Born to Explore!   The Other Side of ADD

What is ADD?
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Books I recommend:


The Edison Trait: Saving the Spirit of Your Nonconforming Child (Dynamos, Discoverers and Dreamers)


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Beyond ADD: Hunting for Reasons in the Past & the Present by Thom Hartmann


The Minds of Boys:
Saving our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life

The ADD Nutrition Solution

More   books...



Another ADD Checklist -
What else besides a "brain defect" might be causing your child's behavior.


Possible Causes & Options

Fidgeting, squirmy, high energy, always in motion, climbing, never stops talking, can't play quietly,  impatient, never walks, only runs, hops or skips, non-stop attention-seeking behavior. 1. According to temperament experts, these traits are perfectly normal for some temperament types, especially the very extraverted ones.   Usually it's inherited from a parent or grandparent. Overstimulation and fatigue will often make their activity level increase to the point where they cannot control themselves.  So will lack of good discipline and an unstable environment.   Unrealistic expectations (common among school personnel) often generate an atmosphere of negativity in which the child cannot seem to do anything right, at which point they stop trying and may develop an antisocial outlook.  These kids need lots of exercise, action and activity interspersed with quiet time so they can calm themselves down. As well as some firm discipline!

2. Gifted and Creative children often have very high energy levels compared to their peers.  They also tend to ask a lot of questions and are often very sensitive, independent and stubborn.

3. Allergies and chemical sensitivities can generate hyperactivity.  Some parents have had a lot of success by removing certain foods from their child's diet.   Allergies are especially suspect if your child has typical sinus allergies, asthma or a history of ear infections (start by seeing an allergist).     Sensitivities to food coloring, preservatives and other various compounds is a problem for some kids.  Try keeping a food diary for several weeks in which you write down everything your child eats and their behavior, and shop for real food, not the fake plastic kind sold in most stores.


Quiet, daydreams and doesn't pay attention in class. Underachieves. 1. Typical of certain temperament types, especially naturally introverted and reserved ones.  The "INFP" temperament type is especially prone to vivid and elaborate daydreams, as well as having imaginary friends.  Such kids often do OK in school and are not usually behavior problems.  Let them know they are OK the way they are or they may develop depression from all the negative feedback they get from society.  Don't pressure them to get A's.  There is nothing wrong with C's.  They may do better in smaller, quieter classrooms and they may be highly sensitive to whether or not the teacher likes them.  Encourage them to express their imagination in side projects like writing, music or painting.

2. Kids who are depressed will often withdraw into themselves and not pay attention in class.  Be especially open to this one if your child suddenly became this way, is generally negative and pessimistic, and doesn't seem to enjoy his or her favorite activities. 

Impulsive: Runs into the street without thinking, blurts out answers too soon, keeps interrupting. 1. Impatience and the need to keep moving are normal for some temperament traits.  The ENTP "Inventor", for example, has trouble taking turns and interrupting because his mind moves at a very quick pace and he simply cannot stand to wait. It's also just an extension of hyperactivity.  Some researchers have theorized that impulsivity helped our ancestors to survive in harsh environments because they were less likely to miss a meal or dodge a predator.
Impulsive & Distractible: Starts projects and doesn't finish them; starts cleaning room and impulsively picks up toy and plays with it; in speech may bounce from topic to topic. 1. Very typical for divergent thinkers. Highly creative, divergent people are known be very impulsive thinkers.  Ideas are really just impulsive thoughts, after all.   The thoughts of divergent thinkers are always branching out, quick to seek out anything novel and interesting, but only for a short time before they are looking for yet something else novel and interesting.  All good inventors, artists and explorers are divergent thinkers.

2. Too many TV shows with quick cut-aways and fast frame changes may encourage a child's plastic brain to develop with a shorter attention span.  The newer cartoons are especially bad, as are many commercials.

3. Kids who are suffering from depression or anxiety cannot concentrate on much of anything and are therefore easily distractible.

Reading problems. 1.  Some temperaments, especially the SP "Artisans" or "Experiencers" are more likely than others to dislike reading.  If your child is very action oriented, hands-on and never seemed very interested in learning to read this may be the problem.   He may catch up later when he settles down a bit, but you are likely to have a hard time getting this kid to read.  Try and make reading practical so your child sees a reason to learn; alternatively, read action-packed books to your child.

Some temperament types have a large discrepancy between their spatial or abstract intelligence and their verbal abilities.   This is especially true for the NT "Rationals."  Einstein, for example was brilliant spatially but had difficulties in school and was never considered much of a writer.  Many NTs report a large vocabulary but become tired quickly when they read.

2. Dyslexia comes in many forms and there is no single cause.  Some people have problems decoding letters.  Some people have trouble listening or speaking languages.  

Trouble getting along with friends. 1.  Some temperaments are especially prone to have peer problems.  NT Rationals are often argumentative, competitive, full of energy, oblivious to social rules, and focused on doing their own thing (they often are labeled "geeks" in school).  Try using a camcorder to tape your child with his friends and then play back his behavior so he can see it.  These kids need constant reminders about social behavior.

2.  Kids with general behavior problems are often not liked by other kids.  Address the behavior problems and they may suddenly have new friends.  Chronically spoiled kids, meaning kids who are not disciplined, are self-center and simply don't care as much about their friend's feelings.  No one will like them.  A change in discipline strategy may be needed, with an emphasis on logical consequences.

3. Kids who are depressed can have trouble getting along with everyone.  Some people become aggressive when they are depressed, others simply withdrawn. Try and find the root of the depression. 

4. Problems at home can easily spill over at school. It's amazing how much a lack of positive attention, problems between parents, or other stresses can impact a child's relationships with his friends.  A frustrated child will take it out on his friends until he doesn't have any friends left.

General behavior problems: ignoring parental requests, rudeness, tantrums, backtalk. 1. Kids do it because they get away with it.  Enact bold consequences religiously every time they backtalk, are rude, refuse to clean their room, have a tantrum, etc. and pretty soon they'll stop.  Make sure your rules are reasonable first.  Don't lecture, nag, discuss or argue.  Just enact substantial consequences quietly and ruthlessly.  And never give in.  EVER.  You can also try the Abuse It - Lose It technique.  Balance your discipline with lots and lots of positive attention.

2.  Gifted and Creative kids are often considered "difficult" because they are so opinionated and stubborn.  In a slow-moving class, they may create problems out of boredom.

3.  The ENTP temperament is extremely prone to arguing and has been coined "The Negotiator."

Can't concentrate, lack of focus in class. 1. Are you sure? Can your child concentrate on a video game, TV show or favorite toy?  Did he just reprogram your VCR and computer? Or give your a detailed description of every dinosaur in the Museum of Natural History? It's typical for kids labeled ADD to hyperfocus fiercely on things which interest them, and to act out or space out when something doesn't.  It's not willful, and it's not a brain defect.   These children have a requirement for lots of mental and/or physical stimulation.   If they don't get it, their brain seems to shut down temporarily.  It is this drive for stimulation (which gives them a natural biochemical fix) that drives inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, and explorers of all kinds to keep moving forward.  When they get their stimulation "fix" they can suddenly concentrate extremely well.    Solution: Put them in a really boring school where they have to sit still for six hours and then make them do homework when they get home.  Just kidding.

2. Kids suffering from depression and anxiety will have trouble concentrating on things in general. 

3. If a child cannot concentrate on anything for long, even stuff they like, then they are more likely to have a real problem. Beside depression and anxiety, they may suffer from allergies or chemical sensitivities, or they may have sustain brain damage at some point.

4. A Gifted/Creative child in a slow class will be bored to the point of a major space-out.

General Learning Problems 1. Purdue University has found that children with learning disabilities are more likely to be seriously deficient in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are the building blocks of neurological tissue.  Solution: Give your child a tablespoon of Barlean's flaxseed oil once a day (Barlean's tastes a lot better than the other brands).

2. Allergies and food sensitivities can affect learning.

3. Certain temperaments just really, really hate the classroom because they are hands-on, experiential learners. Other temperament types underachieve because they are independent discoverers. If your child isn't learning because he's too busy trying to get out of his seat or vandalizing the desk, or he says he's bored with the teacher, this may be the problem.  "Dreamer" types have different learning styles and so do "Dynamos" and "Discoverers". Learn more about temperament types in children so you know how to deal with your child.

4. Lack of sleep will cause hyperactive kids to become overstimulated, and other kids to just be too sleepy to learn. 

5. Kids learn better after they exercise, but many are couch potatoes and schools are eliminating recesses.

6. Medications such as antihistamines and decongestants can interfere with learning.  

7. Depression and anxiety or stress from problems at home can cause learning problems.

My child gets C's when I know he could be getting A's. 1. At risk of angering some people, if this is a big issue for you then I think you need some new priorities. Most of the brightest and  successful people I know got average grades in regular classes.  Stimulants can help your child get A's, but long term studies seem to show that children taking medications for ADD don't actually learn any more in the long run than ADD kids who don't take meds and get C's.   So what's the point? I got B's and C's throughout most of school and it never once held me back or presented any kind of problem.   I got straight A's in grad school once the classes became really relevant to me.

2. When I was in high school and college my father told me he would pay for my car insurance as long as I got a B average and had a perfect driving record.    I maintained a 2.7 (B-) average and drove really carefully. This strategy won't work with all types, but for my ENTP temperament, which tends to do just enough to get by, it worked great.

3.  Your child may be bored.  Sometimes a gifted program or change of schools can help.

Problems with homework. If your child is in gradeschool, then he or she shouldn't have to be doing any homework, in my opinion.  Homework for little kids didn't exist until the 1980's and 90's.  Pressure your school and teachers to reduce the homework load. Review the homework your child is getting, and if you think it's a waste of time, send it back unfinished with a note saying you've given your child permission not to do it.




All BTE pages were written by Teresa Gallagher unless otherwise noted and may be photocopied (but not reprinted) without permission.  BTE Web Design now creates websites for small businesses. Perhap "BTE" really means "Born to Entrepreneur..."