Is ADD Really an Abnormality
This 'point of view' was the fifth in a series on Attention Deficit
Disorder by Paul T. Elliott M.D.
Paul T. Elliott M.D. is the co-author of "ADHD and Teens: A Parent’s Guide to
Making It Through the Tough Years", and has worked with ADHD children for over
30 years. He currently lives and works in Australia.
“In my opinion, the ADD brain structure is not truly an abnormality. In fact,
I believe a very good case can be made that it is not only normal, through the
minority, but may well be a superior brain structure.
However, the talent of the person with the ADD brain structure are not those
rewarded by our society at its current stage of development.
In other words, the problems of the person with ADD are caused as much by the
way we have out society, educational systems and business methods organised as
by other factors more directly related to the ADD itself.
I fully realise that these are not concepts generally shared by most other
professionals. I have not always felt about ADD as I now do, but twenty years of
experience treating ADD in all ages under a variety of conditions have lead me
to my current beliefs.
A superior brain structure? A review of some of the things we know about
the ADD brain structure and performance will demonstrate this possibility.
The average I.Q. of the person with ADD is higher then that of the average
person in society. This is not to imply that all persons with ADD are more
intelligent, but simply that the average I.Q. is greater.
The person with ADD has a greater ability to think creatively.
This refers not only to creativity in the fine arts sense, though a person may
have such a musical or painting talent, but the ability to problem solve, create
The person with the AD brain structure has an increased sensory
awareness. This stems not only from a heightened sensitivity of the
senses, but also from the increased intrusion of those sensations into the
conscious awareness of the person.
In other words, the person sees, feels, hears, tastes and smells more,
and these sensations are more likely to distract the person.
Finally the higher one goes on the I.Q. scale, the greater the percentage of ADD
From an I.Q. of about 160 and above, virtually everyone has ADD. Now, if
that is “brain damage” as was previously felt, we should all be so damaged!
Certainly it is not brain damage, and the sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner
we will be able to take a more appropriate approach to ADD.
I encourage patients and their parents of families to view brain function in
several unorthodox ways, not because that is the true way brains work, but
because they effectively illustrate what we observe about brain function.
by Dr Paul T. Elliott
One is the channel method. There are two possible channels of function in the
brain: Channel A and Channel B.
Everyone in the word is born with channel A in his or her brain. This is the
average channel and the only one which the majority of people have, those with
the average brain structure.
About one-third of the population also has a Channel B in the brain and we refer
to these individuals as having ADD. The people with ADD use Channel B because it
is the only channel they can get to work very well. They have the “writing” for
Channel A, but they cannot get it to work very well for themselves for vary
Thought processing in the Channel A mode is very linear, or non-dimensional, and
driven by time, Priorities, task and a desire for completion. It is as though
the person were on a rail going all the way to the end, finishing the task,
turning around coming back down the rail, finishing the task, and so on, back
and so forth in an orderly fashion.
Thought processing in Channel B is very three-dimensional. It is not only fore
and aft, but up, down, side to side and diagonally broadly ranging from horizon
to horizon, and floor to the stratosphere."
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