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If you’re a teacher or a parent, attention deficit disorder, or ADD, isn’t a new term.  Honestly, most adults have at least heard of it.  Considered to be rather rare just 20 years ago, is now getting a lot more limelight. Any time we see an upward trend, the question always is; are we just getting better at detecting it or is there really something changing in the minds of children and adults?  It is a great question without a clear answer, but we are seeing a specific demographic of ADD/ADHD patients spike in recent years, adults.

Some might be surprised that adults experience ADD/ADHD and likely the plausible explanation is that these folks were once children that suffered from ADD/ADHD and never ‘grew out of it or found an appropriate solution.  I am sure, in some cases, you would be correct but many more adults report having no recollection of attention issues as a kid.  These scenarios are considered, adult-onset, and happen in a lot of different conditions but we’ve always viewed attention disorders as a childhood illness and not something that occurs after puberty, so this is a new phenomenon.

If you haven’t heard of adult-onset ADD and ADHD, just give it a couple more years, we are continuing to make strides in our abilities to detect this disorder earlier in adults. This is important for all diseases, but especially this one, because as an adult, most doctors aren’t thinking of this as a possibility so it is likely you will get misdiagnosed with a mood disorder like depression or anxiety, in some cases, we have even seen patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder when it was ADD/ADHD all along.  If you’re wondering if you have ADD and ADHD; you probably don’t because you’ve made it this far in the article…that was a joke…

Seriously, there are a number of symptoms to be aware of, these symptoms apply to all age groups and have varying severity in different people.

Do you often feel scattered, and have a hard time concentrating and keeping attention during conversations? 

How about not completing even simple tasks and constantly procrastinating? 

How about having many multiple tabs open in your web browser?

Ever catch yourself daydreaming?

Are you unable to satisfy your hunger and constantly ‘snacky’?

If so, you may have ADD/ADHD.  We never try to label a patient without providing some insight and a plan so let’s get into some of the basics of this neurologic disorder and some unique opportunities for therapy.

ADD and ADHD (attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), are a group of disorders that commonly begin during early development.  With the growth of functional neurology research, we are now able to understand it at its core.  ADD and ADHD is an imbalances between the different hemispheres of the brain.  We have a left and a right hemisphere and during development, there may be a delay in their connections.  ADD and ADHD have distinct differences that go beyond this article, so from here forth we will just be grouping them together as ADD/ADHD. Traditionally the imbalance is seen with the delay in maturation of the right brain when compared to the left.  

The right side of your brain is responsible for your

·   Attention

·   Memory

·   Reasoning

· problem-solving

The left side of your brain drives

·   language

·   sequencing

·   reasoning

·   scientific skills

·   spoken language

When there is one side of the brain not oscillating correctly, the other hemisphere of the brain will try and “pick up the slack” and compensate with overactivity.  In ADD/ADHD this leads to left brain dominance which would explain why children who have difficulty with learning things, like language or reading, may be excellent in other subjects such as science or mathematics.  Others hone in on one topic and can name every player from their favorite baseball or football team including their stats.  For the brain to function as it is supposed to, the right and left hemispheres must work together and be in the same oscillatory rhythm.  If this balance is thrown off, the two sides of the brain can’t share and integrate information properly and become disconnected.  This is also known as functional disconnect syndrome (FDS).

In order to address or treat the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, we must first complete a comprehensive neurological assessment and exam.  This not only includes neurological examination (including things such as balance, coordination, eye tracking, cranial nerve testing, etc.), but also looks at their childhood development and primitive reflexes.  A review of everything from pregnancy forward; nutrition and nutrient deficiencies, digestive issues, food sensitivities, metabolic evaluation, and more.  

Traditional medicine typically treats ADD/ADHD by managing symptoms, which can help in certain situations but there are concerns about long-term usage. Make sure you ask your doctor about taking a deeper approach that will peel back the layers of these disorders. There are so many tools that can be utilized such as:

·   re-integration of primitive reflexes, core, and muscle strengthening

·   nutritional recommendations

·   adjustments

·   eye movement exercises

·   laser and music/sound therapies

·   sensory stimulation with smell

·   light or color lens therapies

·   right brain neurological rehab exercises

·   vibration therapies

This isn’t just a childhood developmental disorder any longer, we now need to start applying the same due diligence as we do with children, to adults.  It can affect all ages but thankfully we continue to learn and are able to recognize the common symptoms in children and adults.  You don’t have to be left in the dark any longer and pharmaceutical stimulants aren’t your only option anymore.