This week I am proud to announce that the National Resource Center on AD/HD (NRC), a program of CHADD recognized and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has issued a new electronic newsletter for CHADD members a well as those who have sought assistance from the NRC. And the public will soon be able to sign up for the newsletter on both the NRC and CHADD Web sites.
In recognition of Valentine's Day, the lead story is "Adult Social Relationships: Tips for Success." This article is also available in Spanish, adhering to our practice of providing access to persons whose primary language is Spanish.
While CHADD was founded in 1987 as Children with ADD, we have evolved into Children and Adults with AD/HD. We are striving to be an advocate and supporter for adults with AD/HD and related disorders. Eleven of the NRC 21 “What We Know” papers, developed by the consensus of the CHADD Professional Advisory Board, are dedicated to topics for adults with AD/HD. Our revised Web site has a new feature, Online Communities. While most of these are a member benefit, we have several communities for adults (For Men Only, For Women Only, New to AD/HD, etc). Most issues of ATTENTION!® magazine have articles dedicated to adults with AD/HD, and an increasing number of CHADD support groups across the nation focus on adults. Our public policy advocacy work targets an adult agenda - health insurance, employment supports, and disability benefits. As I mentioned in my entry last week, we are developing funding proposals to enhance our support for adults in the area of employment.
While the lead article in the NRC Newsletter is on adult social relations, there is also an article on "The Social Skills Challenge for Children with AD/HD." My 16-year-old son has several co-occurring challenges, including high functioning autism and the inattentive form of AD/HD, but it is the problems that have stemmed from his social relations that have been the saddest.
I remember Andrew in kindergarten without a single friend and seated next to a bully. It took us several months to recognize this and to convince the teacher to move Andrew to another location in the classroom. Fortunately, in a summer program the next year, Andrew made a friend who remains his best friend. Andrew's second best friend is a boy a year younger than Andrew who he met at church in his first few years of elementary school. His social circle, through church and community basketball, has grown larger, but it is these two long-term friends who are truly special to my son.
Last year, Andrew entered a public high school with 2,000 students. He never saw his best friend, who was in a different "track" and his second good friend did not attend this school. Immediately Andrew was socially isolated. He never developed a friend. He was extremely depressed and angry. It took a few months before the school authorities, despite his having an individual education plan (IEP), interceded to help. By then, it was too late. Our efforts to work with a psychologist specializing in social dynamics with teen groups was too little, too late. Andrew lost his natural smile and sense of humor. This was the saddest that I, as his Dad, have ever been. This year we changed schools (another story for another day) and, as a result, Andrew now has the best network of social supports and friends in his life. Thankfully, his smile and sense of humor have returned. He is once again socially engaged and happy. He is even developing friendships with two girls. All of this in a small school that prioritizes developing social skills, opportunities, and supports, while providing quality education.
I encourage you to access the NRC Newsletter and read the articles on social relationships for adults and children. To me, one of the greatest challenges and areas of support are social relationships.