Mind Matters: Yes, adults can have ADHD

There are some things we just don’t outgrow, and ADHD
(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) may be one of them. Recent studies
have found that those who suffered ADHD as children may continue to suffer its
effects throughout adulthood.

Ari Tuckman is a local psychologist who has written several
books on the subject. “More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for
Adults with ADHD” is his most recent. It is a great book for both those who
have ADHD and for those who live with someone who does. The book provides sound
research as well as practical strategies.

Tuckman laments that he must state in his book, “ADHD is
real” to counteract the many myths that purport ADHD to be a bogus issue.
However, he also warns that there can only be effective treatment with accurate
diagnosis. Forgetting our keys occasionally makes a case neither for “we all
have ADHD moments, therefore ADHD doesn’t exist,” nor for “we all have ADHD”
and therefore need treatment.

Diagnosing ADHD, says Tuckman, is not a simple matter of
taking an online survey. What may be most helpful in determining whether an
individual has ADHD or not is a lengthy interview in which a knowledgeable
therapist can inquire about the person’s present functioning and past
performance. What are the individual’s strengths and weaknesses? Tuckman notes
that if an individual reports a particular symptom that might indicate ADHD,
the therapist needs to investigate the length, duration and pervasiveness of
that symptom. For example, forgetfulness. Did the person have problems with
forgetfulness in grade school as well as now? In what situations is the
forgetfulness most problematic? And, further, at what cost to the person’s life
is the symptom? Is the symptom merely an annoyance or has it precipitated
losses of relationships or jobs?

ADHD in adulthood, Tuckman advises, may be masked by
other diagnoses, such as anxiety or depression. Often, the hyperactivity
component so apparent (especially in the stereotype of the restless little boy)
in childhood dissipates in adulthood ADHD and what becomes more evident is
distractibility—not finishing projects, not being able to follow through,
procrastination.

Once ADHD is properly diagnosed, the treatment is
multi-faceted. Because it is a neurological condition, properly managed
medications (such as Ritalin or Adderall, for example) can be very helpful, but
Tuckman reminds the reader that some folks manage their ADHD without the aid of
medication. Learning coping skills, stress management, mindfulness meditation,
organizational skills, time management—all these can help. Most importantly,
guided by the therapist, the person with ADHD, from a lifetime of feeling
inadequate and perhaps ashamed, can begin to build self-esteem and selftrust.

Ari Tuckman gives caring and clear advice to those with
ADHD. Some of the resources he lists include:

· AdultADHDbook.com

· add.org

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About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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