Overview of the first annual Virtual ADHD Conference

Terry Matlen, ACSW Health Guide
  • This past week, some of the top ADHD experts in the world came together to present "virtually" on a wide variety of topics at the first annual Virtual ADHD Conference. Speakers included: Dr. Ned Hallowell, Sari Solden, Dr. Dan Amen, Dr. Michele Novotni, Kate Kelly, Wilma Fellman, Dr. Terry Dickson, Nancy Ratey and more.


    It was utterly fascinating to have such an incredible group of people share their time and expertise with a large audience of people attending from all over the world. After each session, the experts also allowed time for questions and answers. And boy, were there a lot of questions!  Attendees also were given back stage "passes" to a virtual exhibit hall and access to a chat room that was open 24/7 for anyone wanting to meet others and also to process and digest all the things they were learning.

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    Below is a summary of some of the highlights of the presentations given by these extraordinary researchers, authors, clinicians and coaches.


    Kate Kelly, co-author of "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy" spoke on ADD in the Spirit. She re-framed negative "traits" often seen in ADHD and gave them more "adult" terms. For example, aggression could, instead, be seen as confidence. Anxiety as caution. Anger as energy.  She also said that symptoms are there for a reason- they're often a sign that something is out of whack within us and thus,  we need to look at them and learn what they are trying to tell us.


    Terry Dickson, MD presented on ADHD and Medication. He started off giving a nice overview on ADHD and its neurobiology, then launched into specific medications and how they work. In addition, he discussed genetic studies and other causes of ADHD. I found the data on maternal smoking fascinating and sadly, a situation that is completely avoidable.


    Wilma Fellman's topic was Finding a Career That Works for You. She discussed the importance of knowing who you are and what your strengths and challenges are, in order to make good career choices. She pointed out that there is no right or wrong career for one with ADHD; it all depends on the individual.


    One of my favorite speakers, Sari Solden, presented on
    Successfully Navigating the Journey of Adult ADD. I always enjoy hearing Sari speak and this time was no different. She spoke of the personal work we, as adults with ADHD, need to continue doing. She covered the three journeys that adults with ADHD experience once they are diagnosed: 1. The Crisis of Understanding 2. The Crisis of Identity and 3. The Crisis of Success. She explained that in order for the adult to change their sense of self from negative to positive, they have to gain new experiences of success. She spoke about how that could be done and how subtle changes begin to occur to bring the adult towards a healthier sense of self.


    Wendy Richardson's presentation covered AD/HD, Addiction and Cognitive Behavioral Work. We learned that there are more addictions than drug and alcohol: eating, sex, computer, exercise and other activities and behaviors can become addictive and the ADD population is vulnerable to such challenges. She did a great job of combining science with treatment options in managing these difficult behaviors.


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    Jodi Sleeper-Triplett talked about Success Strategies for Teens and College Students with ADHD. She covered the different types of skill building students need to accomplish in order to be successful; the importance of removing the stigma of having ADHD; and what the parents' role is when their adult students are searching for coaching help.


    Dr. Patricia Quinn fascinated all of us with her presentation on Eating Disorders in Girls and Women with ADHD. She gave us some chilling statistics on how common this problem is in the ADD population and why girls and women use food as a way to self-medicate.


    There were many more sessions offered at the conference and attendees reported that the information they gained would help them to better manage their ADHD; educate others about ADHD and develop new strategies to arm themselves on how to live better when they or someone they care about is challenged with ADHD.


    For more information, visit their website at www.adhdconference.com 

Published On: September 26, 2008