ADD Used to be a Necessary Trait?

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately, mostly by Thom Hartmann. We listen to his radio show in the car, and we enjoy his thoughts on current matters. He has written a lot of books on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which is a common disorder in children and adults.

Thom brings up a few good points about ADD and some tips to help cope with ADD, whether you or your child has it.

His theory is that ADD was an evolutionary trait when humans first appeared on Earth. They were mainly hunters and nomads. Humans were not at the top of the food chain and were easy prey like the other animals around them.

This forced the hunters to be aware of their surroundings, always looking around for predators and prey, so they had short attention spans so they wouldn’t focus on any one thing but constantly scanning their surroundings.

When a prey was spotted, the hunter would channel all his energy into catching his prey. The intensity of his interest in catching his prey was vital for survival. They needed food to live.

Also, the nomadic nature of this early humans can be attributed to a characteristic found in people with ADD—their restlessness. Early humans had to move where the prey was, or in preparation of incoming colder weather in order to survive. They had to be prepared to move at a moment’s notice.

Then agriculture happened. Humans didn’t need to survive on prey anymore. They didn’t need to move around as much. They became farmers. This required patience, long, back-breaking hours in the fields. The traits of ADD in the hunter were no longer needed, and humans evolved to adapt.

However, just like we still have vestigial organs in our body, ADD can be considered a vestigial trait. It was important thousands of years ago, but not necessary today. There are ways to combat the ADD today.

People with ADD tend to procrastinate. This is not because they are lazy. They do this to get that rush from a looming deadline. It’s a way of self-medicating. The looming deadline pumps up our neurotransmitters and gives us a rush.

So to fix this, you should take a big job, for example, cleaning the house, and breaking it into smaller jobs. Dust everything first. Woo, deadline met! Then do the other smaller jobs and before you know it, the house is clean.

Another issue that seems to plague ADD patients is misplaced items. A tip to help this problem is to practice original awareness. When you put something down, say it at loud. “I am putting my keys on the kitchen table.” This reinforces the memory in your mind, and you’ll able to file it. Some people describe ADD patients’ memory like files in a word processor, except they forget to hit save. By verbalizing the statement, this sticks in your mind more.

If you’re a parent of a child with ADD, you know they misplace things very often. Don’t dwell on this, this is just a part of ADD. If your cild is prone to losing their mittens, stock up on them. Go to the dollar store and buy a bunch and shelve them. They have enough on their plate with school and other responsibilities to focus on a pair of mittens. If you’re an adult with ADD, this applies too. Stock up on pens, paper clips, rubber bands; things that you will need that you know you will also lose. Even if you have enough, stock up on more when there’s a sale. You will always need these things.

This is also helpful for women with ADD who are in control of the grocery lists for the household. Create a permanent list. You will always need certain staples like toilet paper, paper towels, spices, oils, butter, milk, etc. This way, when you see that you are out of an item, you immediately go to the list and check it off. Next time you go to the store, you grab the list and you’re set.

ADD doesn’t have to be a hassle to live with. You just have to adjust to a way of living that suits you so you can succeed.

Here are the books I read that are good resources.

ADD Success Stories by Thom Hartmann

Complete Guide to ADHD by Thom Hartmann

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