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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About the Author

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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About the Author

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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About the Author

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.

What Am I?

I walk around in circles
Have trouble standing still
I have a minor meltdown
When presented with a bill

My taxes drive me crazy
I cannot follow google maps
I’ll go round in circles on the tube
In an attention lapse

And although it can be stressful
Trying to live your life with me
I make you funny and unique
I’m your ADHD

Anna de Lacey

Are there supplements that can improve ADHD symptoms?

Over the last decade, a number of different studies have investigated whether a combination of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) can have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms in both children and adults. The premise behind a combined approach is that all nutrients are required for optimal brain health, such as making neurotransmitters, fighting inflammation, or assisting with the functioning of the bacteria inside of us. They can also counter the effects of modern diets consisting of mainly ultra-processed foods. While not everyone responds to this approach, for those who do benefit, the effects are often substantial and can be seen across all areas of functioning. While the effect on ADHD symptoms tends to be quite slow (it can take a few weeks to notice changes and the effect tends to grow over a long period of time), some symptoms like explosive rage, can improve in just a few days. The strongest effects noted in research have been improved attention as well as emotional regulation and reduced aggression.

Infographic ADHD Suppliments

There are very few side effects associated with taking micronutrients. Indeed, anecdotally children are reported to be healthier–skin conditions clear up, fewer colds, fewer infections — when taking additional nutrients with their diet. Rebound does not occur when the nutrients wear off and there does not appear to be an effect on appetite or sleep (as long as the nutrients aren’t consumed too close to bedtime).

It is always best to try to get micronutrients from our food  — eating nutrient rich foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, and fish. However, for some people that won’t be sufficient, perhaps because of individual differences on top of eating foods that have become nutrient depleted over time (due to poor replenishment in soil, selecting foods that grow quickly, etc). In those cases, source one of the mineral-vitamin supplements that have been studied successfully in research. They are publicly available for purchase.

More research is required; however, the preliminary studies are encouraging and considering the low risk associated with minerals and vitamins, some families may choose to go down this route first before considering alternatives.  

Other nutrients found to be important for ADHD include the omega 3 fatty acids  — although the best source of omega 3 fatty acids is from fish (and the recommended fish intake is once to twice a week), there is sufficient research to suggest at least 500mg of EPA taken in pill form can have a modest but significant effect on ADHD symptoms. This shouldn’t be surprising given the importance of these fats in brain heath.

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About the Author

Julia Rucklidge

Julia Rucklidge is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in the School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing at the University of Canterbury and the Director of Te Puna Toiora, the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Lab.


References

  • Rucklidge, J. J., Eggleston, M., Johnstone, J., Darling, K., & Frampton, C. (2018). Vitamin-mineral treatment improves aggression and emotional regulation in children with ADHD: a fully blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 59(3), 232-246. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12817
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Frampton, C., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A. (2014). Vitamin-mineral treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 204(4), 306-315. https://doi.org/doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.113.132126
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Frampton, C., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A. (2017). Vitamin-Mineral Treatment of ADHD in Adults: A 1-Year Naturalistic Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Attention Disorders, 21(6), 522-532. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054714530557
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Gately, D., & Kaplan, B. (2010). Database analysis of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder consuming a micronutrient formula. BMC Psychiatry, 10(1), 74-74. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244x-10-74
  • Rucklidge, J. J., & Harrison, R. (2010). Successful treatment of Bipolar Disorder II and ADHD with a micronutrient formula: A case study. CNS Spectrums, 15(5), 289-295. 
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Johnstone, J., Gorman, B., Boggis, A., & Frampton, C. (2014). Moderators of treatment response in adults with ADHD treated with a vitamin-mineral supplement. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 50, 163-171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.12.014
  • Rucklidge, J. J., Johnstone, J., Harrison, R., & Boggis, A. (2011). Micronutrients reduce stress and anxiety in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder following a 7.1 earthquake. Psychiatry Research, 189(2), 281-287. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2011.06.016
  • Rucklidge, J. J., & Kaplan, B. (2014). Broad-Spectrum Micronutrient Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Rationale and Evidence to Date. CNS Drugs, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40263-014-0190-2
  • Johnstone, J., Leung, B., Gracious, B., Perez, L., Tost, G., Savoy, A., Hatsu, I., Hughes, A., Bruton, A., & Arnold, E. (2019). Rationale and design of an international randomized placebo-controlled trial of a 36-ingredient micronutrient supplement for children with ADHD and irritable mood: The Micronutrients for ADHD in Youth (MADDY) study. Contemporary clinical trials communications, 16, 100478. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conctc.2019.100478
  • Gordon, H. A., Rucklidge, J. J., Blampied, N. M., & Johnstone, J. M. (2015). Clinically significant symptom reduction in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder treated with micronutrients: An open-label reversal design study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 25(10), 783-798. https://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2015.0105 Darling, K., Eggleston, M., Retallick-Brown, H., & Rucklidge, J. (2019). Mineral-Vitamin Treatment Associated with Remission in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms and Related Problems: 1-Year Naturalistic Outcomes of a 10-Week Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 29(9), 688-704. https://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2019.0036

If my child is diagnosed with ADHD, won’t they be labeled?

Terms we use to identify our attention, learning and other challenges can serve to either stigmatize our differences, or conversely, legitimize our differences. By legitimize, I mean help us to understand them, validate them, and learn to see them in a hopeful new light. For many of us, this is an important step in our efforts to grow more resilient in the face of adversity. Researchers who study resilience through the lifespan tell us that this appears to be an important first step regardless of our age. It’s true for children, as well as for adults.

How can parents of children struggling with ADHD and related differences learn more?

Infographic Labeled with ADHD

Trusted organizations like CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) can help (www.chadd.org).

The organization draws heavily on current research in the field of ADHD and enjoys close working relationships with some of our nation’s leading authorities in the field as well.

Another important benefit of CHADD is that the information provided encompasses the impact of ADHD and related challenges through the lifespan. As experts in the field remind us, ADHD for many can persist through adulthood.

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About the Author

Mark Katz

Mark Katz, Ph.D., is a clinical and consulting psychologist in San Diego, California, and author of the book, Children Who Fail at School but Succeed at Life. The book is a follow-up to his earlier book, On Playing a Poor Hand Well. For over 30 years, Mark has served as the Director of Learning Development Services, an educational, psychological and neuropsychological center in San Diego, California. Mark is also a contributing editor for Attention Magazine and writes the magazine’s promising practices column. In addition, Mark is also a past recipient of the CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) Hall of Fame Award, which the organization gives each year to recognize and honor individuals they feel have made significant contributions to improving the lives of individuals affected by ADHD.