Recognizing ADHD Challenges and Benefits
Janet P. Kramer, MD. ADDA Board of Directors
I'm sharing what I learned from my friends who are adults dealing successfully with ADHD:
- The earlier the challenge is recognized, the earlier folks learn to deal with it effectively.
Youngsters with ADHD, although a significant and complex neurodevelopmental challenge, often demonstrate signs and symptoms which are not recognized in childhood and adolescence and are frequently attributed by parents and educators to immaturity (impulsiveness, impaired executive function, poor working memory), daydreaming (inattentiveness), and behavior problems (hyperactivity, impulsiveness). Unfortunately some kids are labeled as conduct disordered and end up in the juvenile justice system long before they are ever, if ever, diagnosed with ADHD.
Many adults with ADHD are not diagnosed until they are adults and consequently have difficulty maintaining jobs and family relationships and lose self esteem. Other adults, diagnosed in childhood with ADHD but told that they would "outgrow" ADHD, are no longer seeking services that may be beneficial. In either situation, the years of being labeled as ‘different' by friends and colleagues takes its toll.
- Adults with ADHD who have learned to compensate finally enjoy their individual creativeness
My introduction to creativeness of the ADHD adult was as an audience member at the talent show at the ADDA National Conference a number of years ago. I had never before been at a health association conference in which the attendees put on their own talent show. And it was wonderful! I must admit, I always attend this event but only as an audience member. The next ADDA National conference is only a few weeks away in Minneapolis and I again will be in the audience. Go to www.add.org for details.
- Adults with ADHD readily identify themselves to others who are interested or have a similar challenge.
I have had the opportunity of being on the Board of ADDA for 5 years and have noted that, when I mention this casually with friends or in public settings, an impressive number of friends and acquaintances admit that they have ADHD and are being coached, counseled, and taking medication for ADHD and this or that works for them for certain symptoms. There is a generosity of spirit in admitting vulnerabilities and helping others that I have not experienced with other health interested groups. The camaraderie is fantastic at ADDA and CHADD meetings.
I look forward to your comments,
Janet Kramer, MD