The Name -- I don't like it.

(c) 1998, Nick Holland

Most people know of the condition as ADD -- Attention Deficit Disorder.  I don't like this title, for a number of reasons.  First, I think it is too narrow, much like calling the flu "Nausea Disorder".  Well, the flu certainly can involve nausea, but there's a lot more to it than that!  To focus on the Attention Deficit part of the condition misses many of the symptoms which are as much and often far more relevant in day to day life to the person with the condition (and the people around them!).

I understand that recently, whoever names these things decided that a better term would be "Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder", AD/HD.  O.k., now we are up to naming the flu "Nausea and Runny Nose Disorder".  Better, in that it covers a little more ground, but it still misses the vast majority of the condition.  Worse, in that unless you do the research into the condition, you might be inclined to (once again) believe that Hyperactivity and Attention Deficit were inseparably linked, which is not the case.

I further dislike the "Disorder" part of the name.  By "Disorder", I have a picture in my mind of a "problem" that would desire a cure if at all possible, and is certainly in need of treatment.  By definition.  As with many so-called disorders however, it's not quite so simple.  ADD is a mixed bag, bringing the person with the condition both benefits and problems.  To "eliminate" the "disorder", you would eliminate the problems, but also the benefits.  Considering the contributions made to society by people with ADD or suspected of having had ADD, I refuse to consider ADD strictly a problem, or a disorder.

Now, I don't want to find myself renaming something from one descriptive title to another when the first one becomes pejorative in the common language.  I'm not saying "Let's rename Attention Deficit Disorder because it has become a negative term", for weeks later the new term will also have picked up the negative connotations.  I'm also not suggesting that we come up with a new title for ADD...  I just will use the acronym ADD without explanation in most of my writing (and speaking) about ADD.  You want to know what ADD stands for?  Attention Deficit Disorder.  You want to know what it means?  Have a seat, make yourself comfortable, for this will take a while.  But in short, it does not mean just -- or even significantly -- a problem with attention.

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