Dr. Russell Barkley: When ADHD Kids Grow Up

 ADHD Kids Grow Up - ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says Book cover by Russell Barkley et al

ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says, from Russell Barkley, PhD, and colleagues. That’s the title of the new definitive book on ADHD based on years of longitudinal research by this highly regarded team of  ADHD expert clinicians and researchers.

Published in 2010, it placed a clear scientific stake in the ground. That is, ADHD is not simply all the random descriptors claimed on any given day by non-experts.

Professional Endorsements for ADHD In Adults

This book has earned much praise from professionals and journals. I’ll share those from three experts I highly respect and two journals:

From Joel T. Nigg, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University

This energetic and informative book tackles head-on the knotty issue of what ADHD in adults really means. It includes helpful answers to such vital problems as what modifications to diagnostic criteria are appropriate, and what are the inferential biases to which clinicians are prone when seeing self-referred cases in their offices.

This is the most definitive work to date on the difficult task of generalizing from children with ADHD to adults with ADHD. The authors break new ground in addressing these issues with comprehensive data from their own well-regarded samples.

This timely book thus provides a fresh and needed perspective to help resolve longstanding difficulties in understanding ADHD in adults. It will be helpful to DSM-V committee deliberations and to those planning future scientific studies, as well as to clinicians needing a clearer picture of what to expect in adults with ADHD.

From Stephen V. Faraone, PhD

Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York Upstate Medical University

A veritable tour de force. This work will be equally useful to researchers seeking innovative hypotheses about ADHD, to clinicians seeking to understand the course of ADHD into adulthood, and to students at all levels of training. Readers have access to a unified and systematic view of the results from two notable, methodologically rigorous research studies. The book addresses a wide range of clinically urgent issues, such as psychiatric comorbidity, drug use, life impairments, educational attainment, and neuropsychological impairment.

The discussions of diagnostic criteria not only provide clinically useful information for adult assessment, but also should strongly influence the evolution of the DSM-V.

From George J. DuPaul, PhD

Department of Education and Human Services, Lehigh University

The single best source of scientific information on adult ADHD available to date. The results of two major research investigations are thoroughly reviewed to explicate important similarities and differences between children with ADHD followed into adulthood and individuals first referred for ADHD symptoms as adults. This is the first text to make this important and clinically relevant distinction. It is sure to be an indispensable resource for both clinicians and researchers. In addition, graduate students in clinical psychology, counseling, social work, and school psychology will find this text helpful both for the data it provides about adult ADHD and for its insights into how to establish a coherent research agenda.

Psychiatric Services

A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association

Rigorous, comprehensive, informative, and impressive are words that come to mind after reading this book. This effort rewarded me with a clear understanding of the issues involved in identification of patients with adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the serious implications of the disorder in regard to life’s functional domains, and a conceptualization of the core cognitive issues underlying the condition….I appreciated the authoritative tone throughout the work. These authors’ extensive involvement in the relatively under researched field of adult ADHD was apparent.

The literature reviews in each chapter were extensive and informative. The study data presentations provided information that often addressed noted gaps in the literature. The writing is clear and the data presentation well organized….I would strongly recommend this work to those routinely involved in the assessment and treatment of patients with adult ADHD, as well as to those actively involved in or planning research activities with this patient population.

For the clinician who encounters these patients less frequently, the concluding chapter and the conclusions of chapters of interest would provide excellent information and guidance. The authors succeed splendidly in their effort to communicate the severity of adult ADHD and to advance concepts about its nature and ideas of addressing its related impairments.

Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

The authors…are leading experts in the field of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, teenagers, and adults. The authors are all psychologists….This book provides an excellent summary of the adult outcomes of ADHD including documented impairments in major life activities, educational and occupational functioning, and drug use and antisocial behaviour. There are also important chapters on the effects of ADHD on health, lifestyle, money management, driving, marriage, and parenting. For clinicians who are skeptical about the serious impairments associated with ADHD in adults, this is a very compelling book.

By far the most interesting part of the book are the authors’ hypotheses and suggestions for adult-specific criteria….For readers interested in anticipating new diagnostic criteria that will likely appear in DSM-V, this book is a must read….For those interested in the evidence-base for the diagnosis and impairments of ADHD in adults, and for those interested in the development of adult specific diagnostic criteria, this book is essential.

Russell Barkley PhD Video Excerpt: Dr. Barkley’s Lecture on ADHD in Adults

Would you like to see Dr. Barkley’s video lecture entitled “ADHD in Adults: Diagnosis, Impairments & Management”? Click here:  Video Excerpt of “ADHD in Adults” Seminar with Russell Barkley, Ph.D.

—Gina Pera


6 thoughts on “Dr. Russell Barkley: When ADHD Kids Grow Up”

  1. I know kids who have adhd and the thing is… I see that treatment does help to a degree but the question is do they really benefit by the labeling as such? I get the feeling that it’s like a handicap sign hung around their neck that they wear giving themselves an excuse to misbehave or react badly to a situation.

    Treatment is certainly helpful but we’ll have to figure out ways to not let it be a crutch for these kids.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for stopping in. I’m not clear on your point. In general, ADHD is not a “label” but a pathway to understanding and to gaining better control over one’s attention, focus, reactions, and life. Until we can identify the source of a child’s challenges, we’re just stabbing in the dark. Many children who remain undiagnosed suffer from unfair punishment and incredible negative feedback — “labels” such as stupid, lazy, willful, crazy, lying, etc.

      That said, how a family handles the diagnosis with the child varies, depending on the family’s education, understanding of ADHD, and perhaps their own ADHD (since it is highly genetic, chances are good that at least one parent also has ADHD). Many variables here.

      I don’t know of many parents of children with ADHD who allow them to use it as an excuse. But for some, it is a significant disability and it’s only compassionate to understand the limitations just as we would understand the limitations of a child with physical disabilities, which are more visually obvious.

  2. gina pera and dr barkley, thank you for never giving up. i have no education but i am fighting to make a difference in northern ireland, only diagnosed at 31 with severe adhd/ocd.

    passion crushes critics. i will never give up till i get the laws changed and schools listen to my story.

    i have been to hell and back. but my young son, at 5, we’re 99 percent sure he has ADHD and he will not be treated like a bad child, as i was.

    i will fight for ADHD and medication cause its real and medication works. u r both incredible people.

    “if a man hasn’t discovered sumthing that he will die for he isn’t fit to live” –dr martin luther king jr

  3. Dr. Parker — I agree. Dr. Barkley’s presentation at CADDAC in Toronto had that crowd (mostly adults with ADHD) spellbound for hours. Not an easy feat when information is that complex, even to professionals.

    And Jane, thanks for your story. I’m very happy that your brother turned out well. There are many possibilities here — for example, he was gifted (and didn’t have ADHD), he had ADHD and his brain matured, etc.

    This is why we depend on science, however, which is not “a crock” but a way to look beyond an “n of 1” to an “n” of many thousands. Each person must make his or own decisions, and it’s not always easy when you are parenting a child who falls considerably out of what are considered norms. But I think it’s wise for parents to make decisions based on good data and apply it best they can to their individual child. Superstitions, myth, denial, and narcissism that prevents other possibilities to be considered — those, to my way of thinking, fall into the “crock.”

  4. I watched it. What a crock. My brother was Dxd with ADD before it became hip to add the ‘H’. Teachers wanted him drugged back in the 80s. My mother allowed the Ritalin for a bit until she noticed him losing weight and not eating (tweaker symptoms) and discontinued him permanently.

    My mother was not known for being rational for very long but if she had any virtues one of them was her distrust of drugs. Bless her evil heart she fought the teachers and the teachers punished her and my brother by holding him back a grade.

    Today my brother is a successful robotics technician and factory mechanic. He has no criminal record. The fact is his IQ was probably higher than every teacher in that school back then. He had his own ideas about what he wanted to learn. Standard curricula was not it. He was a voracious reader and when he finally had something he was interested in doing his non attentiveness morphed into laser-like attentiveness.

    *Difficult to control?

    Yes he was. He had a developed ego and sense of >I< at a very young age and his will frequently contrasted with or opposed the will of adults. He could sense the adult need to ‘control’ everything you do growing up and resisted it just like I did.

    *Needs constant monitoring?

    From control freak parents? Certainly. If you didn’t watch him or if you let him out of sight he was dismantling machines, appliances and toys to figure out how they worked or conducting science experiments you would never approve of. Turns out you have to wait until you are an adult with a job and your own place before you can do your own science experiments or parents go insane.

    *Does not have many friends?

    Well duh. This goes along with having a higher IQ than the teachers. The other students his age bored him at least as much or more than your average grade school teacher. No sense with wasting time with social interactions with peons when there are books on science to read.

    He his fine today. Never needed ‘treatment’ at an early age. One of the most misunderstood kids of his class and age ever. Always sold short by adults who insisted he was defective. Today his career follows his personal interests just like it did growing up. He beat the ADHD prognosis the best possible way you can. By succeeding at what he does without therapy or methamphetamine analogs.

  5. Gina,
    Thanks for the link to this interview. Russ Barkley is without doubt one of the most articulate thought leaders in the development of ADHD treatment strategies – a person we always love to hear!

    He certainly spoke highly of you when I met him about 2 mos ago in NYC, he is a delight in person as well.

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