All posts by larry

ADHD Testing

I get numerous calls inquiring about ADHD testing here in Portland OR. Many will ask if there is a definitive test that can prove they have ADHD or ADD. Like many diagnosis in mental health, much of what we utilize to make a definitive diagnosis includes self report data. Such things as: Do you have problems with focus, attention or concentration? Do you have problems with organization? Are you easily distracted? Do you have trouble listening in conversations? Do you have issues with procrastinating? Do you have problems either starting or completing tasks? Do you have difficulties with time such as being frequently late? Do you lose or misplace things? If you answered yes to many of these questions, you may have ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder also known as ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder Predominantly Inattentive Type. Many adults have this type of ADHD but may have had hyperactive symptoms as young children. Some indication of the hyperactive form of ADHD include: restlessness or hyperactivity, trouble sitting still, being fidgety or in constant motion, being noisy or having a hard time being quiet, problems arising from felling like you act as if you are being driven by a motor, you talk excessively, you have difficulty with being impulsive, difficulties awaiting your turn, or you interrupt or intrude on others. If you feel that these apply to you, then you may have ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type. There is also the combination of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive type and this is known simply as ADHD Combined Type.

Some non believers in ADHD or ADD will say that many folks have one or more of the above symptoms but they don’t have ADHD or ADD. What is important in distinguishing this is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and more severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.

Many people who have undiagnosed ADHD or ADD have known for many years that they were different than their peers. Many have heard things like “you’re quite bright but you aren’t working up to your potential” or “you’re not trying hard enough”. Yet, it seems that no matter how much effort they utilize, they can’t get traction and find themselves operating at a deficit compared to their peers.

If you believe that any of these ADHD symptoms apply to you, find a local practitioner who specializes in ADHD diagnosis and ADHD treatment and inquire about ADHD testing. If you live in the greater Portland OR area and want adult ADHD testing, feel free to contact me.

As always, I appreciate all your questions, concerns and suggestions.

ADHD & The Media Part 2

I am often asked if ADHD is being over diagnosed because it is slowly getting more well known. I wonder about the nature of that question and so I ask the person why they are asking the question, and many times they will say they read an article or heard some commentator or possibly went online and read the report of someone that feels all medications are harmful, especially some medications that treat ADHD. I ask them if they know anyone who has ADHD or ADD and many times they say no, but they are curious. I’m glad that they are inquiring and if they’re are open minded, I’m only too happy to share my experiences with them having worked with and treated thousands of men, women and children with ADHD or ADD.

While some estimates place the number of Americans with ADHD/ADD at 6%, others feel that it is more like 10-14%. If we do the math at 6% it is 19 million and at 14% it is 44 million, so for a mid-range lets make it around 31 million Americans have ADHD or ADD. That means approximately 1 out of 10 so at your next workplace meeting, or classroom, or religious group or any larger meeting, one out of every ten persons more than likely has ADHD. Some are undiagnosed and still struggling with their symptoms. When asked why they waited, many will say because they heard or read that ADHD is not a real diagnosis, or that it is being over diagnosed or that medications used to treat ADHD/ADD are being over prescribed.

To that effect, I was contacted recently by one of the major networks here in Portland Oregon (OR) and asked to be interviewed by a noteworthy reporter on ADHD. They indicated that my name came up as being knowledgeable in the treatment of ADHD and they wanted to get my professional opinion. I was interviewed for approximately 20 minutes and the bulk of the questions were on only two main subjects; was ADHD being over diagnosed and was medications used to treat ADHD/ADD being over prescribed. Many times the conversation was redirected back to those two points so that I wondered if there was a hidden agenda to find “the smoking gun”. I was told that the story would run in the next few weeks in prime time but then received a notice that the station decided not to run the piece after all. I was curious why that was and wonder if after all the digging they couldn’t find the evidence to fit the supposition?

I also noticed that there is a national reporter in a major US paper who periodically runs a story that highlights one or two people that had a negative experience with either the diagnosis or the medication and then uses that to support the aforementioned two beliefs. I do strongly feel that we are in the relative infancy stage of knowing the reasons why some folks have ADHD or what are the definitive causes. There is so much we don’t know about the brain but we are making headway. I also feel that we need to know more but am weary of perhaps well meaning people that start their research with a belief and then want to find all the evidence that supports that position while omitting facts that are contrary to the belief.

ADHD and ADD are very real. Those who do not have those symptoms perhaps do not understand how debilitating it can be especially when you hear messages that tell you its not real and some of the tools used to manage it, are being over utilized.

If you want more information on ADHD symptoms, treatment, diagnosis, or medication, and are in the greater Portland Oregon (OR) area, please contact me at (503) 492-2200. As always, I welcome your feedback, your questions, comments and suggestions for other topics.

ADD/ADHD & Shame

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t get multiple calls and e-mails from new prospective folks inquiring about coming in to get evaluated for possible ADD or ADHD. I get to hear their stories about difficulties in life as it manifests in employment, academics, personal and professional arenas.

Too often they tell a tale of not being good enough. Of hearing over and over again that they are lazy or absent minded. They hear how bright they are, but aren’t living up to their potential. They hear others tell them that while they are sorry, they have to let them go in one capacity or another whether it’s in a job, or being asked to leave college, or failed love relationships.

One must wonder what this does to the average psyche to be told that no matter how hard you work on being more organized, paying better attention, “trying” to finish tasks, not leaving things to the last minute, finding the items that you just had but can’t find, etc, you can’t succeed. They say that even steel breaks at a certain point if pushed beyond it’s limits. So it is with this situation where the individual begins to internalize that something is seriously wrong with them as a person and shame develops.

Shame is about who we are as a person where one begins to feel embarrassed, unworthy and disgraced. It is no wonder, that this situation oftentimes can bring forth a sense of heightened anxiety and depression. Luckily, we understand more today than ever about the brain and brain chemistry. No longer does one have to suffer the ill effects of shame related to their cognitive deficits due to ADD or ADHD.

If any of these words apply to you, or a friend, colleague or loved one, encourage them to seek a professional who specializes in ADD and ADHD. If you live in the greater Portland Oregon (OR.) area and have questions about ADD ADHD symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, medications, coaching, etc., feel free to contact me to discuss your needs.

Many thanks for all the positive feedback to this blog. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me.

Going to College with ADD/ADHD

Lately I’ve been receiving more contacts from college students indicating that they are having significant difficulties now that they are in college. Many indicate that while these difficulties started in their early formative years, they’ve somehow managed to persevere until now. Some report having attended college before, only to receive poor grades, be placed on academic probation, or in some cases, asked to leave the college.

That leads some to question, why now? What is it about going to college that makes things for the ADHD/ADD college student more problematic?
Many individuals with ADHD/ADD have grown use to using brains, willpower and pluck to compensate for their inability to stay on track, focus, concentrate, stay organized, procrastinate and many of the other ADHD/ADD symptoms. While this might work in middle school and high school, when the students transition to college that approach is insufficient.

College brings more independence and more responsibilities. Students oftentimes have classed that have several hundred students and are also expected to sit for longer hours. They are also expected to find classrooms across a much larger campus and have much less individual contact and support from their teachers. Additionally college students are expected to manage their own financial affairs which might include rent, food, tuition, books, social activities, transportation etc, many for the first time. All these increased responsibilities with less parental and educator support, leads some students with ADHD/ADD to drop out of college and wonder if they can function in a college environment.

Luckily, for many, the answer is yes. Today, we have more understanding and awareness of what ADHD and ADD are about. There is no need to suffer needlessly and if you or a loved one, someone you know can identify with any of these symptoms, please seek out an ADHD/ADD specialist and discuss your situation. If you live in or near the greater Portland Oregon (OR) area feel free to give me a call at (503)492-2200.

As always, I welcome your questions, concerns, and suggestions.

Students with ADHD/ADD

Most recently I was working with a young woman who was very bright but had difficulties with her concentration, focus, organization, ability to stay on task, procrastination and had problems completing tasks. She was given two ADHD questionnaires; one for her parents to fill out and the other for her teacher at school. The parents returned theirs and it indicated many symptoms of ADHD but when I inquired about the questionnaire from the teacher, the parents reported the teacher didn’t fill it out. I inquired why that was, and they reported the teacher told them “Your daughter doesn’t have ADHD”. Naturally I wondered what medical or psychological training the teacher had that could allow her to make that diagnosis and asked the parents what basis the teacher made her assessment on. The parents indicated the teacher told them “She doesn’t have ADHD because she is very bright, is getting decent grades, and is able to sit still”

Naturally, like many of you who are reading this, I was very surprised that here in 2013, with all the awareness of ADHD, and ADD, that some educators are still somewhat naive about the differences between ADD and ADHD. Many people that I’ve treated indicated from early on in their formative years, they knew they were different from their school peers because they had problems that few of the other students had with concentration, focus, attention, task completion, procrastination and others but no matter how hard they worked it didn’t get better. What is most disheartening is that in some cases, teachers, parents, and other family members saw the clues but either denied them, or didn’t fully comprehend what they were seeing.

The young woman was tested and found to have ADHD, predominantly inattentive type and started on a regiment of medication, coaching and counseling and has made incredible progress. Gone are the anxiety, low self esteem and in their place is a bright, bubbly, cheerful young person who has seen her grades improve with less effort.

It should be noted here, that many many educators are aware of what to look for in their students and when they are suspecting ADHD/ADD they are notifying parents and counselors with recommendations that the student be seen by an ADHD specialist for proper diagnosing.

If you, or a loved one suspects they may have ADHD/ADD, find a local specialist to get a proper diagnosis.

If you are in the greater Portland Oregon (OR) vicinity, I would be happy to talk with you about ADHD/ADD medication, diagnosis, treatment, counseling or answer any other related questions.

As always I welcome your thoughts, suggestions, feedback and recommendations for future topics.

ADHD Myths & Diagnosis Questions

Hello Dr. Eckman,
I really like your website, it seems like you really understand ADHD. I’m pretty sure that I have it too because my dad and my grandma are just like me. I have trouble paying attention and seem to have a problem with staying focused on one thing at a time. For instance when I’m in class, my mind wanders and when I try to study, my concentration lasts for maybe like 10 minutes. I have always had this problem but now that I’m older its getting worse. Can you help me? I should tell you that I don’t live in Portland Oregon but I’m wondering if you could treat me over the phone? I do have insurance through my dad. Please let me know if you can help me or if you can’t, could you recommend someone that can?
Drew S.

Hi Drew,
Many thanks for sending me your note. Firstly, a diagnosis of ADHD requires an in depth, very detailed evaluation which is usually done in person. There are many parts to the evaluation and making a diagnosis over the phone is difficult at best. I would suggest that since you have insurance through your father that you go online to that insurance company’s website and find a list of their mental health psychiatry prescribers such as psychiatrists, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners etc. and see if they have an expertise in treating ADHD. If that doesn’t work, then it may be useful to Google the name of your town, for instance if you lived in Portland OR you could use the search terms: ADHD Portland Oregon (OR), or ADHD diagnosis Portland Oregon (OR) or even ADHD treatment Portland Oregon (OR). Then I would suggest you contact those individuals and discuss your symptoms and concerns.

Dear Mr. Eckman,
Thank you so much for your posting on ADHD myths. I was told by my old therapist that there is no such thing as ADHD. He sent me to see a doctor who said that I had depression. I was put on depression medication which didn’t do anything except make me feel worse. I felt very tired, was not able to focus on homework, and ultimately felt worse than before. I tried to tell my therapist about that, but he told me that the he and the doctor knew best and to give the medicine more time to work. I felt as if I was not being listened to. I told the doctor that I was also experiencing anxiety problems now, and he gave me another medication to try and solve that problem. I grew more and more unhappy, until it got to the point that I dropped out of college. I had to move back to my parents house. In desperation, I went online and started to read everything I could on ADHD. I learned that what I was experiencing was not unique and that others had similar stories. I took an online ADHD test and it said that I had many of the symptoms. So I called a few people who were on that website and asked them about ADHD. I was relieved to find one that I liked and once I got on some medication my world changed. I felt truly alive for the very first time. I now see that some people think they know all about mental problems but they do more damage by saying things that aren’t true. My ADHD had nothing to do with depression or anxiety and that myth needs to be exposed as not true. I tell everyone I know about what happened to me, and I’m happy to see your page that exposes the myths on ADHD.

Dear JM,
I was touched by your note. I write this ADHD blog for people like you that have similar stories. I’ve heard many such experiences where clients are not listened to and given diagnosis that are in opposition to their symptoms. I have heard too many tales where clients have classic ADHD symptoms and are told that either ADHD doesn’t exist or that it’s due to some anxiety experience from childhood. In some cases they are misdiagnosed by medical personnel and given erroneous medications which can exacerbate the symptoms. I hear that you finally found an ADHD specialist who properly diagnosed your symptoms and started you on a regiment that is working. You are to be commended for continuing your search until you found the right ADHD specialist to treat you. Good Luck!

If you or a loved one thinks they may have ADHD or ADD, please find a local specialist who can take the time to accurately assess your symptoms. ADHD or ADD is very real and can be treated with many things including medication, counseling, coaching, and others interventions. If you are in the local Portland Oregon (OR) area, I can be reached at (503)492-2200. If you live in another area, consult the internet for an ADHD specialist close to where you live.

Please keep those letters, concerns, questions and suggestions coming.