Workplace ADD Discussed


    GRAND RAPIDS — Dr. Lynn Weiss does not like to admit she has Attention Deficit Disorder. But it’s not the condition she takes issue with — it’s the name.

    “My ADD is the greatest gift that was ever given to me,” said the 70-year-old psychotherapist and author, who will be speaking on the subject of ADD Thursday and Friday at the DonnellyCenter at AquinasCollege

    Weiss, who focuses her studies on ADD on adults and the workplace, said what is labeled a “disorder” is actually a brain style.

    “You’re born with a style of brain construction, just as you are born with skin color and all other attributes,” she said.

    In dealing with ADD as an adult, Weiss said it’s important to consider three aspects: the “True You,” which is the brain style a person is born with; the “Wounded You,” which is made up of the issues a person is dealing with due to difficulties with their brain style (such as low self-esteem from poor test-taking skills); and the “Accommodating You,” which is the way to use a brain style to find a job or position that works best for the individual — and to use strengths while accommodating weaknesses and preventing failure.

    Weiss said she did not identify her own ADD traits until after she had written her first book; she became involved in the subject when her son, who was diagnosed with ADD, continued to show traits after puberty. At the time it was thought that the ADD traits would disappear with the onset of puberty.

    Some ADD traits — such as creativity, high energy and seeing a larger picture — can be used to an individual’s advantage. Other ADD traits, such as difficulty in paying attention, can be controlled. Doing so successfully depends on evaluation, both of an individual and an environment, Weiss said. Brain styles, characterized by ADD on one end of the spectrum and linear thinking on the other, can incorporate traits from one extreme — or even both extremes, which Weiss calls a “bridge” style.

    “You have to evaluate the format or framework for the job if you’re going to make use of your traits,” she said.

    Weiss gave as an example an individual who knows it will be difficult to keep track of hours or schedules on a monthly basis, as is required by the job. Instead, the person may arrange to keep track on a daily or weekly basis and submit the information in that format, or ask a secretary to use the information to compile the standard monthly report.

    Tailoring requirements to meet an individual’s needs can prevent failure that might occur due to a small detail, rather than from an actual inability to perform the job.

    “Sometimes the kinds of modifications that need to happen on the job are not costly nor are they hard to accommodate, by and large,” Weiss said.

    Weiss and Dr. Stephan Adams, an authority on ADD in adolescents, will make a public presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday, and hold a seminar from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, all at the DonnellyCenter. Thursday’s public presentation is free and requires no registration. The seminar Friday is $45 for a half day and $85 for the entire presentation.

    The events are presented by Life Guidance Services, a program of Project Rehab and sponsored by Better Life Unlimited, a research organization focusing on nutrition, fitness and supplement education. To register, visit or call 464-2976.    

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