psychotherapist and author, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sari Solden knows all about the stigmatizing effects of ADD/ADHD. After finishing the meal at a dinner party, years back, women knew that they were expected to get up, bring their dishes into the kitchen, and put things back where they belong. "It's like a dance after the meal," says Solden. "Me? I just stood there, frozen."
For Solden, who specializes in ADD/ADHD's effect on women, such experiences have shaped her work and life. She understands the shame women with ADD suffer when they can't stay organized, keep on top of the family schedule, and maintain friendships or a tidy home.
After graduating from California State University with a master's degree in clinical counseling, Solden started her career in a large family service agency. She had trouble doing the administrative work and focusing on long lists of clients. She often found herself switching off clocks and fans in the office to help her focus.
Through her work, Solden started learning more about adults and learning disorders, and recognized her symptoms as attention deficit. Upon hearing the term "ADD" from a doctor, Solden felt relief. "It was liberating," she says.
Now in private practice, and having learned to organize her professional and personal life, Solden is paying it forward. In her book Women with Attention Deficit Disorder, she explains the difficulties that women with ADD/ADHD face, and gives strategies for navigating society's expectations. "Women with ADD have to understand that their brain works differently," she says, "and not blame themselves."
Solden says that finding other women with ADD/ADHD has helped her, because they understand how her mind works. "I learn from the women with ADD I work with. They inspire me."