Son labeled ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

I mentioned to the Mom whose son had been labeled ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) that I was not fond of labels. I said that while a “private label” may be necessary for funding, insurance, or medical purposes, I hoped that in everyday life, neither she nor her son would take the label too seriously in terms of finding solutions for school problems.

I have found that when working with a child who has been labeled ADD, say in grade 4, that I would generally ignore the label and inquire: “Harold, the teacher tells me that you have the ‘squirmies’ in her class, that you are a bit restless, that you don’t find it easy to stay at your desk. Is that right?”

I have found that it is much easier to help the child find ways to overcome the “squirmies” than it is to overcome a label, which is, in the final analysis, really a description of the child’s behavior, not an eternal pronouncement carved in stone.

No one really knows what’s going on inside the child’s head, exactly. I would much rather work with a friendly mystery, than a dismal certitude, wouldn’t you? Besides success is greatly enhanced when you work with concrete behavior, not deterministic labels.

The same problem occurs with adults. Let’s say somebody has been labeled “alcoholic.” It is a lot easier for them to change their behavior when I work with them in overcoming their “drinking problems,” which is a set of concrete behaviors, with which we can work, piece by piece, as opposed to trying to refute a label that some think is stamped in their psyche “forever.” – Doc Meek, South Jordan, Utah

12 Responses to “Son labeled ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)”

  • Good idea here. I have two sons with ADD and the oldest is 36 next month. We acknowledged that there was a “label” for inability to sit in class. Sometimes their behaviour was not appropriate and caused problems. However, this was not used as an excuse and we just talked about how they had “challenges” that just meant they needed to try harder and be overcomers.

    We also talked about the positive side of the issue in that their brains were just so full of ideas and activity it made it hard to concentrate and/or sit still in class. Part of it was they were just so smart and we directed that energy to outside activities that explored fields they are still interested in. My youngest son can still name all kinds of dinosaurs and the capitals of every state in the United States.

    We just approached it as a positive thing and opened the world for them and for me.

    They are both successful grown men now and still love to learn.

  • Blair:

    Dear Doc,
    Your observation about Labels is so true. I have worked with Alcoholics for over twenty eight years and one of the great drawbacks to their search for sobriety and peace is the word”Alcoholic” ! They are afraid of what others will think of them if they admit they have an Alcohol problem. Now by that stage there is not much doubt that everyone already knows but LABELS KILL.

    I am grateful to see a person with your qualifications using the internet as a tool. I would be more than willing to throw my hat in the ring as they say if you were looking at running a page like this on Face book as my experience shows that Alcohol is a problem of younger and younger people each year. It was just within the last week I came across a young mother in her twenties already burdened down with a serious drinking problem. Much to my surprise she informed me that she knew several young mothers in the same boat.
    Keep up the good fight Doc the world needs people like you!

  • Just a quick message 2 thx you 4 your useful page article. Do you know where I could find more on this? x

  • Blair and others, I do have a presence on Facebook. It has tended to be more general in content, rather than specific to my areas of expertise. I think your comments and questions about how to find out more are well placed. I will see if I can find a way to put my more than 20 years of experience in helping people of all ages overcome “problems” of all kinds to work on Facebook. Anyone know how to help me with the mechanics of this. If I know how to use the Facebook forum, I will be able to provide the knowledge for which people are searching. – Doc Meek, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and South Jordan, Utah, United Stated, Feb 20, 2010

  • Yet another quality post. I posted a plug for this website at mine. Anyway, I am sure many people forget the point you are making.

  • Awesome article as usual, thank you for writing all this helpful content on a regular basis.

  • I know what you mean I totally agree. I will bookmark you 🙂

  • Excellent publish. Bookmarked it already. have a nice day, mate.

  • Do you accept guest posts? I would love to write couple articles here.

  • I would be delighted to have guest posts. Simple email to
    Blessings, Doc

  • Thanks for the sharing; really useful. I would like to bookmark this site.

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