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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Helping Other Understand ADD

05/02/2006

Question:

I am a 22 year old junior engineering major. I was recently diagnosed with ADD. As a result of some confusion with the healthcare system here, I was diagnosed by three different psychologists/psychiatrists. I was always a really good kid, and I always did my homework. I was labeled as "gifted", and no one ever suspected ADD. But books doubled as notebooks (as they still do) and it seemed to take me forever to get my work done. It is the same for me now. I don`t really socialize very much; school really takes almost all of my time. I lose things all the time - important things like bills, paychecks, my glasses (they have been missing for about 3 months), etc. I cannot read more than two pages of anything without falling asleep. Even now, when I study in groups, it seems to take me two to three times as long to get my schoolwork done as my peers. And I seem to have a completely different life going on in my endless daydreams. I really think this is a major problem for me, even though I have generally been successful in school. My parents, on the other hand, are asking how there could possibly be something really wrong with me when I am generally more successful than they have ever been. They think it`s just that engineering school is tough; they think I`m just looking for something to make it easier. I would really like to try medication. But they have heard about some sudden unexplained deaths resulting from the stimulant medications. I am on my parents` health insurance, so they basically have to agree to any treatments I receive. I don`t know how to convince them that this is a real problem. I can totally see their side - it appears that I`m just making excuses for being young and irresponsible, especially considering that I really do have a lot of responsibilities for my age and position. I really don`t want to tell them about all of the homework that I turn in late, all of the bills that I`ve paid late, all of the times that I`ve showed up late for classes, that I really do pull at least one all-nighter per week, etc. How can I convince them that I`m not just making excuses, without just making them angry with me and making them think I`m even more irresponsible than they already do? I`ve been to CHADD and pretty much everywhere I can think of searching for some document or anything that will explain my condition to them, in a way that they will actually believe. Any suggestions?

Answer:

I would urge you to speak with the psychologist or psychiatrist you were most comfortable with and ask him/her to help you with this. If your parents are close or come visit once in a while, going with you to hear from an expert may do wonders. That way the whole thing moves from a general question about likelihood and possibilities out of context to a discussion about you in specific.

The health care professional can also help to calm your parents (and perhaps your?) fears about side effects and put all into perspective. And if there are things you don't want to share with your parents, make that clear to the expert prior to bringing your parents by.

I wish you the best!

For more information:

Go to the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati