Friday, February 20, 2009

Show #106- Dr. Russell Barkley :Understanding ADHD

This show features the second half of my conversation with Dr. Russell Barkley. We talk about many critical things parents and educators need to know about ADHD, but the most critical is this:

Kids with ADHD tend to be 30-40% delayed in developing executive functions, and if we can adjust our expectations of our children, setting expectations based not on their age but their developmental stage. By adjusting our expectations to what the child can actually do takes lots of stress, pain and unhappiness out of the often tense situation caused by ADHD and its performance problems.

Dr. Barkley is one of the most respected, internationally recognized experts in ADHD and is well known as the primary investigator in on of the longest continuous studies about ADHD known as the Milwaukee Study, following kids from childhood through age 28 (and the study continues to follow this cohort today.) Dr. Barkley's full credentials can be found on his informative website -you can find it at

I've excerpted part of his credentials here for you:

After serving in the United States Air Force Dr. Barkley obtained his Bachelor's Degree with Honors in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973. He then attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio where he received his Masters Degree in 1975 and his Ph.D. in 1977 in Clinical Psychology, receiving the Distinguished Dissertation Award for his research on the effects of medication on children with ADHD. He then attended the Oregon Health Sciences University for internship training in developmental, learning, and behavioral disorders of children. Thereafter, in 1977, he joined the Department of Neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCOW) and Milwaukee Children's Hospital where he worked in the Child Neurology Division and eventually founded the Neuropsychology Service at MCOW. He served as its Chief and as Associate Professor of Neurology until 1985. Dr. Barkley then relocated to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he served as the Director of Psychology and as a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology (1985-2002). While there, he established the research clinics for both child and adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders. In 2003, Dr. Barkley relocated to the Charleston, SC area where he became a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. In 2005, he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY.

Dr. Barkley has been awarded a Diplomate (board certification) in three specialties, these being Clinical Psychology (ABPP), Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN, ABPP). He is a clinical scientist, educator, and practitioner who has authored, co-authored, or co-edited 20 books and clinical manuals. He has published more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters related to the nature, assessment, and treatment of ADHD and related disorders (see Publications). In 1993, he founded a bimonthly newsletter for clinical professionals, The ADHD Report (Guilford Publications). He has created seven professional videotapes on ADHD and defiant children, three of which have won national awards, including the 1992 and 1994 Golden Apple Award for educational videos from the National Education Association. Dr. Barkley has served on the editorial boards of 11 scientific journals and as a reviewer for numerous others. He was the President of the Section of Clinical Child Psychology, Division 12, of the American Psychological Association (1988), and was President of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology (1991).

Also in today's show:

Please check out the dysTalk website, a UK based website dealing with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Donna, a listener, particularly recommends the video on the Emotional Side of Dyslexia, and I have to agree that it's wonderful. Please send your recommendations, ideas and the like to us at and I'll feature them on the show!

Click here to listen to show #106- Dr. Russell Barkley, Part II

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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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