What is ADD/ADHD?

Is it a disease? A disorder? Or is it just a brain that isn’t working properly?

There is no medical testing (like MRI or blood tests) that can show that someone has ADD or ADHD. It is a diagnosis made based on history and symptom profile. It is a problem that can create really big problems for the patients that have it - both in school or work as well as in relationships and life in general.

But is it really an ‘attention deficit? Or is it an overactive attentional system? Is a child with this NOT attending to things or are they attending to EVERYTHING?

It is my belief that the latter is true so let me explain.

The brain is being bombarded with information and distractions all the time. We have a built in system that essentially screens this information for what is and isn’t important enough to make it to the conscious mind. For example, when a kid is playing baseball and his teammates are screaming in the dugout while he is up at bat, he is able to block out the noise and focus on the pitcher. The examples are endless. Someone with ADD/ADHD doesn’t have the ability to filter out the noise and their brain is attending to everything at the same time, with virtually equal curiosity it may seem. This is one presentation. When a teacher is speaking, a child could be thinking about what happened the night before, what the teacher is saying, the noise of the overhead fan and the kid next to them with equal fascination.

The question is usually not, what is happening with my child but rather, why does my child have this?

There are many possibilities that could include emotional causes like stress, previous traumatic events. Neurological causes like head trauma or developmental delay or functional disconnection syndrome. And, chemical causes like food or food color sensitivities, gastrointestinal dysfunction or even nutrient deficiencies.

The functional neurologist is best suited to help you answer the question of why and guide a treatment lan to help resolve these symptoms.