Alternative ADHD Treatments and Theories

The website Born to Explore was started by Teresa Gallagher, a mother of an ADHD child. She attempts to approach ADHD from a different point of view. For instance, she argues that not everyone who meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD has the actual disorder and that ADD is not necessarily a brain defect. In addition to “exploring” other possible sources of ADHD-like behaviors, the website explores alternative treatments and puts a positive spin on those traits now associated with ADHD.

What Can the Organization Do for You?

In addition to providing alternative ADHD Treatments and Theories, Gallagher gives helpful tips and recommends books that approach ADD positively. She also takes a skeptics stance in exploring accepted conclusions about the disorder. For instance, the website sets out an in-depth history of the disorder and points out ways in which the diagnosis is still vague and confusing.

First and foremost, Gallagher makes you think by exploring all the different theories, treatments and resources available.

ADHD and Being Left Handed

One of the analogies that always helped me make sense of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was equating ADHD and being left handed in a right-handed world. In other words, the way our community works is a reflection of the way the majority of our people operate; so if you function differently, you will have a harder time of it and best find some accommodations.

An article posted on the The Wall Street Journal website, however, actually finds a possible link between ADHD and being left handed. According to the article, ADHD is more common in people who are either left handed or use either hand for different tasks (mixed-handedness). Apparently, 30% of left-handed people (unlike 70% of lefties and most righties) are right-brain dominant. This, in turn, is associated with brain “disorders” such as ADHD.

Genetics and Cortisol and Brain Development

So how does one end up left handed? According to the article, people become left handed in part due to genetics, but even more so by suffering stress as their brain develops in utero. It is even theorized that Cortisol, the stress hormone made popular in commercials for several supplements, can cross through the placenta; so a woman stressed during pregnancy can influence her baby’s brain development.

Lest you start thinking that being left handed is a bad thing (like certain misguided people across the centuries who considered it evil), the article also notes that lefties tend do be better at thinking outside the box and at certain sports. In fact, while lefties make up about 10 percent of the population, six of the 12 last presidents have been left handed.

For more information and explanation, check out The Health Risks of Being Left-Handed / The Wall Street Journal / In the Lab (12/6/11).

ADHD Diagnosis or Personality Type INTP

I have a few questions for you to determine if you fall within the Personality Type INTP:

  • Are you sometimes so focused on something you can seem detached? Oblivious?
  • Do you live in your mind?
  • Are you shy with new people?
  • Are you sometimes rebellious of social conventions (AKA fashions, homework)?
  • Can you be rigid when it comes to your values or beliefs?
  • Do you sometimes abandon projects once you lose interest in it?
  • Do you sometimes have a difficult time giving warmth and support?
  • Are you sometimes late turning in homework or paying bills?
  • Do you second guess yourself a lot?

If you said yes to most of these questions, you may be a Myers Briggs Personality Type INTP, one of Carl Jung’s 16 personality types. The letters themselves stand for Introverted, Intuition, Thinking and Perceiving; but I betcha you thought I was going to tell you the characteristics mentioned fall under the ADHD umbrella. They do, which makes sense when you consider ADHD as simply a different kind of brain wiring. However you characterize the tendencies listed above, the trick is to figure out how to use them to your advantage.

If you want to find out more about INTP and personality types, check out TypeLogic.com and PersonalityPage.com.

Look at Past Successes for ADHD Strategies

A couple of blogs ago, I referenced an article written by ADHD experts Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D. I keep going back to it because its 50 ADHD management tips really got me thinking.

Tip number 47 advised people with ADHD to make a conscious effort to schedule activities with friends to keep connected. There wasn’t a whole lot more to the bullet point, but its inclusion on the tip list helped me to make my own epiphany: I’ve successfully self-managed an ADHD tendency all on my own. That’s right, I’m that insightful and resourceful!

You Are Your Own Best Resource: Past Successes for ADHD Strategies

That being said, I don’t think I’m the only insightful and resourceful person with ADHD. Anyone who’s lived with the brain wiring and functioned at all has developed strategies, whether or not they recognize them as such.

When it comes to scheduling activities with friends, I long ago recognized that I need the social connection; but if I don’t schedule social activities at least a day in advance, they simply won’t happen. I need the scheduled activity as a goal to get from point A to point B. In this case, point A refers to being asleep in bed and point B refers to being dressed, out of the house and interacting. I don’t know why I can’t seem to be more spontaneous with social plans, but it apparently is just one more of those pesky brain-wiring tendencies.

In the end, the why doesn’t really matter. In fact, I’d say labeling it as an ADHD tendency doesn’t matter either. After all, why is someone born with two left feet when it comes to dancing or running or…painting? Sometimes, a “tendency” is another terms for describing how a person operates. When it comes to scheduling appointments with friends, I can fight it or I can work with it. And apparently, I figured out what works for me even before I received the ADHD diagnosis. All it took was a little bit of self awareness.

ADHD Diagnosis Advantages: What Now?

What are the advantages to being diagnosed with ADHD or at least suspecting it is one of the things operating in your life?

ADHD Diagnosis Advantages

One advantage is the ability to get medication, whether it be Ritalin or an equivalent. While medication can make a profound difference in your life, however, I’d make the argument that awareness is its own reward.

Awareness not only lets you identify the areas in your life that are impacted by your ADHD, it opens up a host of strategies to deal with them. And don’t forget that problem-solving brain of yours. You can turn it loose and brainstorm ideas for change.

When I realized I was probably ADHD, my reaction was to sigh in relief. Not because it gave me an excuse (maybe a little) but because it gave me options. It gave me hope. For one thing, I didn’t feel as alone as I realized many, many people struggled with some of the same issues. As it turns out, what I consider my “weaknesses” aren’t character flaws as much as they are just differences I can work with and/or around to function in a more productive way.

Believe it or not you bring a lot of experience to the table already. You’ve been experimenting with trial and error for years and have undoubtedly come up with a lot of great strategies to deal with your ADHD tendencies. The key is to take the time to focus on what works in your life right now and see how you can expand the systems to other areas of your life.

What has a diagnosis of ADHD done for you?