“Tapping into apps didn’t cure my ADHD, just like taking that salmon-colored pill didn’t make my symptoms disappear. But using a range of apps has allowed me to evolve from tech geek to productivity geek. When you go through life being clueless about managing any of the details of life, and then you crack the code, it’s hard not to geek out.”
Dr. Nicole Brown’s quest to understand her misbehaving pediatric patients began with a hunch.
Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive. Brown knew these behaviors as classic symptoms of ADHD, a brain disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus.
When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.
“For the study, a team of Dutch neuroscientists analyzed MRI scans of the brains of more than 3,200 people between the ages of four and 63 years old (with a median age of 14 years old), measuring total brain volume as well as the volume of seven brain regions thought to be linked to ADHD.
Roughly half of the participants had a diagnosis of ADHD.
The brain scans revealed that five brain regions were smaller in people with ADHD. These include the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure involved in processing emotions like fear and pleasure; the hippocampus, which plays a role in learning, memory and emotion; and three brain areas within the striatum ― the caudate nucleus, the putamen and the nucleus accumbens. The structures within the striatum are involved in the brain’s reward system and in its processing of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control motivation and pleasure.
These differences were more dramatic in children than in adults, leading the study’s authors to conclude that ADHD involves delayed brain development. It appears that as the brains of people with ADHD develop and mature, these brain regions “catch up” to the brain regions of people without ADHD.”
One of the biggest challenges in relationships is when a partner misinterprets ADHD symptoms. For one, couples may not even know that one partner (or both) suffers from ADHD in the first place. (Take a quick screening quiz here.)
In fact, “more than half of adults who have ADHD don’t know they have it,” according to Orlov. When you don’t know that a particular behavior is a symptom, you may misinterpret it as your partner’s true feelings for you.
Orlov recalled feeling miserable and unloved in her own marriage. (At the time she and her husband didn’t realize that he had ADHD.) She misinterpreted her husband’s distractibility as a sign that he didn’t love her anymore. But if you would’ve asked him, his feelings for her hadn’t changed. Still, to Orlov his actions — in reality the symptoms — spoke louder than words.
Do you pop up from your seat during meetings and finish other people’s sentences? And maybe you also procrastinate, or find yourself zoning out in the middle of one-on-one conversations?
It’s possible you have adult ADHD.
Six simple questions can reliably identify adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to a World Health Organization advisory group working with two additional psychiatrists.
“The idea that young adults, particularly women, actually have ADHD routinely evokes skepticism. As a fairly driven adult female who found the strength to sit through biology lectures and avoid major academic or social failures, I, too, was initially perplexed by my diagnosis. My peers were also confused, and rather certain my psychiatrist was misguided. “Of course you don’t have ADHD. You’re smart,” a friend told me, definitively, before switching to the far more compelling topic: medication. “So are you going to take Adderall and become super skinny?” “Are you going to sell it?” “Are you going to snort it?”
And on CNN last weekend, Dolezal compared herself—somewhat—to Caitlyn Jenner: “There is some similarity in terms of harmonizing the outer appearance with the inner feeling, in terms of stigmatized identities, some people will forever see me as my birth category and nothing further. And the same with Caitlyn.” She made similar comments on BBC Newsnight and in other interviews.
But even worse than Dolezal’s specious analogies themselves are the way they are being handled by the media. Once again, voices on the right are wielding Dolezal’s story as a trump card to try to delegitimize and denigrate transgender identity. And voices on the left are failing to challenge or debunk the transgender comparison; in some cases, they’re asking the questions that invite it.
“No serious person contends that transgender and cisgender women move through the world in identical ways from the moment they are born, simply that the term “woman” can include the different obstacles and socialization we each must face. We could keep conducting a fruitless and painful argument about whether those differences mean transgender women ought to be denied citizenship in women’s country once they come out. Or we could take a close look at what both cisgender women — those whose sense of their gender identity corresponds to their physical body — and transgender women have to gain from embracing each other, and all the different ways it’s possible to be a woman.”
A figure in a translucent kimono coyly holds a fan. Another arranges an iris in a vase. Are they men or women?
As a mind-bending exhibition that opened Friday at the Japan Society illustrates, they are what scholars call a third gender — adolescent males seen as the height of beauty in early modern Japan who were sexually available to both men and women. Known as wakashu, they are one of several examples in the show that reveal how elastic the ideas of gender were before Japan adopted Western sexual mores in the late 1800s.
The show, “A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints,” arrives at a time of ferment about gender roles in the United States and abroad. Bathroom rights for transgender people have become a cultural flash point. The notion of “gender fluidity” — that it’s not necessary to identify as either male or female, that gender can be expressed as a continuum — is roiling traditional definitions.
In 2011, Stanford Medicine lecturer Maya Adam, MD, had just finished teaching her undergraduate course on critical issues in child health when a student approached her with some feedback. “I loved your class, but you are missing one issue,” the student said. “You need a lecture on transgender children’s health.”
Adam’s response was “You’re right … but I know so little about that.” Her own medical training had never mentioned transgender children; she was unsure what difficulties they faced. Adam soon realized this knowledge gap was common, not just among physicians but also among teachers and other professionals who work with kids.