ADHD – An All Day, All Life Problem

In the overwhelming majority of cases, ADHD appears to have a genetic basis.  The attentional weaknesses and executive dysfunctions that characterize ADHD appear to be the result of genetically based differences in the parts of the brain that control paying attention and regulating behavior.

This means that the core characteristics of ADHD including low arousal, impulsivity, distractibility, short attention span, and inefficient executive functions (i.e. poor working memory, time/task management, problem solving, response generation, emotional regulation, and self-monitoring), are there from the moment an ADHD individual wakes up in the morning until the time he/she goes to bed at night.

As a result, any life task that requires some degree of focused attention or executive self monitoring can be adversely affected by untreated ADHD.  As it turns out, this is a pretty profound statement!  Reflect back on your day today…try to think of one thing you did that did not require efficient attention or executive functioning skills.

Getting up?  Sorry.  Doing your morning routines?  No way.  Arriving at work on time?  Really?  Doing your job?  C’mon.  Taking to co-workers?  Hardly.  Making the right choices at lunch?  Think about it!  Driving home safely?  Huh?  Preparing dinner?  You’re kidding me, right?  Supervising homework?  Get real.  Getting to bed on time?  I doubt it!

When you think about it, its pretty unbelievable, isn’t it?  This is what makes ADHD such a serious and complicated problem.  And as life goes on, there are more and more demands placed on our attention and executive functions.  ADHD is clearly an all day, all life problem!

I have included with this post a set of Daily Activities Checklist that I use at The Being Well Center to establish the fact that a person’s ADHD is pervasive, impacting daily tasks in all areas of life.  This in one of the key criteria that needs to be met to establish the diagnosis of ADHD.  There’s one for kids and one for adults.  Try it and examine the impact ADHD has on your or your child’s life!

ADD Daily Activities Checklist – Child

ADHD Daily Activities Checklist – Adult

Watching ADHD Across the Lifespan: The Gray Hair Advantage

As Founder and Medical Director of The Being Well Center, Craig B. Liden, MD has charted new pathways to successful treatment of ADHD across the life span.  Today, he shares his professional journey from Harvard to The Being Well Center with the encouraging message that everyone, not just kids 18 and under, can live renewed lives with custom-tailored ADHD success programs.

Dr. Craig Liden of The Being Well Center

After I finished my fellowship program at Harvard and the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston, I joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and founded the Child Development Unit at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.   I recruited a multidisciplinary team of professionals and implemented a series of clinical programs, established training activities for Pediatric Residents and Fellows, and conducted research, all focused on ADHD in children and adolescents.

I lasted almost eight years in academia before I decided to leave for the “real world” and set up a private practice in Developmental and Behavioral Medicine, a forerunner to my Being Well Center that operates today in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh.

Not long after opening the doors of my practice, I had two important realizations.  First, the kids with ADHD that quit coming to the Child Development Unit when they hit age 18 hadn’t really grown out of their problems.  Once there was no longer “Pediatrics” or “Children’s” on a sign of the building, they came rushing in the front door, now struggling at college or just to make it in “big life.”  No one was out there to pick up where my team and I left off.  So, I started to see many young adults with ADHD and refining my protocols to meet their needs.

Secondly, many of the parents of the kids I worked with started to come forward: “Hey, Doc, I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but I have all the same problems my kid has.  Can you help me?”   In reality, I had noticed!  But, I didn’t know where to send them because at that time no one was taking care of adults with ADHD.

Having established my own practice, I now had the freedom to open the door a crack and to start seeing a few select adults with ADHD.  I quickly got reinforced to do a lot more; not only did these adults start living healthier lives, but, not surprisingly, their kids started doing much better as well…the home was more structured, there was better follow through with discipline, medication was consistently taken on time and so on.

These two realizations and the steps taken to address them have given my team and I a unique opportunity to watch the natural history of ADHD across the life span in more than 9,000 patients over the past 30 years.  Currently, our youngest patient is three years old and our oldest is in her 90’s! So, we’ve been able to watch ADHD go from early childhood into young adult life, from adolescence to mid-adult life, and from mid-adult life to late-adult life.

This extensive experience watching ADHD across the life span has given The Being Well Center a unique perspective on what’s really important in treating ADHD successfully.

Have you ever thought, “I wish I knew then what I know now about _______?”  with regards to your daily habits, efforts at school, your parenting, your relationships, your health, or some other important aspect of your life?  Well, I have–about ADHD!  My gray hair and the wisdom that has come with it have given me special insights about ADHD, its impact on health and daily routines, its interaction with other characteristics like temperament, its proper treatment, and much more!  This blog will be dedicated to sharing this wisdom with you so that your life, your child’s, or your student’s will become more successful!

Dr. Liden is an internationally recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of ADD/ADHD. He is a board certified physician who graduated with honors from the University of Michigan and the Ohio State University College of Medicine.  He completed his pediatric training and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard University Medical School/Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Liden has served on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he started the Child Development Unit and spent years researching ADD/ADHD, training pediatric and psychiatry residents and other post doctoral students, and establishing a fellowship program in developmental and behavioral pediatrics.  Since the 1980’s, Dr. Liden has been in private practice evaluating and treating behavior and developmental issues across the life span. He has treated more than 9,000 patients with ADD/ADHD and related co-morbidities.