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Upcoming Conference on ADHD Offers Educational, Social Opportunities



The largest gathering of the ADHD community in the United States is coming up next month.

CHADD is presenting, along with the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), the 2017 Annual International Conference on ADHD, Nov. 9-12, in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference has drawn more than a thousand people during previous years. 

“You’ll find exciting topics for medical and mental health professionals, educators, adults with ADHD, parents of children with ADHD, coaches, and everyone interested in ADHD,” says Hermoine Wellman, CHADD’s Director of Meetings and Events. “You’ll have the chance to learn about the most current information in diagnosis and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring conditions. Our sessions explore topics that are important to you, such as legal issues affecting individuals with ADHD, time management, motivation, and much more.  Parents can also gain an understanding of educational supports for students with ADHD.”

Always something new to learn

Roberto Olivardia, PhD, has been attending the conference since 2008, as a participant and a speaker. He is a clinical psychologist and a lecturer in Psychology for the department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Olivardia is a member of CHADD’s Professional Advisory Board.

Dr. Olivardia says he looks forward to the conference each year, especially because he always has the opportunity to learn something new about ADHD or new approaches he can offer to his patients.  He is also presenting two sessions, ADHD and The Personality Disorders: Untangling and Understanding When It Is One or The Other or Both and Distracted! Impulsive! and... Hungry! Understanding Obesity Risk Factors While Promoting Healthy Eating and Weight When You Have ADHD.

“It’s a really good energy,” Dr. Olivardia says. “I’m looking forward to a lot of talks that are being offered. There’s so many great sessions offered at the same time, that there’s usually more than one talk I want to attend at any point.” 

Former CHADD President Marie Paxson says she’s looking forward to more than the sessions. There is a social aspect and a chance to mingle with presenters that she enjoys during the conference. Ms. Paxson is a panel member for Impacted Roots and Broken Wings: A Panel Discussion on the Joys and Challenges of Launching Young Adults with ADHD into the Real World.

“I always like the people. I really go to see them at this point,” she says. “By the second day I usually feel more at ease opening up about what is going on with my family. It’s just that feeling of freedom that no matter what you experience at home because of ADHD there is someone who has been through something similar.”

Ms. Paxson says she gains a sense of empowerment from attending the conference sessions and participating in the networking sessions with other attendees. She encourages attendees to talk with the experts who are presenting; most speakers make a point of lingering after their sessions in order to be available for conversations.

Many of the sessions at previous conferences have had an effect on Ms. Paxson and the ways she tries to help her family affected by ADHD.

“Even when I heard something that was hard to hear, that I would have to change how I was approaching things, I appreciated the wake-up call,” she says. “Even when I was struggling with difficulties at home, I felt reassured.”

Keynote addresses bring the latest research to you

The opening keynote address on Thursday, Nov. 9, is Focus for the Future: Individual- and Population-Level Perspectives on ADHD. Georgina Peacock, MD, MPH, FAAP, director of the Division of Human Development and Disability and the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will discuss her experiences working with children affected by ADHD. She’ll also talk about public health activities that aim to help parents and families make sure their children receive the best care they can at the right times.

On Friday, Nov. 10, Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, will present the keynote address, The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World. We live in an information-saturated world, he says, and growing expectations of immediate availability and responsiveness are putting demands on our brains in new ways. He’ll look at the consequences of those demands and offer strategies for handling them. Dr. Gazzaley is a professor in neurology, physiology and psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the founder and executive director of Neuroscape, a translational neuroscience center engaged in technology development and scientific research of novel brain assessments and optimization tools.

The Saturday keynote address is an important one for parents who are concerned about how legal changes regarding ADHD may affect you and your family. Education attorney and former CHADD President Matt Cohen will discuss Important Changes in Disability Law for Children, Students, and Adults with ADHD.

Highlights: Impulsivity and executive function

There are sessions on a variety of topics for parents, individuals, and professionals. You can review the entire catalog of sessions at 2017 Annual International Conference on ADHD

Sessions focusing on impulsivity

Impulsivity is a major symptom of ADHD. It can lead to difficulties in relationships and finances, as well as poor decision-making that could include brushes with law enforcement. Parents are often frustrated when impulsive children blurt out responses or embarrassing comments, while impulsive adults could agree to activities in which they would rather not participate—or end up skipping commitments entirely in favor of a new activity or idea that has come along.

Examples of sessions on impulsivity:


Sessions on executive functions

Executive function is the conductor of the orchestra that is your brain. If the conductor is asleep on the job, the music is no longer pleasant but rather and loud out of tune. The same is true for ADHD: when executive function is weak or struggling, life can easily become difficult. Learn skills to help improve executive function or to outsource it to other tools, to make a difference.

Examples of sessions on executive function:


Is this your first conference?

If this is your first conference, Ms. Paxson suggests deciding what topic is most important to you and immersing yourself in that topic first.

“Go to a presentation on a topic that is challenging you the most,” she says. “Because if you can get some answers and perspective on what is keeping you up at night then you’ll be better able to absorb the other information at conference.”

She also encourages attendees to approach speakers and experts, along with attending the networking sessions. This is a good time to meet other people dealing with the issues surrounding ADHD in a non-judgmental environment, she says.

“Just talk with people,” Dr.  Olivardia says. “People at CHADD conferences are open, they’re not a closed book. I really feel this group of people is a wonderful group of people. They’re engaging and fun.”

To register or for more information, visit 2017 Annual International Conference on ADHD.


This article appeared in ADHD Weekly on October 19, 2017.
     


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