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The ADD Label

Auditing for Labels
For every individual who has accepted false limitations because of a label, there are ten who've gone on to achieve wonderful things. I've known hundreds of individuals who accepted the ADD label and then defied any limitations associated with it. They've gone on to full, rich, and authentic lives. They are courageous warriors who eagerly take on life's challenges. They chart their own destinies in spite of the labels put upon them.

When I begin working with a child with an ADD diagnosis, I find it useful to assess her perceptions of the disorder and its symptoms. The audit that follows is a tool that can help you identify your child's self-perception and some of the restrictions that may have resulted from the label of attention deficit disorder.

These questions have open-ended responses. Encourage your child to write down the answers or have your child dictate them to you. Save them, because we'll refer to them for a later comparison. Honest responses will benefit your child the most. Approach this as a learning experience that will help your child break free of boundaries and limitations.

Ask your child:

  1. If you had to describe yourself as an animal, what animal would you choose? Why did you choose it?
  2. Describe three strengths of your animal.
  3. If you had to describe yourself as a vehicle, such as a car or airplane, what would it be?
  4. Name three characteristics of that vehicle.
  5. Select a heroic figure that you identify with, such as a comic book hero like Spider-Man or a historic figure like Eleanor Roosevelt.
  6. Come up with three characteristics of that hero that you would like to have.
  7. Has anyone in the family or a friend ever called you something or described you in some way that has made you feel different about yourself, either in a good way or a bad way? Write down what they said.
  8. List five characteristics that you feel you have. Include attention deficit disorder if you've been told you have it--and if you agree that you have it.

    Note: The parent should now compare the labels that the child mentioned in 8 with those mentioned in 1 (animals), 3 (vehicles), 5 (heroes) and 7 (family labels). How are they the same or different? List them.

  9. Have you observed how friends, family members, or others have labeled themselves? Do you see any ways in which those labels have limited them? (Examples: "I am just a kid. I am just an idiot. I am just an eighth-grade student.") List some.
  10. Do you recall any examples of labels such as ADD that have affected your behavior or attitudes? List them with explanations of how you have been affected.
This audit can also aid in broadening the self-concepts of the whole family. Remember that labels like mother of an ADD child and sibling of an ADD child can be restrictive too.

Consider all the adjectives and descriptions you or your child have used anywhere in the above exercise, and circle them. Compare the ones that are associated with ADD or other limiting labels. Determine the limitations imposed upon yourself or your child by these labels. Most important, which labels does your child recognize as important and want to retain, and which ones does she wish to release? Start a list here. Feel free to come back and add to this list as you read further.

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From The ADD Answer: How to Help Your Child Now by Frank Lawlis, M.D. Copyright 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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