday and Christmas cards, picking the kids up at school, after school activities· well it can all get a bit much even when treated! Untreated this can become an absolute nightmare! By our very nature we are perfectionists, we expect to do our best and when we cannot, stress sets in.

If the children are gifted, as many ADDlets are in some area, and the same can be said of ADDults, the concerns become even more complicated. Teachers do not see the ADHD symptoms for the intelligence. These "Little Einsteins" are forgetful, untidy (or excessively tidy), argumentative, do not study as it all comes so easy & find everything is boring. They go on the computer and don't come off, glued to the screen and being totally oblivious to all that is going on around them. A bomb could drop, and they would not notice it, so intent they are on the particular activity they are involved in. They make friends, but cannot keep the friendship going. Some gifted children with ADD can also have a learning disability such as dyslexia.

One of the behaviours exhibited by ADHD people is risk taking behaviour. The risk element may not necessarily be dangerous. It can be related to a business, an idea that they have and believe in that they pursue relentlessly, or travelling away to live in unfamiliar surroundings without family support. However, the risk taking can also lead to injury or death (extreme sports, drug taking, alcohol abuse, doing stupid dares to fit in with their peers)

Experts, the world over, agree that somewhere between 2 and 15% of the world's population would be ADD/ ADHD. A conservative estimate is 5%. Taking into account Australia's beginnings as a penal colony, our gold rush history and immigration policies of the years gone by, and our rate of youth suicide per capita ~ the second highest in the world~ our percentage could be significantly higher than this. I fact, a recent federal government document on the mental health of our youth (ages 6 to 17) in the school system indicates that the figure is an average of 11.2%!

Let's get down to facts· Australia has nearly 20 million people living in it. Take 5% of that and you have nearly 1 million people that could be ADHD. Let's halve that because some of these people are only mildly affected. That leaves 500,000 people in our country, conservatively, with ADHD, diagnosed or undiagnosed & needing treatment. It is very expensive to be assessed in most cases, if you are an adult. The assessment by a psychologist is not covered by government subsidies although the psychiatrist's appointments do have a rebate. Treatment & assessment would make a huge dent in the wages of most people. To me, this amounts to discrimination by the government.

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