“If there is one mental health disorder that has captured the attention of the American public over the last few decades, it is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Some people joke about it; others take it seriously. But one thing is certain: People know about ADHD, and increasingly educators, parents and adults are learning effective ways to manage the disorder. But this hasn’t always been the case.”
So begins an opinion piece in Roll Call, one of two newspapers written for and distributed to every U.S. Congressional office. The authors are two college students: Courtney Gifford, the reigning Miss Wyoming, and Blake Taylor, author of ADHD & Me: What I Learned from Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table.
The piece continues:
“Ask anyone who grew up with ADHD before 1990, and they will tell you that no one, except perhaps those in exclusive research circles, really understood the neurobiological disorder that can be marked by inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsivity or some combination of the three symptoms. Schools were not required by law to provide accommodations, many doctors had never heard the term, and parents everywhere simply blamed their own lack of skills for their children’s ‘difficult[‘ behavior.
“But children aren’t the only ones affected. Many adults live with severe cases of the disorder, and for them, the recent past was full of lost jobs, missed opportunities, even failed marriages. In many ways society is still recovering from this lack of education about ADHD. If we only knew just how many brilliant people fell through the cracks.”
Well said, Blake and Courtney! (The article is no longer available online.)
Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney and her mom (a smart and entertaining duo!) at the annual International CHADD conference on ADHD . Courtney is a 4.0 communications major at Sheridan College, and she recently recently competed in the Miss America pageant with a platform of raising awareness about ADHD. Blake and his mom, who figures prominently in his autobiography mentioned above, shared their wisdom and lessons learned with our local Silicon Valley CHADD chapter in April. He is a pre-med student at nearby University of California, Berkeley.
Let me assure you: This is one quartet with no time to brook any nonsense from the ADHD-naysayers, skeptics, and conspiracy theorists. They are too busy moving into the future and making sure that even more people with ADHD don’t “fall through the cracks.”