Friday, February 06, 2009

Dr. Russell Barkley- ADHD Insights, Part 1 Show #105

Back in November, I had a chance to sit down with the very well known Dr. Russell Barkley, one of the true giants in the field of ADHD research. Dr. Barkley is one of the principal investigators in the longest term study on ADHD to date known as the Milwaukee Study, following kids diagnosed with ADHD from childhood now through early adulthood.

In this first part of our two-part conversation, Dr. Barkley and I talk about:
  • The History of ADHD
  • Why it's so hard for people to accept that ADHD is a biologically based behavioral disorder, not just a result of poor parenting or bad social environments.
  • When we understand the origins of ADHD, there's a change from moral indignation at behaviors to compassion when we realize that the child can't help some of their behaviors- it's due to their brain function and neurological reasons, not a wilful choice to annoy you.
  • Kids to change over development- so while we don't care that a three year old has no sense of time, this is something that becomes crucial as kids get older and certainly for adults. What was always a problem remains, even though we might have expected that they would simply "outgrow" the issue over time. This the contours and problems of ADHD change over time and over development, and the diagnostic criteria are still a bit behind in adapting to our understanding of how the face of ADHD changes over the course of development.
  • Skills build on top of one another, so weak skills early on get exacerbated over time.
  • Brighter people with ADHD often figure out different ways to get the job done and it may take them longer; less bright may simply give up or avoid the task all together. It's easier to give into your ADHD than try to constantly compensate for it.
  • Impairments are situation specific, even if symptoms remain the same, like putting a ramp in front of a building; You can arrange the environment to allow people with ADHD to be more successful and remove the disability, by working around their style- shorter bursts of work, over longer period of time, for example.
  • Kids should be allowed to have a quality of life, too, and that play and socialization should be reason enough to let kids play versus have large amounts of homework every night.
And much more. I know you will find this conversation and content compelling. Dr. Barkley has given me much more insight into how ADHD changes over time, and I know I'm changing how I approach issues with my own children.

Click here to listen to Show #105- Dr. Russell Barkley, Part 1

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