Aspiring to Optimal Functioning

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Supporting the What Kind of World do YOU Want? series

I Have A Dream . . .

. . . of a time when we have a solution that allows all of us with Attentional Spectrum Deficits to do more than aspire to Optimal Functioning – even though I’m finding it increasingly difficult to believe that I will live long enough to see it.


Over the Rainbow?  REALLY?

After TWO DECADES of non-stop advocacy:

We still have far too many people who refuse to believe that ADD is “a real disorder . . .

despite incontrovertible scientific evidence that overwhelmingly underscores the validity of the ADD diagnosis, including:

  • Medication studies – double-blind, placebo controlled
  • SPECT analysis demonstrating differences in ADD brain
    architecture as well as neurotransmitter functioning
  • Heritability & Twin studies and
  • The identification of several gene markers.

Congressional Concerns

We still have an embarrassing number of elected representatives who allow themselves to be swayed by anti-medication lobbyists, informed only by inaccurate reportage and the over-valuation of atypical experiences, creating “sound bite” controversies for who knows what purpose.

Panels are still convened to “investigate” ADD and ADD medication,
publishing “findings,” despite the fact that they have NOT:

  • Attempted to understand  first-line ADD medications or their neurological efficacy
  • Admitted testimony from mainstream scientists and doctors, or
  • Taken the time to READ published research

In Service of the Sound-bite 

We still see far too little accurate ADD reportage in the popular press,
for reasons I will never understand.

. . . even though ALL major medical associations and government health agencies recognize ADD as a valid and debilitating disorder because the scientific evidence overwhelmingly  supports that conclusion
. . . and  even though studies indicate that less than half of the ADD population is receiving treatment

  • Network television specials still showcase the personal opinions of a a very few non-expert doctors -unsubstantiated by valid, scientific research- as if they were professional findings

. . . contrasting them with the views of widely-respected ADD professionals of expert status, as if both views deserved equal consideration

Diagnostic Dreams

While there are certainly now many more doctors and therapists who do a magnificent job and are overwhelmingly ADD-literate . . . we still have FAR too many who believe they are qualified to diagnose and treat ADD, knowing precious little about it beyond what they read in the DSM.

There are still licensed physicians who claim to treat ADD who:

Consider ADD a psychological rather than neurological condition, even as they look for gross motor hyperactivity to diagnose it

  • Diagnose and insist on treating ADDers for bi-polar disorder because they aren’t familiar with ADD mood swings
  • Won’t diagnose ADD in reasonably successful adults, even when presented with clear evidence of the prevalence and persistence of ADD symptoms in every arena, and regardless of clear evidence that their symptoms create significant impairments in major life activities
  • Say they “don’t believe in” prescribing psycho-stimulants –the first-line meds for ADD – even in cases where stimulant use is observably indicated, or for individuals who have taken stims successfully under the care of a former doctor
  • Are convinced that ADD sleep struggles are a direct result of stimulant medication, despite Yale psychologist Thom Brown. Ph.D.’s fully annotated text underscoring and explaining the claim that many of us have less trouble falling asleep and staying asleep fully medicated.

The lack of BASIC medical knowledge about an area in which they claim to be competent, as suggested by these comments and others (to me personally, to my clients, my students, and those of my colleagues), would be considered malpractice in any other field.  

You heard it here first:
WHAT does that say about the standards in the ADD field?

See also: The Top Ten Stupid Comments from [supposed] ADD Professionals – (read the comments too – and chime in!]

A Call for ACTION

Even ADDers who manage to accomplish quite a bit under-function still.  

It’s emotionally and physically exhausting to be sentenced “to work twice as hard for half as much,” as Dr. Edward Hallowell, a noted ADD expert, author and speaker remarks.

Einstein-stuck-at-the-Patent-Office lives are not NEARLY good enough.

After twenty years steeped in ADD advocacy efforts, supported by full-time study of ADD and its comorbid disorders, it is disturbing and demoralizing to think that we could easily lose yet ANOTHER generation to chronic underfunctioning

  • Especially since I have experienced first hand how difficult life is for thousands of ADDers and their families
  • Especially since I know that some of our planet’s brightest and most creative individuals never actuate their potential as a direct consequence of ADD, and
  • Especially knowing that, despite studies reporting that a daunting 45 to 60% of the prison population qualifies for an ADD diagnosis, warden and ADD advocate Dwaine McCallon has documented that up to 75% of the population in his prison qualify for an ADD diagnosis

We need to pick up the pace and stop leaving stones unturned so that we can solve this problem!  

Lives are being wasted every single day.


Meanwhile . . . I’m willing

 I’m willing to continue to struggle to keep the faith that others will join me as I call for serious focus on the cost of ADD to our nation as well as to the lives of those of us who struggle with it, so that ADD will be taken seriously as a diagnosis of significant consequence.

DESPITE the fact that I have been repeating the same information with the same requests since before ICF was ICF, I’m willing to continue to hope that the time approaches shortly when it will no longer be unusual for my colleagues in the non-ADD coaching community – and NOW the ADD Coaching community – to know enough about ADD to:

  • Distinguish its presence in clients and potential clients
  • Understand that effective ADD coaching must compensate for erratic Executive Functioning, which mandates a “spin” to standard coaching techniques and core competencies – and a great deal of knowledge about ADD and brain-based coaching.
  • Refer clients with ADD to coaches trained to work with them unless they are willing to dedicate additional time to acquire appropriate, brain-based training hours to the study of the coaching implications of an ADD diagnosis.
  • Reframe and relanguage terms like “racket” “excuse” or “adrenalin addiction,” especially when they speak to or about an ADDer, and
  • STOP to Consider the idea that those  “uncoachable” clients they’re about to “fire” might possibly soar with a coach who has the skills to coach them — BEFORE they said those words aloud to any client who was struggling.
  • Recognize brilliant ADD coaching as something besides deficient non-ADD coaching
  • Realize that in the absence of the endorsement of an ADD-specific credential that identifies ADD Coaching competency to the public . . .

 . . . any ICF-certified coach who does not have ADD-specific training to work with the ADD clients they serve does so with the endorsement of ICF and, tacitly, the established coaching field

 . . . undercutting the professional standing of every single coach who holds ICF certification, some of whom ARE certified ADD Coaches who’ve jumped through the hoops to hold dual certifications.

I sincerely hope that I won’t turn out to have been “a cockeyed optimist” when it comes time for me to meet my maker.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and 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!"

2 Responses to Aspiring to Optimal Functioning

  1. Pingback: THANKS to all who read & commented on My Birthday Prayer | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t blame the foot! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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