Hello and thank you for visiting the award-winning ADHD Roller Coaster and its conductor, Gina Pera!
When seeking support and education for Adult ADHD, you want solid expertise and experience, right? That’s not always easy on the Internet. With this post, I offer you my credentials and endorsements from a “Who’s Who” of preeminent ADHD research and clinical experts.
Helping you to understand—and thrive in the presence of—this complex condition called ADHD.
My mission for 20 years has been clear: reduce suffering and elevate the discourse around Adult ADHD. My fervent wish is that my hard-won knowledge helps to elevate your life.
Two decades ago, I was an award-winning journalist. Then I accidentally discovered Adult ADHD—and the overwhelming need millions of people had for knowledgeable support. Initially, my motivation came through my personal experience. See that photo above? It’s our wedding, in 1999. Notice me in the dripline? Consider that literal and metaphorical, for years until we found our way.
My work defies easy categorizations. One week I’m successfully leading the charge to have the FDA downgrade inferior Concerta generics that are sending lives off the rails. The next, I am presenting a plenary talk at a professional ADHD conference on our Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy model.
That makes me a marketer’s nightmare. But smart folks manage to find me, and I am grateful for their company. They tell me they know I’m in their corner—and my ADHD-and-Beyond knowledge helps them to solve many a mystery in their lives.
The Short Version: My Credentials
As a veteran journalist with a reputation for accuracy, I bring to this topic skills in
- Researching any given topic
- Parsing statistics
- Vetting experts as being reputable and truly expert
- Assessing and gleaning key points from published research
- Chasing down facts, and
- Synthesizing complex information into everyday language.
Facts matter. They especially matter in a field so widely misunderstood and even disparaged, where real people’s lives hang in the balance.
My direct education in Adult ADHD includes:
- The “lived experience”—my husband was diagnosed in 1999, thanks to my trying to make sense of seemingly paradoxical behavior (more below)
- Founding and leading for 15 years an online group for the partners of adults with ADHD—1,000 members at any one time and 14,000 posts overall (and counting)
- Leading two face-to-face groups in Silicon Valley for 15 years: One for adults with ADHD, one for the “partners of”; both free and open to the public
- Attending high-level ADHD conferences on ADHD, taking copious notes, and asking questions
- Reading many hundreds of published papers
- Writing this award-winning blog for 10 years—and reading every comment (responding, too)—almost 6,000
- Writing the groundbreaking, award-winning Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? in 2008—the first book to comprehensively detail Adult ADHD, the impact of late-diagnosis, the nature of “denial”, the potential effect on loved ones, and evidence-based treatment strategies
- Being invited by a preeminent ADHD research and clinical expert, Russell Barkley, PhD, to write the first-ever chapter on couple therapy for his “gold standard” clinical guide. (Details below.)
- Conducting the most comprehensive survey on Adult ADHD, the ADHD Partner Survey, the findings of which are included in Dr. Barkley’s clinical guide
- Producing, with esteemed ADHD authority Arthur L. Robin, PhD, the first clinical guide for treating ADHD-challenged couples
Earning Expert Endorsements
Leading experts in the field of ADHD and of couple therapy endorse my work.
I’m old fashioned. I believed I should work and study hard—and earn the respect of high-level professionals—before calling myself an expert in ADHD.
It took 17 years—and only after preeminent specialists such as Dr. Barkley recognized me as such. For example:
- Routledge Press, a prestigious publisher of professional guides, asked me to produce the first evidence-based guide for therapists treating ADHD-challenged couples (Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy, with Arthur Robin, PhD, Routledge, January 2016).
- Leading authorities in both Adult ADHD and couple therapy have endorsed my work, here for Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy and here for Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? (under Editorial Reviews).
- CADDRA, Canada’s professional organization of ADHD clinicians and researchers, invited me to present a plenary talk at their 2016 conference. The topic: our Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy model.
- The 5th Annual Congress on Psychopharmacology in Antalya, Turkey invited me to present a keynote talk on Adult ADHD, especially as it can affect relationships.
- 255 five-star reviews on Amazon of my first book, written by adults with ADHD, their partners, other family members, and mental-health professionals.
Would you like to know more about me and why/how I do what I do? By all means, read on!
Taking ADHD Seriously—Injecting Humor When I Can
News flash: Not all doctors of medicine or psychology speak or practice authoritatively or accurately. Yes, that’s a scary concept! But please don’t shoot the messenger. Isn’t it scarier to think about the harm wielded by ignorance? I’ve seen far too much of the devastation.
When I started this blog, it was one of four on Adult ADHD (and not many more on ADHD in children). Since then, the Internet has exploded! Anything goes on “news sites”—with no watchdogs, no professional editors or journalists and sometimes only “clickbait.” And that too often goes double for ADHD-themed websites.
Many of you know me for my rigor in
- Combing the literature
- Interviewing top experts
- Synthesizing in practical terms what we know about ADHD with what I have observed in my 20 years of intensive contact with people affected by ADHD
- Teasing out the cross-disciplinary issues that experts with a narrow focus miss (ADHD’s potential connection to, for example, sexual challenges, eating disorders, sleep disorders, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, hearing, handwriting, reading, and more)
- Commenting on news articles that skew the facts about ADHD, serving in my journalistic “watchdog” role (because somebody has to)
- Calling out charlatans, hustlers, and smooth talkers. That includes MDs, PhDs, therapists, and coaches who proclaim ADHD expertise but truly lack it—but especially those who deny or dismiss ADHD or appropriate it for their own gain.
So yes, I am dead serious when it comes to all this. But no one likes a good laugh more than me.
After all, who says we can’t find humor in trying circumstances and have fun while we’re learning?
Making Cross-Disciplinary Connections
When I started this work, around 1999, many cross-disciplinary connections were largely unheard of. I’d ask both ADHD experts and experts in the other fields about it and…crickets. That includes the potential connections between ADHD and central auditory processing disorder, sleep apnea, obesity, substance-use issues, eating-disorders, diabetes, sexual difficulties, reading comprehension, parenting challenges, and more.
Early on, I pieced together and popularized many of these connections. I did that by:
- Digging through the literature beyond ADHD
- Interviewing scientific experts
- Listening to the stories of thousands of people with ADHD and their partner
- Thinking as hard as my little neurons would allow, and
- Talking about these issues way too much—on the hikes my husband and I take in the Bay Area.
Still, I respect my limits. Rather than speculate beyond them, I point readers to solid sources of information or professional care. Fortunately, the field is catching up to some of these cross-disciplinary topics. That is, the field of ADHD is; the intersecting fields are slower. The word “silo” doesn’t begin to describe it.
Not Having ADHD Doesn’t Make Me “Neurotypical”
“Tribal” mindsets strike me as more divisive than helpful. That’s why you will never hear me talk about ADHD vs. Non-ADHD—or ADHD vs. Neurotypicals.
Here’s the thing: no gene yet associated with ADHD is not distributed throughout the human genome. That’s why I call ADHD Extreme Human Syndrome. Traits such as procrastination, stimulation-chasing, creativity….these are human traits. They are not limited to people with ADHD. What makes the diagnosis then? The severity and level of impairment.
The less we put people into boxes, the better we can problem-solve for each individual, right?
Make no mistake: My many friends with ADHD face challenges that always remain clear to me. But first and foremost, they are individuals. They share only certain aspects of a highly variable condition.
For example, consider my Adult ADHD discussion group in Silicon Valley—free and open to the public. We have a core group of regulars, but new folks constantly turn up. Each month, 25-40 adults with ADHD, age 18 to 85, discuss a range of topics. No one sitting in that room month after month harbors the illusion that people with ADHD are clones or fit some “type.” They clearly see that’s not the case.
Attendees share overlaps of ADHD-related challenges. But they very much carry their own unique strengths and weaknesses, talents and abilities.
The same is true for my friends who are the partners of adults with ADHD. They are individuals. And, guess what? Some of them have ADHD, too!
Not a Relationships Expert—An Adult ADHD And Relationships Expert
My expertise lies in addressing ADHD’s myriad potential effects in life, including relationships.
- Yes, my first book was the first to clearly document and educate about the effect of poorly managed ADHD on the partners, to explain the potential dysfunctional patterns in these relationships, and to explain treatment and healing strategies.
- Yes, Russell Barkley, PhD, asked me to write the first-ever chapter on couple therapy for his highly respected clinical guide.
- Yes, a major publisher of clinical guides asked me to write a guide for couple therapists helping ADHD-challenges couples (written with psychologist Arthur L. Robin)
But here’s the thing: My approach involves teaching about ADHD itself, including its potential effect on the partners, and explaining ADHD treatment and cooperative relationship strategies.
Does that mean I consider myself a marriage or relationships expert? Oh hail no. I leave that to the professionals. Yet, I do work to help them understand how to help ADHD-challenged couples—because so many haven’t a clue.
Tip: Many ADHD-challenged couples don’t need “couple therapy” at all. They need help in cooperating, in organizing their schedules or their household, and in breaking their dysfunctional patterns developed during the time ADHD was unrecognized or not understood. Each couple has their own needs. No cookie cutters—but some common patterns.
How This All Happened
My foray into the field of ADHD began by chance. In 1999, I picked up a library book about the brain. And what I read changed my life, my husband’s life, and eventually many other lives.
Funny enough, that book was Dr. Daniel Amen’s Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.
In that book, I read about something called Adult ADHD. Suddenly, I might have a clue why, as much as we loved each other, my then-fiancee and I were driving each other nuts! I showed the book to him, a molecular biologist; he vouched for the legitimacy of the information. “Doesn’t this sound like you as a kid?” I asked him. “And, well, doesn’t it sound like you now?” He agreed.
In fact, he further opined that “something was up” with me, too. I could not disagree. He was diagnosed with ADHD. I was “diagnosed” with being a “complex person.” We still joke about this.
As I would later write in You Me ADD, I was “reacting to the inexplicable” by trying to “manage the unmanageable”—and getting more frustrated by the day. So, off we went to navigate our mutual mental-healthcare maze.
The Evaluating Psychiatrist Was…Uninspiring
I quickly learned that if we left this up to the psychiatrist, we’d keep log-rolling to exhaustion. The prescribing process was lackadaisical at best, reckless at worst. And this was at a well-known ADHD clinic. Essentially, he prescribed me for my husband! My organizational skills, that is. What if I hadn’t been organized? If I also had ADHD? Divorce, I reckoned. Maybe they had a marital-organizational match-making service. I didn’t ask.
The first medication ended up being worse than the baseline symptoms. Surely this couldn’t be right. Could other “partners of” be in the same boat? Perhaps their physicians also poorly understood the pervasive effects of ADHD on their partners—not to mention the drastic side effects of poorly prescribed medication.
First Step: Advocacy
To find out, I started the ADHD Partner online discussion group. (That group remains at about 1,000 members at any one time, internationally.) Many first-person stories in You Me ADD come from that group. These were individuals whose stories and trajectories I had long followed and supported—not random anonymous people responding to an online survey.
I started organizing public lectures with local professionals and leading face-to-face groups. (Why doesn’t my first book contain the first-person stories of adults with ADHD instead of only their partners? Great question. I had collected written stories from the partners via the online group. But I had only verbal accounts from the adults with ADHD. Taking notes during the meeting was out of the question. In the end, I decided that the other two or three books on adult ADHD at the time included their stories but none had address issues from the partner’s point of view.)
The widespread ignorance about ADHD, including among medical and mental-health professionals, left me stunned. Story after story left me heartsick. The suffering is immense. All this despite having strong knowledge base about ADHD. We have excellent treatment strategies. All we lack is more people willing to step into the 21st Century and apply what we know.
The Internet was new—NO websites on adult ADHD. When I started my blog in 2007, seven years into my advocacy, only three other blogs on Adult ADHD existed, all written by adults with late-diagnosis ADHD. But there were news articles and comments section. As my husband says, “You went to war with the army you had: your keyboard.” I can type really fast. He said that from the next room my typing often founded like machine-gun fire, so an apt comparison.
Next Step: Producing a Comprehensive Guide
I never set out to write a book. Rather, I simply grew tired of repeating the same information in my groups and online. Moreover, people felt too stressed to absorb it verbally and piece it together.
It became clear that folks needed a nuts-and-bolts guide to Adult ADHD, especially as it affects relationships. One-stop shopping. A guide that also addressed the “emotional baggage” that comes with late-diagnosis—baggage carried by both partners in the relationship and a consumers guide to Adult ADHD treatment strategies, including:
- The particulars of therapy to seek (and avoid)
- A common-sense medication protocol that so few prescribing physicians seemed to know about (and perhaps that’s why so many people had unnecessary side effects and gave up on treatment altogether), and
- That big deal-breaker: how to get through a loved one’s “denial” (another topic not covered in any existing consumer book on ADHD before mine).
That’s why I wrote Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder (2008, 1201 Alarm Press, San Francisco).
It was the only third book on Adult ADHD listed on Amazon that year, 2008. The first two were Driven to Distraction and Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (only partly about Adult ADHD). At that time, Amazon listed no clinical guides. Neither did our extensive public/educational library system. Few were available anywhere at that time, though.)
Many top experts generously granted interviews, vetted chapters, and endorsed the book. It won four national book awards. It’s a book I am thrilled to be able to hand to people who are struggling. The book I wish we’d had back in 1999.
It has since been translated into Spanish (Mexico and Spain) and Turkish.
A Few Amazon Reviews
Readers of my first book (Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?) have written generously detailed reviews. When any Amazon review consists of little more than “great book,” I’m skeptical. That’s why I am so grateful that most of these reviewers took the time to explain the details of how the book helped them.
Of the 325 reviews to date, 87% give a four- or five-star rating. The five-star reviews come from readers who have partners or adult children with ADHD—and who have ADHD themselves. Some discovered this only while reading the book with the intention of helping a loved one.
Here is a sampling:
May 28, 2015
June 30, 2017
This book changed my life. I bought a copy for my parents and a copy for my brother and his wife.
ADHD is a thing you have, but it does not define you. It’s important to remember that. If you have ADHD, the beginning of this book is a bit tough to read. Keep in mind that there are characteristics described that may not be applicable to you. For example, I am, thankfully, not bad with money, but it is very eye-opening. The latter half of the book, it talks about solutions.
It’s really written for your partner. But I found it to be incredibly insightful for me personally to understand more about why my brain does the things it does and how it affects other people. It allowed me to accept and forgive myself a bit more. It also made me want to work harder to overcome certain elements so that I can be a better person all around, for me and for the people around me.
November 12, 2017
Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy: A Clinical Guide
For four years, 2012 to 2016, I holed up in my 10′ x 10′ office, producing the first evidence-based professional guide for therapists treating ADHD-challenged couples: Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy: Clinical Interventions (Routledge, 2016).
If you know about clinical-guide royalties, you know this was a labor of hard-core love. Bless Arthur L. Robin, PhD, for working with me. Tirelessly. In addition to his full-time job and private practice. That’s dedication!
We each wrote several chapters—and invited Contributors including Russell J. Ramsay, PhD., Barbara Easterlin, PhD, Carol Ann Robbins, PhD, and Kevin Roberts, MA.
Our mission? Revolutionizing the state of ADHD couple therapy internationally. Leading experts in the fields of couple therapy and Adult ADHD, including those in the excerpts below, have praised the book.
It was while we were writing this guide that Dr. Barkley asked me to produce the first-ever chapter on couple therapy for his clinical guide: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment (Guilford; 2014). I am honored to be among a standout roster of ADHD expert contributors—and the only one without an advanced degree. (My PhD molecular biologist husband says I’ve earned at least two PhDs.)
Online ADHD Success Training & Directory
At the ADHD Success Training site, we currently offer:
- Continuing Education for professionals: specifically, 15 CE hours (NBCC) for successfully completing a home-study test—read our couple-therapy guide and answer 20 multiple-choice questions
- The International ADHD Professionals Directory: Any professional may join the directory. Those who successfully complete the training, however, receive a discount and a badge indicating successful completion.
In the works: Training for consumers—individuals and couples. (Professionals will benefit, too, but no continuing education hours are planned.)
It will cover soup to nuts—what is ADHD, what to expect from a professional evaluation, how to incorporate practical strategies that support Executive Functions, how to be pro-active in working with a prescriber, and much, much more.
Be sure to join my blog’s mailing list so you’ll know when it’s up!
Affiliates: When you see an expert, book, or video showcased on my blog, there is only one reason: I deem it credible and useful. Period. That means no affiliate marketing or marketing networks.
You will find links to various books or products sold on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I do receive a small (small) percentage of each purchase—with no identifying details.
Advertising: I held off for 10 years—too messy and distracting. And all those Synaptol ads! I recently relented with a few inobtrusive Google Adsense slots. If you find it annoying, please let me know. (The income from Amazon and the links almost pay for software updates, URLs, and hosting.)
I have performed a staggering amount of work pro bono over the years—and remain entirely self-funded.
You’ll never find me criticizing legitimate researchers for taking a grant from the pharmaceutical industry. Unlike many other “names” you will encounter in the ADHD online world, I have refrained from pharma funding. (That didn’t stop the anti-psychiatry crusaders from calling me a “pharma whore.”)
The main reason is this: Being so early on the scene, I didn’t want to risk even the slightest pharma support casting doubt on my “pro-medication” perspective. (That is, not everyone with ADHD “needs” medication but those who do want the single-most effect strategy for managing ADHD should be able to do so without stigma or judgment.)
About This ADHD Roller Coaster Blog
This award-winning blog, ADHD Roller Coaster, contains 10 years of posts: book excerpts, first-person essays, updates on ADHD research, news in the popular press.
Always feel free to share in a comment your personal experiences and support. Your story could very well change someone’s life.
One fact is clear: ADHD is real, and it affects real people’s lives. Maybe even your own or that of someone you love.
Thanks for your interest in my work,