At the annual CHADD conference, I met ADHD adults struggling at work and parents of ADHD children trying to cope. They all had one thing in common: Hope.
by Wayne Kalyn
ADDitude staff went to the CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) conference in Atlanta, a few months back, seeking answers, perspective, and even, as the yogis would say, a little lightness of mind. While many of the thousands of attendees found that threesome in the words and the flashy, funny PowerPoints of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) experts, I found it in the adults and parents on the front lines of ADD/ADHD, the parents, grandparents, small-business owners, and middle-aged adults who came without a best-selling book to hawk or a presentation to make.
Their credential was the fact that they -- or their child -- had ADD/ADHD. Their reason for being there was to make tomorrow a little better than today. They flew or drove to the conference center on their own time and on their own dime in order to take away a nugget of advice and a laugh or two that would inform their lives and ease their burdens. Money well spent, they said.
These are the people I remember.
The mom with striking blue eyes and a smile for everyone, who was exhausted from raising her sweet but maddening 7-year-old son. Things were so difficult at home that she had started seeing a therapist for the first time in her life. She had come to spend time with other parents, to be understood, and to hear Russell Barkley speak. She knew he would say something that would change her child’s life.
The 42-year-old single office worker who said that he had seven jobs in the last two years but still hadn’t given up hope of finding a career. Why? Because his mother, now deceased, told him every day over breakfast that she loved him and his differences, even if the world didn’t. He was attending a seminar on organization in the workplace.
The middle-aged son who told me about his 93-year-old mother. She had discovered, just last year, that she had ADD/ADHD. On her 93rd birthday, after blowing out the candles, this good ol’ stalwart mom started crying as she recalled all the opportunities she passed up because she thought she was, in her words, “a couple of bricks shy of a load.” Since the doctors in his hometown had already thrown up their hands, he wanted to see if there was anything else he could do to help her. He would be sure to let me know, after he talked with the experts.
They all came for answers. As it turned out, I came for them.