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Although ADD/ADHD has been recognized for over 100 years, it has usually been seen as essentially a behavior problem. Yet many with ADD/ADHD suffer not from behavior problems so much as from chronic problems with focusing their attention, organizing their work, sustaining their effort, and utilizing short-term memory.
It’s time for a new understanding of Attention Deficit Disorder!
This website offers a new perspective on this disorder, one based on current clinical and neuroscience research. It presents a new definition and model of ADD/ADHD as essentially a problem with executive functions, the management system of the brain. It describes how a child or adult with ADD/ADHD can focus very well on a few activities that intensely interest them, yet be unable to focus adequately on most other tasks of daily life. It explains how ADD/ADHD often looks like a weakness in willpower, but isn’t.
From more than 25 years of clinical interviews and research with children, adolescents and adults who have ADD/ADHD, Dr. Brown has developed an expanded model to describe the complex cognitive functions impaired in ADD/ADHD. This model describes executive functions, the cognitive management system of the human brain.
Although the model shows six separate clusters, these functions continually work together, usually rapidly and unconsciously, to help each individual manage many tasks of daily life. The functions appear in basic forms in young children and gradually become more complex as the brain matures throughout childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.
Everyone has occasional impairments in their executive functions, individuals with ADD experience much more difficulty in development and use of these functions than do most others of the same age and developmental level. Yet even those with severe ADHD usually have some activities where their executive functions work very well.
A New Working Definition of ADHD
For decades ADD/ADHD has been understood as essentially a behavior disorder accompanied by chronic problems in not paying enough attention to what others are saying. Recent research has now made it clear that this disorder is essentially a complex set of problems in unfolding development of the brain’s management system. Below is a new working definition of this disorder based upon findings from recent research and described in the model above.
ADHD can be described as:
- a complex syndrome of
- developmental impairments of executive functions,
- the self-management system of the brain,
- a system of mostly unconscious operations.
- These impairments are situationally variable,
- chronic, and significantly interfere with functioning in many aspects of the person’s daily life.
This definition and the research on which it is based are described in Dr. Brown’s recent book, A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults: Executive Function Impairments. This book also describes 35 myths about ADHD and why they are wrong. Chapters explain implications of recent research for assessment and effective treatment, and why so many of those with ADHD also suffer from other disorders of learning, emotion or behavior (Routledge, 2013).
A new cutting-edge book by Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D.
View the first 18 pages of this book.
For over 100 years, ADHD has been seen as essentially a behavior disorder. Recent scientific research has developed a new paradigm which recognizes ADHD as a developmental disorder of the cognitive management system of the brain, its executive functions. This cutting-edge book pulls together key ideas of this new understanding of ADHD, explaining them and describing in understandable language scientific research that supports this new model. It addresses questions like:
- Why can those with ADHD focus very well on some tasks while having great difficulty in focusing on other tasks they recognize as important?
- How does brain development and functioning of persons with ADHD differ from others?
- How do impairments of ADHD change from childhood through adolescence and in adulthood?
- What treatments help to improve ADHD impairments? How do they work? Are they safe?
- Why do those with ADHD have additional emotional, cognitive, and learning disorders more often than most others?
- What commonly-held assumptions about ADHD have now been proven wrong by scientific research?
Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other medical and mental health professionals, as well as those affected by ADHD and their families, will find this to be an insightful and invaluable resource.
Available in Hardcover and Paperback
(see more info and critiques of this book on the Books page of this site)