This is a term I coined in my book Survival Strategies for Parenting Your ADD Child (Underwood Books, 1996) to designate children who pay attention differently, not necessarily dysfunctionally, to people and events around them. For example, children diagnosed with ADHD pay attention exclusively to things that interest them. Children with Bipolar Disorder pay attention, and are captivated by, powerful inner emotional states. Children with TS pay attention to propreoceptive feelings of discomfort—the feeling of "muscle itch" that comes before a tic. These idiosyncratic attentional styles become "deficits" when they interfere with task accomplishment in the modern classroom (or cubicle at work).
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
A condition in which a child, adolescent, or adult shows evidence of:
Autism, high-functioning (HFA) "Aloof and Avoidant" (Dr. Lorna Wing)
A person is:
Asperger’s syndrome (AS). "Odd but active" (Dr. Lorna Wing)
The DSM IV holds that the child with AS possesses all of the symptoms of the child with autism except that the AS child does not meet criteria for delays in the development of language or age-appropriate self help skills. In formal diagnosis, the child with AS unlike the autistic child will show normal curiosity about his environment. In practice there are other features that differentiate these conditions that I look for:
Excessive worry which is difficult to control associated with:
Anxiety may be sensed as a disturbed, apprehensive feeling state—"waiting for the ax to drop," as much as a state of specific worry. Anxious adults and children typically ascribe "negative attribution" toward life stressors—they tend to see the glass as half-empty, never half-full. Younger kids are prone to frequent meltdown. Many show performance anxiety, are fearful of humiliation and rejection, are perfectionist, and have separation anxiety from parents.
Bipolar Disorder (BD)
A condition involving dysinhibition of the emotional centers of the brain. Adults will experience depression and mania, in the form of inappropriately elevated mood or aggressive irritability ("mixed state"). They will be very impulsive. Pre-pubescent children will demonstrate rage, depression, dangerous hyperactivity, and extreme impulsivity. Hypersexuality and separation anxiety are frequently seen in kids with BD.
Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (CBT)
A type of counseling approach based on the idea that our thoughts and perceptions precede our feelings. To change the way we feel and act, we must change the way we think about the challenges that we face.
A mental and physical pain disorder with the following major symptoms:
In teens depression is often seen as a state of chronic irritability and oppositionality. Treating physicians now look for the possibility that a depressed teen is manifesting the first phase of a bipolar mood disorder that will eventually emerge as mania or hypomania. The Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) medication used to treat depression may make a bipolar condition much worse.
Neuropsychology is the study of how brain chemistry, structure, and heredity influence our attitudes, behavior, mood, and perceptions. As a therapist grounded in neuropsychology, I give the presence of neuropsychological factors equal weight with environmental factors, upbringing, and personal values in how a person behaves.
Posttraumatic stress disorder
A set of behaviors that are seen in persons who have experienced traumatic stress. Criteria for this disorder include:
The term first seen in the book Breaking the Trance: A Practical Guide for Parenting the Screen-Dependent Child (CRP, 2016) is used by Cynthia Johnson (my co-author) and I to denote a mental state characterized by excessive reliance on screen media (video games and social media) to the degree that significant distress is experienced if deprived of access to media.
The stress response is the mind/body’s response to events perceived as novel or overwhelming. Stress psychology is the study of how the mind reacts to stress and what attitudes push for either distress (a self-destructive reaction) or "eustress," (a pro-health, pro-hardiness, strengthening reaction). In my practice I teach people cognitive-behavioral skills so that they are able to control their reaction to stress and be proactive in their lives so as to reduce its potentially destructive impact.
Tourette’s syndrome (TS)
A condition in which a child experiences both semi-voluntary motor movements ("motor tics") and vocalizations ("vocal tics) for over a year. Oftentimes the child will also experience obsessions, compulsions, and depression. Some children will repeat what others have said ("echolalia"), or repeat objectionable words ("coprolalia"). Many, not all children with TS are also diagnosed with ADHD.