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Essays on ADHD

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Following this post, where I provide a little background on the problems with The New York Times viewing ADHD not as a legitimate condition but the juicy pinata of clickbait, here is my friend Dotty’s excellent Letter to the Editor (as yet unpublished).

Dotty, who has ADHD and whose husband has ADHD—both diagnosed in their 30s—writes:

I’m thankful Dr. Richard Friedman laid out the truth about ADHD’s biological roots: It’s something we’re born with. It’s related to brain function and structure. However, his prescription to “treat” our ADHD was to relieve our “boredom”—comparing us to a nomadic Kenyan tribe who needs the stimulation to find food and a mate.

There’s only one problem: Nomadic tribal peoples don’t get to write screenplays. They don’t get to have good teeth. Their kids don’t get antibiotics, or a good education, or even clothing. (There’s no mention of the infant mortality rates. Or how long the adults live. Or even of the smell that they endure every day.) These tribes live every day in “crisis mode,” searching for the next thing that will feed them—just for that day!

Oh, but you don’t want us to actually become nomads; you just want us to be “stimulated” by doing things like running our own businesses. The only problem is that, according to Forbes magazine, 8 out of 10 new businesses fail! Nomads and entrepreneurs don’t make their kill every day, Dr. Friedman. Read the rest of this entry »

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Katy Rollins

This week’s guest post comes from my friend Katy Rollins, who writes one of my favorite blogs about living with Adult ADHD: 18Channels.

10 Ridiculous Things #ADHD Makes Me Do

By Katy Rollins

Just 10? I could probably list 100 but why blow them all on one post.

1) Follow my husband around the yard talking at him while he’s mowing the lawn, even though he can’t hear me, until he finally gives up, turns off the mower, and says “Yes?”

2) Decide to make dandelion wine. Then decide to make lilac wine. Then decide to make limoncello. Because three projects is BETTER than ONE!

3) Make a plan for the day – and then throw it out the window like the cheap imitation of a life that it is, if I get a better offer…or a distractingly good snack.

4) Sometimes avoid conversations because totally engaging in them can be totally a lot of work.

5) Keep throwing things in my big day bag because I need to “do” them, then experience confusion when the bag ends up weighing 35 lbs.

6) Headstands. Spontaneous headstands. On my couch.

7) Always lateness. Always working to thwart the always lateness.

8) Leave my purse sitting in random places. Like the middle of the sidewalk. Like around my body, but I forget it’s there. Like on tables in random public places.

9) Dream big. Regret it later.

10) Dream big again.


Check out 18Channels for essays and more from Katy, whose bio in part reads:
I’m a wife, stepmother of three, collector of animals (I AM NOT A HOARDER, we are at capacity at five!), an artstrepreneur, event planner, social media/marketing consultant and compulsive civic project instigator. I can often be seen around town with my ADHDog in tow.

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With all the media hand-wringing about the alleged over-diagnosing of boys with ADHD, you’ll find little mention of the under-diagnosing of girls. Hence this gripping post from a guest writer.

After reading my response to Esquire‘s egregious piece (The Drugging of the American Boy), a young woman with diagnosed later in life with ADHD wrote to share her experience. Jaclyn Paul is a writer, artist, and mother to a beautiful toddler. This is her story, illustrated with her childhood report cards:

The Late ADHD Diagnosis of an American Girl

by Jaclyn Paul

Jaclyn Paul

It was a typical high school scene: My friends stood in a tight knot against a row of lockers.

My boyfriend leaned against the wall, inching his feet far out so he was precariously balanced. The hallway reverberated with chatter, whoops, and slamming doors.

What came next may surprise you: With no provocation or forethought, I swooped my leg around and landed my foot against my boyfriend’s calves. He hit the ground hard. As I stared at him sitting on the ground wincing in pain, I was horrified—almost as though I had, for a split second, vacated my own body. What sort of person does such a thing?

I’d asked myself this question all my life. In the third grade, I threw a boy to the ground during gym class, raking long scratches down his forearms with my fingernails. He had cut in front of me in line. My mother, appalled, told me that is how animals behave. Around the same time, I bellowed “DUH!” at a tablemate after listening to our teacher review a lesson with him. This necessitated yet another note home to my parents.

I would love to tell you these were isolated incidents, but they weren’t. I would also love to tell you my parents and teachers recognized the underlying problem here. They didn’t. If I had been a boy, someone surely would have mentioned ADHD. Read the rest of this entry »

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Now that the Australian show Kids on Speed? has aired, how was it?  Despite the sensationalistic, stigmatizing name and promotional material, did it offer anything useful? When I asked Shanti Roy, a photographer in Australia with late-diagnosis ADHD, for her opinion, she delivered this thoughtful report, along with some screen captures of local media’s coverage of the show. Thank you, Shanti.

My name is Shanti, 28, diagnosed ADHD – Primarily Inattentive, and I have been asked to write a guest post about my perspective of ADHD awareness in Australia and my reactions to the ABC1 show Kids on Speed?

First, my personal experience with ADHD in Australia. I was diagnosed surprisingly quickly, given that I have the lesser-known version of the disorder. No one really saw the symptoms in me, though, because I was withdrawn, quiet, and polite—and left to fail on my own. I doubt I would have been taken seriously if I had gone to my psychiatrist with my concerns about having classic ADHD. The assessment was done by the same psychiatrist who had previously diagnosed me with Asperger’s syndrome so he knew quite a lot about me already. After a short drug trial he was sure I had ADHD. I kept seeing him and would keep him up to date about my progress on the medication.

When I told friends and family I have ADHD, there was a lot of doubt; it was the usual “but you’re not hyperactive at all’” rhetoric. 
I’ve worked hard in my self-advocacy of ADHD to bring to light the different issues the non-hyperactive kind goes through. So, when I heard about the three-part documentary Kids On Speed?  to be aired on ABC1, naturally my interest was piqued. Overall, the documentary serves to open up rational debate about the medication issue in children with ADHD. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dr. Elena Díaz De Guereñu, ADHD specialist in Northern Spain

I receive many e-mails from people in the non-U.S. Spanish-speaking world desperate to find information and knowledgeable treating professionals. So, I am always glad to meet such professionals in who have taken a special interest in ADHD. Recently, one such physician, Dr. Elena Díaz De Guereñu, asked for permission to translate into Spanish one of my blog posts from YouMeADD.org. Of course I was happy for the post to reach Spanish readers. More importantly, I was thrilled to learn that such a pro-active ADHD-treating physician is practicing in Spain (in the northern Basque region, near Bilbao; see map below), treating both children and adults.  The newspaper El Correo published this story about her work.)

I was curious about the state of ADHD awareness and treatment in Spain,  and so I asked Dr. Díaz De Guereñu if she would answer a few questions for this blog’s readers. Her answers below, in English. (Click here for her blog’s Spanish translation of this post, which also appears at the end of this English version.)

1. What is your interest in Adult ADHD? How and when did you come to it?

When I first started treating ADHD I would work with children and teenagers. It’s the population group in which awareness of the disorder is highest. However, daily practice has made me see that behind a child with ADHD is one or even two parents whose child’s symptoms remind them of their own childhood. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kay Bone (right) with ADDISS founder and director, Andrea Bilbow. In memory of her son, Sean, Kay is spearheading a campaign to RAISE FUNDS TO SUPPORT ADDISSPlease support the campaign if you can; even a small donation will mean a lot to Kay and to our friends in the UK, where ADDISS has been a rock of support, education, and advocacy for many years through the UK and Europe as well.

It is impossible to spend even a few minutes with Kay Bone and not be struck by the kindness in her eyes, the intelligence of her words, and the gentleness of her humble manner.  To then learn of the tragedy suffered by Kay, her husband Paul, and their extended family—the loss of Sean Bone, who at age 21, impulsively took his life—one is all the more struck by her enduring sweetness, compassion, and generous determination to prevent other families from suffering such a fate.

Please consider making a secure donation to the ADDISS fund in his honor, at left. No amount is too small, and you’ll have an opportunity to leave a note (anonymous, if you like) in support of ADHD awareness in UK and around the world.

I met Kay in March 2009 in London, where we were both speaking at the ADDISS conference on ADHD. With a dozen others, we had a lovely dinner, with Kay giving little hint of the moving keynote she would give the next morning, a talk based on her son Sean’s tragic death just a few months earlier.  Sean had ADHD. He also had a loving family, plenty of friends, and an array of good qualities. But in one impulsive moment, his emotional pain in the aftermath of a relationship breakup met opportunity, and he took his life.

Untreated or under-treated ADHD is, in fact, a risk factor in suicide.  And yet, can we call it suicide—can we say these people truly wanted to end their lives, that they fully understood the consequences of their actions—or was it ADHD-related impulsivity and a chronic inability not to see past “right now” that led to their death?  Each case is different, no doubt, but in Sean’s case, well, Kay tells the story best.

I asked Kay if I could share her family’s story with you, and she graciously agreed. If you would like to honor Sean’s memory, and in the process help ADDISS help individuals and families affected by ADHD, please donate to the campaign Kay Bone has started on justgiving.com



By Kay Bone

Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you are going to get. It is picked and chosen for you.  I was given Sean with the soft centre.  I could only have him for a while.

Sean came in a specially wrapped box as he had ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).  Sean was diagnosed at 9 years old, and it was a very new diagnosed condition and not many people knew about.  Sean’s headmaster at the time was going to be my first target for “education.”

Sean was often labelled and blamed for things he didn’t do, as he had a motor that couldn’t stop running, like a car with no brakes that kept on traveling.  The hyperactivity led to not being able to sit still in school, being the target of bullying and having no friends.  As parents, it was heartbreaking, but my mission was to help people understand it and my husband Paul’s was to protect. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunny Aldrich at the Fur Rendezvous’ Running of the Reindeer:” “it’s kind of like the Running of the Bulls… except with a lot more carrots.”

This guest post from Sunny Aldrich comes to you thanks to a random exchange on Facebook. It went like this:

Gina: Here in San Francisco, we are looking forward to hosting this year’s CHADD conference! I hope out-of-towners can add a few days to their stay for enjoying the area.

Sunny: I can’t wait! Anywhere warm sounds good right now. :-) It was -4 in Wasilla, AK today.

Gina: You’re in Wasilla?? You’ll be a big celebrity in SF!

Sunny: No doubt! Alaskans are more like visitors from another planet. The rest of our countrymen are used to foreigners. But not the kind who hunt moose, ski in bikinis, bicycle in -40 weather and eat whale blubber or dried fish. Next year’s conference should be here. I’m convinced this is the ADHD capitol of the world.

Gina: I just read Levi Johnston’s book (Deer in the Headlights), and I’m convinced of that, too! :-)

Sunny: Well it makes perfect sense! ADD’ers are “mavericks” who seek adventure, want to take the road less traveled, like to try new and different things and want to march to their own drum. Adrenaline junkies? Alaska’s the place. Extreme sports? Doesn’t get more extreme than here. Can’t sit at a desk and want an outside job? Alaska’s got those to spare. Just watch Deadliest Catch and Flying Wild Alaska and all those shows… And since it’s hereditary I think there’s a REASON Alaska has the highest paid teachers in the U.S.! They should get hazard pay, as far as I’m concerned. My son’s kindergarten teacher had six boys with ADHD in her mixed grade class (K-2nd) out of 21 kids. Including my kid I could pick out at least 3 others just in that grade level with moderate to severe ADHD. Mine was the only one medicated… poor lady!!

Gina: Sunny, would you write a piece about this for the ADHD Roller Coaster blog?

Sunny said yes, and here it is: Read the rest of this entry »

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Reading last week’s first-person essay (“The Rugged Reality of ADD”, by Dylan) and the many comments reminds me to tell you about The Resilience Through the Lifespan Project, conducted by Mark Katz, Ph.D., whom I wrote about recently here. I hope that you will consider participating in this important endeavor. Here are the details.

In his book, On Playing a Poor Hand Well, San Diego psychologist and ADHD expert Mark Katz explored two questions:

1. Why is that so many people who were exposed to multiple risks and adversities in their childhood years never developed the problems some might have anticipated, and have gone on to lead meaningful and productive lives?

2. Why is it that so many people who succumbed to those same risks and adversities in their childhood years—struggling for years with different kinds of behavioral, learning and life adjustment problems—staged a complete turnabout years later, and today are also leading meaningful and productive lives?

In more recent years, Dr. Katz has spent much less time on the first question and much more time on the second. And in particular, the question, why is it that so many children who fail in school later go on to succeed in life?

Here’s where Dr. Katz needs your help. He wants to learn more about the turning point experiences, and second, third and fourth chance opportunities of people who struggled throughout their school lives, but who today feel their lives and meaningful and productive.

 If you feel this describes the course of your life, you can help by participating in the Resilience Through the Lifespan Project. To participate, simply open this MS-Word file containing the Resilience Project Survey, answer the questions as best you can, and then e-mail the document to Email Mark Katz .


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A new friend has graciously agreed to share his Success Story story with ADHD Roller Coaster readers:

The Rugged Reality of ADD, by Dylan Rosen

Do not read this if you are looking for a “Happy ADD Story.” I do not have the gold medals of Michael Phelps or the arm of Terry Bradshaw. My life has been a struggle from the time I walked into first grade to my current age of 30. If you want something real and authentic to someone’s experience with ADD, however, I hope you will read on.

My silent struggle

When I was in elementary school, my ADD symptoms were as classic as the Rolling Stones were to Rock ‘n Roll. However, I did very well. Teachers always said I was bright.

I did well in middle school too, even making the president’s list one marking period.

As I moved from middle school to high school, a couple things changed. My grades went from A’s and B’s to C’s and D’s. My relationships changed too. I grew apart from old friends and was not able to make new ones. I viewed myself as a loner, a recluse. My confidence was slipping, and I had begun to experience the awful taste of depression.

The pressure from my school’s academic standards became unbearable. I did not do well under that pressure, coupled with the negativity I always received at home. My parents expected high academic performance from me. After bringing home a poor interim report one semester, I was threatened to be sent to technical school, which frightened me. Going to trade school, growing up where I lived, was a sign of absolute failure. Read the rest of this entry »

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When I asked Australian writer Matthew Bush to contribute a guest column on his experiences with sleep and ADHD (below), I expected a well-written and engaging piece. What I didn’t expect was a happy ending, too, and perhaps a blueprint to help others.

ADHD’s potential challenges to sleep include the behavioral (putting off sleep because anything is more interesting than lying in the dark waiting for nothing to happen) and the physiological (Restless Legs Syndrome, Sleep Apnea, dysregulated circadian rhythm, etc.). Here is a post from my other blog on ADHD and sleep. Look to the latest issue of CHADD’s Attention Magazine for my article on the topic, a prelude to a short upcoming book: The ADHD Roller Coaster Guide to Sleep. Now to Matt’s guest column!

Sleep, Finally.

By Matthew Bush

I was the 11 year old ninja master.

I had to be awake for school in six hours.

The creaking kitchen floorboards raised the hair on the back of my neck. The house was dark. I could hear snoring.Good. Dad was a heavy sleeper and that meant mum had her earplugs in. Still, there was risk.

The adrenaline pacified me. I inhaled slowly, my pulse pounded through the swell of blood in my ears. I opened the cabinet door slowly and clicked the torch on. I was on a mission.

If I was successful, I’d take my bounty back to my room and quietly self-medicate with caffeine and carbohydrates. Then I’d curl up on my beanbag and read.

My official bedtime was 8:30. I was allowed to read for half an hour, then my dad would tell me to go to sleep. I rarely did. Eventually, my lamp and torch batteries got confiscated. That just added another objective to my mission dossier. Read the rest of this entry »

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