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Essential ideas for #ADHD parents via Dr. Russell Barkely

This almost 3 hour lecture is without doubt the finest ADHD resource I have found to date.

The information presented, resonated so powerfully with me and has helped me to understand myself and the psychological abilities associated with ADHD far more holistically.

I couldn’t possible review the entire presentation in any meaningful way but I do want to highlight some of the main takeaways, as I see them.


Key points

Dr. Barkley begins the presentation with an undertaking not to dumb down the material – and he makes good on that promise.

However, he succeeds in communicating at times quite complex subject matter, succinctly and clearly while keeping the audience engaged.

In a sentence, in this presentation, Dr. Russell Barkley has made the subject and reality of ADHD accessible and understandable to the non-Scientist.

Against that backdrop, here are the points that blew my mind!


1. Age inappropriate behavior

I had a general awareness of this aspect of ADHD.

What shocked me was the quantitative extent of this feature of ADHD impairment.

As a rule of thumb, children with ADHD show a 30% delay compared to non-ADHD children of the same age.

  • A 10 year old with ADHD will show the same level of age appropriate behavior as a 7 year old
  • and then the punchline

An 18 year old will show the same level of age appropriate behavior as a 12 or 13 year old!


This explains the torment I experienced as a Freshman at an Ivy League College (or any other college)

  • I was a kid, expected to interact with adults AS an adult
  • and to apply my intellect in a manner appropriate to an adult

This also explains the (historic at least) huge drop out rate for ADHD College kids

  • For the few that actually made it into College in the first place!


2. A performance disorder NOT an ability disorder

Dr. Barkley goes on to explain/remind us that ADHD is a performance disorder.

  • The problem for people like me is not due to our lack of knowledge or intellect
  • It is a problem with applying what we know

It is not about what we know, it is about what we DO with what you know.

ADHD has separated our brains like a meat cleaver.

  • Back part of the brain (long term memory) what you know
  • Front part of the brain (working memory) how we organize and apply what we know

We have impaired working memories – which is why we can’t organize and in particular, why we can’t organize ACROSS time, to the delayed future.

This explains the College drop out rate and why a gifted child like me barely managed to Graduate from College AND the general human misery I endured as an Undergraduate – a little kid, developmentally barely even into adolescence when I graduated!

  • and why my early employment history was more akin to a drunk staggering from bar to bar on a Friday evening
  • barely able to hold down a job for more than a year, often just a few months


3. Behavior modification can take place ONLY at the point of performance

I had heard this maxim before, but never heard or found any concrete (great description in relation to ADHD) guidance.

Dr. Barkley describes in surgical detail precisely what is meant by the point of performance and HOW TO modify behavior at that point of performance.

This was a revelation to me.

In describing ADHD performance impairments, he was describing me, on any given day.

His advice on how to solve these impairments amounts to a definitive guide for managing and succeeding DESPITE ADHD

Apologies if this has been a little long winded but I have barely scratched the surface with my introduction.

I wanted to precis the You tube clip, so that you wouldn’t find the almost 3 hours too daunting.

  • and hopefully communicate my enthusiasm for this Gold mine of a presentation
  • sufficient to arouse your curiosity and perhaps also your enthusiasm

And to parents of ADHD kids as well as ADHD adults, there is much hope.


Dr. Russell Barkley: Essential ideas for ADHD parents


As Good as it Gets

As Good as it Gets.

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