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ADHD, Me, and My Hat

Posted by Dirck on 13 June, 2013

A serious digression from my usual and/or projected course today, as I pick up my long-neglected psych degree and blow off some of the dust to regard it more closely.  I wonder if it still runs?

I’ve mentioned at some point my son’s diagnosis with not-quite-but-sort-of-in-ways-autism.  I’ve also mentioned at various points in the past his profoundly physical nature; he was carrying four litre jugs of milk at age 3, and as he approaches his fifth birthday views chin-ups as a fun pastime.  For his parents, these aspects of his nature can be a little tiring, especially when one is carrying dishes to the kitchen and he swarms up one’s back; he can’t be deflected and he’s difficult to discipline.  Since my desiccated, powdery degree has little bearing on my current life, I am more given to declaring this sort of behaviour as “he’s four” rather than seeking a clinical definition of it.  My wife and I are disinclined to the latter anyway, since we’ve long viewed the medication of children for rambunctiousness as an indicator of parents not willing to shoulder their responsibilities (not in all cases, certainly, but enough to make the practice disreputable in our eyes).  However, some evenings when the lad is running around the room in all three spatial axes, one’s thoughts turn in that direction.

Yesterday in a free moment I was looking at someone else’s blog, and they mentioned having taken an on-line ADHD assessment.  The previous night had been particularly tiring, so the notion was in my head, and I was tired enough to let the notion run in the direction of heredity.  Why not give myself a look, I thought with a strong tint of irony, and see if he might have the genes for it?  The result:

...and apparently my head is on fire as well.

…and apparently my head is on fire as well.

I cry hooey.  If this bit from the first page is correct…

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) Test

Based upon the DSM-IV criteria
and other screening measures for ADD/ADHD

…then I begin to cry hooey on the venerable and somewhat North America-specific Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders itself.  I’m given to concentration.  My primary joy as a child was hiding in the basement and assembling plastic models.  I replace this in adulthood with such mad-cap and distraction-tolerant pursuits as bookbinding and fountain pen repair.  I split my attention for external reasons.

The fault is more likely in the test.  After all, to answer “never” to something like 2. How often are you easily distracted by something in your environment, like a noise or another conversation? is to either self-deluded or a different kind of mentally abberant, and to say one “often” 14. How often do you begin to answer a question before it’s done being asked? is merely being rather good at the home version of “Jeopardy”.

We live in a distractable and distraction-filled age, but to occasionally give into the distractions is not a sign of a need for treatment.  There’s a story one finds on Buddhist sites (although I can’t, today) of a Zen master who regularly directed his students to do one thing and attend to it fully.  One day a student spots him reading while having his meal, and inquires whether that isn’t a contrary to the master’s own directives.  “Not at all,” says the master.  “I’m totally engaged in the act of reading while eating.”  If he can make a virtue of minor distraction, DSM-IV should lighten up a little and I decline the accusation of ADHD.

Which reminds me– I’m so very happy the season for my Panama hat has finally arrived.  Stephen Fry’s dismissal of this sort of lid aside (which may be connected to his diagnosed bi-polar disorder), it is the favourite of my hats.  When I retrieve it from the little shelf it rests upon at The Regular Job, the shape of it’s crown makes that retrieval a graceful rolling gesture ending with a hat properly planted atop my head.  The other hats are good, but they don’t lend themselves to this sort of quotidian expression of physical art, and of course in the hot weather a well-ventilated hat is a must.


Today’s pen: Parker 75 (and you may ponder; “obsessed with” or “frequently distracted by”?)
Today’s ink: Diamine Sargasso Blue (which I’ll clean out before the weekend, however much I like the pen)

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