Adult Attention Deficit Disorder and the church musician
-- ways to compensate for A.D.D. in any workplace

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a brain pattern or behavior style that people young and old have in varying degrees. It is a situation of being able to keep one's attention focused, and being able to avoid being distracted by something of lesser importance. It is a double edged sword: it can emerge as highly energized and creative behaviors, or it can have the person be so disorganized and flitting from one topic to the next that nothing gets done.

For the church musician or those involved with music, symptoms may be found to various extents in the following situations:

Two frequently used analogies for ADD are:

But don't be too quick to diagnose yourself with ADD;  many have a few of the characteristics as a typical aspect of their personality. However, if enough of the aspects accumulate to cause you to be ineffective or depressed, then seek professional help.

To address these aspects, often medications are used- this is the core of traditional ADD treatment and hardest to compensate for. Hyperfocussing is a good solution, but most people cannot call it into play voluntarily. 

Below are some non-medication coping techniques that even folks without ADD may benefit from, yielding an increase in their effectiveness in performing tasks, or increase general happiness in getting through daily life and work life.

Several of the nation's top researchers in the field are located in the Boston area, for example: John Ratey (a Cambridge psychiatrist, and co-author of the book: Driven to Distraction), accepts single-time assessment appointments, call (617-237-6442). There's a lot of discussion in the ADDULT listserver about diagnosis concerning the opinions that it's easier to be assessed in a 1-1 session with an expert, rather than going through (very expensive) testing.

Tips for Coping with ADD in the Workplace

ADD can be devastating to productivity in the workplace; it also can be a valued gift of creativity and energy.  The list below is not meant to help diagnose or be on a witchhunt for ADDers-- diagnosis is the job of a professional in the ADD field.  However, for those who would like suggestions on how to cope better, here are some ways to help focus in our workplace environment:

Pointers to resources/information/help

There are many discussion groups, listservers, and web pages available on the internet. See this link for a partial list.

Additional note on positive aspects of Adult ADD.

Excerpts from ADD genius list, part 2, from Usenet newsgroup

These may be anecdotal and untrue, and are not meant to cast any judgment, but rather to try to understand examples of possible ADDers.

5. Buckminster Fuller: not a physicist, but a visionary whose work required him to study math and physics. At 32, he was a complete loser, unable to hold a job or support his family. At this late age, he impulsively started studying math and science, working at it for long sessions that often lasted from one day until the following morning. Oddly enough, it worked, and now we remember him as a mental giant instead of an irresponsible deadbeat.

6. Leo Szilard: this is the guy generally given credit for inventing the atom bomb. Walking down a London street, he unexpectedly realized that bombarding a suitable substance with neutrons could cause a chain reaction, releasing a huge amount of energy. Because he was not aa practical person, he did a lousy job of protecting his rights as the inventor of the nuclear reactor. Eventually, the U.S. government paid him a tiny fraction of what the patent would have been worth. During World War II, Szilard was investigated by the government because he was considered a security risk. The agents watching him noticed some interesting things. He often walked out of buildings without his hat and coat (in Chicago) because he had forgotten them inside on a rack or in a closet. He sometimes started walking down the street, stopped for no apparent reason, seemed to try to remember something, and then turned around and walked the other way.

7. Albert Einstein: as a student, he often lost the key to his apartment and had to wake his landlady in the middle of the night. In spite of his intelligence, he was denied admission to college because he failed a biology test. During his time at Princeton, he was noted for walking out of his house and into the snow, wearing houseshoes. He said he had to be very careful when shaving, because so many inspirations came to him at this time, and he worried that the shock of a blast of insight would cause him to cut himself.

If you're able to stick with it to read this far, bravo!