ADHD – Busting The Myths, Breaking The Stigma, Showing Reality, One Post And Tweet At A Time

Here are the notes and the links for my presentation ADHD – Busting The Myths, Breaking The Stigma, Showing Reality, One Post And Tweet At A Time for Mental Health Camp Vancouver April 25, 2009. I won’t be able to cover all this material during the session so I have some extra info here. Tell me what you think of it in the comments.

Here are the topics I’ll cover.

1. Defining ADHD
2. ADHD Impairments
3. Co-existing or Co-morbid conditions that go along with ADHD
4. Costs of ADHD
5. Positives of ADHD
6. Famous people with ADHD
7. Myths about ADHD
8. Social media
9. Some ADHD links

1. Defining ADHD

Diagnosis of ADHD as a child

Adult ADHD 5 minute screening test from Harvard & W.H.O.

CADDRA Canadian ADHD Practice Guidelines Go from the main page and click on the practice guidelines link

Detailed PDFs on diagnosis, treatment, medication, dealing with side effects etc. Must read for ADDers, show your doctor

2. ADHD Impairments

From Dr. Margaret Weiss head of the BC ADHD children’s clinic excellent PowerPoint entitled “The Economic Costs of ADHD”. Hope to blog it in more detail later

Smoking, drug use, health costs, driving, accidents, school performance, behavior, academic achievement, peer relations, parental functioning, divorce, work, unemployment, dysemployment, psychopathology, quality of life, adaptive skills, divorce

Faraone SV, 2003. 2. Pelham WE, 2007 3. Barkley R, ADHD, Guilford 2006
Jensen P ADHD State of Science, Best Practices.  Kingston, NJ. Civic Research

Also higher rates of attempted suicide, teen pregnancy,

3. Co-existing or Co-morbid conditions that go along with ADHD

Here’s a list of some on my website Note, comorbidity is the norm with ADHD, not the exception, that being said not everyone with ADHD has one of these conditions.

Antisocial Personality Disorder
Asperger’s Disorder
ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Bipolar Disorder
Conduct Disorder
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Learning Disabilities
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
OCD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Substance Abuse Disorder
Tourette’s Syndrome

For more detail the Mayo Clinic has good overviews of each condition.

Or there’s a book ADHD Comorbidities: Handbook for ADHD Complications in Children and Adults.

4. Costs of ADHD

Here’s info from 2 slides from Dr. Margaret Weiss, head of the BC ADHD children’s clinic PowerPoint entitled the economic costs of ADHD.  Scroll to the bottom of that page to see

Costs of ADHD in Children

Annual cost ADHD in children
$14,600 per individual in 2005 US $
18% health care
34% education
48% crime and delinquency
42.5 billion/year
Comparable to asthma2
Increased risk ER visits, co-morbidity, accidents
Depression costs 44 billion

1 Pelham W 2007; Chan 2002; Leibson 2001, Swensen 2003

Cost of Adult ADHD

Excess per capita health care and work loss age 7 to 44 and family members
Administrative claims data from a large company
Total excess cost ADHD in 2000 in the US $31.6 billion
5% treatment of the condition
38% other health care costs
45% increased health care costs of family members
12% productivity losses of adult family members
1 Birnbaum 2005

Costs not accounted for

From Dr. Margaret Weiss head of the BC ADHD children’s clinic excellent PowerPoint entitled “The Economic Costs of ADHD” 

Smoking 2
Drug abuse3
Foster care
Fetal alcohol and narcotic syndrome
Victims of crime
Victims of drug accidents
Insurance rates
Increased prevalence and adult prevalence 4.4% with 90% comorbidity4
Suffering to the individual, siblings, families, other children and teachers
Decreased life1
1 Barkley R 2 Pomerleau 3 Wilens T 4 Kessler R


BC has NO strategy for ADHD. None at all.

The ADHD clinic at Children’s hospital added on an adult ADHD clinic, they soon found it took have their case load, and it developed a year long wait list for an entire year They asked the BC govt for money to take care of the wait list and they said no, so they closed down the adult ADHD clinic. One way to deal with politically embarrassing wait lists.

In Feb the BC medical association released a policy paper on ADHD, with 8 recommendations. They noted the cost of ADHD to BC, called for the BC govt to treat Adults with ADHD, develop a provincial strategy for ADHD etc. They said ADHD cost BC half a billion a year, but they only counted the cost of children with ADHD which means ADHD is costing BC Multiple Billions of dollars annually. Actual treatment of ADHD is the smallest cost.

Here are their 8 recommendations:

Recommendation 1.

The provincial government must restructure the Child and Youth Mental Health Network so that it meets more frequently, is supported with an adequate budget, and is responsible for producing tangible outputs outlined in a publicly-available strategic plan.

Recommendation 2.

The provincial government should work with stakeholders to ensure that any new child mental health plan includes a strategic plan for the delivery of services specifically for patients with ADHD.

One consequence of the lack of strategic direction has been the reduction in services offered to patients with ADHD through the province’s sole centre for ADHD diagnosis and treatment initiation at BC Children’s Hospital (the ADHD Clinic):

Recommendation 3.

The provincial government must provide services for adults with ADHD and follow-up services for children who graduate from the ADHD clinic at age 18.

Recommendation 4.
Funding for ADHD services should be increased to guarantee waitlists of less than three months for all ADHD patients.

Recommendation 5.
A billing fee for consulting with third parties, such as teachers, should be added to the BCMA Fee Guide to encourage optimal coordination with teachers in the diagnosis and management of ADHD.

Recommendation 6.
Medical professional associations for pediatrics, child psychiatry, psychiatry, neurology, and family practice should endorse the Canadian Attention Deficit Disorder Resource Alliance (CADDRA) ADHD practice guidelines; or review, amend, and then endorse revised CADDRA guidelines. Such guidelines should be accompanied by the implementation, in primary care offices across British Columbia, of a ‘diagnostic toolkit’ for ADHD.

Recommendation 7.
PharmaCare should expand coverage for long-acting ADHD medication in order to facilitate compliance, minimize stigma and prevent missed opportunities for focused learning.

Recommendation 8.

In order to improve access to services for ADHD patients and foster the kind of collaborative care arrangements necessary to provide optimal care, both the MoHS and MCFD should train specialized ADHD clinicians for mental health teams and provide BC families access to community services to complement treatment by physicians.

End of Recommendations.

The BC NDP who in the 70’s emptied the mental hospitals in the guise of community care and never did that and then abandoned the mental patients to the predators of the downtown eastside, said nothing about it. NONE of the BC political parties have mentioned ADHD in their platform. Hopefully ADDers and their families will start contacting their MLA candidates to show that their is a need for proper treatment.

Here’s a Vancouver Sun article on a local with ADHD

5. Positives of ADHD

Top Ten ADD Advantages in a Hi Tech Career.

This post got me top of Digg, Delicious, 30,000 unique hits in 3 days, and 200+ links. Still my most popular post on my blog.

1. The Ability to Hyperfocus. IF interested.
2. Rapid Fire Mind.
3. Multitasking at Will.
4. High Energy Level.
5. Highly Creative.
6. Quick Learner. IF interested.
7. Stimulus Seeking Brain.
8. Constantly Scanning your Environment.
9. Great in a Crisis.
10. Risk Taker.

151 Advantages of ADD

My ADHD strengths blog post category

6. Famous people with ADHD

Paul Orfalea who founded Kinko’s. His book is called Copy This! : Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America’s Best Companies

JetBlue Founder and billionaire CEO David Neeleman who attributes his creativity to ADHD

Magic Johnson

Michael Phelps

Howie Mandel.

Seth Godin Marketer Author Blogger. “I clearly have ADHD,” he says. “Lucky for me the world kind of organized around me rather than the other way around. It’s such an asset.”

Clarence Page Chicago Tribune Columnist & Author Famous for: Winning a Pulitzer Prize. Twice.

Ty Pennington

James Carville Political Strategist who co lead Bill Clinton’s campaign that won the presidency

Payne Stewart who won the 1999 and 1991 US Open & other pro golfers

7. Myths about ADHD

Myths About ADHD Misconceptions About ADHD – Separating Fact from Fiction

Many Parents Want Distance Between Own Kids And Those With Mental Illness

New research suggests that Americans are more likely to socially reject children with mental illness than they are those with physical illnesses such as asthma. Almost 30 percent of the 1,134 participants said they would not like their child to become friends of a child with depression, and almost one in four said the same thing about ADHD. But a kid with “normal troubles” and asthma, only 10%.


ADHD Stigma. Articles on stigma of ADHD at my second blog

How to Respond to People Who Say “ADHD doesn’t exist”  & Clinical Evidence of The Existence of ADHD as a Real Condition My answer to the flat earth people.

Pencil, Pens and Meds. LA Times Editorial Stigmatizing ADHD Get’s Fisked By Gina Pera

Silencing Skeptics: The Truth About ADHD and LD
What is ADHD? Does medication really help? Can adults have ADD? Learn to clear up common misperceptions about ADHD with authority.

Overcoming the ADHD Stigma
An expert psychologist shares his secrets for fighting ADD ADHD stereotyping in children and adults.

Myths and Misconceptions About AD/HD: Science over Cynicism

Helping your child overcome the stigma of ADHD

Spread The Truth About ADHD
3 ways to help friends and family understand that ADHD is a real disorder with real symptoms and real solutions.

8. Social media

12 Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigma With Social Media
I created this post specifically for my presentation. Please check it out, and if you have any other ideas, let me know.

What things have you done to fight stigma against ADHD?

What are you willing to do?

9. Some ADHD links

ADDCoach4u My 180 page+ Adult ADHD Website

Adult ADD Strengths My 490+ post Adult ADHD Blog

BC ADHD My 3rd Blog

CHADD Vancouver Local ADHD support group I’m on the board of

CADDAC Center for ADD Advocacy, Canada

CADDRA Canadian ADD Resource Alliance

Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group. Group I lead

Thanks and please let me know any feedback in the comments

12 thoughts on “ADHD – Busting The Myths, Breaking The Stigma, Showing Reality, One Post And Tweet At A Time”

  1. Angela Bertrend

    How does a person get an appt. for an assessment of a 14 yr old girl who has been waiting for months since being taken off of adderal xr in May?? School is starting soon,she has no follow up, many symptoms and her life is at stake!

  2. unfortunately most doctor aren’t trained on ADHD, govts media, education system and health system don’t take adhd seriously. And people with ADHD and their families seem unwilling to do anything to change that, hence the shortage & wait.

    Try asking an adhd support group near you for some names of people who can diagnose adhd. FYI ADHD is 80% genetic

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