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Do You Have ADD Friends?
Do you have adult ADD friends? You might. You might also know ADD adults who
have not been diagnosed and who are struggling with their lives. They should
have had help years ago. I've seen quite a few ADD adults in the past month
and I thought I would talk about ADD in adults again.
There has been much publicity relating to adult ADD in the last few years,
so that it is no longer the unknown diagnosis it was many years ago. This means
that it should be possible for patients to become aware of their condition and
seek help. What we need to do is make it happen. And that is the challenge.
Let me briefly describe a few patients. In these cases a boyfriend, a younger
brother and a wife were responsible for each patient seeking help.
I'll start with Mary. Mary had stormy teenage years. She was always in trouble
and involved with drugs and alcohol. She could never pay attention in class,
didn’t do homework, and finally dropped out of high school without graduating.
Over a period of years she did get her act together and is now in graduate school.
She has been staying up very late to keep up with her schoolwork. School had
brought back her old problems of distractibility and a short attention span
with a vengeance. Mary's boyfriend, who happened to have ADD himself, made the
diagnosis and told her to go for an evaluation and treatment.
Tom came in with clear ADD symptoms, but had never been diagnosed. It took
him an extra year to get through college, and he was having difficulty staying
focused in his new job. His younger brother has ADD and has been a patient of
mine for years. Tom is now in treatment, but school would have been much easier
if he had followed his brother’s example and sought treatment.
One more. Edgar is a 30-year-old man who has been married for a year. Significant
marital tension had developed because of his difficulty in completing anything
he started. He related this story to me: One day he noticed a screw in his desk
drawer needed tightening. Before he got to the screw, however, he noticed that
a computer on the desk had a program needing backup. Finding he had no disks,
he went out and bought them. Two hours later he got around to tightening the
screw. His wife read about ADD and suggested he go for an evaluation.
When I think about these and other patients I am struck by the fact that we
are not doing a good enough job getting the message out. If 6% or more of the
adult population have
ADD or ADHD, there is a large population that is not being evaluated or diagnosed.
What do we do? For one, we need therapists to be more aware and comfortable
referring for ADD. We also need school personnel to be increasingly aware of
problems consistent with ADD.
But what about ADD adults themselves? How do we reach them directly? How can
we get people with various ADD symptoms to recognize those symptoms and look
into ADD via the internet, the library, friends, therapists or doctors? Media
publicity can help, such as a story recently on the CBS Evening News on athletes
with ADD. There are occasional articles in the paper. But clearly, more is needed.
Next month I will send out a 24-question questionnaire, the Wender Utah 5.0
ADD Adult Scale. It can help diagnose adult ADD, and I have found it very useful.
We need to keep working on the problem. Do you have any ADD friends?