21st April 11:09
FAQ: Alt.support.attn-deficit (psychiatric psychiatry depression down appendix)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ALT.SUPPORT.ATTN-DEFICIT
2. What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
3. How is it diagnosed?
4. What is the purpose of ASAD?
5. Who's the moderator on this board/list?
6. Why are do some of the posts seem so ANGRY?
7. I think this whole ADD thing is a bunch of baloney! Why are you
all so defensive?
8. Isn't anybody interested in talking about anything besides
9. I've got a Great New All-Natural, Non-Drug Cure for ADD you people
should try; is it okay if I just post a few messages?
10. Why is everyone so negative about non-drug alternatives?
11. What's this stuff about "trolls?"
12. If trolls are just posting for their own amu*****t, why not
just ignore them?
13. Why do people here react so negatively to Scientology?
14. How can I find out more about ADD?
15. Thanks to...
16. Who is Joe Parsons, anyway??
Welcome to Frequently Asked Questions about alt.support.attn-deficit. It is
administered by Joe Parsons (firstname.lastname@example.org) and posted weekly to the
newsgroup. It is also available at the Unofficial ASAD Website,
Comments, corrections and suggestions are *always* welcome and encouraged.
The author disclaims any responsibility for the information contained in this
do***ent, although it was believed accurate as of the time of posting. It is
not to be considered an authoritative work on the diagnosis of or treatment for
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Permission is hereby granted to republish, repost, e-mail or reproduce this
do***ent by any means, with the express condition that it be published, posted
or transmitted in its entirety, with no alterations or abridgments whatsoever.
©1996, 2000, Joe Parsons
This short do***ent will introduce you to the informal electronic gathering of
folks we call alt.support.attn-deficit ("ASAD"). It will provide a brief
introduction to the collection of symptoms and behaviors called Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD"), but it is not intended as any sort of
treatise on diagnosis, treatment or management of ADHD. That is best left to
your doctor. Although the disorder is called "Attention Deficit HYPERACTIVITY
Disorder," it is widely referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder," or "ADD." I
will use the term "ADD" throughout this do***ent.
Please do not rely EXCLUSIVELY on anything in this do***ent or for that matter,
anywhere on the Internet. When all is said and done, a newsgroup like ASAD can
be characterized as a gathering of people who have some things in common--an
interest in ADD, in this case. Just as in The Real World(tm), some people are
nice, while others are not so nice. Some people are clearly well informed,
while others demonstrate an astonishing degree of ignorance.
Some are here to help, while others harass, insult, demean and mislead.
It is up to each individual participant to decide who fits into which category.
Just like The Real World(tm).
2. WHAT IS ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is considered to be a neuro-biological
condition whose primary symptoms are distractibility, impulsiveness and
restlessness. The condition is frequently observed in school-age children as an
inability to pay attention or complete classwork, often (but not always)
accompanied by high-energy, disruptive behavior.
In adults, ADD tends to manifest itself as inattentiveness, absent-mindedness,
impulsiveness, lack of follow-through, restlessness and an elastic perception of
time. These behaviors may have led to poor performance in school and in the
workplace, and low self esteem and clinical depression frequently travel
hand-in-hand with ADD.
3. HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
The specific criteria can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Psychiatric Disorders, Revision 4 (DSM-IV), published by the American
Psychiatric Association (see appendix I)
Although there is at present no definitive, psychometric test to confirm
conclusively a diagnosis of ADD, the diagnostic process is systematic and
specific. Additionally, there has been some promising research involving PET
(positron emission tomograph) scans and fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance
Imaging) indicating that ADHD brains may exhibit less activity in the
prefrontal-lobe and striatal regions, which affect attention, impulsivity and
The American Academy of Pediatrics has published guidelines for diagnosis; they
4. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF ASAD?
The newsgroup was created by and exists for people who have been affected by
ADD. This includes those who have been diagnosed with ADD, whose spouses have
ADD, who suspect they may have it, and teachers and parents of ADD children.
Participants come to ASAD to receive and to offer support; there are discussions
about research, diagnosis and treatment, attitudes toward ADD, coping
strategies, expressions of frustration, outrage or joy, and the occasional
venting of spleens.
Newcomers to ASAD sometimes remark that there is a great deal of off-topic
"chatter" in the newsgroup. As distracting as the frequent off-topic excursions
may be to some, there has been a consensus over the years that these digressions
are as important a part of this electronic community as the specifics of dealing
with the many aspects of ADD. It is not at all unusual to see a topic of
conversation ("thread") evolve in unexpected directions, often having nothing at
all to do with the original topic or, for that matter, with ADD. Judging from
the positive reception, these kinds of off-topic discussions are well accepted
as an expression of camaraderie.
ADDers often have a different way of perceiving the world and of expressing
themselves, and consequently many of the participants in ASAD have been
"outsiders" in the world. Being in the company of kindred spirits (even if only
electronically) is every bit as important a support lifeline for many of us as
receiving hard data about ADD.
5. WHO'S THE MODERATOR ON THIS BOARD/LIST?
There is no "moderator" as such. A *newsgroup* like ASAD is NOT a bulletin
board service (BBS) like CompuServe or America Online. It is not a mailing
list, even though you may use the same software to read it as you use to read
e-mail. The distinction is important because, unlike a private, moderated
conference or mailing list, the discussions on ASAD are *very* public, open to
whoever wants to participate.
The absence of a moderator does not reduce individual responsibility for proper
conduct; just as one is expected to behave appropriately in the "real world,"
there are expectations in newsgroups--particularly in ASAD.
We *hope* you'll behave with courtesy, civility and compassion, just as we are
sure you do in the real world, where we can see your face. Contrary to what some
people profess to believe, there are real people behind the words on the screen:
people who are dealing with real problems.
Support groups exist to provide a place for people to deal with a problem or
condition--not to make them an easier target for derision. Our asking you to
behave politely and compassionately does not comprise censorship.
6. WHY DO SOME OF THE POSTS SEEM SO ANGRY?
ASAD was created by and for people with a keen interest in the topic of dealing
with ADD--their own, and that of people they care about. Some may have other
agendas, posting insulting and harassing messages, apparently for their own
amu*****t at the expense of others. Others may deny the existence of ADD,
instead blaming parents or teachers.
Some may claim (without evidence) that the medications commonly prescribed for
ADD are addictive, dangerous, or that they are being "force fed" to children as
a means of "chemical behavior control."
Sometimes they have products to sell--"ALL-NATURAL TREATMENT FOR ADD!!!" Others
may post from a belief that ADD is nothing more than a "fad diagnosis" used as
an excuse for poor parenting, television, incompetent teachers or adult
While there is nothing to prevent anyone from making extravagant or untrue
statements in ASAD, it should not come as a surprise if the reception is less
than cordial--even hostile.
It is important to recognize, too, that some "questions" are really
statements--and those statements may be perceived as insulting and judgmental.
"How can I manage my child's ADD?" is a simple request for information.
"How can I avoid cramming these addictive narcotics like Ritalin down my child's
throat?" is really a statement--one that is likely to evoke a hostile response.
Sometimes, there may be a kind of "spillover" effect. If there has been an
argument with a troll or "salescritter" earlier, some participants may still be
reacting to an excess of adrenaline, and have the newsgroup equivalent of an
"itchy trigger finger." If you find yourself affected by this "spillover," try
to keep in mind that you may not have done anything to "deserve" the occasional
The same thing happens in The Real World(tm).
7. I THINK THIS WHOLE ADD THING IS A BUNCH OF BALONEY! WHY ARE YOU ALL SO
Many ADD people have been wrestling with the ignorance of others all their
lives. If you post a message claiming that ADD is just a "myth" or an "excuse,"
you should back up your statements with solid, do***entable facts.
Hint: the following phrases are not considered "facts" or "proof:"
"It's just common sense."
"I heard about an [unspecified] article that said..."
"A [unnamed] doctor at a leading hospital says..."
"My neighbor's sister says..."
On the contrary: those phrases may cause you to be branded an idiot.
8. ISN'T ANYONE INTERESTED IN TALKING ABOUT ANYTHING BESIDES RITALIN HERE?
Occasionally, someone claims that there is some sort of "Pro-Medication Lobby"
of people who are interested only in taking drugs for ADD to the exclusion of
any other approaches. They claim that anyone trying to discuss
non-pharmaceutical approaches will be attacked.
There have been heated discussions about some of the medications commonly used
in the treatment and management of ADD. Many of these discussions have started
with a statement like, "Ritalin is a dangerous drug that should not be given to
children." People saying things like this (often in an effort to sell a product
or advance an agenda) are typically unable or unwilling to provide any credible
do***entation or research to support their claims. Many of the threads involving
such topics come from efforts to clear up incorrect or misleading statements.
Although the drug Ritalin (Novartis Pharmaceuticals' brand of methylphenidate
hydrochloride) is the most widely-used pharmaceutical treatment for ADD, there
are several other medications that a physician may prescribe; there are at least
four other stimulants and several antidepressants that have been used
Ritalin, because it is so well known, may simply present a larger target for
criticism; there are comparatively few negative posts about the other
medications that are used in the treatment and management of ADD, and just as
with other important matters, you should ultimately rely on your doctor's
advice--not the conversation on the newsgroup.
ASAD receives between 75 and 120 posts a day. During the course of a week, there
may be discussions with headings like
Adult ADHD assessment - TOVA
ADHD & ODD
ADD/ADHD Adults and Lawsuits (Employment Discrimination -
Time Out as Punishment
How do you curb effects of burnout?
ADD training for therapist?
This Caged Animal Thing
Girlfriend has ADD
In ASAD, as in other newsgroups, you are free (and encouraged) to start a thread
yourself by making a post of your own.
9. I'VE GOT A GREAT NEW ALL-NATURAL, NON-DRUG CURE FOR ADD YOU PEOPLE SHOULD
TRY; IS IT OKAY IF I JUST POST A FEW MESSAGES?
Because ASAD is an unmoderated newsgroup, there is nothing to stop you from
posting almost anything you wish. You should be aware, however, that many users
will take offense at your adverti*****t. This in itself may not bother you, but
most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have "Terms of Service" that may consider
your adverti*****t to be a violation. You can safely assume that if you post an
adverti*****t for your "Great New All-Natural, Non-Drug Cure for ADD" there will
be letters of complaints to your ISP, who *may* consider that your adverti*****t
is grounds for terminating your account.
If your first and only appearance in this newsgroup has been to sell your
product, many of the regular participants will suspect that this is your only
reason for being here. You can also safely assume that most who might consider
"alternative" treatments have already done so--ADD people (and parents or
spouses of ADD people) are *very* good at research.
If you do hope to talk about a product that you are trying to sell, you should
be prepared to field some pointed questions about the efficacy of your product.
In the past, the would-be purveyors of "alternatives" have relied on third-party
testimonials ("...a friend of my sister-in-law had a hyperactive child,
and..."). This kind of sales approach is likely to be greeted with scorn. ASAD
was formed as a *discussion* group, and people who post *only* in the hopes of
selling their products have not been well received.
10. WHY IS EVERYONE SO NEGATIVE ABOUT NON-DRUG ALTERNATIVES?
In almost every case, people eager to discuss (or "share information about")
vitamins, herbs and other food supplements are distributors for these products.
Apart from the fact that sales activity is generally unwelcome in newsgroups
like ASAD, there has been NO credible evidence to indicate that antioxidants
like Pycnogenol© or "blue green algae" will have the slightest effect on the
symptoms of ADD. Moreover, since ADD involves neurotransmitters like dopamine
(the "wiring" in the brain), there is no biochemical reason why an antioxidant
or vitamin preparation *should* have any effect on the symptoms of ADD. The
people promoting these products have so far been unable to provide or point to
any credible sources of data substantiate their claims.
11. WHAT'S THIS STUFF ABOUT "TROLLS?"
There has been some misunderstanding about the term, but the "New Hacker's
Dictionary," widely considered authoritative, defines the verb "Troll" as
To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract
predictable responses or flames. Derives from the phrase
"trolling for newbies" which in turn comes from mainstream
"trolling," a style of fishing in which one trails bait
through a likely spot hoping for a bite.
You can find the entire text of this interesting do***ent at
http://info.astrian.net/jargon/terms/t/troll.html [url revised 7/21/03. Thanks,
12. IF TROLLS ARE JUST POSTING FOR THEIR OWN AMU*****T, WHY NOT JUST IGNORE
Conventional wisdom suggests that the best way to deal with a Troll is to avoid
giving them the satisfaction of getting the "outraged response" he or she is
seeking. A number of longtime participants, however, have taken the position
that allowing misinformation to stand unchallenged could cause harm.
13. WHY DO PEOPLE HERE REACT SO NEGATIVELY TO SCIENTOLOGY?
The "Church of Scientology" has a stated agenda to eliminate psychiatry by the
year 2000. The doctrine of the "church" and its practices involves a
fee-for-services process called "auditing" which, they claim, has benefits
superior to mainstream medical practice.
Statements made by the "church" and its adherents with respect to ADD and its
treatment are demonstrably false and misleading. Some have theorized that the
"church" objects to mainstream treatment for ADD (and other psychiatric
disorders) because it competes with their "auditing" ritual and paid "courses."
There is more information about Scientology at http://www.xenu.net. You may
also see references to a "front" organization for Scientology, "Citizens'
Commission on Human Rights," commonly referred to as "CCHR." Its objectives and
misleading tactics are aligned with those of its parent organization.
14. HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ADD?
There's no shortage of resources; if you do a web search on ADD or ADHD, you'll
turn up lots of places to go. There is a non-profit organization called
CH.A.D.D (Children and Adults with A.D.D.) that has a homepage at
http://www.chadd.org. You'll find many useful links from their page.
(PLEASE NOTE: while some participants in the newsgroup may be members of
CH.A.D.D., alt.support.attn-deficit is in NO WAY affiliated with or supported by
You should also keep in mind that there is no one overseeing the content placed
in the Web, and a search on "Attention Deficit Disorder" is likely to turn up as
much false and agenda-driven information as useful data. It is important to be
cautious and critical about content on the Internet.
Other useful sites:
http://add.about.com Bob Seay's truly excellent site--clearly a labor of love
on Bob's part.
http://www.add.org/ The site of the National ADD Association
Thom's other thoughtful (and thought-provoking) books.
www.addvance.com Author-therapist Dr. Kathleen Nadeau's site. She
characterizes it as "An online resource for women and girls with attention
deficit disorder. Dr. Nadeau is *highly* recommended by Nessa, who has known
and worked with her for years.
There are some excellent books on the topic of ADD and its management. Some of
the titles you'll see mentioned are
"Driven to Distraction," by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.
"You Mean, I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!" by Peggy Ramundo and Kate Kelly
"ADD: A Different Perception," by Thom Hartmann
Adventures in Fast Forward by Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau
Add in the Workplace by Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau
There are lots more; hang around the newsgroup and you'll hear about them--or
feel free to ask.
You can find a more extensive reading list at the Unofficial ASAD Website,
15. THANKS TO...
This do***ent could not have been prepared without the direct and indirect
D.C. and M.V. Sessions
Jennifer Snow Wolff
The author is indebted to Arthur Byrne, whose FAQ-writing advice was invaluable.
He is especially grateful to the many "regulars" in alt.support.attn-deficit who
give so extravagantly of themselves in reaching out to others.
He has also received some valuable feedback from a small number of people who
say they hate his guts.
16. WHO IS JOE PARSONS, ANYWAY??
Joe Parsons is a writer living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since
being a writer is just one small step away from being unemployed, he spends as
much time as he can manage sailing "Good Faith" out of Berkeley, California. One
of the great epiphanies of his life was reading Ned Hallowell's "Driven to
Distraction;" he still thinks it was written about him.
He can be reached at email@example.com
I. DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS, REVISION IV
These are the "official" diagnostic criteria for ADHD. You can find them at
II. "Surviving Usenet: A Guide for the Earnest Newcomer" by Joe Parsons
A concise introduction to the practice and culture of Usenet newsgroups. It is
posted regularly as a companion to this FAQ.
III. "MYTHS, LIES, MISUNDERSTANDINGS--AND FACTS--ABOUT RITALIN"
Posted weekly as a companion to the FAQ.
FAQ Revision History:
5/6/00: First major revision
3/19/96: Initial publication