Patricia Quinn, M.D., 65
developmental pediatrician, Washington, D.C.
"I'm not the sort of person who thinks ADD is a strength, but I do think you can use it to become successful," says Dr. Patricia Quinn, who practices in Washington, D.C.
Quinn wasn't hyperactive as a child, but she did lapse into long spells of hyperfocus. She didn't notice her mother calling to her from the other room, but she could focus on her schoolwork for hours. "I was also impulsive," she says. "I jumped into things – and, fortunately, I did them successfully."
Quinn chose a career in medicine because it was challenging. While attending medical school at Georgetown University, she ran into problems, though. Quinn could remember and understand the material in lectures, but had difficulty absorbing information from textbooks. She sought help, but, at the time, no one realized adults could have ADD/ADHD.
Quinn specialized in child development, and started doing research on ADD. In 1972, she figured out that the qualities that made her successful in medical school – hyperfocus and impulsivity – were part of the disorder.
Quinn's mission these days is to highlight the problems facing women and girls with ADD. In 1997, she cofounded, with Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., The National Center for Girls and Women with AD/HD, and she has written several books on the topic. She believes that the condition often goes undiagnosed in girls and women because it tends not to cause hyperactivity the way it does in men. "Girls and women are not bothering anybody, so they don't get diagnosed."
Quinn, who does not use medication to manage symptoms, says that discovering that she had the condition helped explain why she felt so different from other medical students. She believes that it was, ultimately, hard work that got her to where she is today. "I had a lot of success despite my ADD," she says.