Alphabet Soup

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by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Hold onto your hats everybody, there is discussion afoot toward yet another renaming of ADD (currently “officially” ADHD) — and the front-runner seems to be (at the moment, at least), EFD.

I wouldn’t block consensus on EFD.

However, as illuminated in an earlier article on this site [ADD – What’s in a Name?], I don’t have a problem with the acronym “ADD” — as long as we focus on the disorder of THE ATTENDING MECHANISM and the Dynamics of Attending.

In other words, the essential point, for me, is that, for whatever reason, ADD is an impairment in the extent of one’s ability to pay attention, STOP paying attention, and/or to get back on track after an interruption or distraction.

  1. Focusing on the intended object;
  2. Sustaining the focus;
  3. Shifting focus AT WILL

Underlying each of the Dynamics is the same impaired element of cognition common to all of the Executive Functioning Disorders: VOLITION.

That’s INTENTIONALITY, boys and girls – being able to drive your own brain and run your own life, rather than being at the effect of chronic oopses and mishaps.

OK with EFD

Pom poms and short skirt at the ready for the BRAIN-BASED Coaching pep rally, this cheerleader is just fine with supporting “EFD” as an effective term for attentional continuum struggles.

As long as you don’t ask me to sign on the the “H” as part of the name (or anything else that might lead poorly educated, out-of-date ADD practitioners to make non-thinking assumptions in ways that will cause more damage than they already have), I’m ready to align with anything likely to shift the current paradigm to one aligned with neurodiversity.

If we ALL put our shoulders to the SAME wheel, I think we’ll be astounded at what we can accomplish together.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of the six blind men of Hindustan (attempting to describe an elephant,
based only upon the portion they had each examined), click on the paragraph header immediately below
to see what Wikipedia has to say on the topic. [**Attribution at end of article.] 

The Blind Men and the Elephant

ADDers and ADD Pros alike, we are all, in essence, blind men — trying our darndest to describe this “ADD/EFD” elephant we’ve had our hands on, hoping to figure out how to work with it (or work around it).

WHATEVER we end up calling it, I’m thrilled that some of the Professionals, at least, are  finally working TOGETHER to attempt to get a handle on the bigger picture, rather than turf-building to justify our individual takes on the part we’ve been touching!

To ALL of us, I offer the last few lines of one of the versions of the fable**:

And so these men of Hindustan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right
And all were in the wrong.**


The CorePsychBlog, written by Dr. Charles Parker, makes a pretty good case for using EFD as an “umbrella term” in ADHD And Cognitive Anxiety – Now 3 Types, an article which explores what he distinguishes as three different types of cognitive anxiety, which “can occur separately or all together, depending on circumstance and context – the realities of life.”

He refers to the three types as “ADHD anxiety subsets,” which is the concept that supports and underscores his platform calling for a change in nomenclature.

“The ADHD label inaccurately describes the mental condition,”  Dr. Parker  states, illuminating further with, “it only punctuates what can be observed, not what is.

Dr. Charles Parker’s Three ADHD Anxiety Subsets

1. Frozen Thinking – Unmanageable Cognitive Abundance – Without Worry: Without affect, not feeling constrained, but nevertheless stuck with thinking too much about inconsequential items – small stuff.

These folks think so much they become exhausted, and with encumbered mental lives they often make untimely decisions. They are operationally too stuck, too often, for their own interpersonal comfort.

They can still make decisions and often flip this presentation around to micro-managing so they can control – correct – the thinking.

2. Frozen Thinking – Abundance With Indecision And Worry: These folks get overtly stuck – not a little stuck – and more often, not all the time, [but way too often] they either can’t make that decision or make it too darn late.

The indecision becomes relevant in their interpersonal relationships, at home or work.

3. Thinking With An Anxiety Feeling: In this ADHD presentation, the feelings arise as derivative from the mental/mind thinking too much, then move into indecision and worry, they appear going down into the body.

They feel it in their chest, their stomach – it becomes somatic instead of, or in addition to, mental.

Partially “reblogged” under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
Read more of the original article by CLICKING HERE:

What do YOU think?

  • Does EFD seem like a better name than ADD, or is that a bit too much like PDDNOS for you? [Pervasve Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified]
  • Are you following the importance of how we name disorders and how it impacts the diligence of the care provided to “the end user?”
  • Have you made YOUR opinion known to the professionals who treat you?
  • If not now, when?  Really.  As a REAL question.
  • What would it take for YOU – every single ONE of you reading – to “Sing out Louise?”
  • What DO you think?

BY THE WAY, this is a topic that might interest other citizens of Alphabet City as well. (check out ABOUT Alphabet Disorders for what I’m talking about.)

If we don’t have specificity about diagnostic ADD, how in the world will most doctors be able to diagnose “not ADD?”


**The blind men and the elephant. Poem by John Godfrey Saxe (Cartoon originally copyrighted by Jonathan Himmelfarb, Peter Stenvinkel, T Alp Ikizler and Raymond M Hakim, authors of Perspectives in Renal Medicine, a paper published in Kidney International (2002) 62, 1524–1538; doi:10.1046/j.1523-1755.2002.00600.x; G. Renee Guzlas, artist).

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BY THE WAY: I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

23 Responses to Alphabet Soup

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  18. Selma Marshalek says:

    When it comes to ADHD, there are some food supplements that can help with it. Melatonin is one of those food supplements that can help kids with ADHD. *”;:”

    Take care“>


    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Selma. Yes – there are MANY supplements that have proven efficacy with more than a few ADD subtypes.

      Melatonin, for example, helps “drive” the part of the brain that regulates the body’s internal clock, the SCN (suprachiasmatic nucleus)

      There are mechanisms in place for humans to produce melatonin naturally, but problems show up when we don’t produce enough (or at the right time) – effects in the sleep realm most often. ADDers who can’t get restorative sleep will find it all the more difficult to manage ADD symptoms (for a TON of brain-based reasons).

      To the extent that ADD symptoms are exacerbated by food sensitivities and/or allergies, avoiding those substances will help manage the primary disorder as well. If that’s not YOUR problem, you won’t see much improvement when you cut them out of your diet.

      Likewise, to the extent that inadequate nutrition pushes an ADDer over the functional edge, supplements help them move back from that edge. If that’s not what’s going on, they won’t help much (at least they won’t help ADD’s primary symptoms). They may well do great things for energy, which helps ADD symptoms by giving you more oomph to deal with ADD challenges, right?

      Others may see some improvement, but not quite enough to manage on supplements alone (or will have to add additional supplements to be able to manage sans pharmaceuticals). Brains are a different as fingerprints or snowflakes, actually – no two exactly alike.

      As I keep repeating as often as I can squeeze it in:

      There ain’t no IS about ADD! Every case is unique in some fundamental ways — no two of us have exactly the same flavor!

      I DO advise that anyone who chooses to take supplements take the time to understand what they are supposed to do for you, how you need to take them to get the best effect, etc. – AND that you track effectiveness, reminding yourself to avoid black and white thinking to the best of your ability.

      VERY FEW THINGS are all bad or all good – nothing works for EVERYONE – and ALL substances have side effects in certain situations (even plain ole’ water, btw!). Like most of the rest of life, the goal is to keep the balance on the positive side of the see-saw, which might take a combo-approach that must be tweaked over time.



  19. alanlouis says:

    I think your right. ADD does not describe the disorder correctly. A name change may enable non-ADDers to understand the seriousness and pervasiveness of the problems caused by ADD in all areas of an ADDer’s life. Those without ADD believe that ADDer’s only have a problem concentrating, so you medicate and that solves all the problems. Simple problem, simple solution. But the problem is not that ADDer’s have a deficit of attention, but that we are unable to control it. It took me a long time to understand this. My brain feels like a ship without a captain. If you own a Ferrari, but it has a broken steering wheel, you can still drive it, but will you be ale to get anywhere? What do I focus on? For how long? Where do I begin? I imagine these things come automatically to non-ADDer’s, but to me it is puzzle wrapped in an enigma. A name change may help shift the focus of the medical community which is a long time coming and help non-ADDers understand how serious this disorder rally is.


    • WELL said. And as problematic as the name “ADD” can be, changing it to ad*H*d makes everything SO much worse, since even doctors automatically/unconsciously link to “gross motor hyperactivity” which, as we ALL know, may or may NOT be present.

      You are SO right about the “control” of attention piece too. That’s the challenge – intentionality is a product of controlled attention and a life on purpose is a product of intentionality. I also like your Ferrari analogy – and it’s not just the flukey steering we have to overcome, the darn BRAKES malfunction at times too!

      I DO believe that, properly controlled, ADD *can* be an asset – but that happy state of “properly” is so difficult to attain — there are just so many darn pieces to it. The result of lack of control in our lives is devastating, and we have the stats to prove it!!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.


  20. Chuck Parker says:

    Thanks so much Madelyn for your interest in moving the science forward, and for your supportive remarks – and I know you aren’t supporting me necessarily, but standing up to the current whimsey and disrespect of the DSM labeling system. Everyday I see people in my office who are thrilled to be understood for their own perceptions of their brain condition vs the casual and less scientific observations from an external source based on “maybe behaviors.”

    Yes, the term EFD may apply only for only a while in our history [as remarkable mind science continues to move forward], but it is a BFD if we can support others coming to grip with their struggles by accurately naming what they experience inside. And so much, as you so accurately point, out is Attention Abundance anyway, not Deficit. Deficit is a default diagnosis soon to be used only by the uninformed applying old methods of group think for individuals suffering from too much thinking – not too little.

    Many appreciations, look forward to meeting you in person in Atlanta at the ACO meeting!


    • But of course! Those of us who think alike have to keep reposting and reblogging and quoting and WHATEVER it takes to create the meme of neurodiversity – which has upsides and downsides. Appropriately approached (and competently treated), we may ALL reach that happy state I believe is our birthright: Optimal Functioning!

      I’m psyched about Atlanta too – I’m eager to put a “body” around what is currently a virtual concept of Dr. Charles Parker (and maybe tossing around some new ideas with a glass or two of vino!)

      Can you BELIEVE I found that great elephant graphic – blind men in lab coats!

      Thanks for taking the time to bop over here – especially for taking the time to comment. (I’m still half-expecting you to turn out to be triplets.)



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