Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Faces of AD/HD

Ask five people with AD/HD to describe their AD/HD, and one is likely to hear five different stories. Each will describe how inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsive actions created challenges. Each person’s intelligence, creativity, personality, natural supports (family, faith, neighborhood, community), school supports and accommodations, and access to professional and peer interventions will impact the degree of their challenges. Add co-occurring disorders and another mix of experiences occurs.

Two weeks ago, during National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, CHADD witnessed three different faces of AD/HD.

CHADD participated in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Congressional visit day. CHADD organized appointments with members of Congress and media interviews with two young college students with AD/HD—Blake Taylor, author of AD/HD and Me, and Courtney Gifford, the reigning Miss Wyoming. Both Blake and Courtney have benefited from access to professional and school supports. Both have strong natural supports. Both are gifted individuals. Both articulated what living with AD/HD was like and how they have benefited from a variety of supports. Blake and Courtney will be featured in CHADD’s member benefit, the June issue of Attention magazine. CHADD members can read this article as soon as it’s posted on the Attention section of the website at the beginning of June.

That same week, CHADD’s president, Marie Paxson, was recognized for her effective family advocacy work by the Commonwealth Academy, a private school in the greater Washington, DC area. Presenting the award were James Carville and Mary Matalin, whose daughters successfully overcame AD/HD and learning challenges in school. James discussed his challenges with AD/HD, describing how an extremely talented and bright guy with high energy deals with his challenges to this day, including the night of the award presentation. CHADD’s June Attention magazine will feature an interview with James Carville, and Mary Matalin will be interviewed in the August issue. CHADD members can read these interviews as soon as they’re posted on the website—part one at the beginning of June, and part two in August!

We each have our stories of dealing with AD/HD. Some have highly successful outcomes. Some are funny. Some are painful and depressing. With some, measuring success is more difficult. Attempting to accurately portray the face of AD/HD to the public will remain a challenge. It takes many forms and we have many different experiences. We should appreciate and learn from the variety of experiences.


You can read this blog and others like it at the HealthCentral website.