Who Am I and Why Am I Doing This?

Dr. Robb Mapou Health Guide
  • Hi! I'm Dr. Robb Mapou, and this is the beginning of my blog on learning disabilities, with a focus on adults. A lot of folks have suggested that I do this, but not being of the computer generation, I kind of said, "Who, me? I don't know how to blog!" On the other hand, I have always been a writer: I published a newspaper in my fourth grade class, worked on my junior high and high school newspapers, won an award for a paper in college, have published a book and, most important, have to write two long reports on my clients every week.


    Plus I have some electronic and computer geek credentials: I am a ham radio operator, I received a calculator as my high school graduation present and wore it proudly on my belt, I have an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, and I did computer programming for many years. In fact, the first professional conference papers that I presented and scientific journal articles that I published were on the use of computers in psychology, way back in the early 1980s. But, since leaving programming behind in 1984, I have seem to have lost my skill with electronics and computers - I don't text and only recently got on Facebook, at my niece's urging.

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    However, I digress. In graduate school, I began specializing in clinical neuropsychology. Unlike clinical psychology, which focuses on evaluating and treating mental health problems like anxiety and depression, clinical neuropsychology focuses on evaluating and treating people with brain disorders, such as traumatic brain injuries, strokes, epilepsy, brain tumors, and Alzheimer's disease. The field really appealed to me, because of my engineering background. Neuropsychologists also work with people with learning disabilities and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but when I was in graduate school, our knowledge of these two disorders was limited to children. Everyone thought that they would go away when you grow up! Obviously, they were wrong.


    I took the traditional training route and, preferring to work with adults, spent time learning and working with people with neurological disorders. However, in 1993, I began working in a private practice that specialized in children with learning disabilities and ADHD. I was asked to join the practice, because more adults were coming in for evaluation. Some, after participating in the feedback session after their child's evaluation, had the "Aha!" moment of recognizing that they had had similar problems in school and continued to struggle with reading, writing, math, attention, or organization. Others knew that something was wrong and, with the popular press turning to the issue of ADHD in adults (Hallowell and Ratey's landmark book on adult ADHD, Driven to Distraction was published in 1994), sought out evaluation.


    I remember, for example, one of my first clients, who was a doctor. He had made it through medical school, but at the bottom of his class, and in his practice, typically worked later than his colleagues, because he was slow when writing out his case notes. Yet, he was a successful physician.


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    There was not a whole lot known about adults with learning disabilities at that time, but I made a point of looking at the research and trying to apply it to my work. Interestingly, what were probably the first two scholarly works on learning disabilities and ADHD with adults, with applications for clinical practice, were published in the mid 1990s. One was Adults with Learning Disabilities: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives, by Noel Gregg and her colleagues, Cheri Hoy and Alice Gay, at the University of Georgia. The second was A Comprehensive Guide to Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults: Research, Diagnosis, Treatment, which was edited by Kathleen Nadeau, a clinical psychologist in private practice. More scientific journal articles were appearing about adults with learning disabilities and ADHD, and in 1997, I began giving workshops to professionals who wanted to learn about how to do assessments of adults.


    I have continued to do these workshops and, in 2009, I published a book on this topic for professionals. But, what I have missed is speaking with and presenting to individuals with learning disabilities and those seeking services and support. So, I am hoping that through my blog, I will find a new audience and will be able to help adults who have been struggling with learning disabilities achieve more success in their lives.


    Dr. Mapou is a neuropsychologist in private practice in Silver Spring, MD.


    The material presented here is for educational and informational purposes only.&nbsp; It is not to be taken as psychological or</em><em> medical</em><em> advice.&nbsp; Diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD (or other conditions) and recommendations for treatment should be made only after a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified and licensed professional.

Published On: May 13, 2010