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Ex. SSB1

The Bell of Attention Differences

This bell curve portrays a population in which the bulk of the people are able to focus their attentions evenly, engaging and disengaging at will, leaving those who have problems with over or underfocusing on the outer ends of the attentional spectrum. Towards the left, beneath UF, is the underfocusing end of this continuum, consisting of those who struggle to switch focus on and keep attentions engaged, particularly for cognitive tasks requiring sustained concentration. Towards the right, beneath OF on the opposite side, is the overfocusing side of the spectrum, consisting of people whose primary struggle is turning attention off to switch focus to other tasks. Their challenge is less about concentration per se than about being able to put their attentions where they need to be with consistency.

People on the far sides of this bell have problems paying attention to anything but the most stimulating things in their environment, and those from either end exhibit strong degrees of restlessness, impulsivity and distractibility, the three core symptoms of an attention difficulty.When overaroused, i.e. too excited, each type tends to a particular style of added intensity as summarized at the bottom of the chart above and described below:

  • Type 1: ROVING:
    This underfocused, or "roving," type is especially prone to impulsiveness, acting without sufficient forethought, thinking too little while doing too much. If they are hyperactive, they tends to express that excess energy in physical (kinetic) activity. Within this group we see another spectrum that runs from spacey inattention at 1.1. to recklessness or defiance at 1.3.
  • Type 2: RESTLESS:
    The mixed focus or "restless" Type 2 is prone to both thinking too much and thinking too little, shifting from distractible inattention to overfocusing in response to strong stimulation. Once engaged, the Type 2 may be prone to compulsiveness, that is, repeating behaviors or thoughts that might be very hard to stop. If they are "hyper," they are more likely to express those excess energies mentally rather than physically, in extra- intense ideas or feelings such as worry.
  • Type 3: RELENTLESS
    The overfocused or "relentless" Type 3 is prone to both thinking too much and doing too much, and elements of both physical and mental hyperactivity may be seen. When overexcited this type may also struggle with obsessive attachments that occupy most of their waking thoughts. Physical hypersensitivies to sight, touch, sound, taste and smell are sometimes present in this subtype as well.

This is a dynamic spectrum in which attentions ebb and flow over time as arousal rises and falls in response to stimuli. People from the middle of the bell find themselves over and underfocused upon occasion, just as those whose primary home is towards one side will move towards the middle in times of greater "attentional synchrony." Each of us has a default mode where we reside most of the time, as well as a range where we move along the baseline of this bell. It is the degree and duration of that variability (or "brain bounce") which sets attention difficulties apart from more "modulating" minds. (See also SSB3 which explains the wavy lines beneath the bell).

The AD continuum, or spectrum of inattention, presented in these exhibits was created by placing the poles of over and underattentiveness side by side, omitting the middle of the bell where those with more modulating non-AD minds reside. As you move through the exhibits, you will see the numbers above, here arranged in a line, depicted in other forms including columns and rows. In all cases, the numbers mean the same. Each 2-digit code refers to to a type and degree of attention difficulty.


This page was obtained from the Internet at http://www.hyperthought.net/SSB/SSB1.htm

Exhibit for the workshop Surviving Sane with a Bouncing Brain presented by Carla Nelson at the National Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) conference in St. Louis, May 1997.      
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