I have been told that people who have ADD could focus if they “just tried harder,” or that parents and educators these days think any kid who won’t sit still or do what their told has ADD. Even if they don’t express their true feelings when you talk about the role ADD plays in your life or your child’s, the evidence of scorn is written on their face as surely as if it were chiseled in stone. On September 30, 2010 the medical journal “The Lancet” pulverized the pillars of lofty judgement by releasing the results of a genetic study done in the United Kingdom. It satisfyingly confirmed what many of us have been saying all along: it’s not in our heads, it’s in our DNA. Specifically, the study found “rare chromosomal deletions and duplications” in children with ADHD who are of Northern European Caucasian descent, suggesting that “ADHD is not purely a social construct.” The study will have to be duplicated in children of other races in order to establish that the DNA variations apply to other genetic backgrounds, but the victory for those of us with ADD is still just as sweet.
Confirmation that ADD is a genetic variance does not come as a shock to me. After discovering I had ADD 4 years ago, it suddenly seemed like everyone I knew had it. I could see the traits in my family, my friends and even my spouse. It annoyed the heck out of most of them who thought I was obsessively looking for symptoms in every person I met. After reading the new findings on ADD I feel justified in looking for signs and symptoms in my quirky and extensive gene pool (I have over 40 first cousins.) What science has yet to prove, and likely never will, is my theory that people with ADD are attracted to other people with ADD. The main reason, in my opinion, is because we “get” each other. I, for one, appreciate my ADD friends because they think faster, enjoy my unique sense of humor (i.e. sarcasm) and tolerate my forgetfulness, disorganization and frequent amnesia when it comes to plans I’ve made with them. It works out even better when they forget we made plans also. Consider the fact that our impulsivity makes us more spontaneous, fun-loving and adventurous and it’s not difficult to see why “ADD’ers” may be drawn to one another like magnets. After closely examining my list of ex-boyfriends I have concluded that I personally find the characteristics of ADD to be irresistibly attractive. Medical professionals have long suspected that ADD is genetically inherited, therefore if one parent has ADD there is a 50/50 chance that each of their children will have it as well. If my theory of ADD-magnetism is valid, then there are more “dual ADD” marriages out there than one would assume and the odds of those poor parents having a child without ADD is precisely zip.
The new study triumphantly validates for the doubting Thomas’s in our society that ADD is a real medical condition rather than an excuse that parents or educators make up to defend their child’s bad behavior. The estimated 9 million adults suffering from ADHD now have concrete evidence of the genetic neuro-biological brain disorder that impacts their lives in profound ways each day. We will no longer give credence to the theories that claim AD/HD is a fabrication designed to disguise our lack of self-discipline and sense of responsibility for our own actions. We’re not lazy, apathetic or undisciplined… we have funky chromosomes! Even so, I am not claiming we don’t have an obligation to do our best to compensate for those errant strands of DNA. I’m only saying that it’s an uphill battle for us that those lucky folks with plain old vanilla DNA will never quite be able to comprehend. Perhaps that’s why those of us with ADD seem drawn to each other… there’s just a little more flavor in our lives than the average, plain-chromosomal person can tolerate. Their loss!