| Sep 2016
Man Cave

You down with ADD? Yeah, me too.

The Penn you see on this website, and in these videos, is the product of a very fun job.  It’s a job not too many people have, so every morning I wake up and count my lucky stars that I get to do this job.

I think about all the crazy things that happen with our family.

I talk, and laugh about it.

Sometimes I make it rhyme.

It is a job that didn’t exist a few years ago.  It’s a job my wife envisioned, created, and basically hired me to do, with the belief that people would find it interesting.  It is a job that is the product of 40 years learning how to tell stories (as a TV journalist), and how to make music (something I’ve tried to do since I was 12).

It is a job that would be completely impossible without ADD.

Yes, you read that right.  If it’s possible to call something  “The world’s fastest growing disorder”, it would be ADD (or ADHD… I actually have ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but for the purpose of this article lets keep it simple and call it ADD).  It’s been called “an epidemic”. One in 10 kids these days is diagnosed with it. 

OK, I have ADD so lets make a sudden left turn and go back a couple decades….

I was diagnosed in college.  It wasn’t really a buzz word back then, but mine was so bad that a friend mentioned I may want to check on medication.  After three years struggling mightily with grades I went on something called “Dexedrine”. Sounds like a weight loss drug right? 

Well, I did lose about 20 pounds on this stuff.  I also felt completely different.  I remember the first weekend I had it I was at the beach with some old family friends.  I went on a 5 mile walk with an old friend. 

When it was over, she said “do you realize you just spent an hour talking to me without spacing out or interrupting me”

“Really?”

“Yeah.  It was really nice.  Did you enjoy it?”

“I guess so.”

Honestly, the reason I enjoyed it is because she enjoyed it.  Making other people happy makes me happy.  But on my insides, I felt a little bit like a robot.  A lot of the funny, quirky things I normally would have said didn’t bubble to the surface. I listened and I learned.

That last year in college my grades went up a full point from a B-minus student to an A-minus student.  I graduated on time, which a year before had been very much in question.  On the other hand, I felt like a completely different person.  I was on a very even keel 95% of the time, but the other 5% I was a total mess, sometimes breaking down and crying, or shouting at people I loved without knowing why.

I felt different, kind of like the guy that someone hired to replace the guy who lost his job because he sucked at it.  Like a more put-together version of me. But not like me.

A year later, I made the decision to discontinue medication, which was, I imagine, I little like trying to quit smoking.  The first few days I probably ate 6 meals a day, sleept 15 hours a day, and felt like I was in a fog.  A lot of time on the couch, zoning out on the TV. 

But after about a week, I felt about myself again.

NOTE : My experience with ADD medication was exactly that : my experience.  Without a doubt there are benefits. I have seen close friends of mine change for the better through a steady dose of medication.  It just depends on the person.

Here’s the thing about going off the meds : I also felt really guilty.  I know that for the most part, even though the medication ultimately made me feel unhappy, it was making life a lot easier on the people around me.  After hearing people tell me for a year : “wow, it’s nice having an actual conversation with you,” what did it say about me that I was foregoing that again to go back to my actual self? Is that selfish?

Oh, and I just graduated… What the heck is next?

Thank God for Local Television.

If you work in local TV, or you know people who do, you may be stunned to see that sentence.  It is, in many ways, a brutal industry.  The supply/demand curve is so out of whack that the salaries are terrible, the hours are terrible, there is zero stability, and you have to move all over the country to places you don’t really want to go just to get to the point where you aren’t living on food stamps (If you had counted my salary divided by my hours, I qualified for food stamps in my first year as a TV Sports Anchor, by the way).

Whatever.

My first night interning at the ABC station in Durham, I felt completely alive.  People were shouting in short sentences.  They were running around with tapes.  They were flying through video at the speed of sound and picking out 15 seconds of sensational video from 3 hours of content.  They were facing impossible 20 minute deadlines and delivering with seconds to spare.  They were throwing on coats and ties and makeup while walking and talking to three different people at once.

All of a sudden, I wasn’t a space cadet anymore.  I was enthralled.  There was no “deficit”, no “disorder”.  I understood it all.  I devoured it all. Within a month I had gotten so good at editing, and writing copy (which is one way of saying “take eloquently written prose and turn it back into 7th grade diagram sentences so the anchor can read it in less than five seconds”) that my scripts, and my videos, were making air time.  I stayed late every night, not because I felt it would help my career, because I LOVED it. 

I don’t need to tell you about the rest of my career, all you need to know about is that first night.  I have won a lot of awards and have been called “gifted” at my craft.  And it is truly a gift.  My brain works in a way that if it doesn’t get the stimulus necessary to retain my attention, it moves onto something else.  As someone who tells stories and makes videos, it means that I can filter out the unnecessary, and keep the good stuff, better than people with “normal” brains. 

There are more and more jobs out there in the world that require the exact skill set possessed by someone with ADD, which is good.  We just need to get through school, and find our niche in the world.

I hate that it’s called a disorder.  There are so many things that people with ADD do well.  We are great multitaskers.  We have an energy that is often infectuous.  We are passionate, and spontaneous, and creative.  We love to love, and to be loved.

I will end by saying that I am grateful for the love that my family has given me.  I know what a pain in the butt it can be living with someone who sometimes bounces around like a pinball.  I bet my wife (who I know I don’t deserve) sometimes feels she has to put up with three children, not two.  I hope that all the good stuff outweighs the bad, because this is who I am, and I don’t know that I ever want to change that.

Here’s a little video we made to celebrate ADD!

  • Lisa

    Thank you for sharing your story. In my family we have at least 4 adults diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. I have never been diagnosed however I suspect that was the root of all my problems in school. I am now a Special Education teacher for kids with severe disabilities grades K-2 and several of my students are now being diagnosed with it.
    I love all your family videos! Keep up the good work!!

  • Courtney Sarikasap

    Thank you so much for sharing this! My oldest has been diagnosed with ADHD and it has been a struggle. Love you guys.

  • Jenna Lambert

    Excellent first person narrative about ADD. My son is struggling with it and is a sophomore in high school. High IQ but can’t get the grades due to poor testing, focus issues, forgetfulness with homework and lack of organizational skills. He hates the medication and so far the various choices just make him not hungry and a mess when he comes off of them each day. So we are opting for the real him for now and accepting slightly lower grades.

    I wish school had more hands-on learning opportunities and labs versus sitting in chairs with lectures and passive learning. Just trying to hang on and get him through high school. Love the videos and content choices.

  • Kerum Steele

    My son was diagnosed at a neuro appt in Kindergarten (he was diagnosed with a seizure disorder that same year, so they “treated” both). This appt where I had 3 young kids and my husband was deployed. I cried because I knew what it was but had no idea how to help. Years later, I know it’s because I’m the one he got it from and it sometimes feels impossible to be the mom with it.

    He’s in the 6th grade now and while we have found a medication and dose that helps without taking away his personality, we struggle a lot and there are days when I have to make myself remember that he WILL grow up to be a functioning adult and find his niche. I love that you did the video and blog. I know it is helping a lot of kids and parents who are trying to figure it all out.

  • Erin Branchflower

    Reading the ADHD Advantage right now. Hoping it help me to advocate better for two of my kiddos.

  • Brittany Martin

    Thank you Penn, for the video and post.
    My oldest son who is nine now was diagnosed at age 4. It’s been a wild ride with him. I work diligently at making sure his meds are just enough to help him stay focused for the important stuff (like school) but not too much to make him feel like a robot. There’s a very delicate balance there.

    Over the years as I’ve watched him at
    moments I most want to pull my hair out he surprises me with some unknown talent, fact, or joke. I’ve always known he’s going to grow up to do something great but you just helped reassure me of that.

    He’s been begging to be able to make YouTube videos…maybe I should let him and see where he can go with his talents.
    Thanks again Penn. Your family brings many smiles and giggles to our family.

  • frogstar42

    If I had found a wife, this could have been me. I remember when I first discovered I wasn’t just lazy and not living up to my potential, but had something with a name. So much of your article is me. I remember reading the case studies in a book I’d been given. (You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: )

    It was an amazing day, and my life changed. It’s just a lot harder when you’re alone. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways to describe it to others, but your song does a great job.

  • James Louis

    I have it too and have struggled with it at times. Thank you for reminding of its blessings.

  • Katrina

    Oh my.. this describes me perfectly. i had no idea. hahaha.. SQUIRREL!

  • Stephanie VanSickle

    Thank you for this blog Penn. My fiance has ADD and he’s honestly the first person I’ve ever spent a lot of time with that has it. Therefore, I’m constantly learning and evolving my outlook on it. I research and study effects and behaviors of it, but like you said, each individual’s experience is different. I definitely took a lot from this and appreciate your rawness when writing.

  • Liz Josie

    ADHD can really be an advantage when understood and treated effectively. Some need medicine, some learn how to manage it and adapt. My 9 year old son was diagnosed a year ago. We tried four different medications and combinations before finding one that made him feel better, not worse. I hope he can learn to manage without meds at some point, but as for now it is a saving grace for our family. He is an incredibly gifted young man who is now able to focus and share his gifts to others. Speaking about adhd medicine is a very sensitive issue because there is no one drug fits all. Body chemistry affects the effectiveness of each drug so after trying one doesn’t mean they all don’t work.

  • Margo Mizell

    I am the wife of a wonderful man with ADHD. He struggles, and our sons have it too… I watch them all struggle on a daily basis, and I pick up their ‘slack’ on a daily basis as well. I see my kids struggle in a school environment and watch my husband struggle at work and at home – ‘seriously, babe, did you lose your phone AGAIN?’ – He once went on meds, and we had a real conversation over dinner in a restaurant. It was amazing. I felt heard, and it was wonderful. He has since gone off the meds for basically the same reasons you did. I have to admit, it’s not easy being married to a guy who is all over the place, and I often feel like I’m not heard, and that’s not a good feeling, BUT I KNOW he tries, and I know there is no one in the entire world that could love me as passionately as he does. I enjoyed being heard over dinner that night, but I also know that the meds would have extinguished a certain fire in him that I have come to absolutely love. I wouldn’t have him any other way. Yes, it’s not always easy being married to a man with ADHD, but the way he’s wired makes him who he is, and I LOVE who he is. I wouldn’t change him for the world. I appreciate your positivity and openness!! Most people consider ADHD a ‘bad’ thing, but I know better. It’s a gift in so many ways.

  • Seth Robbins

    Thank you!!! From a fellow ADHD kid and I go back to the early 80’s and the first batch of Riddlin kids 🙂

  • Kira Taormina

    Thank you so much for this! Our beautiful, creative and sweet daughter was diagnosed with ADHD about 2 years ago when she was 6. She is going to love seeing thing video and seeing that she isn’t the only one with this going on in her cute little head! Reading is her weakness right now because she doesn’t want to sit still long enough to concentrate on learning. She is still learning how to coop and manage herself better but we are slowly building up those skills and hopefully she will start doing better in her reading soon! Thank you again!

    • Heather Brown Henderson

      Why does she have to sit still to read? There are words everywhere! Take her on a walk through the mall and have her read the signs in the store windows, or at least point out the letters. My ADHD daughter loves reading, but has never been one to sit still to do it. We have a small eliptical stepper and she’ll step and read for hours if I let her. Your daughter is wired to think outside the box, help her learn outside the box too.

  • http://elizabethhoward.net smallstate

    I showed your video to my son Isaiah yesterday. Afterward, he paused for a second, then said: “FINALLY! Someone who understands, who GETS it!” He’s starting middle school this year, and it’s a struggle (even on the meds) but he is SUCH an awesome human. I’ve attached a couple of adorable photos of him from when he raised the MOST money for Buzzcuts for Cancer (fundraiser for children’s cancer research) a few years back.

    • Kate

      I do that sort of stuff all the time…thought I was just absent minded and/or easily distracted (hm…). An old friend recently back in touch asked me if I’d ever been tested for ADD. Now I’m wondering if I should be. Don’t know where to start…???

    • Kate

      I do that sort of stuff all the time…thought I was just absent minded and/or easily distracted (hm…). An old friend recently back in touch asked me if I’d ever been tested for ADD. Now I’m wondering if I should be. Don’t know where to start…???

  • http://elizabethhoward.net smallstate

    I showed your video to my son Isaiah yesterday. Afterward, he paused for a second, then said: “FINALLY! Someone who understands, who GETS it!” He’s starting middle school this year, and it’s a struggle (even on the meds) but he is SUCH an awesome human. I’ve attached a couple of adorable photos of him from when he raised the MOST money for Buzzcuts for Cancer (fundraiser for children’s cancer research) a few years back.

  • Nancy

    ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

  • RM

    My son drove us a little crazy with all his energy growing up, but was always so happy, kind, very respectful and a teacher favorite. However, he was a high functioning ADHD and was and still is great at multi-tasking. His impulsivity is just the right amount, where he takes smart risks that others might be afraid to take in the business world now. And, not needing to think too much made him one heck of a great base stealer when he was younger. He took Adderall to help him focus in class certain semesters where he really felt he needed to, and in long meetings and trainings now with his job, but has always taken weekends and vacations off to be himself. You always know where he was because he leaves a trail of his things, but I consider his ADHD to be a gift as he manages it quite well and to his advantage.

  • DJ Watt

    “We just need to get through school” !!! Thank you!!! We have a 19 year old, diagnosed ADD Inactive, who failed his first semester in college. (28 ACT and 1950 SAT, nominated to West Point and USAFA (medcal DQ)) He took meds one year in high school and stressed us out the other three years. Halfway through senior year and he is barely passing so we dumped out the backpack – English folder had every subject but English in it, etc. I have been telling him he needs to get on his meds JUST to get through college. I’ll have him read this.

    • RM

      Sometimes you need to play around with the meds a bit to find the right kind and dosage that won’t make him feel wonky. My son didn’t do well on Vivanse or Adderall XR. He has 10mg tablets of Adderall that he can split and take once or twice as needed depending on the length of his day. In high school, he would never have went to the office to take his second dose, but doesn’t have to worry about that in college. Fortunately he was always neat and pretty organized in school and with completing his school work even without the meds. But the meds really helped learning and motivation quite a bit and to feel more confidant and successful to his fullest potential. I do have to say that we manage his prescription carefully and had to talk with him about the legal consequences of sharing it at the college level. Your son has a lot more pressure at West Point than mine going to a regular state college. Good luck to your son:)

  • Vivian Majors

    As a mother with a son who has been diagnosed as ADHD and is currently on medicine to help him get through school (12 yr old). I thank you for putting your life out there so that I can point out to my son, who loves to make people laugh, be silly, has more energy than anyone I know, that his life does not have to be one of frustration for both him and those around him….there is hope and though he does not “fit” into the proverbial box like other kids….. that is okay. He needs people he can look to for role models. I thank you for being one and am grateful.

  • jellyphish702

    Lmao! This is so spot on! Thanx!

  • Polly

    This video put the biggest smile on my face! The article was awesome too! I have recently been diagnosed with inattentive type ADHD. I had an epiphany when I was researching and learning as much as I could while my son was in the process of being diagnosed (something that I had to push for because he was only 3 1/2, with severe combined type ADHD). I now feel like my son and I can use our strengths to take on the world together! He is so intelligent, kind, and hilarious! I love hearing about people who channel their ADHD to do great things and bring awareness. I think a lot of people don’t realize how gifted many ADHD’ers are!

    • Colleen

      Polly,
      I could have written your comment! While I was reading articles on ADDitude to research my son’s ADHD, I realized that I also have ADHD! My son was also 3 1/2 when we began the process of testing. It’s so great to know that we’re not alone!

  • Caitlyn

    Thank you for this!! Absolutely hilarious!!! it cheered up my little ADHD girl who’s meds have her in the dumps. so glad you found your nitch!!

  • stephen.glasgow@carle.com

    I had ADD before all the cool kids were doing it as well. This was hilariously spot on right down to the drink on the car roof! Thanks for making this. It was good enough that I will forgive y’all for getting “Down with OPP” stuck in my head all day 😉

  • stephen.glasgow@carle.com

    I had ADD before all the cool kids were doing it as well. This was hilariously spot on right down to the drink on the car roof! Thanks for making this. It was good enough that I will forgive y’all for getting “Down with OPP” stuck in my head all day 😉

  • Shevaun Sirmans

    I totally connected to every part of this video. I have ADHD as does my son. When you find what stimulates your brain you can do anything. I am also a teacher who used to be on the curriculum team for my district. I finally jumped ship and now I teach Art. It is a crazy ride teaching 1,000 K-5 students but I would not have it any other way. I have found my calling. There are not mistakes in Art(except for breaking materials) and I love that. Creative freedom.

  • Shevaun Sirmans

    I totally connected to every part of this video. I have ADHD as does my son. When you find what stimulates your brain you can do anything. I am also a teacher who used to be on the curriculum team for my district. I finally jumped ship and now I teach Art. It is a crazy ride teaching 1,000 K-5 students but I would not have it any other way. I have found my calling. There are not mistakes in Art(except for breaking materials) and I love that. Creative freedom.

  • CDel

    Thank you for posting this. I usually don’t say it out loud but my son was diagnosed a couple of years ago he is now 8. He watched this video tonight with his dad and his smile from cheek-to-cheek while watching was infectious. I think it made him feel not alone, in that very fast paced world (brain) of his. Your wonderful explanation through song gave me a glimpse and an idea of how amazing and what an honor it is to raise someone with that much power inside. Thank you

    • Heather Brown Henderson

      CDel, your post made me cry! It really is an honor to raise a child with ADD. So much energy, creativity, imagination, and sheer joy. But it’s also a big job. I often say that God must really trust me to have given me my amazing child. Along with all that energy is a very tender heart. Your son will feel things more intently, be more compassionate, and love more deeply than other kids around him. Guard that in him, celebrate it, and don’t let anyone make him feel less because of it.

  • CDel

    Thank you for posting this. I usually don’t say it out loud but my son was diagnosed a couple of years ago he is now 8. He watched this video tonight with his dad and his smile from cheek-to-cheek while watching was infectious. I think it made him feel not alone, in that very fast paced world (brain) of his. Your wonderful explanation through song gave me a glimpse and an idea of how amazing and what an honor it is to raise someone with that much power inside. Thank you

  • Savannah

    Thank you for sharing. As someone who struggles with ADD it’s good to see it talked about in an enlightening and positive way.

  • MSchultz62000

    I’m older than you and like you have struggled with ADD my entire life. I was able to find jobs that turned my “challenge” into a blessing but for the past five years not so much. I still have great freedom but struggle with creating contracts and proposals. I am medicated – with a non controlled substance that helps immensely. I am not happy with the side effects, but I do have much less stress in my life – and it’s been a blessing for my wife.

    Thanks for sharing your story and insights.

  • Darcie Nolan

    I am so glad you all posted this video this week. My fiance and I just got engaged last month and have been talking about his ADD. He has sent articles trying to help explain, but seriously this video brought it all together for me. I get it a little better now, which means I get him a little better, which means I love him even more. I am sincerely grateful, as a women who loves her man a lot, that I can be better to him and for him because of a rap and family I have never met. Thank you.

  • CatoYounger

    You’re funny and your wife is funny (and drop dead gorgeous) and your kids look healthy and happy. If it works for you then it works! Peace.

  • CatoYounger

    You’re funny and your wife is funny (and drop dead gorgeous) and your kids look healthy and happy. If it works for you then it works! Peace.

  • Kara Martin Lanctot

    I think what he was saying is that maybe people who have these super powers shouldn’t be expected to harness them but to use them.

    • Heather Brown Henderson

      Harnessing and controlling your ADD super powers is how you use them. You embrace them, celebrate them, and use them for the greater good.

    • Sarah

      True, I guess I seeing harnessing them is another way of saying using them for the greater good. Now off to fight crime. 🙂

  • justme8

    Thank you thank you thank you! I have ADD and I really worry that I will never find my niche. SAHM unfortunately is not it without medication. This has given me a LOT of Hope!

  • FAC

    I was diagnosed as “hyperactive” at age five back in the 70s before they labeled us with having a disorder. I had a progressive doctor because back then they believed only boys have it not girls. I’m blessed because one of the foremost Internationally recognized doctors specializing in ADD is in Denver and is my doctor. He only treats adults with ADD. He too doesn’t believe it’s a disorder but instead we have a different neuroloy system than the rest of 90% of the population. What makes us so unique is the concept of importance and rewards is not a motivating factor for us like most people. I’ve attached a link to one of his articles about ADD that you and everyone should read. It dispels the notion we have a disorder and explains how we have a different neurology system. Thanks for making the video! I too have found the remote or my phone in the fridge. You were spot on. Hope you enjoy this article. http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/10117.html Cheers!

  • mcr285

    Fantastic post. I’d like to point out though, that there is a HUGE difference between ADHD and ADD…. I know you touched a little on it, but I think it’s worth exploring a little more. See, I think it’s the Hyperactivity that gives you your, “super powers,” so to speak.

    I have plain old ADD…. no hyperactivity. That means I have the super easily distracted but really creative mind without the GO-GO-GO drive behind it. I can actually sit and stare at a wall, thinking a hundred gazillion creative thoughts, but unless someone actually forces me to get up and move, I could stare at that wall ALL FREAKING DAY lost in my hundred gazillion thoughts.

    Because you have the hyperactivity with your ADD, not only is your brain running on super speed, but your body is as well. This is what allows your creativity to thrive. Unfortunately, your hyperactive ADD also gets you noticed and diagnosed a lot faster. Then they want to medicate the hyper out of you, and sure, it slows you down to normal people speed, and makes you more pleasant company at times, but it takes away from what makes YOU you. Medication and ADHD, I have found, just don’t really mesh well a lot of the time.

    For those of us with ADD and no H, we are the opposite. We are running super speed in our brains, but it doesn’t translate to the rest of our bodies. We are like WAAAAY slower moving than normal people speed. Taking medicine speeds us up to normal people speed…. that’s why we LIKE the medicine and NEED the medicine in order to really function in society.

    That wasn’t at all meant as a, “well just because YOU don’t like meds, doesn’t mean meds are bad!” rant…. it was more of a, “hey, here is some hopefully helpful insight on why I think the medicine works for some ADD people and not for others….” My hope in sharing that insight is to maybe help others who might have ADD with no H recognize that it is okay to turn to medication, if that is what they need. It’s like putting on a pair of glasses when you have bad eyesight. It puts us on a level playing field.

    Anyway, I loved your video. Can totally relate, as I have ADD, my husband has ADHD, our oldest has ADD, and another of our children has ADHD! We are always yelling SQUIRREL throughout the day, because someone is always wandering off midconversation or midproject…. So much fun!

    • RM

      You are very right with the inattentive ADD. I have a son with the hyperactivity and we got him the help he needed very early on with meds and classroom modifications and did not do meds on weekends and holidays so he could be his true personality. I was an educator for many years and ended up disabled unable to function or work, having late stage neurological Lyme, that affected my cognition, memory, and focus etc. Finally after 6 years I asked my doctor if I could be tested for ADD because I knew my brain was functioning similar to ADD non Hyperactive. My mind was constantly racing underneath the fog, but now I have learned the only way I can actually ever get anything done, take in information, even to be part of a social conversation, or pay attention enough to drive, is if I take Adderall now. The Lyme damaged my brain and it’s ability to process the way it once did. The specialized testing I had done with the neuropsych shows my brain to now be working similar to someone with ADD. So I very much understand what it is like to have what I consider a huge deficit. My daughter struggled to do well in school, was tested by the school system twice for learning disabilities but never qualified finally came to me one day when she was in 8th Grade and asked to be tested for ADD. She always managed to be fairly organized in school and get her homework done so was never thought to be ADD. She finally matured enough to realize that she was having a hard time paying attention and just wasn’t learning what she felt she should have for all the effort and studying she was doing. We had a full outside neuropsych test done with her too and they diagnosed her with inattentive ADD. She went on meds and everyone, including her discovered she was actually very smart! We also put her in a cognitive retraining program to help her memory and processing speed, something that all children with ADD and learning disabilities would greatly benefit from. Now she is a straight A honor student, as a sophomore in high school. I am a very strong advocate for looking at how the brain is able to process information, even more so than behaviors, because sometimes it is not all that obvious, especially with inattentive ADD. I now reflect back on many of my former students, who I know were probably ADD, inattentive, and know that we could have helped them to reach a higher potential. In my opinion, we are so concerned about how bad it is to ‘label’ these children and many adults with ADHD, ADD etc. but instead they are feeling and being judged as lazy and unmotivated, unorganized, or just maybe ‘not so smart’, when they truly can achieve great things with some help and a boost to their confidence.

    • RM

      You are very right with the inattentive ADD. I have a son with the hyperactivity and we got him the help he needed very early on with meds and classroom modifications and did not do meds on weekends and holidays so he could be his true personality. I was an educator for many years and ended up disabled unable to function or work, having late stage neurological Lyme, that affected my cognition, memory, and focus etc. Finally after 6 years I asked my doctor if I could be tested for ADD because I knew my brain was functioning similar to ADD non Hyperactive. My mind was constantly racing underneath the fog, but now I have learned the only way I can actually ever get anything done, take in information, even to be part of a social conversation, or pay attention enough to drive, is if I take Adderall now. The Lyme damaged my brain and it’s ability to process the way it once did. The specialized testing I had done with the neuropsych shows my brain to now be working similar to someone with ADD. So I very much understand what it is like to have what I consider a huge deficit. My daughter struggled to do well in school, was tested by the school system twice for learning disabilities but never qualified finally came to me one day when she was in 8th Grade and asked to be tested for ADD. She always managed to be fairly organized in school and get her homework done so was never thought to be ADD. She finally matured enough to realize that she was having a hard time paying attention and just wasn’t learning what she felt she should have for all the effort and studying she was doing. We had a full outside neuropsych test done with her too and they diagnosed her with inattentive ADD. She went on meds and everyone, including her discovered she was actually very smart! We also put her in a cognitive retraining program to help her memory and processing speed, something that all children with ADD and learning disabilities would greatly benefit from. Now she is a straight A honor student, as a sophomore in high school. I am a very strong advocate for looking at how the brain is able to process information, even more so than behaviors, because sometimes it is not all that obvious, especially with inattentive ADD. I now reflect back on many of my former students, who I know were probably ADD, inattentive, and know that we could have helped them to reach a higher potential. In my opinion, we are so concerned about how bad it is to ‘label’ these children and many adults with ADHD, ADD etc. but instead they are feeling and being judged as lazy and unmotivated, unorganized, or just maybe ‘not so smart’, when they truly can achieve great things with some help and a boost to their confidence.

  • PauperPrincess

    My husband has ADHD – I wish we could figure out his “superpower”. I have three children with the condition as well. I’m overwhelmed.

    • http://www.adhdrollercoaster.org Gina Pera

      The “superpower” bit plays well on the Internet. Not so much in real life.

      Are many people with ADHD talented in the variety of ways in which humans can manifest talent? Of course. Without a doubt.

      Do their ADHD symptoms, if left poorly managed, constantly put a slippery banana peel under their feet? Absolutely.

      ADHD is not a superpower. It is a legitimate medical diagnosis. You don’t have ADHD if you don’t have impairment. It is part of the diagnosis.

      The idea is to shore up those impairments so as to live life to the best of one’s abilities and capacities.

      I am really tired of the constant self-promoters perpetuating this idea that ADHD is a superpower.

      Sure, it might give some kids with ADHD who are struggling a boost. But there are better ways of doing that– such as really giving them a boost with evidence-based strategies.

      Telling them that the only thing “wrong” with them is that they are better than everyone else….tempting to tell a child but a horrible paradigm to hold as an adult. Narcissism can be problem enough for some people with ADHD. That only adds to it.

      • http://imaginarydevelopment.blogspot.com Brandon D’Imperio

        I had to read the last 3 paragraphs more than 4 times to focus. Reading can be a struggle. I agree with most of your post, but it’s a balancing act. Some people discussing it lightly, others taking it serious.

        Some concerned for the prevalence/incidence rates, some looking for more information, diagnostics, and understanding.

        Telling anyone there’s something wrong with them may not be a good solution to help or entice someone into accepting help. But telling them that people that say “there’s nothing wrong with you, you have a super power” are wrong is not much better. It’s certainly not going to make them feel more open to admitting there is a problem, if there is one and seeking help.

        I like that your post brings some balance to the fun this family at least appears to be having with the issue.

  • Amy

    This is very cool I have add since I was in kindergarten. But nothing but bumps along the way. Being now a mother of 3 and working. I feel do lost but yet if they gave a task I can dive right in. Never got to college but trying to go back but having pay bills not able. If u have any resources please let me know

  • http://www.adhdrollercoaster.org Gina Pera

    Okay, so you are new at seeking celebrity through ADHD, so you’re making the typical rookie mistakes made by so many before you. Among them:

    1. Assuming that your experience of ADHD is a universal experience of ADHD. ADHD is a highly variable syndrome, with a range of co-existing conditions. If you know one person with ADHD, you know one person with ADHD.

    2. You went off medication. What you really did was go off what sounds like a very poor medication routine that probably was doing more harm than good.

    3. You associate being able to listen to someone — as with your old friend — as somehow flattening your personality — all those funny interesting things that didn’t percolate to the surface. Never mind that some of them probably weren’t that funny; they were just your mind getting bored and looking for a distraction. You were taking dexedrine, which hardly anyone takes anymore. Probably you were taking too high a dose, too.

    4. Not everyone with ADHD can self-medicate with attention or entertaining the public. I’d say only a tiny minority can. And if they can, they often suffer in the rest of life — or make the rest of the people in their life suffer.

    I could go on.

    Please know that ADHD is a serious topic to the millions of people who have it. There is enough confusion in the public caused by hot-dog reporting, fringe-player psychiatrists, and more.

    Please don’t consider ADHD a gambit in which to make money and rise to acclaim.

    Consider it a topic to treat with respect and to learn something about before you continue to proclaim any kind of expertise.

    • Nicki

      Gina Pera… You seem like a miserable human. **I could go on…** But I have ADD and better things to try to concentrate on. If you don’t like what you see then go elsewhere. Also,maybe you should have spent less time writing your comment and more time reading up on the subject of ADD and ADHD…. or maybe just go get a life. You must not have one if you have time to write an essay on what someone else is doing with theirs…

      • http://www.adhdrollercoaster.org Gina Pera

        I’ve worked for 20 years to raise awareness about what ADHD is and isn’t.

        Clarify on this topic is what keeps it from being further stigmatized–or completely dismissed.

        Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but as a print journalist for decades, I’m inclined to feel responsible for the accuracy of information I impart.

        You put something out there on the topic of ADHD, you’re going to get a response. That’s how it works.

  • Karla Horton

    Thank you so much for celebrating the beautiful qualities that people have when they have ADD/ADHD! It’s been my experience that people who have ADD are actually gifted in ways that others wish they were.

  • http://www.memoriesartwork.com memoriesartwork

    My son,14, and I both have ADD. I am showing him this video! We are both very creative… I multi-task a bit better than he does. 🙂 He is totally into making videos on the subject of just about anything and has no problems with public speaking. He is like a mini you!! (I’m a lot like that too.) I swear! I have notes everywhere… saying “turn off the water” “close the fridge” “lock the front door” “feed the cat”… He’s a space cadet, but I l
    ove him to death!

  • http://julihoffman.wordpress.com/ Juli Hoffman

    My husband and I are both ADD…and trying to raise a son who seems to be following in our footsteps, either through nurture, nature, or BOTH! In this house, we refer to it as “Shiny Object Syndrome.” Reading you story is SOOO relatable! My husband and I both shine in fast paced environments. Stick us in a boring, slow paced job…and too many shiny objects compete with our attention. On the one hand, there’s no doubt we are a creative bunch, but we need extra stimulation, constructive stimulation, or we tune stuff out. Not good!

    I hate the idea that people with ADD are broken, that we need to be fixed. Our brains are wired a bit differently, but I usually struggle the most when I’m trying to conform with the rest of the herd instead of doing things in a way that works for me. The way I see it, as long as the task gets done in a timely fashion, the process for getting there doesn’t have to be only ONE way. What works for me may not work for everyone else. I’m okay with that. In fact, as part of my ADD, I’m constantly looking for a new way to do things. I’m innovative. But…with this “superpower” comes “super villains.” Fear, Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Depression are my “Bad Guys.”

  • category5oncrack

    I have ADHD. – it’s a term that covers a spectrum of symptoms, and the type I have is unique to me. I was diagnosed a year ago at age 40, and after a life time of chaos, underachievement and grave embarrassment, it turned out that while I am highly intelligent, passionate, nurturing and highly creative, I also have the same attention span as a two year old – and it has severely impaired me personally and professionally. So in my case, it was and is a disorder. I take medication, and it helps a great deal, but for all the potential I have, I am miles behind my peers. There are a lot of adults like me, but you will also find people like Penn Holderness, and numerous other seemingly successful, content people with families and high-level jobs – and for whatever the reason – they had a supportive living environment – they found ways to compensate – or whatever – ADHD isn’t a disorder for them – it’s a trait.

    So the above is his experience. I’m telling you about mine – and there are millions of people with their own stories under this umbrella. The only thing I don’t like is that the video doesn’t show any of the inherent diversity. I have ADHD and I’m not a superhero. I have a disorder. And if I stop taking my medication I will probably lose my job like the many others I lost before. It’s different for everyone and we all require specific and unique treatment. It’s natural to want to put a positive spin on it, but if you are presenting this to a wide audience, it requires a more nuanced approach. What if you put out a video that said, “hey, I have a pretty mild form of cancer, and I’ve used it to empower myself and don’t think of it as a disease.” Tell that to someone with pancreatic cancer.

    By the way ADHD doesn’t mean we can’t concentrate. I can – when it’s something I am interested in or like to do, I can easily hyper-focus and do a great job. When it’s not, It’s like trying to lifting a truck by myself. If you are also fortunate enough to find not one, but two careers you enjoy, I would suspect it would definitely have less of a negative impact on your life.

  • Beth Hornback

    Tears in my eyes. I was diagnosed a long time ago and really struggled with having a “disorder.” And have done meds but didn’t really like them. But as I have learned that there are so many amazing “disordered” people out there doing the kinds of things I am trying to do, and doing them well, and that it is part of what makes me awesome, and not less so, I am proud to embrace who I am. Hugs to you all.

  • Angela

    My 38 yr old husband has ADD. Some days good…some, not so much. Love this parody. Its somewhat spot on!!

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The Holderness family has been dancing in pajamas and singing during snow days for years — but last year they hit the record button on the camera and published their goofy video on YouTube. Penn, Kim, Lola, and Penn Charles continue to make hilarious videos around tent-pole events and circumstances most families face.