Heartbreaking New York Times ADD Article


Don’t Drink the Kool-ade

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Another wonderful graphic courtesy of aritist/educator Phillip Martin

“Ritalin, like all medications, can be useful when used properly and dangerous when used improperly. 

Why is it so difficult for so many people to hold to that middle ground?”
~ Dr. Edward Hallowell

Regarding the opinion piece “Ritalin Gone Wrong” by Alan Sroufe, Ph.D.
(NY Times, Jan. 29, 2012):

• You don’t have to believe in medication.
• You don’t have to take it.
• You don’t have to give it to your kids.

You don’t EVEN have to do unbiased research before you ring in with an opinion on medication or anything else having to do with ADD/ADHD.

HOWEVER, when you’re writing a piece to be published in a newspaper with the stature of The New York Times, it is simply unprofessional — of the writer, the editors, and the paper itself — to publish personal OPINION in a manner that will lead many to conclude that the piece quotes scientific fact.  

For a rebuttal, please take the time to read Dr. Hallowell’s blog article in response to Sroufe (linked to his quote, above, and in the “related content” list below). Nothing I could say along those lines could be nearly as eloquent or effective – or charge neutral – as his words.

This post will take another tact, just as soon as I get my feelings off my chest.

I’m appalled.  And bitterly disappointed in what I have always
considered MY hometown paper, regardless of where else in
the United States I lay me down to sleep.

What Happened to the Times?

It’s ironic that this recent article appears in the very paper where, on October 11, 1987, an article in their Magazine Section led to my own diagnosis — and the medication that saved my life.

The day I discovered that article that altered the trajectory of my being forever, I had just spent an hour on the telephone with my best friend Robin, a therapist, sobbing hysterically because my latest attempt to organize my office created such chaos that I found myself in the middle of the room holding a sheet of paper with, literally, no clear space to put it down.

I had, as I’ve learned to describe it, “Boggled.”  Action was impossible.  My whole being was on “TILT,” to use an old pinball term. I was finally desperate enough to stop trying to look good and tell the truth about what life was like for me.

And then the skies parted

At Robin’s suggestion, I took my two little Shi Tzu’s for a walk, to try to put some physical distance between myself and my problem.  Distracted by leash logistics, I left behind anything to clean up after them  – a “pooper scooper” law in New York City that carried a $50 per dog fine I couldn’t afford.

Spying some slick pages in a sidewalk garbage can, I retrieved The New York Times Magazine section.  Distracted again, I began to read rather than scoop.

The article was Frank Wolkenberg‘s Out of a DarknessThe tears of recognition began to fall almost immediately.  I was openly sobbing when I got to the list of symptoms — mindless of the fact that I was making a public spectacle of myself, crying over garbage.

Finally, I know what’s wrong with me!  And there’s a drug!

I took that article with me to my therapist the next day, barely intelligible as I blubbered my way through it with her.  I began to put my list of symptoms together and bawled with every new discovery.  And I began the long process of recovery.

With an IQ in the gifted range, my life simply did not BEGIN until I was properly medicated at 39.  When  you take away my medication, like the patients in the movie Awakenings, I go back to that time when I could not function well enough to have any sort of a life worth living.

Better Late than Never – but even better, much earlier

I am a [life] coaching pioneer, founder of the ADD Coaching field, and The ADD Poster Girl. Side effects preclude methylphenidate [generic Ritalin] in my case, but I have taken dexedrin-based ADD stimulant medication for over 20 years now.

Don’t tell ME there is no long term efficacy!

  • I struggle still, remnants of conclusions formed from numerous mistakes made during the almost four decades prior to diagnosis and medication.
  • My life will never be what it might have been, had I been able to take advantage of the support of diagnosis and medication since childhood.

It breaks my heart that many parents will take the recent Times article as gospel, dooming their children to a life of needless struggle and under-performance similar to my own, simply because they will be afraid to pursue medication.

“Information is the Booby Prize”
~ mentor & coaching field founder, Thomas, J. Leonard

I am now an ADD expert – globally well-informed on anything and everything impacting Executive Functioning Dysregulations right down to neurochemistry. Believe me, I KNOW what to do to work with and around ADD. I teach it. I coach it. I train others to coach it.

Without my medication, however, I can’t DO what I know, any more than I can focus on the words I am typing without my glasses. But still, I’d have to know how to read!

ChickenLittleGlassesGlasses Gone Wrong

I think someone needs to write that article.

I’ll bet we could do a study where we gave 6,000 illiterates glasses and VERY few would be able to read without further interventions and supports.

If we weren’t diligent about screening and appropriate prescription strength, I’ll bet many of them would suddenly develop headaches, broken bones from accidents due to visual misperceptions, and who knows what else.

Glasses have dangerous side-effects!

Next, we go after the optometrists and all of the businesses that create frames and lenses – those capitalist pigs who are pushing glasses on well-intended parents.

Because, as we’ll easily be able to “prove” in support of our assertions, many of the illiterate will be able to learn to read just as effectively without glasses.

Ridiculous, yes?

So is the New York Times article. And sad.

And harmful.

Don’t drink the Kool-ade.

Related Articles

Other Related articles

Additional Comments:

From a letter to the Time’s editor by TONY ROSTAIN & LENARD A. ADLER, Mount Royal, N.J., Feb. 1, 2012. The writers, psychiatrists, are board members of the American Professional Society of A.D.H.D. and Related Disorders. The letter was also signed by five other board members. Published: February 7, 2012

Documenting long-term efficacy is problematic in many areas of medicine, not just A.D.H.D. Yet numerous studies demonstrate that stimulant and nonstimulant medications are effective in adults with the disorder, which suggests that medications often don’t lose effectiveness over time.”

“Dr. Sroufe gives short shrift to family/twin studies showing that A.D.H.D. is one of the most highly heritable psychiatric disorders and dismisses important findings from imaging studies documenting structural and functional changes in brain function in A.D.H.D. patients.”

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Founder: ADD Coach Training Field; Co-founder: ADD Coaching; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with Executive Functioning struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

37 Responses to Heartbreaking New York Times ADD Article

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    • @Wilfredo
      Sorry – you must have commented originally under a different name – the comment immediately above is the only one that returns for a search for “Wilfredo.” I still don’t know if there’s anything I can do from my side to deselect a choice you made initially, but I certainly cannot if I can’t locate where you selected it. Any ideas?
      xx,
      mgh

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    • Glad you like it — it’s designed to be “quiet” so that ADDers don’t struggle to focus on the content.

      xx,
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      Tell your friends they’ll do better if they actually READ the articles before they attempt to leave a link that has been through a content spinner – no matter how apparently flattering.

      Good luck with your link planting.
      xx,
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    • Thanks Salvatore. I call that “hesitation” you talk about [link==>] “struggles with ACTIVATION” (starting on ideas) – then there are the elements of follow-through to completion (which I talk about in a series beginning with Troubles with Transitions [<===link]

      xx,
      mgh

  9. remonty lokali zacisze cennik says:

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    • Thanks for your concern. I hope that this is not the ONLY article those commenting on this page have looked at. TONS of good stuff on this site, and advocacy posts like this one are a small percentage of the “so much more” I post here.

      If I had a staff I could do A LOT of things I haven’t done, and with a budget I would change platforms to do a whole lot more still.

      It’s a miracle of faith that I am able to do as much as I DO — I’m a one-man band here, with *many* other accountabilities (that keep a roof over my head – blog duties are ALL unbillable sharing that already take up 50% of my time)

      In any case, there are many in the ADD community who prefer words and find images distracting (or find the mix of the two tough to “translate”), so I’d get suggestions and “complaints” no matter WHAT I did.

      I can only donate what I have TIME to do personally. WORDS are *my* native environment, so words are easy-ish to get up — graphics are time-consuming and frustrating (and frequently pricey, so locating free graphics and appropriate attributions even MORE time consuming). 2 or 3 is all I can manage!

      I simply must trust the universe that the people who need this info (and can assimilate it in the form in which I put it up) will find their way here because others will help me get the word out. I can share my expertise and thinking - I rely on others to share the fact that I’m sharing.

      Check the featured “soapbox” quote on the right sidebar (scroll UP from here) — that says it for me. I hope you will help me get the word out anyway – 25 years of helpful stuff here.

      Thanks again for your suggestions.
      xx,
      mgh

      • Madelyn, I can’t thank you enough for all you are doing. The only thing I wish you could do … help me absorb all the information!LOL I turn to this site for answers. Some of these answers are miracles for many of us or a diamond in the rough. I found both … education and you!, This educational resource website makes us feel as though a miracle has come upon us!

        We can all apply what works best, and continue coming back for updated information or re-reading. I haven’t begun to read all the related articles you cite and that will be on my future list. The information is excellent.

        Keep on writing whatever works for you because it’s working for us .You are definitely a diamond-in-the-rough! A shining star to help those with ADD, ADHD, traumatic brain injury and all brain dysfunction situations. Thank you for supporting a cause you feel strongly about and never put down your pen or computer because your talents are paying off for many.

        Hope you are well and resting up after all the preparations for the Atlanta, GA conference. Take care and stay safe, Edie

        • You are SUCH a doll, and your comments are the wind beneath my wings many, MANY days.

          I wish it didn’t take me so darned long to get my articles posted on ADDandSoMuchMore.com so I had more time to read all the amazing stuff that YOU (and others reading here) share as well. (I’m sure I need a staff to lend their time — AND somebody to help me run my life – I keep affirming that some rich 1%-er will agree and be willing to fund it ::lol::)

          Thanks for your concern about my need for rest – I was in ROUGH shape on return from the Conference. I slept the weekend away (really!) and feel MUCH more positive about everything – as the SLEEP articles explain, sleep works miracles.

          This week I have a TON of important appointments, beginning with my psychopharm for my meds at 9 AM tomorrow morning. Yiikes!

          The next day is my appointment with my webmaster (Marty Crouch @ Webvalence) — to begin to get ADDCoach.com back up and running. That will eventually allow me to do A LOT more (and a lot more easily, if all goes as expected). Once all is up and running again, I will have a platform to begin anew to offer classes and trainings. THAT will FINALLY provide an income that might allow me to create a small budget to fund the things I do for free (and add some things to help you absorb the info – like classes and mp3s)

          If I won the lottery (the BIG one – why think small?), I could spend ALL my time making a difference, and I would LOVE giving up the attempt to make a living! So much to share, so little time.

          Nice to be connecting with YOU again!
          xx,
          mgh

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    • Thanks for your concern – it’s the WordPress.com site itself, over which I have no control. Nor am I able to add plug-ins here (for marketing, performance, etc.).

      I use a free platform because, since I do not charge for content, I can donate TIME but not cash — in other words, I can’t also dedicate resources to PAY to deliver content (without a big influx of cash from SOMEWHERE ::grin::)

      xx,
      mgh

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    • AN IMPORTANT RESPONSE EXPLAINING THE SPAM POLICIES on ADDandSoMuchMore.com

      You tweeted me! So I must have you to thank for the spate of comments on this post that link to articles in a language I am unable to read (more’s the pity!)

      American education has been LOUSY with language development, so most of us speak only English. I have long promoted the cultural and “world citizen” benefits of learning languages other than our own, but recent brain research makes it VITAL.

      The research documents correlation that strongly implies the protective effect of learning second and third languages before puberty), which underscores my vision of a future where we ALL learn at least two other languages as part of the educational curriculum in our elementary schools, beginning in kindergarten.

      My brain-style doesn’t seem to speak “tweet” either – it strongly prefers expanded content and developed thinking to sound bites. (It seems to me that I could write a novel in the time it takes me to edit a thought DOWN to a specific number of characters!) My respect for the challenge of distractibility of my readers will not allow me to “market” them with regular interruptions — even though I do see an uptick in visitors when somebody tweeets FOR me — and I do appreciate help getting the word out about this resource. So thank you!

      Please let your followers know that making it through my spam filter depends on adding to the conversation in a related fashion – otherwise, their comments will get tossed as link-spam. That means I will never see most of them, and I will personally (and quickly) spam those that make it through even though they are “iffy,” to train the level of my link-spams filtering.

      I do understand the importance of links
      - both inbound and outbound – to SEO, so I would also appreciate a link BACK from promoted blogs – otherwise the lack of balance causes this blog to fall in Google’s ratings to a place where it is unlikely to be found.

      Since I am sharing my expertise to HELP and not for income, I don’t care AT ALL about ratings themselves. However, my spam filter is set aggressively because it IS important to me that my time is not wasted.

      By that, I mean that if many of those I am hoping to be able to help are unable to FIND this information, I am wasting a great deal of time writing it! Since I don’t make a penny for the time it takes me to research, write, format and post these articles (6-8 hours each), I set my filters to err on the side of caution, as do many information bloggers.

      It has occurred to me that the large number of link-spam I attract (60,000+ as I type) COULD mean that ADDers represent a large number of those who are attempting to make money “spreading the word” about blogs designed to sell things through some sort of a “numbers” game. It would make sense that impulsive ADDers would not have thought it through very well, so it never occurred to them that there was a negative effect to the blog on which they post their links.

      While it WOULD take more time to actually read the content and leave a comment that relates, the information on THIS blog could change their lives and increase their options. (I’m sure none of them said, as children, when I grow up I want to be a spammer! lol)

      Nonetheless, because of the number of comments on THIS particular article that clearly did NOT read the article, I increased the filtering level, so future comments here must relate to the subject of the article to get through, and multiple references to the same blog will be spammed unless that blog contains a link BACK. Please let your followers know.

      THANKS
      xx,
      mgh

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    • Thanks so much for your acknowledgment!! LOVE it!

      RE: guest bloggers. While I don’t need them, since writing is one of my strengths and I am writing here in my own area of expertise, I DO welcome content written by others that expands upon (or offers a different way to consider) my own articles and info (see “GuestsPosts” on the bottom menubar at the top of every page).

      Right NOW is not a good time, however, since I am attempting to catch up from a week away AS WELL AS what I wasn’t able to do while I was getting ready to leave, on return, etc. The back and forth communication to coordinate on topic, format, bio, edits etc. can be time-consuming. I barely have time to BREATHE as I attempt to catch up without dropping balls, and May and early June are full to overflowing already! Check back at the middle of the summer to set something up.

      MEANWHILE, if you want to write something related on YOUR site (in English – few of my readers are bi-lingual), ping back (via links on your article – then click them). If I agree about “relatedness,” I will approve and [when things slow down here so I have the TIME to do so] – add a short response to highlight your info, encouraging others click over to read there.

      BTW — Sorry for the delay in approval and response. I have been at the ACO Conference [<==link] and *just* returned, playing catch-up as quickly as I am able.

      For me, managing at a conference (especially when I am one of the presenters) takes ALL available cognitive bandwidth, so I have *finally* learned to set my systems up in accordance to what I know, avoiding that “failure feeling” most of us know so well by avoiding overpromising and the resultant underdelivering (at least where keeping up with the blog during a conference is concerned ::BIG grin::)

      Thanks again for visiting, and especially for letting me know that you DID in such a lovely fashion — keep coming back, and don’t be shy about sharing YOUR expertise in the comments, even if you disagree with one or more of my assertions. I welcome with open arms ALL reports of functioning “causes and cures” for attentional dysregulations. (DO keep your links to one per comment or you’ll get spammed, however, no matter how helpful the links might have been. I can’t approve them if I don’t see them.)

      Like MOST serious “content bloggers,” of course, I also won’t approve blatant attempts at marketing my readers vs. informing them by adding to the discussion.

      ANYWAY, as soon as I have caught up with the to-do’s that accumulated from a week away, I’ll hop over to see what YOU are up to.

      xx,
      mgh

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    • Not a good idea for me to attempt Twitter, unfortunately – lousy fit for my brain style and the high distractibility in my particular flavor of ADD (at least not right NOW – it’s on the list!) – but you are a DOLL to ask.

      I’m off to Atlanta for the ACO conference, closing down the computer (my office) as soon as I close a few blog loops. If all goes as expected, I’ll be back online Wed. eve, 4/17/13.

      xx,
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    • I’m taking a chance on you – I am unclear whether your “strange” comment is a result of English-as-a-second-language or one of those “spam-spinners.” So I am approving your comment with thanks for ringing in — but I am deleting any links to outside info, just in case I am incorrect in my assumption.

      My GOAL is to help those who truly need and appreciate my information, while “deleting” the 60 thousand PLUS comments that want to line their pockets with no regard for the fact that they shut down the rest of the universe.

      Keep coming back and keep commenting, and I will approve your links.

      xx,
      mgh

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    • Thank you – and WELCOME. Keep coming back – and share YOUR ideas in the comments section.
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    • Thanks so much for checking out ADDandSoMuchMore.com – and especially for taking the time to leave a COMMENT, so I know you were here. I hope you’ll check out some of my other articles — this one is part of my advocacy efforts, while most of the content, by far, offers helpful explanations for and suggestions to work around attentional challenges.

      It appears, from your website link, that English is not your first language, so I’m doubly impressed that you found your way here.

      America doesn’t do language education very well, unfortunately, so few of us are bi-lingual. I speak rusty Spanish at a VERY basic level, but most of us remain English speakers alone throughout adulthood. Even though it certainly is possible to learn a new language later in life, the steady march of life’s to-dos conspire against it. Research also seems to indicate that the process of learning a new language after the brain’s myelinization process at around 13 is VERY different, and tougher.

      Knowing what we know NOW about the protective effects of growing up speaking two languages on brain-health and retention of effective cognition through the life-cycle, that’s REALLY a crying shame! As the world becomes increasingly “smaller” through internet connections, maybe my country will finally decide it has a few important things to learn from the rest of the planet!! Let us pray that comes SOON, huh?

      ANYWAY – hats off to you — thanks again for checking in.
      xx,
      mgh

  18. Dan Bolton says:

    Excellent post Madeline! I specialize in ADHD as well and am appalled at how parents refuse to even consider medication. I see posts all over LinkedIn by nutty professionals raging against medication saying it is a conspiracy. When I say research is undeniably showing the benefits of medication they turn their nut ball guns on me… That is until I send them photos of brain scans. It will only be so long before such people are muted, since technology is going to make these anecdotal arguments obsolete. And it is do true- why is a rational, middle-ground argument so hard to swallow? Bravo Madeline!

    • Thanks, Dan, for reading, for commenting, and for being on the same side of the page!! It never ceases to amaze me how little *thinking* goes on in many too many heads – amygdalla hijacking, I guess, but annoying when they shoot off in print.
      xx,
      mgh

  19. glenhogard says:

    Great addition to the discussion, Madelyn. As you know, I too was diagnosed late in life and wonder if that’s one of the reasons “we” are so adamant about early “proper” diagnosis and “proper” treatment. As usual, your taking the medication = eyeglasses analogy one step further to illitrerates given glasses similar to lack of follow-up/coaching or further teaching of “how to read” vs. “ability to see” was on the mark right down to possible damage from improper prescriptions.

    Your ability to add to my library of useful analogies to explain the otherwise obtuse or unexplainable when involving complicated neurotransmitter/medication actions adds an important piece to my often-used meds like glasses, coaching like reading class analogy.

    Thanks,
    glen at glenhogard dot com
    Glen Hogard

    • Thanks for stopping by, Glen – and I especially appreciate your taking the time to comment. As an analogy king yourself, it is high praise that you want to snag one of mine – snag away!
      xx,
      mgh

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