A Different Direction

Sep 022003
Authors: Lindsay Robinson

A few years ago, CSU graduate student Michael Sandler was employed as a sales and marketing director and was in Las Vegas for work. On his lunch break, he decided he wanted to go bungee jumping, but was still in his suit pants.

Consequently, the bungee harness tore his pants in two.

“Only the zipper was holding them together,” he said about the embarrassing moment.

He had to walk with his briefcase in front of him and his jacket behind him to the local mall to buy some shorts to wear back to his hotel.

Sandler blames his mishap partly on the fact that he has Attention Deficit Disorder.

“I was impulsive and wanted to do the jump now,” he said. “I didn’t want to go home to change, nor was I thinking about it. I didn’t think ahead and acted too quickly.”

Impulsiveness is one of the symptoms of ADD, a disease affecting 9 million children and adults in America. Other effects of ADD include inattention and hyperactivity.

“(Having ADD) can be frustrating,” said Chris Miller, a senior psychology major who has the disease. “People can sit down and read a book for an hour and (for me) it’s physically uncomfortable to sit down for that long.”

To be diagnosed with ADD, the symptoms of the disease must have appeared before the patient was 7 years old and must continue for at least six months. The symptoms must affect at least two aspects of the person’s life, such as school, home or work, according to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association.

“I was a straight F student,” Sandler said. “Teachers said I was the worst student they’d ever had in their lives. I failed at fitting in socially. I couldn’t get along with anyone to save my life.”

Sandler, 33, was diagnosed with ADD when he was 7. He was told he would grow out of the disease, which was a common misconception until recently, according to the ADDA.

ADD is recognized as a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Because of this, students with ADD can take time-and-a-half on a test if needed.

“With ADD, people often get distracted and need to extra time to get themselves back in focus,” said Kathleen Ivy-Althoff, a counselor and coordinator for Resources for Disabled Students at CSU. “Also, many people may have a learning disability that coexists (with their ADD) that causes them to take longer in reading or writing.”

Students with ADD can also have note-takers with whom to compare their notes in case their attention diverts from a lecture.

“Losing focus is something they can’t control,” Ivy-Althoff said.

Both Miller and Sandler fully believe ADD should have disability status.

“I hate the term, but it’s necessary for the assistance a student can get from it,” Sandler said.

According to the National Institute of Mental Heath, 50 percent of those who needed ADD medication as children will need it as adults.

When Sandler was 31 and partway through his graduate education, he went back to the doctor, “because I couldn’t juggle classes, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t get my assignments done on time and I became a smoldering wreck during tests.”

After this he was re-diagnosed with the disease.

Miller, 23, did not know he had ADD until he started college and was put on probation for poor grades. He had difficulties in school all his life, especially in English, but did not know he had the disorder.

Once at CSU, Miller was told he had a learning disability and he went to get checked out. He was diagnosed with ADD at 20.

“When I got to college, I had to learn how to study, read and take notes. It was a very trying process,” Miller said.

Currently, there is no cure for ADD, but doctors often prescribe drugs such as Ritalin, Adderal (which both Sandler and Miller take) and Cylert to help patients combat the symptoms. Some people believe that Ritalin, the most well-known of the drugs and is often given to children with ADD, is far over-prescribed.

“People are looking for a quick fix,” Miller said. “Some students learn differently and show attention problems because they’re kids, not because they have ADD.”

Sandler believes that drugs prescribed for ADD can be harmful to people who do not have the disease. He said that if someone who did not have ADD took the drugs, the effect would be the same as if he/she used an illegal stimulant.

However, the brain of someone who has ADD works differently, he said.

“An ADDer’s brain has decreased chemicals and these drugs help stimulate that,” Sandler said. “(Taking Adderal) slows me down, makes me calmer, more focused and in control. It makes a huge difference.”

Although ADD can be difficult, he said, the disease’s negative traits can be made positive with a little optimism.

“Every single thing can be made into an advantage,” he said. “I can’t sit still, but I’m a professional cyclist. I’m not very quiet, but I tend to fall into leadership positions. I can’t remember the name of a theory, but my brain works so fast I can probably derive the entire theory in my head.”

On a different level, Sandler believes having ADD has helped him.

“Life without ADD would be easier,” he said, “but I doubt I’d have achieved as much.”

Michael Sandler is an ADD coach and is holding an ADD seminar on September 9 at 6:09 p.m. in room 213 in the Lory Student Center. He can be reached at 308-HELP.

For Box:

Well-known people believed to have ADD:

Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Beethoven, Pablo Picasso, Henry Ford, Orville and Wilber Wright, Jim Carrey, Will Smith, Bill Cosby, Walt Disney, Babe Ruth, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Dwight D. Eishenhower

Taken from nomoreritalin.com

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