The "Gift" of ADHD (ADD) what you wish for!

Again I've heard it ...."You know this person and that person is successful BECAUSE of their ADHD (ADD)." During the week parents and adults with ADHD have come in, after working with local coaches and unlicensed "counsellors" saying they don't want to consider medication, or even INFORMING their school that their child has ADHD because they feel their child (or themselves in the cases of adults) will somehow be stifled by medications, teachers or behavioural therapy and lose their creativity, abilities...their "spirit" that the "gift" of ADHD has given them. People are creative. Not creative BECAUSE of their ADHD, but IN SPITE OF IT! People find life fulfilling and exciting, not BECAUSE of ADHD, but in spite of it ..with work and effort they are successful. They are not successful BECAUSE of ADHD but because they work hard, put in effort and are innately creative and competent. Why do I come back to this issue time after time? Because on Monday I attend a school meeting with a family whose child has ADHD trying to get the school to provide appropriate accommodations and positive behavioural supports. The school is,as often the case, skeptical about ADHD and skeptical about their ability to provide these accommodations and services. They have no one trained, no training budget, and many other children with mental health disorders they take to be much more serious such as Aspeger's Disorder, autism or other cognitive deficits ( The truth is, the child with ADHD is often LESS likely to graduate than those children!). On Tuesday a local ADHD coach, with no background in education or psychology, no degree, no training in anything other than "coaching" comes to the school with another child and proclaims that ADHD is a gift and the real problem is we aren't letting the second child release his creativity and "be who he really is." This coach actually portrays those of us in the field as doing damage to these "creative" children ....and harming them forever. What's a school to do or think? Well, they could start by reading the clear research on creativity and ADHD (this is available in books by Dr. Russell Barkley, and from his website). There they will find that there is no correlation between ADHD and creativity ...or anything else positive. As a matter of fact, untreated ADHD is far more likely to lead to academic failure, professional failure, risky behaviour, increased physical injuries...all sorts of things. The research ...over 20 years of clear about this. But there is good news!!! GOOD NEWS! That long list of individuals these coaches and ADHD deniers give us are actually a list of highly successful individuals who did what they wanted ...sometimes with a lot of effort...and made it. They succeeded! ADHD is HIGHLY TREATABLE. We have many effective ways to approach ADHD, ranging from medication to behavioural therapy to coaching (by someone who doesn't deny the basic research ...or at least is familiar with it!). My advice: Start by reading a good, SCIENCE BASED book on ADHD. I would suggest starting with something by Dr. Russell Barkley. He has two excellent books about ADHDS for children, and adults. Then, find a professional familiar with both ADHD - and by familiar I mean familiar with the science, someone licensed in a scientific/medical/psychological field - not certified as a "coach" or "organizer." Get a licensed mental health professional involved. Often they work directly with someone who does the "coaching" part of things in order to cut down on costs, but someone with appropriate mental health and/or a medical background should be aware of the treatment interventions and suggestions your "coach" is making! And, finally, make sure that the mental health professional has experience in the second area of importance: if your working with a child at home, they should have experience in marriage and family therapy, in a school, they should have school based experience (they might have been a teacher, school counsellor or school psychologist themselves), or if it's the work place, someone with appropriate rehabilitation experience. Someone who has actually stepped into a work place and watch their interventions work...or not work. Someone, basically, with real world experience in the area you need help with. Here is a video on this issue of "The Gift of ADHD" by Dr. Russell Barkley. I want you to know I'm not complaining all by myself here. Dr. Barkley has started to bring up this issue at every meeting, speech and presentation because the damage being done by those who portray ADHD as a gift is far more serious that the individuals they harm. They cause harm to the entire field, lose us funding, and damage our chances of getting legislation in place that guarantees the rights of those with ADHD to get and maintain appropriate accommodations. Because if it's a gift ...what more do you want? For more information on my services please visit my professional web page at or I see patients for ADHD Assessments (and full Psychoeducational Assessments) in my offices in Burnaby and Vancouver, as well as San Francisco.