Making sense of ADHD - Free Public Talk on October 27

This year, the BC Psychological Association would like to invite you to participate in raising awareness of ADHD and our free public talk, “Making Sense of ADHD”. The talk, by Dr. Noah Susswein, takes place on Tuesday October 27th, from 7-8pm in the Community Room at the Adler University (1090 West Georgia Street, Vancouver).

Workshop Description: You’ve probably heard a lot of conflicting things about ADHD. Some experts say that it is a serious medical condition whereas others say that it is a cultural myth. When the experts disagree, it is hard to know what to believe. In this talk, Dr. Noah Susswein will explain how to make sense of this conflicting information. Although it can certainly cause problems, ADHD is best understood not as a ‘deficit’ or a ‘disorder’, even though that is what the Ds in ‘ADHD’ stand for. Rather, ADHD is best understood as a mismatch between a person and certain aspects of his or her environment. And there are many effective options for changing both individuals and environments to achieve a better fit between the two.

Dr. Noah Susswein's Bio: Dr. Noah Susswein treats children, youth, and adults at the Vancouver Psychology Centre. He has been involved with mental health research, assessment, and treatment for over 15 years in a variety of settings including medical schools, community mental health centres, and inpatient psychiatric facilities. Whether working with children or adults, Dr. Susswein uses a strength-based approach that emphasizes self-awareness and courage.

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Making Sense of ADHD… 
written by Jaya Vadrevu

The month of October brings with it a lot of festivities. Few people may know that it also brings ADHD awareness month. Thanks to popular media, most people are aware that ADHD is short for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder but not much more. In the spirit of ADHD awareness month, it is time to dispel some of the myths surrounding this condition that affect between 5 and 15 % of school-children (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, n.d.). Awareness about ADHD is crucial, studies show that Canada is 5-10 years behind the U.S in diagnosis and management of ADHD (Quily, 2008). This is an alarming number as ADHD also happens to be among the most treatable psychological disorders (Could it be ADHD?, n.d.).


What is ADHD?

ADHD is a condition that can potentially affect a person in all areas of life. The diagnostic symptoms are clustered into three categories (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) 

  1. Inattentiveness- Characterized by difficulty sustaining attention in task, make careless mistakes in the work that they do, have difficulty organizing tasks and activities and often lose things.
  2. Hyperactivity- People with ADHD are often seen fidgeting, they leave their seat when their expected to be seated and feel very restless.
  3. Impulsivity- They may also blurt out answers before a question has been completed, often find it hard to wait their turn and may interrupt or intrude on others.
 
ADHD is a neurological condition that is believed to exist from infancy but usually goes undetected as children are expected to have a lot energy and limited concentration abilities. With the start of school and increased pressure to follow rules and meet academic expectations, symptoms become more apparent. If this condition goes unrecognized, this could prevent children from receiving the special education and other concessions that they need in order to manage their condition (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, 1997).
 

Roughly 60% of the children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to have symptoms in adulthood (Could it be ADHD?, n.d.). Some people find it easier to accept ADHD in children and consider adult ADHD an excuse people use to justify unacceptable behavior. They believe that it is not a genuine impairment deserving of treatment. Such stigma prevents people from seeking out the kind of help they deserve and causes them to become isolated. Fortunately, celebrities like Howie Mandel from the popular game show Deal or No Deal are sharing their personal struggles with this condition to create awareness so we can hope that this gloomy scenario may soon change.


The Facts on ADHD

Disorders most likely to occur alongside ADHD are learning disabilities, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety, depression bipolar disorder and Tourette’s syndrome (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, n.d.) A Registered Psychologist will be able to differentiate one disorder from the other or decide if they are occurring together. Identifying if any other conditions are present along with ADHD becomes crucial in treatment planning as it addresses a broader range of problems and not just the symptoms classically associated with ADHD.


Treatment of ADHD
Stimulants are the first line of drugs preferred by doctors (Treatments for adult ADHD, 2015). While this may seem ironic to prescribe stimulants to a person with ADHD, the medication actually stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for attention (McAuley, Chaban & Tannock, 2009). This allows the person to focus on a task for longer periods of time. Registered Psychologists play a vital role in identifying environmental triggers that exacerbate the condition in each case and work with the individual to develop effective measures to cope. Alternate forms of help include ADHD coaching. These coaches are not registered psychologists or therapists. They create a dialogue with the individual and train them to discover their own strengths and short-comings. The coach supports the individual through the process of optimizing their strengths (adhdcoaching.ca, 2014). A team of mental health professionals which includes a psychiatrist, a psychologist and social workers ensures intervention in all appropriate areas of the person’s life.

ADHD is not the end of the world nor is it an excuse that lazy people use to justify poor work. It is a condition that has a biological basis and can have serious implication on a person’s life. It is important to remember that there are other reasons why an individual would be inattentive, impulsive and restless. A Registered Psychologist is qualified to distinguish between ADHD and other conditions that cause similar symptoms. 


References

  1. Adult ADHD | it’s real | prevalence | Could it be ADHD? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.coulditbeadhd.ca/adult-adhd-real
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis - Mental Health - Body & Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/channel_condition_info_details.asp?disease_id=14&channel_id=11&relation_id=10899#Facts
  4. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): General information sheets: NEVDGP. (1997, April). Retrieved from http://nevdgp.org.au/info/std_misc/Att.Def.Hyperactivity_hcs.htm
  5. Coaching adults with attention deficit. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.adhdcoaching.ca/what_is.html
  6. McAuley, T., Chaban, P., & Tannock, R. (2009, October 14). Stimulant medications for ADHD - aboutkidshealth. Retrieved from http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/ResourceCentres/ADHD/TreatmentofADHD/MedicationsforADHD/Pages/StimulantMedicationsforADHD.aspx
  7. Quily, P. (2008, October 18). Howie Mandel has adult ADHD does adult ADHD is real awareness campaign - adult ADD strengths. Retrieved from http://adultaddstrengths.com/2008/10/18/howie-mandel-has-adult-adhd-does-adult-adhd-is-real-awareness-campaign/
  8. Treatments for adult ADHD - Rightdiagnosis.com. (2015, August). Retrieved from http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/a/adult_adhd/treatments.htm