ADD – what’s in a NAME?

In addition to working with the new diagnosis of EDS, I also have been diagnosed with ADD for years now…and that has its own set of challenges (especially when added with “brain fog” from fatigue).

I can really relate to what Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC is saying in this article: it is dangerous to use the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder unless specifically referring to gross motor hyperactivity—and it is why I use the term “ADD” and not “ADHD” for myself (I am extremely forgetful and am often unaware, but not hyper).

Source: ADD – what’s in a NAME?

“ADD – what’s in a NAME?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

That cluster of symptoms now known “officially” as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has has been known by more names than almost any other disorder in the DSM* – maybe more than any disorder in the DSM*.

  • MBD: Minimal Brain Damage;
  • HRC: Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood;
  • ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder;
  • AD/HD: Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder
  • ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

How come? And why should we care?

*DSM: Diagnostic & Statistical Manual,
published by the American Psychological Association

What’s in a name?

A LOT, actually.

Did you know that one of the purposes for names – all nouns, in fact – is to give us a kind of mutually accepted code word to conserve brain resources for more valuable work?

    That little tactic streamlines communication.

    Who wants to spend all of our time defining the meaning of the nouns we use? Right? Don’t we wanna’ move right on to the concept we want to communicate with those nouns?

    Sure we do. So our brains skip merrily over those “code words” almost as soon as they’re defined. No sense spending brainpower there — we already know what that means!

Neat trick, huh?

Anybody see the problem with that?

    If we’re, essentially, unconscious about the terms we use to define things, we may both (to misquote the old song) say “po-tay-to” or both say “po-tah-to” — and be talking about two different things!

And the more specific the terms SEEM to be,
the less apt we are to wonder about what we mean by them!

Let’s hear it for linguistic specificity

The above dynamic makes things difficult enough in everyday communication, but when we’re talking about a book that doctors will use to determine diagnoses and treatment protocols, we have to think l-o-n-g and h-a-r-d about the implications of the terms we assign and the decisions we make.

That’s why you’ll never catch me using an “H” in any name used to refer to the general cluster of symptoms that was once officially called ADD — unless I am specifically referring to gross motor hyperactivity! I will always refer to this particular attentional disorder as “ADD” rather than the version with the “H.”

Yes, I’m well aware that the “official” name is ADHD these days, and I believe that is a naming convention that is beyond dangerous!!

Because I know that as soon as doctors who aren’t well-versed in ADD start looking at that “H,” they’ll start looking for what they consider to be hyperactivity as diagnostic, and I know what will happen next:

  • They’ll miss most of the hypo-actives,
  • They’ll miss most ADDults, and
  • They’ll miss a large majority of women and girls with ADD (whose “hyperactivity” looks very different from what doctors are used to seeing in boys).

And MOST doctors are not well-versed in ADD, by the way.

Think I’m Splitting Hairs? Over-reacting?

In other posts on this site, I tell you how an entire generation of ADDers was totally dismissed because of a similar “unconscious” classification that happened with the DSM-II, when child psychology was eager to differentiate itself from adult psychology in the minds of the public.

    The advocates for child psychology won the coin toss for “MBD,” which was renamed HRC in that particular version, Hyperreactive Disorder of Childhood.

    Over twenty years later, there are still doctors who claim to treat ADD who haven’t read the memo that it does NOT go away at puberty, and more than a few who look to gross motor hyperactivity as a litmus test.

    Since I happened to be one of those whose life has been FAR more difficult than it had to be as a result of that “little” oversight, I have a vested interest in seeing that it doesn’t happen to YOU or anyone you love!

A little thinking-it-through goes a l-o-n-g way.
Unfortunately, FAILURE to think things through goes FARTHER!!!

3 thoughts on “ADD – what’s in a NAME?

Add yours

  1. This is the very first time this particular article has been reblogged, and I can’t thank you enough for helping to spread the word. Personally, I’d like to see it named EFD (Executive Functioning Disorder) or at least ADD/EFD, since the attentional elements can be some of the *least* of our struggles.

    Repeating my comment under your reblog notice:
    Since ADD has become the butt of so many jokes, even by supposed educational “professionals” (including Sir Ken Richardson in, of ALL things, “Changing Educational Paradigms,”) I think an entirely new name might help more people pursue diagnosis and treatment A LOT!

    My community isn’t great with reblogs, so I don’t use them, but if you would be interested in writing a Guest Post on EDS and how it impacts some of your ADD struggles I’d be honored to host you.

    No rush, btw – I’m queued until October — but I’d love to post it some time before my May 1 Mental Health Calendar, so I can link to it during a shorter blurb on EDS month. Either way, I will link to your site from that calendar.


    1. Hi mgh,

      I am happy to share your article, and I agree that the name should be changed! EDS would make sense to me, at least!

      I would also be happy to write a guest post on EDS and ADD for you—let me know when works best for you, and we can coordinate.

      Thanks so much,

      Liked by 1 person

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