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Are you aware of ADHD? Many Faces of ADHD

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD Awareness Week

To disseminate information to the public regarding the disorder, the ADHD Awareness Week Coalition is sponsoring The Many Faces of ADHD, which is the theme for the 2012 ADHD Awareness Week.

The ADHD Awareness Week is focused in Washington DC from October 14 through October 20; however, it is a national event and events will take place throughout the US.

Spreading public awareness for ADHD is vitally important to facilitate its diagnosis in children. A case of delayed diagnosis is illustrated by Cassie Venglia, a 23-year-old Cypress, California resident. She is an atypical example of the disorder; however, she also is an example of the benefits derived from appropriate treatment after ADHD is diagnosed. Most individuals are diagnosed in childhood and many more males than females are affected. Cassie was diagnosed with ADHD a mere five months ago. Since then with the help of her psychiatrist, therapist, and ADHD medication she has her life on track. A major achievement for her was her selection as one of the five finalists for the Totally ADD & Me, sponsored by the ADHD Awareness Week Coalition.

Cassie is currently a music major at California State University and is getting her life on track after being diagnosed and treated for ADHD. As previously mentioned, the condition usually appears in early childhood. It is likely that it occurred in her childhood but was not diagnosed. Cassie notes that she remembers being a “daydreamer” in childhood and did not socialize well with her peers. She was not hyperactive and that is one of the gender differences of ADHD. In general, boys are often more hyperactive and fidgety than girls with the disorder. Also, boys with ADHD tend to be more disruptive in class than girls; thus, the problem is more readily recognized.

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Cassie did well in school all the way through high school, achieving mostly ‘A’s and ‘B’s. Cassie recalls that her academic performance was due to her trying harder. She notes that she usually spent twice as much time as her classmates on homework and other scholastic endeavors. However, when she entered college, she ‘hit the wall. College is a comeuppance for many students. They are now part of a group of academically motivated group. Those that had no aspirations beyond high school are no longer part of one’s peer group. Many students flounder and often drop out early in their college career. Cassie was among the flounderers. She could not understand why she was struggling to keep up in class and take tests. She could not remember simple things. Often, she could not remember conversations from 30 seconds ago. Cassie felt her brain was overloaded with information and it ran out of memory. She felt lost and alone. The stress was exhausting. Fortunately, a friend noticed her struggles and helped her attain medical help. She consulted with a psychiatrist who made the diagnosis of ADHD.

Through the help of her psychiatrist, therapist, and ADHD medication, Cassie climbed out of the black hole that she had sunk in. During her return to a functioning individual, she came across a video contest on the Web called Totally ADD & Me sponsored by the ADHD Awareness Week Coalition. The Web site noted that they were seeking ordinary folks with creative, funny, honest, and moving stories about their struggle with ADHD. She signed up partly because she viewed it as a creative challenge and also because it was an opportunity to help others suffering from ADHD. The rules limited the video to two minutes, which proved a daunting challenge. She had so much to say; how could she compress it down to two minutes? However, she did manage to condense her thought to within the time constraints. In so doing, she learned how to create a punchy, pithy video presentation that would attract interest. Surviving the cut to become one of the finalists was a major accomplishment that most anyone would be proud of. Just five months ago, her life was disintegrating and now she was a real achiever. Cassie plays the cello and piano; she also likes to sing. Her career goal is to become both a composer and performer. In addition, she may develop other video presentation. Thanks to the help of friends and medical professionals, she is well on her way to a satisfying career.

The winner of the video contest will be announced online on October 3, just prior to ADHD Awareness Week (October 14-20). You can view Cassie’s video at this link. Further information about ADHD and ADHD Awareness Week can be found at this link.

About ADHD:
ADHD is a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for the child's age and development. Neuroimaging studies suggest that the brains of children with ADHD are different from those of other children. These children handle neurotransmitters (including dopamine, serotonin, and adrenalin) differently from their peers.

ADHD is often genetic. Whatever the specific cause may be, it seems to be set in motion early in life as the brain is developing. Depression, sleep deprivation, learning disabilities, tic disorders, and behavior problems may be confused with, or appear along with, ADHD. Every child suspected of having ADHD deserves a careful evaluation to sort out exactly what is contributing to the behaviors causing concern.

See also: Video games under development to treat ADHD