I was recently quoted in an article on adult ADD in The Telegram, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest daily newspaper based in the capital St. John’s. The Telegram’s been around for a while, 128 years. Reporter Tara Mullowney wrote the article and I’m reproducing it in full with permission here. I don’t have any listing of ADD support groups in Newfoundland yet in my list of Canadian ADD support groups by province, (here’s my international ADD suppport group list) so if anyone knows of any there please email me with the details.
Adults deal with ADD
The Telegram (St. John’s)
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Byline: Tara Mullowney
Source: The Telegram
Like many children, Andrea (not her real name) always dreaded report card time as a child.
It wasn’t the marks she was afraid to see, since she usually did well – it was the comments the teachers made alongside them.
“It would always say, ‘She is not working to her full potential,’ or, ‘Daydreams too much,’ or, ‘Talks too much to other students during class time,” Andrea explained.
Now 25 and a student at College of the North Atlantic in St. John’s, Andrea was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) about a year ago.
ADD is characterized by a reduced ability to concentrate and focus on specific tasks, combined with a high potential for distraction. Symptoms range from restlessness and disorganization to mood swings and hyperactivity. ADD was long thought of as a childhood disorder and associated with mischievous or underachieving behaviour, but successful adults being diagnosed with ADD is becoming more and more common.
“When I was young and in school, I would try and force myself to stay focused in class,” Andrea said, “but I would soon find myself drifting away. If I had an assignment to do, a hundred different things would pop in my head that I absolutely had to do first, and it was normal for me to have five or six different projects on the go at one time.
“I was in swimming, ballet, music lessons – I had to keep busy or else I was too idle.”
However, Andrea said, she made her way through school by putting in an extreme effort. Creative subjects like art and English were her forte.
It wasn’t until she was being treated for anxiety that her diagnosis of ADD was made.
“I had never even thought of the possibility that I could have ADD, because I was 24, and I had always done well in school,” she said. “But when I look at the characteristics, I fit right in.”
Pete Quily is an ADD coach based in Vancouver, who runs a detailed website on the disorder, www.addcoach4u.com. He has ADD.
Quily said that, after height, ADD is the most commonly inherited genetic condition, with about eight per cent of children and five per cent of adults in Canada having the disorder.
“Personally, I think that if a child has ADD, unless he’s adopted, the parents should be automatically screened for ADD, if not for their own good, for the sake of their child,” Quily told The Telegram.
Because it’s perceived as a childhood illness – and because it is quite often portrayed negatively – between 80 and 85 per cent of adults with ADD don’t know they have it, Quily said. While there are theories suggesting people can develop ADD as an adult, he said most adults who are diagnosed with it actually suffered from it as a child.
There are three main types of ADD, he said: the hyperactive-
compulsive impulsive type, the inattentive type, and a combination of both. Ninety per cent of men with ADD have the hyperactive- compulsive impulsive type, while 80 to 90 per cent of women have the inattentive form of the disorder.
People who suffer from ADD are also more likely to have conditions like depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, Quily explained. They are also more likely to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs if left untreated, and statistically have higher rates of divorce and unemployment.
However, even brilliant, successful high-achievers can suffer from ADD.
“I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard where people have been told, ‘You can’t have ADD, you did well in school,” Quily said, noting famous successful people with ADD include two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Clarence Page and Jet Blue Airlines founder David Neelman. “If you get diagnosed and you can start treating it, it’s actually a diagnosis that you want, because things get better.”
Treatment for ADD often includes prescription medications like atomoxetine (Strattera) and methylphenidate (Ritalin), which Quily said are generally very useful once the right dosage is found.
However, he said, pills are not a complete solution.
“They won’t teach you self-awareness, they won’t teach you skills, but they will put you in a better position to – whether through coaching, therapy or something else – develop the self-awareness and skills (to overcome the disorder),” he said.
“Statistically, the best way to deal with ADD is what they call multimodal, so in multiple ways like medication, coaching, therapy, support groups, diet, exercise and that kind of thing.”