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Misdiagnosis

ADHD or Depression?

CONdition or ADDition?

Under-diagnosed
Often Misdiagnosed
Mainly Misunderstood

Judie Gade
B.A. (Psychology)
©2002 - 2010
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Judie Gade is 51, Australian,
married, a Psychology graduate
from Deakin University in Melbourne,
a writer, journalist, ADHD activist,
ADHD Life Skills Coach, a mother of
two & fiercely proud of being ADHD.

Rather than seeing ADHD as


a disability, she prefers to call
it a difference, one that can be
used to advantage given you
are in the right environment.

In this e-book many questions are posed such as:

 Why is media attention so negative?


 Why is it that governments fail in their duty of care?
 Why do medical practitioners fail to refer patients for
assessment?
 Why aren’t parents of ADHD children questioned about
inheritance consistently?
 What is it like to be ADHD and a mother?
 How can someone with so much energy be so draining to
others?

Often ADHD is perceived as a negative set of traits, but often it is


the opposite can be said to be true. How can something be so
‘wrong’, when our world depends on ADHD people for the
biggest successes this world has ever seen?

Our way of life, without ADHD traits being present, would be dull,
colourless and boring. Sure we have baggage, it is just that we
just have a few extra pockets in ours! Difference is our benefit.

 So : Reframe , Rethink, Respond

Sit back and enjoy the journey ….. It certainly won’t be boring!
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In 2001, I fielded calls from women and men from all over the Australia,
after a story was aired about women with Attention Deficit Hyper-activity
Disorder (ADHD) on A Current Affair (a prime time, top-rating current affairs
program in Australia). Since then, hundreds of people from Australia and
overseas have contacted me about their struggles and for help. This article I
hope will dispel any misconceptions about ADHD and shed a positive light
on what should be seen as a gift in many cases.

ADHD is primarily an inherited neurological difference that affects a part


of the frontal lobe of the brain. Many specialists are starting to believe, as I
do, that ADHD is natural and not a behavioural problem as many believe.
The different behaviour is a result of the quirky brain we possess, with
behavioural disorders often being co-morbid (added) to the eventual ADHD
diagnosis.

Most stories seem to be concerned with little boys who “bounce off
walls”, destructive little people who are out of control. This is the media
perception, and for some parents it is the way it is. It is not, however, how it
really is on the whole. The kids I have been dealing with need understanding
and compassion for the confusion that they feel, and so do the parents who
may be unknowingly ADHD themselves. Education and learning about
ADHD is part of the key to living as an ADDer (slang term for a person who is
ADHD).

There has been much in the media from so-called experts, especially
about the over diagnosis of ADHD. This has mainly been concerned with
children, nearly always boys and not adults, of which there has barely been
any coverage in the media at all. Unfortunately the same opinions/figures
have been manipulated to involve the adult figures as well, with the public
perception being that these figures are wholly to do with children. Much has
been said about the amount of people being diagnosed compared with 10
years ago, giving rise to the misconception that over-diagnosis is happening.
What is not being said is that the figures of ten to fifteen years ago were

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almost exclusively male and children.

The rise in figures in previous times can be put down to a few factors:

· Girls are now starting to be diagnosed

· Adults are being diagnosed more often

· Awareness of ADHD is higher than 5 to 10 years ago.

When awareness is raised, as in other key health areas (such as breast


cancer etc), more diagnoses are imminent. Public awareness 10 years ago
was low, add to this the adult factor (ADHD kids grow up!), the inherited
factor (if a child is diagnosed you have a 90% chance of a parent being
ADHD too) and the gender factor (yes girls can be ADHD) and you will have
a marked increase in percentages. However, the media passes off the
stimulant prescription statistics as exclusively being children's figures without
mention of the adult numbers being included.

For the sake of sensationalism, ratings and circulation, the media prefers
to omit these facts, giving rise to fear by the public that if medication is the
best option, then they should feel guilty about either taking it or giving it to
their child. Medication has its place; but many people, when put in the right
environment, do quite well without taking stimulants.

I was diagnosed at 40. Many ADDult issues are very different compared
to the general population. Some learn coping mechanisms from years of
struggle, but still “it” is there. This makes life a real problem at times; just to
contend with the little things that most people make appear easy can be
stressful.

Things such as remembering a birthday, paying bills, cleaning the


kitchen, meeting friends for lunch; even remembering to pick up the kids at
school and getting dinner ready on time. Most of the big studies have been
male orientated, to do with children and with no real thought about the
females who are ADHD. So, if this is true, how can they say it is over-
diagnosed when the opposite appears to be the case regarding adults?

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In ADDventurous Women, an Australian and New Zealand online based
support group, the main concern for members is educating the public
about ADHD in a positive manner. The way the general public sees people
with ADHD has been a negative one, which is extremely unfortunate, as
many of these adults are highly intelligent and very talented in their areas of
expertise. The positives about the disorder (although I prefer to say
‘difference’) are many. Personally, I would rather be ADHD than not. With
the children I am in contact with, it is not often that these kids DON’T have a
gift in some area; it is just a matter of finding it and giving the child a break.
The same can also be said of adults.

The public perception is a negative one, but why? The media prefers to
go with the sensationalism, distortion of the facts, showing the negatives
instead of the positives and the truth. Never mind the prejudiced response
from the public, which they have invoked, and the fact that they are the
main source of education for the general populace. No, they would rather
see people fighting it out in the public arena. (In the USA, a group of
Scientologists lead a class action against C.H.A.D.D – Children and Adults
with Attention Deficit Disorders, the largest USA organisation dedicated to
helping people with ADHD succeed - and Novartis the producers of Ritalin, a
leading medication used to treat ADHD. They lost in all states).

These are mainly people who will benefit financially from the uproar
through the sale of books, zealots whose religious sect benefits from the sale
of tapes and videos, via web sites, denouncing the very existence of ADHD.
Some experts, with university degrees, that flaunt an apparent
understanding of ADHD (eg. Neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists),
prefer to put the blame squarely on parenting skills or an effort to take the
easy way out. This is despite the fact that eighty-four internationally
recognised scientists, researchers, specialists, including some from Australia,
who signed off on a document to say the opposite.

(see: http://www.mindspace.bravepages.com/consensus.htm)

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The only person in the international media spotlight that has come close
to the truth has been Oprah Winfrey. The interviews were tasteful, full of
empathy, humorous and insightful. She also had experts and adults with the
ADHD to interview, people who were highly successful such as actors,
Olympic gold medallists and even a Harvard University Professor of
Psychiatry.

I have been told by various newspapers and media groups that they are
not interested in doing a story, unless someone came forward, preferably a
family or perhaps a noted public figure, before they would even consider
doing a ‘story’. (The newspaper The Weekend Australian, however, did a
wonderful article on adult ADHD that was spot on - Article: Pay Attention)

Forget the truth and the many positive aspects of ADHD, most media just
prefer to give any negative that can be twisted to appear like the truth,
anything to get people watching their programme or reading their paper;
better still if the people interviewed were professionals.

Many people are too scared to come forward because of the threat of
public ridicule and bad reporting by the media, and this is such a shame as
there are thousands of children who could benefit from a more positive self
image; well known Australians willing to come out of the ADD closet and
stand up and be counted would certainly give these kids a glimmer of
hope, and the self confidence they need to be successful individuals in life
and work.

Recently there have been stories on Depression in women being on the


rise. If anything, this is an illness that is being misdiagnosed. Many of the
women who called me were prescribed anti-depressants. Many were
refused a referral by their Family Doctors for ADHD assessment (which is not
covered for adults by Medicare if done by a psychologist), and when they
were referred to a psychiatrist, they encountered someone who did not
believe that ADHD even existed! Some of the women walked out of these

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unsympathetic offices worse than when they went in looking for answers.

This is the first stumbling block that many people face, especially women,
are their trusted practitioners and specialists who are supposedly “in the
know”. Without their referral to a specialist, there can be no assessment by a
psychiatrist. In Australia, an assessment may be made by a psychologist, but
currently they are unable to prescribe medication. Only a psychiatrist,
paediatrician or an especially government registered general practitioner
(M.D.) is able to prescribe medication. However, the initial full diagnosis is
made by a psychiatrist or paediatrician. A psychologist assessment is usually
required as well.

Although the story on A Current Affair was about Mothers with ADHD,
many people identified and the penny dropped: “that’s ME! It finally all
makes sense why I am the way I am!” was the comment I heard from the
people contacting me. Some were so excited they could not get the words
out quick enough to explain the way they felt. Many felt relief at being
finally able to open up to someone who could understand what they had
been trying to tell doctors for years. Some women, already diagnosed,
finally felt that they were not alone, relieved that now they had proof that
there were others just like them who could understand what they were on
about, vindicated in the presence of their partners and family who thought
they were making excuses.

A few concerns came to light from these phone calls. The main one was
the problem getting a referral to a psychiatrist from the family doctor.
Women who called, who had children diagnosed with ADHD, had never
been asked the question with regards to family history. Considering there is a
very strong genetic link, I cannot understand why this had not come up.
Family doctors should be querying the parents if there is a diagnosis by a
specialist of a child, especially if there is a substance abuse or an addiction
problem of some kind evident, or if a parent has been treated for
depression. Better still, the paediatrician should be looking at the parents

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and referring them back to their family doctor, if indications are there, to
obtain a referral to a psychiatrist that is knowledgeable in the ADHD area
(many, if not most, are not).

When I was assessed, after demanding a referral after ‘bouncing off the
walls’ a few times, I was asked all these things. My parents came in as well
(they were in their 70's then). It became evident that ADHD was on both
sides of my family after the specialist spoke to both my parents. It was very
enlightening, and for the first time I really got to know my father. From that
day on, despite our past rather emotional relationship, Dad became my
special friend. Our relationship in his twilight years grew. I now understand his
internal struggles, past self-medication and obsessive traits (he was a
diehard lawn bowler) and what he gave up to be with my mother. We are
so alike and I often wonder what it would have been like for him, if he had
done what his instincts told him he should do, like I have had the opportunity
to do.

Another problem has been the lack of a support network, or the fact
that one of the family members does not believe in the diagnosis. They
prefer to believe that it is a “cop out”. It is not uncommon for a family
member to lose contact with the ADDult due to personality traits, perceived
differences and misunderstandings.

Many women have found themselves on their own, when their partner
has left, for example. There is a high incidence of divorce amongst families
where there is undiagnosed ADHD. It is not unusual for undiagnosed parents
to clash with their children to such an extent that the children prefer to lose
contact with their parent. It is sad, and so preventable, if only these adults
had astute doctors and specialists experienced in recognising ADHD.

Let me explain what it is like to be a woman with ADHD symptoms. We


are not lazy, crazy, space heads, nerds, not worth knowing and something
to be afraid of. We have difficulty in organising our minds when things
appear boring. Our brain effectively bombards our minds with so many

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possibilities, that it almost becomes impossible to choose from the selection.

So where it has been thought that we are not paying attention, really
what can be happening is that we are trying to process the information just
heard. That is, we are paying attention to everything. Instead of a deficit, it is
more an excess of attention. Unfortunately that means we could well miss
pieces of the ensuing conversation, whilst this is going on and it may appear
we are not listening, or ignoring, what we are supposed to be hearing.

In stress situations we can space out, or we can hear one word that can
trigger a whole different mode of thought in our minds. Daily tasks become
overwhelming, and if there is an impulse to do something, like a hobby or
shopping for instance, we find it very difficult to not do the activity “calling
to us” without treatment. There is an addictive side to our personality and
this can come out as an obsession with a hobby that has a creative edge to
it such as painting, writing, ceramics, cross stitch or website design to an
addiction such as food, shopping, alcohol and drugs.

Many adults become 'health nuts', unable to go a day without their


exercise routine. This can be seen as an addiction but is also a method of
self medicating as it helps to raise the Dopamine levels in the brain. When
the exercise is stopped the person experiences a type of withdrawal. It is all
addiction of one form or another, some good, some bad depending how
you look at it.

The first thing that usually ‘goes’ is housework. It is one of the first
questions I ask when counselling someone who has contacted me…..
“How’s your housework?” This normally ends up with a barrage of excuses or
a comment like “I have better things to do with my time”. This really is not the
reason; the reason is that usually you can’t get your head around the
organising or you get distracted by other things when you start doing the
cleaning.

On the flip side, the person can also be an obsessive cleaner, not coping

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at all if there is a thing out of place. Often they will take cleaning to an
extreme, and perhaps have an old toothbrush out cleaning the grout on the
tiles every week! ADHD with an OCD co-morbidity (added on disorder).

Women have many different issues to contend with in their life,


especially if married and with children. Keeping the house clean is a major
obstacle in many cases, organising lunches, school excursions, bill paying
and cooking. Remembering birthdays and Christmas cards, picking the kids
up at school, after school activities, well, it can all get a bit much even when
a person is treated.

Left untreated, this can become an absolute nightmare. By our very


nature we are perfectionists; we expect to do our best and when we
cannot, stress sets in. We are our own worst critic and judge, expecting our
best and rarely achieving it when strong organisation skills are concerned.

Sometimes ADHD can go undetected because the person is very


successful, has personal assistants to deal with boring tasks and has house
cleaners, accountants and all manner of organisers to take control of the
menial things that they find boring. Don't get me wrong, ADHD people can
be fantastic, creative and driven organisers, so long as they don't have to
do the more boring tasks themselves. They can 'see' what needs to be done
and are brilliant brain-stormers, however if they have to do it themselves
(and often they make the mistake of not delegating) there is the risk of them
getting distracted, missing deadlines or not finishing the task at all.

Medication can help enormously, with many adults going back to


school after treatment and even pursuing university to study (such as
myself). It would have been inconceivable to even contemplate sitting in a
lecture for 2 hours and not being able to get out of the chair and move
around, let alone concentrate and remember all that is said. Luckily, if an
assessment has been done, accommodations can be made to help you
succeed at a tertiary level and also for implementation into the workplace.

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If the children are gifted, as many ADDlets are in some area, and the
same can be said of ADDults, the concerns become even more
complicated. Teachers do not see the ADHD traits for the intelligence. These
“Little Einsteins” are forgetful, untidy (or excessively tidy), argumentative, do
not study as it all comes so easy and find everything outside of their interests
as boring.

They may go on the computer and won’t come off, glued to the screen
and being totally oblivious to all that is going on around them. A bomb
could drop and they would not notice it, so intent are they on the particular
activity they are involved in. (how can a child, or an adult for that matter,
be ADHD when they can concentrate so intently, people ponder?)

They make friends, but often cannot keep the friendship going (although
some are very charismatic and just flit from friend to friend without anyone
thinking anything of it).

Some gifted children with ADD can also have a learning or neurological
disability such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, coding problems or auditory processing
problems. Sometimes they are very advanced in all areas of the curriculum
but still cannot organise themselves to hand their work in on time, they
constantly lose or forget things and often have trouble filtering out
background noises.

This is not about just having kids and adults do “okay”, but to be the very
best that they can be. For a gifted person, to achieve mediocrity can put
them in the high risk category for depression or anxiety issues - and even
suicide. Children who are under-stimulated may “act up” or appear quiet
and withdrawn. Adults in the right career can really make their mark,
however if they are in a job that is not making use of their natural abilities
then they may become ill through stress.

One of the behaviours exhibited by ADHD people is risk taking


behaviour. The risk element may not necessarily be at all dangerous. It can

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be related to a business, an idea that they have and believe in that they
pursue relentlessly (there is a fine line to be drawn between obsession and
commitment) or travelling away to live in unfamiliar surroundings without
family support (immigrating to another country).

However, the risk taking can also lead to injury or death (extreme sports,
drug taking, alcohol abuse, shop lifting, unprotected sex resulting in HIV,
doing stupid dares to fit in with their peers or getting into a car hitch hiking
when knowing the dangers are examples).

Experts, the world over, agree that somewhere between 2 and 10% of
any western country’s population would be ADD/ ADHD. A conservative
estimate is 5%. Taking into account Australia’s beginnings as a penal colony,
our gold rush history and immigration policies of the years gone by, and our
rate of youth suicide per capita ~ the second highest in the world~ our
percentage could be significantly higher than this. In fact, an Australian
federal government document on the mental health of our youth in the
school system (ages 6 to 17) indicates that the figure is a national average
of 11.2%. High income areas are at approximately 6%, with low income
areas being as high as 18%. This is the same document that says about 15%
of our youth suffers depression at any one time and from which several
government programmes were based.

Considering that many of our ADHD kids show signs of depression (the
figures for ADHD are about 3/4 of the 15% of depressed kids), wouldn’t it
stand to reason to provide programmes to deal with ADHD? Unfortunately, if
the government tried to educate the public, there would be a rush on the
Medicare and Education systems. Bottom line, it is cheaper to support
depression issues.

Let’s get down to facts. Australia has nearly over 20 million people living
in it. Take 5% of that and you have about 1 million people that could be
ADHD. Let’s halve that because some of these people are only mildly

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affected. That leaves 500,000 people in our country, conservatively, with
ADHD, diagnosed or undiagnosed and needing treatment. It is very
expensive to be assessed. Treatment and assessment would make a huge
dent in the wages of most people and almost impossible to attain if on
unemployment/disability benefits. To me, this amounts to discrimination by
the government.

As I have indicated above, the people that are disadvantaged most are
the low income earners, and those on government benefits. About 50,000
Australian children are now believed to be taking stimulant medication to
help with their traits. How can ADHD be over-diagnosed when this only
attributes to 10% of the total expected, conservative figures? One would
presume that there would be fewer adults than children diagnosed. Besides,
children are normally easier to pick up on regarding their symptoms
(especially if hyperactive) compared to adults. In many cases, these adults
have learnt coping mechanisms so that their traits are less obvious. Yet life is
still difficult, and they strain to cope with the multitude of stresses that being
an ADDult can bring. It is even more so if there are children involved, and
ADHD ones at that!

What came to light, after the A Current Affair story in 2000, was that
many women had sought treatment from their Family Doctors (and I had
over 180 phone calls and e-mails until I stopped counting). Many had been
put on anti-depressants and told that adults do not get this disorder. You
mean that the ADHD fairy comes along at the age of 18 and says “you are
now an adult, you do not have ADHD anymore". POOF, be gone ADHD!
Cope! GROW UP!” Sorry, but this does not make an ounce of sense.

I conducted an informal survey of those people who rang up and


included the first 100 who rang as the figures. One aspect of this that
TOTALLY amazed me, was that only TWO of the 70 women with diagnosed
children (30 had no children) were asked what they were like as children,

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and who among the parents could also be ADHD, ending in a referral to a
specialist for themselves. Many had to bring up the possibility of being ADHD
with the doctors. The possibility that it came from an inherited element is
extremely likely; 90 to 95% probability is a conservative estimate.

Take this into account: How can a parent help the child with their
problems, when the parent cannot handle their own? Compare this to flying
in an airplane; the word from the captain is ‘It is going to crash land’! You
have your toddler with you; what do you do? Put the oxygen mask on your
child first or on yourself? Well, you put it on yourself first, otherwise who will
help the child when you are dead?

The same applies to ADHD mothers and fathers. You need to be able to
help yourself before you can help your child adequately, otherwise your
stress levels go out of control, the marriage/relationship is affected and you
are yelling incessantly at the child who only rebels even more. You are in a
no win situation.

Anti-depressants do not address the root cause of the ADHD person


being depressed, although they can help immensely in some cases.
Unfortunately family doctors are, on the whole, not very astute at treating or
even detecting ADHD. I have spoken to grandmothers who finally realise
that they may be ADHD like a couple of their grandkids, especially after their
own child will exclaim to the grandchild “you are just like Grandma!”

Why wasn’t the question of a possible ADHD diagnosis asked and


explored, especially when the mother or father was obviously stressed to the
point that they needed anti-depressants? Why wasn’t the question asked
when, in extreme cases, the problem between mother and child has come
to a stage where the parents give up their children to community services,
as they cannot control their own moods, let alone help their child?

Mind you, these “mother’s little helpers” (anti-depressants), may only


help stop the mother from stressing so much. It does not help with all the

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other things she has to cope with, such as being disorganised at home,
having her finances in a mess and no motivation or too much motivation. It
just stops them from worrying about it as much.

Take care of the problem (ADHD) and a lot of the time they do not need
the anti-depressants. I have seen women emerge as cleaning machines
within 20 minutes of their first time on stimulants. It is like a fog has lifted,
being able to “see” things that need doing for the first time, and being able
to sort through the steps that you need to take to do the job. Getting a load
of dishes done and the sink clean can be a huge accomplishment, even if
the woman has a university degree!

There is nothing average about being ADHD and it is a thing of extremes.


There is an all or nothing attitude that can have people perceive you as
sometimes lazy or as a human dynamo. ADHD never exists on its own and
often people, especially adults, will be diagnosed as having depression or
anxiety, OCD or maybe a learning disability when it may just be a co-morbid
condition to being ADHD. Often they can be extremely intelligent, if not
gifted, as well.

Due to government constraints and policies, many of these people


cannot get the treatment they deserve, and need, to have a productive
life. With the comments from ill-informed politicians such as Amanda
Vanstone in Australia, who said in parliament in 2003, that children nearly
always grow out of ADHD, and that she knows of no-one who exists with
ADHD after 25 years of age, it is obvious that it is not only the public that
need re-educating but our government representatives as well. Such
comments are not only irresponsible but damaging and ignorant.

Now this is what is so confusing to me, how can a government recognise


ADHD as a disability, yet offer little information about strategies or treatment
options? How can it be blatantly ignored in adulthood by our government?
Is it because of comments by senior pollies that set us backward in
achieving equity in treatment?

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Often it is entirely by accident, or by talking to other ADHD adults, that
you find out about schemes that can help that are government backed;
such as CRS, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. If only the
government realised the overall benefits to society, as a whole as well as the
individual, that the impact of promoting the help available could have. It is
investment in human potential and therefore in our country’s resources.

A visiting American ADHD expert visited our government offices asking


questions about this very area. She was appalled to find out that the very
people that are relied upon to help, know little about what is available. She
had to enlighten them about what they should have known. Could it be
that our public servants are not receiving adequate enough training to pass
on the correct information, or perhaps they do not have the lateral thinking
abilities to problem solve that many ADDers have? Perhaps that is a solution,
employ more people who can demonstrate problem solving abilities or
employ those with a degree in health promotion.

Some people are so severely affected by being ADHD that they are on
a disability pension (although Amanda Vanstone would probably have this
revoked as she does not believe in ADHD over 25). More often than not,
these are people cannot afford the best treatment possible, specialist
psychologists, counsellors and coaches, people who can help reframe the
way they think, teach new living and social skills, helping them to gain
confidence in themselves and their often innate abilities.

It is only in recent years, in Australia, that medications used to treat ADHD


are being covered by government subsidies. Treatment without medication,
such as a psychologist/therapist, is almost impossible for the average person,
let alone someone on unemployment or on a pension. The government
offers, for a limited time only, under-informed officials, red-tape obstacles
and access to often under-trained therapists with limited or no adult ADHD
knowledge, to people who just wish to be comfortable in their own skin.

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There are two main stimulants that are prescribed in Australia. One is
dexamphetamine (Dexedrine), and the other methylphenidate (Ritalin,
Concerta and Attenta brand names) which with a health care card is
cheaper. Recently Concerta, the 12 hour equivalent of Ritalin, was placed
on subsidy for adults, but ONLY if an adult has been diagnosed ADHD at 18
years or younger. Why should an adult, who has slipped between medical
cracks, be discriminated against by the government because they could
not be diagnosed by the right age? Accounting for the fact that females
are the least diagnosed, this could be seen as a silent case of patriarchal
bias.

At least, now, low-income earners and those on health care cards can
afford the better medications. With psychologists now being able to claim a
Medicare rebate, hopefully some people will get the care they deserve, all-
be-it momentarily. That is, IF the psychologist is ADHD savvy. Many are not,
so it is still a hit and miss situation when getting the correct help.

If you want to try Neuro-feedback, which studies are showing offers the
best chance of living a life free of medication, well, who can afford 40 hours
of training at over $6000 for the course? The state and federal governments
should seriously consider putting this equipment, and trained staff, in each
school district, or better still each government school. There is portable
equipment available that is cost effective, education based and proven.

I would like to add here that if a person decides to try medication, then it
should be used as a learning tool and not as a crutch. How can a person
learn an appropriate action if they have never experienced the normalcy of
a lineal brain? In other words, if you constantly are thinking outside the
square in all manner of things, how can you think ‘straight’? Medication
allows people to know how it FEELS to think in an organised fashion and to
concentrate without deviation.

From this we learn how to react in different ways, recalling the

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experience thus enabling recall and tapping in to an actual memory, which
otherwise could only be imagined. Experience is preferable. If a person
would prefer an alternative way of experiencing the quietness,
hypnotherapy and yoga are two options worth considering, as both have
had success.

Like an Olympic athlete, we have to train our brains; this often takes
years of work. Sometimes we just have to forgive ourselves for our little
failures (like housework. I still cannot get my head around it unless I have
someone doing it with me. Doing my tax returns yearly is another one.)

Many ADDers have severe allergies as well that need medication….


Asthma, eczema, psoriasis, sinusitis, food allergies such as lactose
intolerance etc. and Fibromyalgia. Often they have bowel problems such as
diverticulitis, lower back problems, ulcers and headaches. Treat the ADHD
and often some symptoms, especially stress related ones, cease to exist.

I had chronic back problems for all my adult life and it was only after
taken Ritalin for a month that I noticed the pain in my lower back had
virtually gone. When I have taken a break from medication the pain came
back. Other women have also noticed the same thing with back pain and
also Fibromyalgia, some experiencing no pain for the first time in decades!

Australia, compared to the United States, is extremely limited regarding


treatment options, and it will be a long time before we actually see an
improvement in the situation. In the meantime, we will just muddle along,
hoping that we have said the right thing, haven’t forgotten to pick up the
kids at school, remember to take out the night’s dinner from the freezer and
to stock up the toilet paper. Life goes on!

With a little understanding from the general public, education of family


doctors, teachers, diagnosed children, parents and correct media reports
(especially by academics without a limited viewpoint), increased
government involvement and acceptance for our “quirks” by the people

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who we come into contact with, then maybe we can just ‘be’, enjoy our
‘selves’ and have happy, stimulating and productive lives – something
everyone has a right to.

I underwent assessment in June and July of 2000. I knew that there was a
problem and I had actually booked in for assessment 4 years prior to be
assessed, but the cost was so great that I could not afford the testing. This is
required for a correct diagnosis; you have to know where your problems are,
your weak areas, so that you can have a plan for yourself. Being the true
ADDer that I am, I procrastinated until I could not cope with the way my life
was heading any further. Perhaps if I had taken up my parent’s offer to pay
for the assessment, I would have been better off. All I know is that my kids
would have been happier, my husband would have had less to deal with
because of my lack of household organisational skills, and yes, I would have
been much happier.

You can't think like an ADDer anymore than an ADDer could think like
you. Their brains work in a totally different way to the norm. In fact it is strong
ADD traits that have been found in world leaders (Sir Winston Churchill, the
Kennedys) and some of the world’s biggest, scientific brains (Edison,
Einstein, Marie Curie). Musical geniuses (Mozart), war hero’s, leading
entrepreneurs (Richard Branson) and of course some of the funniest people
to grace our planet (Robin Williams, Billy Connelly, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher)
have either been diagnosed, or have presented, with ADHD traits.

It is amazing how many of our favourite TV programmes are based on


ADHD type characters such as The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Friends
(Joey and Phoebe), Just Shoot Me and the cartoon Pepper Ann, to name
only a few. The entertainment arena is a natural one for ADDers to be drawn
too, one where they can think on their feet and use their lateral thinking
abilities and impulsive tendencies to the maximum. On the big and little
screens they appear in total control, however away from it they may not be
as controlled as you might think. Many suffer periods of “crash and burn”

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where their brains can cope with the hyperactivity no more. Suicide
attempts, addictions, depression, multiple marriages and a tendency to
over-react can take over their lives and making front page news in the
process. Their lives can be as dramatic, even more so, than what appears
on screen. Often people will find them draining to be around, erratic, over
the top, over confident and egotistical. Often, no matter how successful
and confident they can appear to be, the opposite can be true.

Many of these celebrities suffer poor self esteem that takes the form of
bragging, a way of building themselves up and reinforcing their self worth.
Often their tactlessness is seen by them as ‘the truth’. What makes this all
seem strange, is that they have strong intuition with regards people they are
dealing with regarding work, however in a social situation they misread
body language, are often 'out of the loop' socially, rarely getting invitations,
and they cannot understand why.

It took me about 4 months after diagnosis to realise that I could sap the
energy out of people and be physically draining in another person's
presence; I was an energy vampire of sorts. An old boss of mine would tell
me to stand 2 metres away as I was “in his personal space”. It didn’t happen
to others in my office. He wasn’t singling me out, he was just protecting
himself. We have laughed about it since, so now I use the ‘hoola hoop’
strategy —when I am talking to people I take a step back and make sure I
have a hoop space around me as my ‘sense of space’ is sometimes lacking.

I had the opportunity to meet with Professor Richard Silberstein from the
Brain Sciences Institute at Swinburne Institute of Technology; I viewed scans
of an ADHD brain and listened to this passionate man explains his theories. In
essence he said that ADHD is a difference, a type of brain that has a
purpose. This is supported by his good friend Thom Hartmann, (author of
ADD A Different Perception and my mentor), who has a theory that ADHD
people had the traits necessary in a Hunters’ society: easily distracted, live in
the moment, lateral thinking, short attention span, quick decision making

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and a risk taking. In fact, without these traits Hunters could easily have been
killed. It is a difference, just like there are different coloured eyes; hair and
skin, there are different ‘coloured’ brains.

No, I don’t find being ADHD negative, not at all. The only negative things I
can see are misinformed people, government officials and political
candidates bleating subjective views and those with no compassion. I have
said many times, the most disabling thing about ADHD is the attitude,
ignorance and misconceptions of others. The sooner people can see that
ADHD is an ADDition and not a CONdition, the happier, healthier and a
more accepting our children will grow to be.

I am in good company and with all the little quirks; I like me just the way I
am - especially the new, improved me.

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AFTERWORD
Judie Gade has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Deakin University in
Melbourne, Australia. Majoring in Psychology, she also has the equivalent of a
major in Health Promotion and has minors in Journalism and Children’s
Literature.

For ten years, Judie has written articles on ADHD. She is involved in co-
writing the workbook for an ADHD/Asperger’s Syndrome Psycho-social Skills
manual with Dr. Angel Adams in the England. She has finished the text to a
picture-book on depression and sadness, for 4 to 7 year olds, and is continuing
writing a book on Life Skills for ADHD teens. Concerned with the lack of
educational material for early primary/elementary school-aged child about
mental health and learning differences, from their own perspective, Judie is
researching the development of a series of age-appropriate books for 4 - 7
year old children, with the first aiming to be published in 2011.

Her inspiring and informative articles have been widely distributed globally,
in English and translated into other languages, by ADHD professionals,
government departments, teachers and mental health, education and
school websites. They have been picked up by professional organisations for
their common sense approach and non-medical way of speaking.

Judie started ADDventurous Women in 2001, an on-line support group for


Australian ADHD women which eventually branched out to include New
Zealand. She is a campaigner of ADHD information, determined that the
correct information is promoted to the public, dispelling negative myths, whilst
educating on the positive aspects of ADHD individuals. Over the years, she
has appeared on A Current Affair, The Denise Drysdale Show, 3AW and
community radio stations Southern FM and City FM.

In 2010, with an apparent need for life skills education, Judie is


concentrating her ADHD consulting on educating elite sports people,
individuals/families about their ADHD traits, how to apply strategies and to
have productive, successful lives and careers.

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Judie Gade

MOBILE: 0410-402-404
INTERNATIONAL: +61 410 402 404
EMAIL: addcoach@bigpond.com

She is available for speaking engagements & private consultation.

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WEBSITES ABOUT ADHD
Ed-u-cate
http://www.mindspace.bravepages.com

ADDvance ADHD website for women and girls


http://www.addvance.com

About.com
http://www.add.about.com

ADDitude magazine
http://www.additudemag.com

ADDA - The largest of all adult ADHD groups in the USA.


http://www.add.org

Novartis backed website


http://www.adhdinfo.com

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder U.K.


http://www.aadd.org.uk/

C.H.A.D.D.
http://www.chadd.org/

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