Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Hi, I have ADD, and I'm thirty

with 2 comments

These symptoms are taken from the list on the Feingold site.

I’ve highlighted with italics the ones my sister suffered from as a child, and bolded the ones I suffered from during childhood, teenage years, or still suffer from. If an area was particularly bad, I’ve marked the title too.

Marked hyperactivity:
Constant motion
Running instead of walking
Inability to sit still
Inappropriate wiggling of legs/hands

Impulsive Actions:
Disruptive behavior / disturbs others
Unresponsiveness to discipline
Unkindness to pets
Poor self-control
Destructive behaviors: throws, breaks things
Little or no recognition of danger to self
Inappropriate noises
Excessive talking
Loud talking
Interrupts often
Abusive behavior
Unpredictable behavior

Compulsive Actions:
Perseveration/repeating of an activity
Touching things or people excessively
Workaholic habits
Chewing on clothing, other objects
Scratching, biting & picking at skin

Emotional Concerns:
Low frustration tolerance
Frequent crying
Demands immediate attention
Overreaction to touch, pain, sound, lights
Panics easily
Low self-esteem
Mood swings
Suicidal thoughts

Learning Problems:
Short Attention Span
Failure to complete projects
Inability to listen to whole story
Inability to follow directions

Neuro-Muscular Involvement:
Accident prone
Poor muscle coordination
Difficulty writing, drawing
Dyslexia/reading problems
Speech difficulties/delays
Difficulty with playground activities, sports
Eye muscle disorder (nystagmus, strabismus)
Tics (unusual or uncontrollable movements)
Seizures (some forms)

Cognitive and Perceptual Disturbances:
Auditory memory deficits (difficulty remembering what is heard)
Visual memory deficits (difficulty remembering what is seen)
Difficulty in comprehension and short term memory
Disturbance in spatial orientation (up-down, right-left)
Difficulties in reasoning (simple math problems, meaning in words)

Frequent Physical Complaints:
Ear infections
Bedwetting (enuresis)
Daytime wetting
Headaches, migraines
Hives, rashes (urticaria)
Leg aches
Constipation, diarrhea
Seizures (some types, especially if combined with migraine or hyperactivity)

Sleep Problems:
Resistance to going to bed
Difficulty falling asleep
Restless / erratic sleep
Nightmares, bad dreams

When my sister and I were growing up, there was no such thing as “ADD” or “ADHD”. My sister was apologetically labelled “hyperactive” by our stressed-out mother, who frequently complained to her “you’re like a bull at a gate, you are!”. She was very noisy, and as a baby cried so much at night that her cot had to be moved downstairs into the dining room.

By contrast I had been a “good” baby, and was a “good” child – I was very quiet, off in my own world all the time, extremely shy, and had real trouble fitting in at school. Like my sister, I was oversensitive and very easily hurt by other’s actions. I don’t think my parents realised at the time – the disease had yet to be labelled – that these are the symptoms of ADD.

Stupidly, it only struck me about a month ago when I read Sue Dengate’s “Fed Up with ADHD”, that I have all the symptoms of ADD. I have been describing my symptoms to bored friends for two or three years now as being “like ADD”, with phrases like “I get these brain fogs and I can’t concentrate on anything”. When I read “Fed Up with ADHD” I ended up in tears, because it was explaining exactly who I was, and all of the negative character traits I have felt guilty about since childhood. My partner read the symptoms of Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) over my shoulder, and without prompting – he meant it in humour – said to me “that’s just like you!”. Which it was. It’s strange how for six months I’ve known this condition causes ADD/ADHD in children, that I’ve described my condition as “like ADD” for years, but it still took me a full six months to put two and two together: I have adult ADD.

My paternal cousins were similarly affected by a great many of these symptoms. One was troubled by dyslexia. Another had life-threatening asthma and was a decidedly moody teenager. I have a number of character traits which make my mum compare me to my paternal uncle, who suffers some very similar problems to me. Is it just a coincidence that he independently discovered Atkins a couple of years ago and started feeling much better on it?

I have a strange perceptual disorder. I have always jokingly referred to a problem I have as “aural dyslexia”. When people speak, I can’t always process what they say. I can hear them just fine (in fact, I have perfect pitch). The problem is I can’t make out what they are saying – the meaning eludes me and the noise of the words doesn’t turn into words. I would also not be able to lip read to save my life. Quite often I find myself in shops saying “pardon?” to the checkout assistant if she says something unexpected, or apologetically lying, “I’m sorry I’m slightly deaf” after she has to repeat something for the third time.

When I start having a reaction, one of the first things to go is my ability to make sentences and recall words. For example, if I need to do something in the car, like open the window or turn off the fan, it is easier for me to reach across and do it myself than be able to ask my partner to do it for me. I forget the word for “fan” or “window”, and it might take me a couple of stammers to get the right word out – usually I end up saying something like: “Can you turn of the thing – the wotsit – the air blower?”. I associate this disorder with my maternal grandmother (mamma), who had this trait, and a related one. In our family we call malapropisms – the misuse of words – mammaisms, because mamma did this so often. Both my sister and I have this trait too. My sister once famously talked about the “directions” (decorations) on the ceiling. I suppose you had to be there.

Another disorder associated with ADD, which isn’t listed here is mixed laterality.

Laterality is left or right handedness. If you are right handed, you should also be right footed, and have a dominant right eye when looking at things. Laterality is also the way your brain is wired. One side is wired for language and the minutiae, the other side is wired for spacial ability, and an ability to make abstract connections such as jokes and eureka moments, as in “lateral thinking”. People often oversimplify brain laterality and talk about themselves as being left-brained (logical, critical, analytical and accurate) or right-brained (creative, illogical, spiritual and emotional).

ADD/ADHD children often have mixed laterality, and as in the above study, adults with ADHD have been found to use the “wrong” parts of their brain to do tasks. ADD/ADHD children are often specialists – idiot savantes – as in the autism related condition Asperger’s syndrome. Some are extremely good at maths but weak on language, others are extremely good at language but weak on maths.

I am strongly right-handed. I don’t appear to have a dominant foot (ambipedarous?). I have a very dominant left eye. I am decidedly left-brained to the point where I am weak on the ability to think laterally and cryptically (something I am trying to train out of myself). Something interesting is though I have always had problems with speech, I have no problems with writing. In fact my chosen career was to be a writer. My spelling is unusually good. However, ask me to add up a double digit number in my head and I will find myself using my fingers. My school marks reflected this, ranging from A through to E. The subjects I really focussed on I always got an A. But I didn’t have the stamina to focus on them all!

I don’t want to get into a great discussion about left and right handedness here. In a nutshell: though 10% of the population are left handed, it doesn’t appear to be clearly genetic and instead appears to be congenital (running in families but not genetic, rather passed down neural tube/methylation style like Pottenger’s cats) or developmental. There is a growing mass of evidence to suggest that left handedness was in fact extremely rare before the last century, that this is not because left handedness was culturally suppressed (though it was when it appeared), but that it simply didn’t happen that often. And it appears that left handedness is increasing in the current population.

The point here? My mother and my sister are both left handed. How does this connect to the mixed laterality of ADD/ADHD?

Hyperactivity: my maternal grandfather is eighty years old and he still can’t sit still for more than five minutes. He is always on the go, to the extent where it has to be characterised as a disorder.

Obsessiveness, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are another aspect of ADD/ADHD. In some, particularly autistics, this shows as a desire for rigid routines. My maternal grandmother stuck to her routines to the point of insanity. In others, OCD manifests as workaholism – like my paternal uncle. Personally, I use the computer obsessively, I research my disorder obsessively, I wash my hands far too frequently, and as a child I had very odd obsessive routines and had to do everything “evenly” – that is, If I touched the ground with my left hand, I then had to touch it with my right hand.

At school, I ate my lunch very slowly, and I hated the taste of most food. It turns out that I’m a supertaster, and it’s really not my fault: food really does taste bad. Joan Breakey’s research into food chemical intolerance suggests some sort of connection with supertasting.


Written by alienrobotgirl

2 September, 2006 at 5:23 pm

Posted in Asperger's Syndrome

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2 Responses

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  1. English is not my mother tongue so sorry if the grammar looks a bit weird.When I read about your “aural dyslexia” (didn’t you mean oral?), it struck me how I used to be like that too. I just noticed it now, it seems that it doesn’t happen anymore. One thing that I noticed and that might be slightly related to this, is that when I listen to songs, I hear the lyrics as if it was part of the music, and I don’t really try to recognise the words.My understanding of oral English is also not very good, although my written comprehension is probably as good as most Americans. This situation seems to have improved though. If I watch a DVD with the English audio track and the english subtitles, I can hear and recognize every single words. The same thing seems to happen with the same audio track subtitled in French, as if just aprehending what is said is how I recognize the words, and when someone says something surprising, I have troubles understanding it.I have diagnosed myself as a high-functioning Asperger, aka crypto-sensitivity syndrome. It seems this oral dyslexia is part of it. I too sometimes use the wrong words. I also compulsively search about my “disorder”. I also have digestive problems, which seem to be related to candida (I’ve seen weird things in my bowel movements that are only there when my digestion is #1…). Candida metabolites seem to be often found in the urine of people with autism, so although it is way overrated in the naturopathic industry, it does not seem to be that rare.But all these seem to have improved, I don’t know if it is related to the low-carb diet I have been eating for quite a while. My personnal research about what seem the best diet for humans is a meat-diet, where carbs are pretty close to 0 and fat is high. My digestion has never been better. Red meat seems to be the best meat.Ok, enough for today, I like to recapitulate things for myself.


    4 October, 2006 at 4:28 pm

  2. Hi MaxI definitely meant “aural” – i.e. hearing rather than speech.I too found considerable relief on a low-carb diet before I discovered my problems were caused by an inability to detoxify certain food chemicals as fast as everyone else. There seem to be a number of mechanisms by which low-carbing helps (but does not cure or fully fix) this condition.Food chemical intolerance is connected to autism/asperger and is implicated in well over 70% of cases. Also, people with food chemical intolerances are prone to developing problems with candida because the chemicals make them vulnerable by suppressing the body’s defense mechanisms.I wonder if failsafe might help you?

    Alien Robot Girl

    16 October, 2006 at 9:42 am

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