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ADHD? VAST? What's In A Name?

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

In January of 2021, a new book was released by two of the nation’s leading researchers on ADHD. The book is called ADHD 2.0 and it is by Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey. Both are Ivy League professors with decades of research on the topic. The book supports using a different label to describe ADHD, and I think that’s great! The name Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (of any type) suggests a shortage of attention and pathologizes the condition, suggesting something is *wrong*. VAST stands for Variable Attention Stimulus Trait. This name recognizes that the condition isn’t a “deficit”, but a fluctuation of attention. The new name also sheds the word “disorder”, which hopefully lessens the stigma associated with the condition. One important thing to understand about ADHD/VAST is that for every “weakness” there’s a balancing strength. For every boring area where it’s hard to pay attention, there can also be an explosion of attention toward something interesting. For every awkwardness or missed social cue, there can be a release of creativity that gains recognition in other ways. Embracing the “Variability” can bring a lot of freedom for people with VAST and those close to them. - Martin Altman, LPC

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