Where can I find reliable ADHD information and resources?

Getting a diagnosis and finding an appropriate treatment plan are both extremely important and can have positive lifelong effects. Having accurate, science-based information is vital for making the decisions needed to create a good treatment plan and put in place the strategies and lifestyle accommodations that can help lead to success for yourself or your child.

Reliable Information

infographic adhd resources

Researching ADHD can be like drinking out of a fire hose. There’s a great deal of information about ADHD but, unfortunately, a lot of it is misleading, incomplete or incorrect.

Where can you go and who can you trust? Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have information that is current and based on scientific research.

Look to CHADD’s National Resource Center, which is a joint program between the CDC and CHADD. You can trust the professionals and information from ADHD treatment centers that are connected with universities and research hospitals. And, of course, you can turn to health care providers and other professionals who have expertise in, and experience with, ADHD.

Reliable Resources

The ADHD Awareness Month Coalition is comprised of members from Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO). These three non-profit organizations are sponsoring the 2020 Virtual International Conference on ADHD held from November 5 – 7, 2020 with most recorded sessions available for two weeks following the conference. This conference is a great opportunity to listen to, and ask questions of, the conference speakers, as well as receive current science-based information about ADHD and its treatment. An added bonus is that the virtual conference is an opportunity to interact with other attendees through virtual peer support groups and discussion groups.

CHADD has more than 100 support groups around the country, as well as the latest evidence-based information shared via fact sheets, separate training programs for adults, parents and teachers, as well as podcasts.

ADDA, a non-profit for adults with ADHD, provides reliable information, webinars, workshops, and virtual support groups.

ACO is also a good resource with the largest directory of ADHD coaches anywhere.

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About the Author

The ADHD Awareness Month Coalition is comprised of members from the non-profit organizations Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) and ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO). The mission of ADHD Awareness Month is to educate the public about ADHD by disseminating reliable information based on the evidence of science and peer-reviewed research.


References

Can you have a successful life with ADHD?

An Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) can be devastating. We think, “This can’t be good! ‘Disorder’ is right there in the name.” Yes, inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity can cause problems at school, at work and in relationships.[i] And people with ADHD face a lot of stigma.[ii] But we find what we look for, and we’ve been looking for the problems ADHD causes for a long time. Remember, mental health isn’t only about not having an illness or disorder. Mental health is about recovery, coping, well-being and flourishing.[iii] With ADHD, your brain works differently, but not all those differences are bad.[iv] Broader studies find ADHD attributes like high energy, creativity, hyperfocus, agreeableness, empathy and a willingness to help others.[v]

infographic success with adhd

There are many successful people with ADHD. That fact alone is a clue. But even better, these people often succeed because of the positive traits of their ADHD. Their ADHD helps them flourish.[vi] ADHD impairments exist across a spectrum, and there’s no denying severe impairments can make life tough. But as we expand our search, we’re finding more positive aspects of ADHD. ADHD helps with divergent thinking[vii] and creativity that delivers real world achievements[viii]. People with ADHD use hyperfocus to enhance productivity. The “focused work-rate that hyperfocus produces enables creative genius to flourish”[ix]. People with ADHD “don’t fit in,” feeling like outsiders.[x] This individuation lets them blaze their own trail instead of following the crowd[xi]. Life with ADHD has taught them self-acceptance. Impulsivity, showing up as adventurousness or intuition, is an advantage in many careers. Hyperactivity can make it hard to sit still in school, but many adults harness that ADHD drive. When you are passionate about a goal, your ADHD energy drives performance and productivity.[xii]

You can have a successful life with ADHD; however, like anything else, it will present challenges. But there are positive aspects of ADHD. And when you can see these as benefits, resources, skills or strategies you can begin to use it to overcome many challenges.

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About the Author

Duane Gordon

Duane Gordon, President, Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA). Gordon lives in Montreal, Canada. An adult with ADHD, Gordon has been a passionate advocate in the ADHD community for over 25 years.


Footnotes

[i] Able SL, Johnston JA, Adler LA, Swindle RW (2007) Functional and psychosocial impairment in adults with undiagnosed ADHD. Psychol Med 37(1):97–107

[ii] Thornicroft G, Brohan E, Kassam A, Lewis-Holmes E (2008) Reducing stigma and discrimination: candidate interventions. Int J Ment Health Syst 2(3):1–7

[iii] Repper J, Perkins R (2006) Social inclusion and recovery: a model for mental health practice. Bailliere Tindall, UK

[iv] Epstein JN, Loren REA (2013) Changes in the definition of ADHD in DSM-5: subtle but important. Neuropsychiatry (London) 3(5):455–458

[v] Mahdi S, Vijoen M, Massuti R, Selb M, Almodayfer O, Karande S, de Vries PJ, Rohde L, Bölte S (2017) An international qualitative study of ability and disability in ADHD using the WHO-ICF framework. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 26(10):1219–1231

[vi] Sedgwick J, Merwood A, Asherson P (2018) The positive aspects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a qualitative investigation of successful adults with ADHD. ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders 11:241–253 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12402-018-0277-6

[vii] Guilford JP (1967) The nature of human intelligence. McGraw-Hill, New York

[viii] White HA, Shah P (2006) Uninhibited imaginations: creativity in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pers Individ Differ 40:1121–1131

White HA, Shah P (2011) Creative style and achievement in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pers Individ Differ 50:673–677

[ix] Fitzgerald M (2010) Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder link to genius, Thursday, 4 February 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8496955.stm. Accessed 10 September 2020

[x] Jung CG (1921) Psychological types. In: Collected works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6, Eds., G. Alder and RFC. Hull (1971), Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

[xi] Jung CG (1921) Psychological types. In: Collected works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6, Eds., G. Alder and RFC. Hull (1971), Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

[xii] Deci EL, Vansteenkiste M (2004) Self-determination theory and basic need satisfaction: understanding human development in positive psychology. Ricerche di Psicologia 27:23–40


What can help people with ADHD who need to spend a lot of time on their computers?

Excessive screen time to the most experienced users can be a physical, mental and emotional strain to say the least. The American Optometric Association notes that the average American worker with a desk job spends at least seven hours a day looking at computer screens, which does not include leisure time use. Under the best of circumstances, ADHD folks find computer material interesting and, therefore, stimulating which allows for heightened and sustained mental focus for long periods of time.  This could be a video game for hours at a time, binge-streaming a favorite tv series, a student Zooming all day in school, and a worksite that requires regular use of a computer and monitor. Under these conditions, best practices for sustainability would include exercise such as a brisk walk or moderate run, reasonable sleep, and good nutrition before getting on the computer.

Infographic ADHD and screens

While at the computer, reduce eye and body strain by adjusting the blue light of the screen to an amber or “night-time” setting. Take a break after every 25 minutes for 5 minutes, and while on the break, to reduce eye strain look away from the screen to focus on an object 25 feet away for 25 seconds. During your 5-minute break, step outside and take the dog for a quick walk around the block to stretch fatigued muscles while being mindful of yourself and breathing fully.

Consider using computer glasses to filter blue light and don’t forget to blink.

Under more challenging circumstances, we are tasked to attend to boring but important material on the computer screen. This difficulty to maintain focus suggests that it is even more important to do the 25 minutes on with a 5-minute break that takes you outdoors if possible. 

A timer is a valuable tool not only to keep track of the 25 minutes but especially for sticking with the 5-minute break. Other strategies include varying posture or standing up, which can be accomplished by using stand-up desks or treadmill desks.

Consider using Fidget to Focus®” strategies to assist focus on tedious computer material. Fidget-to-focus multi-tasking recognizes that ADHD folks use one sensory modality in the background to increase neuro-stimulation while simultaneously allowing the weaker sensory input to sustain focus for longer periods of time. This could be doodling while listening to a lecture, listening to music in the background while working on the computer, twirling a pen or playing with a “Tangle-toy” while watching a screen, or chewing gum or munching on carrots while listening to a pre-taped lecture on the computer.

It also helps to reduce unintended distractions by turning off social media and internet sites while working at the computer.

So, whether viewing interesting or tedious material on computer screens for long periods of time, the very action can be physically, mentally, and emotionally stressful.  Fortunately, many simple to use strategies are easily accessible, readily available, and offer relief.  

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About the Author

Roland Rotz

Roland Rotz, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, and director of the Lifespan Development Center in Carpinteria, CA.  For over 30 years Dr. Rotz has focused on providing quality diagnostic and clinical services to children and adults, particularly those with ADHD. 


A Dad with ADHD

Having being diagnosed with ADHD at 40 was a shock after a breakdown after years of struggling in silence. I remember my teacher saying to me I wouldn’t do anything with my life but luckily for me a youth club helped me as school was designed for me.
Even though I left school at 15 with nothing I did became a British Champion.
I doubted everyone who said I couldn’t do nothing and used it to battle though.
Today I am a professional speaker, published author, international campaigner after setting up International Father’s Mental Health Day and have spoken on radio and TV stations around the world.
I realise having a diagnosis was the best for me as I understood the invisible enemy that I manage better even this morning.
I know believe even though ADHD has been hard it’s given me the passion to help others and change society for the better.
ADHD awareness in fatherhood is my next chapter and I hope this gives people hope that there is a community of us all in this together

Mark Williams

Aren’t medications for ADHD just different versions of illegal drugs?

The active ingredients of most medications that work for ADHD, including the stimulants methylphenidate and amphetamine salts, are thought to impact levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in brain regions that can improve self-control of attention and behavior.  However, they also have strong effects on brain regions that register chemical reward, which is thought to be why ADHD prescriptions can produce effects similar to those of illegal drugs, particularly when they are taken into the body more quickly than they are designed to be delivered for ADHD treatment. In addition, some individuals may have atypical side effects or other reactions to taking these medications that lead to problematic use patterns, including tolerance – wherein they have less effect over time.

All individuals receiving stimulants should be monitored for signs of dependence and abuse.  A comprehensive evaluation and close monitoring by a prescribing physician is thought to increase the chance of identifying problems before or as they emerge. If a person has a history of substance misuse or dependence, there may be a higher risk that ADHD medications will be misused or abused – and other nonstimulant medications or non-medication supports for ADHD should be used instead. 

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craig surman

Dr. Craig Surman is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the Scientific Coordinator of the Adult ADHD Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the largest research programs of its kind in the world. Dr. Surman has directed or facilitated over fifty studies related to ADHD in adults, and co-authored many articles in peer-reviewed publications.


References

  • Swanson, Wigal and Volkow 2011. Contrast of Medical and Nonmedical Use of Stimulant Drugs, Basis for the Distinction, and Risk of Addiction: Comment on Smith and Farah (2011). Psychological Bulletin 2011, Vol. 137(5). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3187625/
  • Cassidy, Varughese, Russo, Budman, Eaton, and Butler. Nonmedical Use and Diversion of ADHD Stimulants Among U.S. Adults Ages 18-49: A National Internet Survey.  Journal of Attention Disorders 2015, Vol. 19(7). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23269194/

Isn’t ADHD just an excuse for laziness?

People with ADHD may focus very well on a preferred activity (e.g., playing or sport or video games), yet are unable to demonstrate that same kind of focus and self-management for their schoolwork or their job. Their ADHD symptoms are the result of neural messages in their brain not being effectively transmitted, unless the activity or task is something really interesting to them, something that, for whatever reason, “turns them on.” 

Infographic ADHD and laziness

For people with ADHD, neural messages related to tasks that strongly interest them tend to be strong, bringing intensified motivation. For tasks they do not perceive, either consciously or unconsciously, to be quite as interesting, the neural messages tend to be weaker. If messages are not sufficient enough to activate a person, it is likely to make them seem unmotivated or lazy. For 80% or 90% of people with ADHD, medication can significantly improve such problems.

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Thomas e brown

Thomas E. Brown earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology at Yale University and served on the Yale faculty for 25 years. He is now Director of the Brown Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders in Manhattan Beach, CA, is an elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and has published numerous articles and six books on ADHD. His website is www.BrownADHDclinic.com


Resources

  • Volkow, N.D, Wang, GJ, Newcorn, JH, et al: Motivation deficit in ADHD is associated with dysfunction of the dopamine reward pathway. Mol Psychiatry 16 (11) 1147-154. 2011
  • Volkow, ND, Wang GJ, Tomasi, D, et al: Methylphenidate-elicited dopamine increases in ventral striatum are associated with long-term symptom improvements in adults with ADHD. J. Neurosicence 32 (3): 841-849. 2012

Far IN the crowd

Overwelled by stimuli as a kid; my copying mechanism became to focus on one ; put it in the background and then simultaneously listen to the teacher. I became a swimmer -which had similar effects. Here is a poem to describe what this felt like.

A coin splash 💦 , then a plop on the pool floor
You follow; a bigger splash but no plop 🏊‍♀️
Just motion, calm, as freedom follows immersion , then imagination 🦋🌊
More splashes, more plops, even voices – but they are very faded
This space, this time, this moment, is yours to fill, to feel
In the water you are far in the swimming crowd

The repetition of sums and the unending folk tales have you restless
Through the windows, the bright camelia 🌺 draws you into its petals
It’s beautiful in here; you put your color pens onto paper p🖊 🖼 before the moment goes away
In the petal , you are far in the class crowd

Kuda Tandi

What are the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing at work that I have ADHD?

The main rule is that an employee or someone applying for a job is not obligated to report medical diagnoses to the employer. However, where certain personal characteristics hamper the performance of (part of) the job, it may be necessary to report these characteristics apart from actually mentioning the name of this brain property called ADHD. More and more employers have an HR culture that is open to people with ADHD, etc. In those cases, it is advisable to disclose that you have ADHD. This has obvious advantages, but can, in other cases sometimes, also have disadvantages.

Infographic Disclosing ADHD at Work

Possible disadvantages are: Although in most countries discrimination because of a handicap is prohibited (UN treaty on disabilities), you may not get the job or it may even be an extra reason in case of dismissal. The employer can conceal these reasons. It could also influence the appraisal of your job performance. Another reason not to be explicit about your ADHD could be that your manager or colleagues may treat you negatively at work. Or, in some cases, colleagues can overshoot the mark in their helpfulness and thus regard you as a not fully-fledged “disabled person.”

It helps if you have accepted your ADHD. If you have overcome your negative self-image and know your strengths and weaknesses, sharing your diagnosis can have advantages. If you are able to level with your employer that “the right person at the right place” favors both sides, you can discuss reasonable, useful adjustments, like job-carving, having a colleague as a buddy or a concentration room, or even working part of the week at home; whatever can help your performance. So, bring forward the relevant characteristics of your ADHD and get the position that fits to your qualities. No disclosure including the diagnosis of ADHD means no adjustments and no special rights.  

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Hans van de Velde

Hans van de Velde, entrepreneur and employer since 1989 and coach since 1998, has ADHD and dyslexia himself. As a volunteer he is active in the Dutch association for people with ADHD etc. and member of the board of ADHD Europe. He started the foundation ‘European Brains @ Work’ that helps employers to make more profit with the 10% of their employees that have a special brain like ADHD, dyslexia, autism and giftedness.

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Why are there so many people with ADHD in the prison population?

We see people every day in clinic who are failing in life, whether that’s at school, college or work. It may be that they are struggling in their relationship or indeed they don’t have any. For this portion of our ADHD community, life is hard. Self-esteem can be incredibly low, depression and anxiety are common, and from those points forward, anything can influence the ADHD person’s life. If they are lucky they will have a positive influence, “a significant adult.” If they are unlucky, they can find friendship and solace inappropriately. When this happens, we find the vulnerability of these emotions allows a negative influence, drugs are tried, crime rewards their friendships, and maybe for the first time “I feel I fit in.” Add to this heady mix of emotional vulnerability some impulsivity, inattention to the many attempts to tell them what is “right from wrong” and always being the person with a “buzz” and energy, and, sadly, we can see the recipe for breaking our laws. We can go further and discuss controlling emotions and lashing out, as a child that may mean hitting a sibling, as an adult that could mean hitting another grown up, or damaging someone’s possessions. 

Infographic adhd in prison

We know that people with ADHD feel rejected and “different” from at least the age of 6. But we can reverse this trend with education, training, and cultural change amongst professionals who care and have responsibility for our children. And let’s be clear, this needs to happen now. ADHD is incredibly pervasive, it can cruelly destroy a bright future, and the damage to our economy if far greater than the investment needed to change things. It costs the UK a whopping £74million1 a year to house our ADHD prisoners it’ll cost about £30 thousand to treat them. Even if we invested heavily in training and support, even if we only halved the number in prison, there is no doubt we would make a huge difference. And as a final note, if we could divert those 10,000 people we could keep out of prison into being tax payers we would recoup the costs of doing this.


1 Costs per place and costs per prisoner by individual prison HM Prison & Probation Service Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18 Management Information Addendum Ministry of Justice Information Release

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About the Author

Phil Anderton

Phil Anderton PhD entered the world of ADHD as a senior police officer in the UK, realising that the causation factors for young people entering the criminal justice system included neurodiversity and this was very much misunderstood, if considered at all.  His work led to him publishing books, papers and addressing conferences worldwide. He was the first police officer to address the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and he trained police officers in the References between ADHD And crime across the USA and Europe. Since retiring from the police Phil has set up his own Healthcare Business, ADHD 360 Limited, and his company now manages a patient caseload of c600 patients from assessment through to treatment for their ADHD. Phil lives in rural England, works too hard and is married to Samantha, who incidentally is the person that insists he works too hard.