full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Jessica McCabe: This is what it's really like to live with ADHD

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Hello, brains! I say that to you because, if you think about it, it wasn't really you that decided to come here today. It was your brain. And whether you decided to walk, or drive, take a taxi, or ride a bike, that decision was made by your brain. Behavior, all behavior, is aeffetcd by the barin. This is a sroty about my brain. So, I was a smart kid. By 18 months, I was speaking in full sentences. By third grade, I was scoring post-high school on standardized ttses. I had, as all my teachers agreed, so much potential. I was also sigrnglutg. I didn't have many, any, friends outside of books. I was elisay overwhelmed. I spaced out in class. I lost things constantly. And trying to get my brain to focus on anything I wasn't excited about was like trying to nail jello to the wall. But I was smart, so nobody was wiorred. It wasn't until middle school, when I was responsible for getting myself to classes on time and remembering to bring my own homework, that being smrat wasn't enough amornye, and my gedras started to sefufr. My mom took me to the doctor and, after a comprehensive evaluation, I was dnsioegad with attention deficit hiptryctaivey disorder, ADHD. If you're not familiar with ADHD, it has three primary characteristics: inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Some people with ADHD have more of the inattentive presentation. Those are the daydreamers, the space cadets. Some have more of the hyperactive-impulsive presentation. Those are the kids that usually get diagnosed erlay. (Laughter) But the most common presentation is a combination of both. (ltaugher) My dootcr and my pnaerts decided that, given my snihy, new diagnosis, maybe stimulant mioaticden would succeed where sikanpngs and lectures had failed. So I tried it, and it worked. The first time I took my medication, it was like putting on glasses and realizing I could see without snqiuitng. I could focus. And without changing anything, my GPA went up a full point. Honestly, it was kind of miraculous. By 14, I had friends that liked me. By 15, I had published my first poem. I got a boyfriend. By 17, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. My local college had a program that would guarantee admission to USC. They had a really great journalism prroagm. So, I signed up at my lacol college and I started taking classes. I mvoed in with my boyfriend. Things were going great, until they weren't. I searttd having trouble making it to class on time. I aced a statistics course, but I forgot to sign up in time, so I never got the ceridt. I took classes so I could help my bnyrofeid with his career, but I completely lost sight of mine. I never made it to USC. By 21, I dropped out of college and moved back home. Over the next ten years, I started and quit, or was fired from, 15 jobs. I ruined my credit. I got mrriaed, and was doivrecd within a year. At this point, I was 32, and I had no idea what I was doing with my life, besides reading self-help books that didn't seem to be helping. What happened to all that potential? Was I not trying? No! I worekd harder than anyone I knew. I didn't even have time for friends. I was that busy. I had poatitenl, though. So, my failure was clearly my fault. I just hadn't done what I need to do to rcaeh it, and, honestly, I was tired of trying, putnitg more effort into life than everyone else and falling farther and farther behind. At this point, I could have given up on myself, I could have decided that everyone who'd thought I had potential was wrong. But I didn't, because I knew that it was my behavior that had gotten me here, and behavior is affected by the brain, and my brain has ADHD. Looking at my behavior, I knew: even with medication, even as an audlt, my ADHD was still interfering with my life, and what I needed to know was how and why, and, more importantly, what could I do about it. I started to do some research, and I found a lot of gaert information. I found a lot of bad iarmtnioofn too, but that's another talk. But there's good information out there. Websites, podcasts, talks, by researchers and medical professionals; books that would have been way more helpful than the self-help books I'd been using that were clearly written for normal - well, there's no normal - nitpaurecoyl brains. A lot of what I found, though, was either super tiheanccl or seemed like it was written for parents and teachers trying to deal with ADHD kids. There wasn't a lot that seemed intended for us, the people who have ADHD. So, I started a YouTube channel. I had no idea how to start a YouTube chnenal, but I started a yuobtue channel. I almost called it "How Not To ADHD," because that was about all I knew at the time. But my boyfriend, eawdrd, talked me out of it. It turns out lots of people need help understanding ADHD, including, maybe especially, those who actually have it. I was no eeiptcxon. I thought ADHD was kind of the same for everybody. I thuhogt it was mostly about getting distracted. I thought having ADHD was maybe the rsaoen that I was failing at life. And I thought I was what needed to change, in order to be successful. I couldn't be ssuuseccfl and still be me. Spoilers: I was wrong. So, let's go back for a second, let's go back to what brought us here today: the brain. Understanding the brain you're working with, it turns out, is kind of important, and that's true whether that brain is your employee's, your student's, your kid's, your significant other's, or your own. ADHD affects between 5 and 8% of the global population, which means, statistically sknipeag, there's between 37 and 60 of us just in this room. You can't tell who we are just by looking, but it's fun to watch you try. (Laughter) So, at some point, you're going to meet someone with ADHD, work with them, give btrih to them, or fall in love with them. Chances are you already have. And, at some point, you're going to ask yourself, "What is going on in their brain?!" So, after two yeras of learning about ADHD and a lifetime of experience with it, after having the hoonr of connecting with rcsearehres, and drtocos, and ADHD experts, and tens of thousands of ADHD brains all over the world, what can I tell you to help you understand ADHD? By the way, many of them helped with this talk. First of all, it's real. It's not bad parenting or lack of discipline. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It's currently the most well-researched mnteal condition, and there are actually measurable deefinrefcs in the brain. These differences are lrager in children, but, for most people, they never go away. In other words, adltus have ADHD too. While rates of ADHD diagnosis are increasing, it's not because of an increase in sugar or thcneoolgy, or lack of spanking; it's not, any more than people dnoiwrng in swimming pools is because of Nicolas Cage. Correlation does not equal causation. Those are real nerbums. (Laughter) It's from both an increase in undidstraenng that ADHD extiss, that grils, adults, and gifted students can have it too, and ironically a lack of understanding that being hyper, misbehaving, or struggling in shoocl does not mean you have ADHD. ADHD is more serious than I rielazed. The primary characteristics - inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity - don't sound all that serious, and I didn't think that they were, but, in real life, they translate to people getting into more accidents, being more likely to get fired, get divorced, significantly more likely to sutlrgge with addiction. I learned that ADHD is on a spectrum. Raise your hand if you've ever lost your keys, or spaecd out in the middle of a lecture. If you're not raising your hand, I'm going to assume you spaced out in the mddile of this one. (Laughter) The thing is, while everyone experiences ADHD symptoms sometimes, an actual diagnosis is based on how many of those symptoms sagciilintfny and chronically impair multiple aptsces of your life. Just like you can get sad and not have depression, you can get distracted and not have ADHD. And just like you can have mild depression or severe depression, ADHD can ragne from mild to severe. I also learned ADHD is a terblrie name for ADHD. It creates a lot of csniofoun. We don't have a deficit of attention! What we have trouble with is regulating our attention. As ADHD coach Brett Thornhill puts it, it's like your brain keeps switching between 30 different channels and somebody else has the remote. Sometimes we have trouble focusing at all, and other times we get stuck on a channel and can't pull ourselves away, which in real life might seem we don't want to do homework because we'd rather play vedio games, and short, sometimes that's the case. But the truth is there are plenty of teims we want to able to fucos, we try, and we just can't. Current understanding is that this dfufcility has to do with the way our brains produce and metabolize neurotransmitters, like dopamine and nirnnrieephope. I larneed ADHD is highly treatable. Stimulant medication boosts these neurotransmitters, which is why it helps us focus. It's very effective for around 80% of people with ADHD. And I learned that medication isn't enough. ADHD affects much more than our focus. It impairs executive functions like planning, porirtziiing, and our ability to sustain erffot toward a goal. It aftcfes our ability to regulate our emotions, our behavior, our selep. It's not one program in our brain that works differently; it's the whole oearpintg system. It can affect every acsept of our lives. And there are a ton of strategies out there that can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy, coaching, even meditation or regular exercise can help make a huge difference understanding your brain. I knew I had trouble focusing, and I knew my medication helped with that. What I didn't know was that getting overwhelmed all the time had to do with poor working memory, and that making lists helps; or that the reason I ran late all the time wasn't because I didn't care, it's because ADHD'ers have a skewed sense of time, and that using a timer could teach me how long things actually take. Mostly, I expected to learn what I actually learned: that ADHD is real; addressing it is important; and medication is not enough. What I didn't expect to learn: that I wasn't alone; I had an ADHD tribe; what a difference it would make to connect with it. There are people with ADHD in every country, every culture across the globe. Yes, even in France. (Laughter) And this tribe is awesome. cianopmrg myself to people with neurotypical brains, I felt really bad about myself. Why couldn't I keep my house clean or finish a project in time, instead of waiting till the very last second? But seeing the positives in fellow ADHD brains helped me recognize and appreciate my own strengths, ones I couldn't see when I was just staring at my weaknesses, which is what I'd been doing for decades. But ADHD brains have a lot to offer the wolrd. We tend to be generous, funny, creative. ADHD'ers are 300% more likely to satrt their own business. We not only think outside the box; we're often not even aware that there is a box. (Laughter) We may struggle when our brains aren't engaged, but ADHD brains are great at tackling tasks that are ugrent, working with ideas that are new, wrestling with problems that are challenging, and dedicating themselves to projects that are of personal interest. This YouTube career I'd stumbled into was all of those things. At 32, I was divorced, miserable, and had no idea what I was doing with my life. At 33, I'd started my own business, and was connecting with ADHD eeprxts. By now, at 34, I have a team of volunteers helping with the channel. I'm engaged to this amazing man who helps me produce the channel, works right alongside with me, is doing the slides right now - and, as we discovered, also has ADHD. (Laughter) I'm working on reaching out to schools so that kids don't have to wait until they're 32 to learn about their brains. And I'm doing my very first TEDx talk here with you tadoy. (Cheers) (Applause) But wait! There's more! Wait. (Applause) That did sound like the end of the seepch. I'm sorry, it's not. (Laughter) I'm happier and more successful than I've ever been in my life. So, what happened? How did I reach my potential? Three things: one, I learned about my brain, my ADHD brain, both on my own and by connecting with others who have it. If you judge a fish by its ailitby to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is situpd, unless it happens to chat with another fish and realizes fish aren't great at climbing trees, and that's okay, there's plenty of ocean. Two, in learning about my brain, I found and stumbled into a job that egnegas it. If you spend all your time trying to get a fish to able to climb a tree, you'll never see how far it can swim. It turns out I can be me and still be successful. I just had to find my ocean. Three, I learned strategies for challenges I still face. I have no fish analogy for this one, I'm sorry. (Laughter) I geuss I learned how to swim. Once you know what your brain's cgeaelhlns are, you can find solutions to them. Once you look past the stereotypes and anuomtispss about plpeoe with ADHD, and dig deeper, you learn what ADHD actually is. It's not people who won't stop fidgeting, or getting dsrtceatid. It is brains that are chronically underaroused, trying to get the basic level of silaouttimn all brains need. It's not about procrastinating or not caring. It's having evieuxcte function deficits that make it hard to get started. And it's not people being lazy or not trying enough. It's kids and adults struggling to succeed with a brain that doesn't always want to cooperate in a society that wasn't built for them. Society is our user's manual. We learn how our branis and bodies work by watching those around us. And, when yours works differently, it can feel like you're breokn. So, what I'm trying to do is reach out to these people wherever they are in the world, and tell them, "You are not weird. You are not stupid. You do not need to try harder. You are not a failed version of normal. You are different, you are bifteuaul, and you are not alone." If you don't ADHD yourself, chances are you know somebody who does. They're your employee, your boss, your friend, they're in this room. I hope this talk helps you understand them better. If you do have ADHD, welcome to the tribe. (Applause) (Cheers)

Open Cloze

Hello, brains! I say that to you because, if you think about it, it wasn't really you that decided to come here today. It was your brain. And whether you decided to walk, or drive, take a taxi, or ride a bike, that decision was made by your brain. Behavior, all behavior, is ________ by the _____. This is a _____ about my brain. So, I was a smart kid. By 18 months, I was speaking in full sentences. By third grade, I was scoring post-high school on standardized _____. I had, as all my teachers agreed, so much potential. I was also __________. I didn't have many, any, friends outside of books. I was ______ overwhelmed. I spaced out in class. I lost things constantly. And trying to get my brain to focus on anything I wasn't excited about was like trying to nail jello to the wall. But I was smart, so nobody was _______. It wasn't until middle school, when I was responsible for getting myself to classes on time and remembering to bring my own homework, that being _____ wasn't enough _______, and my ______ started to ______. My mom took me to the doctor and, after a comprehensive evaluation, I was _________ with attention deficit _____________ disorder, ADHD. If you're not familiar with ADHD, it has three primary characteristics: inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Some people with ADHD have more of the inattentive presentation. Those are the daydreamers, the space cadets. Some have more of the hyperactive-impulsive presentation. Those are the kids that usually get diagnosed _____. (Laughter) But the most common presentation is a combination of both. (________) My ______ and my _______ decided that, given my _____, new diagnosis, maybe stimulant __________ would succeed where _________ and lectures had failed. So I tried it, and it worked. The first time I took my medication, it was like putting on glasses and realizing I could see without _________. I could focus. And without changing anything, my GPA went up a full point. Honestly, it was kind of miraculous. By 14, I had friends that liked me. By 15, I had published my first poem. I got a boyfriend. By 17, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. My local college had a program that would guarantee admission to USC. They had a really great journalism _______. So, I signed up at my _____ college and I started taking classes. I _____ in with my boyfriend. Things were going great, until they weren't. I _______ having trouble making it to class on time. I aced a statistics course, but I forgot to sign up in time, so I never got the ______. I took classes so I could help my _________ with his career, but I completely lost sight of mine. I never made it to USC. By 21, I dropped out of college and moved back home. Over the next ten years, I started and quit, or was fired from, 15 jobs. I ruined my credit. I got _______, and was ________ within a year. At this point, I was 32, and I had no idea what I was doing with my life, besides reading self-help books that didn't seem to be helping. What happened to all that potential? Was I not trying? No! I ______ harder than anyone I knew. I didn't even have time for friends. I was that busy. I had _________, though. So, my failure was clearly my fault. I just hadn't done what I need to do to _____ it, and, honestly, I was tired of trying, _______ more effort into life than everyone else and falling farther and farther behind. At this point, I could have given up on myself, I could have decided that everyone who'd thought I had potential was wrong. But I didn't, because I knew that it was my behavior that had gotten me here, and behavior is affected by the brain, and my brain has ADHD. Looking at my behavior, I knew: even with medication, even as an _____, my ADHD was still interfering with my life, and what I needed to know was how and why, and, more importantly, what could I do about it. I started to do some research, and I found a lot of _____ information. I found a lot of bad ___________ too, but that's another talk. But there's good information out there. Websites, podcasts, talks, by researchers and medical professionals; books that would have been way more helpful than the self-help books I'd been using that were clearly written for normal - well, there's no normal - ____________ brains. A lot of what I found, though, was either super _________ or seemed like it was written for parents and teachers trying to deal with ADHD kids. There wasn't a lot that seemed intended for us, the people who have ADHD. So, I started a YouTube channel. I had no idea how to start a YouTube _______, but I started a _______ channel. I almost called it "How Not To ADHD," because that was about all I knew at the time. But my boyfriend, ______, talked me out of it. It turns out lots of people need help understanding ADHD, including, maybe especially, those who actually have it. I was no _________. I thought ADHD was kind of the same for everybody. I _______ it was mostly about getting distracted. I thought having ADHD was maybe the ______ that I was failing at life. And I thought I was what needed to change, in order to be successful. I couldn't be __________ and still be me. Spoilers: I was wrong. So, let's go back for a second, let's go back to what brought us here today: the brain. Understanding the brain you're working with, it turns out, is kind of important, and that's true whether that brain is your employee's, your student's, your kid's, your significant other's, or your own. ADHD affects between 5 and 8% of the global population, which means, statistically ________, there's between 37 and 60 of us just in this room. You can't tell who we are just by looking, but it's fun to watch you try. (Laughter) So, at some point, you're going to meet someone with ADHD, work with them, give _____ to them, or fall in love with them. Chances are you already have. And, at some point, you're going to ask yourself, "What is going on in their brain?!" So, after two _____ of learning about ADHD and a lifetime of experience with it, after having the _____ of connecting with ___________, and _______, and ADHD experts, and tens of thousands of ADHD brains all over the world, what can I tell you to help you understand ADHD? By the way, many of them helped with this talk. First of all, it's real. It's not bad parenting or lack of discipline. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It's currently the most well-researched ______ condition, and there are actually measurable ___________ in the brain. These differences are ______ in children, but, for most people, they never go away. In other words, ______ have ADHD too. While rates of ADHD diagnosis are increasing, it's not because of an increase in sugar or __________, or lack of spanking; it's not, any more than people ________ in swimming pools is because of Nicolas Cage. Correlation does not equal causation. Those are real _______. (Laughter) It's from both an increase in _____________ that ADHD ______, that _____, adults, and gifted students can have it too, and ironically a lack of understanding that being hyper, misbehaving, or struggling in ______ does not mean you have ADHD. ADHD is more serious than I ________. The primary characteristics - inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity - don't sound all that serious, and I didn't think that they were, but, in real life, they translate to people getting into more accidents, being more likely to get fired, get divorced, significantly more likely to ________ with addiction. I learned that ADHD is on a spectrum. Raise your hand if you've ever lost your keys, or ______ out in the middle of a lecture. If you're not raising your hand, I'm going to assume you spaced out in the ______ of this one. (Laughter) The thing is, while everyone experiences ADHD symptoms sometimes, an actual diagnosis is based on how many of those symptoms _____________ and chronically impair multiple _______ of your life. Just like you can get sad and not have depression, you can get distracted and not have ADHD. And just like you can have mild depression or severe depression, ADHD can _____ from mild to severe. I also learned ADHD is a ________ name for ADHD. It creates a lot of _________. We don't have a deficit of attention! What we have trouble with is regulating our attention. As ADHD coach Brett Thornhill puts it, it's like your brain keeps switching between 30 different channels and somebody else has the remote. Sometimes we have trouble focusing at all, and other times we get stuck on a channel and can't pull ourselves away, which in real life might seem we don't want to do homework because we'd rather play _____ games, and short, sometimes that's the case. But the truth is there are plenty of _____ we want to able to _____, we try, and we just can't. Current understanding is that this __________ has to do with the way our brains produce and metabolize neurotransmitters, like dopamine and ______________. I _______ ADHD is highly treatable. Stimulant medication boosts these neurotransmitters, which is why it helps us focus. It's very effective for around 80% of people with ADHD. And I learned that medication isn't enough. ADHD affects much more than our focus. It impairs executive functions like planning, ____________, and our ability to sustain ______ toward a goal. It _______ our ability to regulate our emotions, our behavior, our _____. It's not one program in our brain that works differently; it's the whole _________ system. It can affect every ______ of our lives. And there are a ton of strategies out there that can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy, coaching, even meditation or regular exercise can help make a huge difference understanding your brain. I knew I had trouble focusing, and I knew my medication helped with that. What I didn't know was that getting overwhelmed all the time had to do with poor working memory, and that making lists helps; or that the reason I ran late all the time wasn't because I didn't care, it's because ADHD'ers have a skewed sense of time, and that using a timer could teach me how long things actually take. Mostly, I expected to learn what I actually learned: that ADHD is real; addressing it is important; and medication is not enough. What I didn't expect to learn: that I wasn't alone; I had an ADHD tribe; what a difference it would make to connect with it. There are people with ADHD in every country, every culture across the globe. Yes, even in France. (Laughter) And this tribe is awesome. _________ myself to people with neurotypical brains, I felt really bad about myself. Why couldn't I keep my house clean or finish a project in time, instead of waiting till the very last second? But seeing the positives in fellow ADHD brains helped me recognize and appreciate my own strengths, ones I couldn't see when I was just staring at my weaknesses, which is what I'd been doing for decades. But ADHD brains have a lot to offer the _____. We tend to be generous, funny, creative. ADHD'ers are 300% more likely to _____ their own business. We not only think outside the box; we're often not even aware that there is a box. (Laughter) We may struggle when our brains aren't engaged, but ADHD brains are great at tackling tasks that are ______, working with ideas that are new, wrestling with problems that are challenging, and dedicating themselves to projects that are of personal interest. This YouTube career I'd stumbled into was all of those things. At 32, I was divorced, miserable, and had no idea what I was doing with my life. At 33, I'd started my own business, and was connecting with ADHD _______. By now, at 34, I have a team of volunteers helping with the channel. I'm engaged to this amazing man who helps me produce the channel, works right alongside with me, is doing the slides right now - and, as we discovered, also has ADHD. (Laughter) I'm working on reaching out to schools so that kids don't have to wait until they're 32 to learn about their brains. And I'm doing my very first TEDx talk here with you _____. (Cheers) (Applause) But wait! There's more! Wait. (Applause) That did sound like the end of the ______. I'm sorry, it's not. (Laughter) I'm happier and more successful than I've ever been in my life. So, what happened? How did I reach my potential? Three things: one, I learned about my brain, my ADHD brain, both on my own and by connecting with others who have it. If you judge a fish by its _______ to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is ______, unless it happens to chat with another fish and realizes fish aren't great at climbing trees, and that's okay, there's plenty of ocean. Two, in learning about my brain, I found and stumbled into a job that _______ it. If you spend all your time trying to get a fish to able to climb a tree, you'll never see how far it can swim. It turns out I can be me and still be successful. I just had to find my ocean. Three, I learned strategies for challenges I still face. I have no fish analogy for this one, I'm sorry. (Laughter) I _____ I learned how to swim. Once you know what your brain's __________ are, you can find solutions to them. Once you look past the stereotypes and ___________ about ______ with ADHD, and dig deeper, you learn what ADHD actually is. It's not people who won't stop fidgeting, or getting __________. It is brains that are chronically underaroused, trying to get the basic level of ___________ all brains need. It's not about procrastinating or not caring. It's having _________ function deficits that make it hard to get started. And it's not people being lazy or not trying enough. It's kids and adults struggling to succeed with a brain that doesn't always want to cooperate in a society that wasn't built for them. Society is our user's manual. We learn how our ______ and bodies work by watching those around us. And, when yours works differently, it can feel like you're ______. So, what I'm trying to do is reach out to these people wherever they are in the world, and tell them, "You are not weird. You are not stupid. You do not need to try harder. You are not a failed version of normal. You are different, you are _________, and you are not alone." If you don't ADHD yourself, chances are you know somebody who does. They're your employee, your boss, your friend, they're in this room. I hope this talk helps you understand them better. If you do have ADHD, welcome to the tribe. (Applause) (Cheers)

Solution

  1. prioritizing
  2. beautiful
  3. aspects
  4. video
  5. comparing
  6. middle
  7. numbers
  8. guess
  9. technology
  10. assumptions
  11. credit
  12. school
  13. speaking
  14. range
  15. today
  16. exists
  17. potential
  18. tests
  19. reach
  20. stupid
  21. spankings
  22. started
  23. grades
  24. realized
  25. operating
  26. neurotypical
  27. brains
  28. squinting
  29. challenges
  30. local
  31. distracted
  32. significantly
  33. diagnosed
  34. times
  35. engages
  36. affects
  37. putting
  38. focus
  39. understanding
  40. worried
  41. effort
  42. parents
  43. married
  44. suffer
  45. struggling
  46. doctors
  47. reason
  48. successful
  49. honor
  50. learned
  51. exception
  52. medication
  53. program
  54. hyperactivity
  55. divorced
  56. norepinephrine
  57. moved
  58. researchers
  59. broken
  60. great
  61. executive
  62. girls
  63. stimulation
  64. years
  65. youtube
  66. edward
  67. experts
  68. adults
  69. technical
  70. birth
  71. aspect
  72. confusion
  73. difficulty
  74. mental
  75. worked
  76. adult
  77. start
  78. laughter
  79. doctor
  80. thought
  81. sleep
  82. larger
  83. channel
  84. struggle
  85. easily
  86. smart
  87. terrible
  88. world
  89. urgent
  90. information
  91. differences
  92. ability
  93. boyfriend
  94. brain
  95. people
  96. speech
  97. story
  98. shiny
  99. anymore
  100. spaced
  101. drowning
  102. early
  103. affected

Original Text

Hello, brains! I say that to you because, if you think about it, it wasn't really you that decided to come here today. It was your brain. And whether you decided to walk, or drive, take a taxi, or ride a bike, that decision was made by your brain. Behavior, all behavior, is affected by the brain. This is a story about my brain. So, I was a smart kid. By 18 months, I was speaking in full sentences. By third grade, I was scoring post-high school on standardized tests. I had, as all my teachers agreed, so much potential. I was also struggling. I didn't have many, any, friends outside of books. I was easily overwhelmed. I spaced out in class. I lost things constantly. And trying to get my brain to focus on anything I wasn't excited about was like trying to nail jello to the wall. But I was smart, so nobody was worried. It wasn't until middle school, when I was responsible for getting myself to classes on time and remembering to bring my own homework, that being smart wasn't enough anymore, and my grades started to suffer. My mom took me to the doctor and, after a comprehensive evaluation, I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD. If you're not familiar with ADHD, it has three primary characteristics: inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Some people with ADHD have more of the inattentive presentation. Those are the daydreamers, the space cadets. Some have more of the hyperactive-impulsive presentation. Those are the kids that usually get diagnosed early. (Laughter) But the most common presentation is a combination of both. (Laughter) My doctor and my parents decided that, given my shiny, new diagnosis, maybe stimulant medication would succeed where spankings and lectures had failed. So I tried it, and it worked. The first time I took my medication, it was like putting on glasses and realizing I could see without squinting. I could focus. And without changing anything, my GPA went up a full point. Honestly, it was kind of miraculous. By 14, I had friends that liked me. By 15, I had published my first poem. I got a boyfriend. By 17, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. My local college had a program that would guarantee admission to USC. They had a really great journalism program. So, I signed up at my local college and I started taking classes. I moved in with my boyfriend. Things were going great, until they weren't. I started having trouble making it to class on time. I aced a statistics course, but I forgot to sign up in time, so I never got the credit. I took classes so I could help my boyfriend with his career, but I completely lost sight of mine. I never made it to USC. By 21, I dropped out of college and moved back home. Over the next ten years, I started and quit, or was fired from, 15 jobs. I ruined my credit. I got married, and was divorced within a year. At this point, I was 32, and I had no idea what I was doing with my life, besides reading self-help books that didn't seem to be helping. What happened to all that potential? Was I not trying? No! I worked harder than anyone I knew. I didn't even have time for friends. I was that busy. I had potential, though. So, my failure was clearly my fault. I just hadn't done what I need to do to reach it, and, honestly, I was tired of trying, putting more effort into life than everyone else and falling farther and farther behind. At this point, I could have given up on myself, I could have decided that everyone who'd thought I had potential was wrong. But I didn't, because I knew that it was my behavior that had gotten me here, and behavior is affected by the brain, and my brain has ADHD. Looking at my behavior, I knew: even with medication, even as an adult, my ADHD was still interfering with my life, and what I needed to know was how and why, and, more importantly, what could I do about it. I started to do some research, and I found a lot of great information. I found a lot of bad information too, but that's another talk. But there's good information out there. Websites, podcasts, talks, by researchers and medical professionals; books that would have been way more helpful than the self-help books I'd been using that were clearly written for normal - well, there's no normal - neurotypical brains. A lot of what I found, though, was either super technical or seemed like it was written for parents and teachers trying to deal with ADHD kids. There wasn't a lot that seemed intended for us, the people who have ADHD. So, I started a YouTube channel. I had no idea how to start a YouTube channel, but I started a YouTube channel. I almost called it "How Not To ADHD," because that was about all I knew at the time. But my boyfriend, Edward, talked me out of it. It turns out lots of people need help understanding ADHD, including, maybe especially, those who actually have it. I was no exception. I thought ADHD was kind of the same for everybody. I thought it was mostly about getting distracted. I thought having ADHD was maybe the reason that I was failing at life. And I thought I was what needed to change, in order to be successful. I couldn't be successful and still be me. Spoilers: I was wrong. So, let's go back for a second, let's go back to what brought us here today: the brain. Understanding the brain you're working with, it turns out, is kind of important, and that's true whether that brain is your employee's, your student's, your kid's, your significant other's, or your own. ADHD affects between 5 and 8% of the global population, which means, statistically speaking, there's between 37 and 60 of us just in this room. You can't tell who we are just by looking, but it's fun to watch you try. (Laughter) So, at some point, you're going to meet someone with ADHD, work with them, give birth to them, or fall in love with them. Chances are you already have. And, at some point, you're going to ask yourself, "What is going on in their brain?!" So, after two years of learning about ADHD and a lifetime of experience with it, after having the honor of connecting with researchers, and doctors, and ADHD experts, and tens of thousands of ADHD brains all over the world, what can I tell you to help you understand ADHD? By the way, many of them helped with this talk. First of all, it's real. It's not bad parenting or lack of discipline. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It's currently the most well-researched mental condition, and there are actually measurable differences in the brain. These differences are larger in children, but, for most people, they never go away. In other words, adults have ADHD too. While rates of ADHD diagnosis are increasing, it's not because of an increase in sugar or technology, or lack of spanking; it's not, any more than people drowning in swimming pools is because of Nicolas Cage. Correlation does not equal causation. Those are real numbers. (Laughter) It's from both an increase in understanding that ADHD exists, that girls, adults, and gifted students can have it too, and ironically a lack of understanding that being hyper, misbehaving, or struggling in school does not mean you have ADHD. ADHD is more serious than I realized. The primary characteristics - inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity - don't sound all that serious, and I didn't think that they were, but, in real life, they translate to people getting into more accidents, being more likely to get fired, get divorced, significantly more likely to struggle with addiction. I learned that ADHD is on a spectrum. Raise your hand if you've ever lost your keys, or spaced out in the middle of a lecture. If you're not raising your hand, I'm going to assume you spaced out in the middle of this one. (Laughter) The thing is, while everyone experiences ADHD symptoms sometimes, an actual diagnosis is based on how many of those symptoms significantly and chronically impair multiple aspects of your life. Just like you can get sad and not have depression, you can get distracted and not have ADHD. And just like you can have mild depression or severe depression, ADHD can range from mild to severe. I also learned ADHD is a terrible name for ADHD. It creates a lot of confusion. We don't have a deficit of attention! What we have trouble with is regulating our attention. As ADHD coach Brett Thornhill puts it, it's like your brain keeps switching between 30 different channels and somebody else has the remote. Sometimes we have trouble focusing at all, and other times we get stuck on a channel and can't pull ourselves away, which in real life might seem we don't want to do homework because we'd rather play video games, and short, sometimes that's the case. But the truth is there are plenty of times we want to able to focus, we try, and we just can't. Current understanding is that this difficulty has to do with the way our brains produce and metabolize neurotransmitters, like dopamine and norepinephrine. I learned ADHD is highly treatable. Stimulant medication boosts these neurotransmitters, which is why it helps us focus. It's very effective for around 80% of people with ADHD. And I learned that medication isn't enough. ADHD affects much more than our focus. It impairs executive functions like planning, prioritizing, and our ability to sustain effort toward a goal. It affects our ability to regulate our emotions, our behavior, our sleep. It's not one program in our brain that works differently; it's the whole operating system. It can affect every aspect of our lives. And there are a ton of strategies out there that can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy, coaching, even meditation or regular exercise can help make a huge difference understanding your brain. I knew I had trouble focusing, and I knew my medication helped with that. What I didn't know was that getting overwhelmed all the time had to do with poor working memory, and that making lists helps; or that the reason I ran late all the time wasn't because I didn't care, it's because ADHD'ers have a skewed sense of time, and that using a timer could teach me how long things actually take. Mostly, I expected to learn what I actually learned: that ADHD is real; addressing it is important; and medication is not enough. What I didn't expect to learn: that I wasn't alone; I had an ADHD tribe; what a difference it would make to connect with it. There are people with ADHD in every country, every culture across the globe. Yes, even in France. (Laughter) And this tribe is awesome. Comparing myself to people with neurotypical brains, I felt really bad about myself. Why couldn't I keep my house clean or finish a project in time, instead of waiting till the very last second? But seeing the positives in fellow ADHD brains helped me recognize and appreciate my own strengths, ones I couldn't see when I was just staring at my weaknesses, which is what I'd been doing for decades. But ADHD brains have a lot to offer the world. We tend to be generous, funny, creative. ADHD'ers are 300% more likely to start their own business. We not only think outside the box; we're often not even aware that there is a box. (Laughter) We may struggle when our brains aren't engaged, but ADHD brains are great at tackling tasks that are urgent, working with ideas that are new, wrestling with problems that are challenging, and dedicating themselves to projects that are of personal interest. This YouTube career I'd stumbled into was all of those things. At 32, I was divorced, miserable, and had no idea what I was doing with my life. At 33, I'd started my own business, and was connecting with ADHD experts. By now, at 34, I have a team of volunteers helping with the channel. I'm engaged to this amazing man who helps me produce the channel, works right alongside with me, is doing the slides right now - and, as we discovered, also has ADHD. (Laughter) I'm working on reaching out to schools so that kids don't have to wait until they're 32 to learn about their brains. And I'm doing my very first TEDx talk here with you today. (Cheers) (Applause) But wait! There's more! Wait. (Applause) That did sound like the end of the speech. I'm sorry, it's not. (Laughter) I'm happier and more successful than I've ever been in my life. So, what happened? How did I reach my potential? Three things: one, I learned about my brain, my ADHD brain, both on my own and by connecting with others who have it. If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid, unless it happens to chat with another fish and realizes fish aren't great at climbing trees, and that's okay, there's plenty of ocean. Two, in learning about my brain, I found and stumbled into a job that engages it. If you spend all your time trying to get a fish to able to climb a tree, you'll never see how far it can swim. It turns out I can be me and still be successful. I just had to find my ocean. Three, I learned strategies for challenges I still face. I have no fish analogy for this one, I'm sorry. (Laughter) I guess I learned how to swim. Once you know what your brain's challenges are, you can find solutions to them. Once you look past the stereotypes and assumptions about people with ADHD, and dig deeper, you learn what ADHD actually is. It's not people who won't stop fidgeting, or getting distracted. It is brains that are chronically underaroused, trying to get the basic level of stimulation all brains need. It's not about procrastinating or not caring. It's having executive function deficits that make it hard to get started. And it's not people being lazy or not trying enough. It's kids and adults struggling to succeed with a brain that doesn't always want to cooperate in a society that wasn't built for them. Society is our user's manual. We learn how our brains and bodies work by watching those around us. And, when yours works differently, it can feel like you're broken. So, what I'm trying to do is reach out to these people wherever they are in the world, and tell them, "You are not weird. You are not stupid. You do not need to try harder. You are not a failed version of normal. You are different, you are beautiful, and you are not alone." If you don't ADHD yourself, chances are you know somebody who does. They're your employee, your boss, your friend, they're in this room. I hope this talk helps you understand them better. If you do have ADHD, welcome to the tribe. (Applause) (Cheers)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
adhd brains 4
stimulant medication 2
local college 2
youtube channel 2
adhd affects 2
learned adhd 2

Important Words

  1. ability
  2. accidents
  3. aced
  4. actual
  5. addiction
  6. addressing
  7. adhd
  8. admission
  9. adult
  10. adults
  11. affect
  12. affected
  13. affects
  14. agreed
  15. amazing
  16. analogy
  17. anymore
  18. applause
  19. aspect
  20. aspects
  21. assume
  22. assumptions
  23. attention
  24. aware
  25. awesome
  26. bad
  27. based
  28. basic
  29. beautiful
  30. behavior
  31. behavioral
  32. believing
  33. bike
  34. birth
  35. bodies
  36. books
  37. boosts
  38. boss
  39. box
  40. boyfriend
  41. brain
  42. brains
  43. brett
  44. bring
  45. broken
  46. brought
  47. built
  48. business
  49. busy
  50. cadets
  51. cage
  52. called
  53. care
  54. career
  55. caring
  56. case
  57. causation
  58. challenges
  59. challenging
  60. chances
  61. change
  62. changing
  63. channel
  64. channels
  65. characteristics
  66. chat
  67. cheers
  68. children
  69. chronically
  70. class
  71. classes
  72. clean
  73. climb
  74. climbing
  75. coach
  76. coaching
  77. cognitive
  78. college
  79. combination
  80. common
  81. comparing
  82. completely
  83. comprehensive
  84. condition
  85. confusion
  86. connect
  87. connecting
  88. constantly
  89. cooperate
  90. correlation
  91. country
  92. creates
  93. creative
  94. credit
  95. culture
  96. current
  97. daydreamers
  98. deal
  99. decades
  100. decided
  101. decision
  102. dedicating
  103. deeper
  104. deficit
  105. deficits
  106. depression
  107. diagnosed
  108. diagnosis
  109. difference
  110. differences
  111. differently
  112. difficulty
  113. dig
  114. discipline
  115. discovered
  116. disorder
  117. distracted
  118. divorced
  119. doctor
  120. doctors
  121. dopamine
  122. drive
  123. dropped
  124. drowning
  125. early
  126. easily
  127. edward
  128. effective
  129. effort
  130. emotions
  131. employee
  132. engaged
  133. engages
  134. equal
  135. evaluation
  136. exception
  137. excited
  138. executive
  139. exercise
  140. exists
  141. expect
  142. expected
  143. experience
  144. experiences
  145. experts
  146. face
  147. failed
  148. failing
  149. failure
  150. fall
  151. falling
  152. familiar
  153. fault
  154. feel
  155. fellow
  156. felt
  157. fidgeting
  158. find
  159. finish
  160. fired
  161. fish
  162. focus
  163. focusing
  164. forgot
  165. france
  166. friend
  167. friends
  168. full
  169. fun
  170. function
  171. functions
  172. funny
  173. games
  174. generous
  175. gifted
  176. girls
  177. give
  178. glasses
  179. global
  180. globe
  181. goal
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  184. grade
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  186. great
  187. guarantee
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  194. helped
  195. helpful
  196. helping
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  198. highly
  199. home
  200. homework
  201. honestly
  202. honor
  203. hope
  204. house
  205. huge
  206. hyper
  207. hyperactivity
  208. idea
  209. ideas
  210. impair
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  212. important
  213. importantly
  214. impulsivity
  215. inattention
  216. inattentive
  217. including
  218. increase
  219. increasing
  220. information
  221. intended
  222. interest
  223. interfering
  224. ironically
  225. jello
  226. job
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  228. journalism
  229. journalist
  230. judge
  231. keys
  232. kid
  233. kids
  234. kind
  235. knew
  236. lack
  237. larger
  238. late
  239. laughter
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  246. level
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  252. local
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  255. lot
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  258. making
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  260. manual
  261. married
  262. means
  263. measurable
  264. medical
  265. medication
  266. meditation
  267. meet
  268. memory
  269. mental
  270. metabolize
  271. middle
  272. mild
  273. miraculous
  274. misbehaving
  275. miserable
  276. mom
  277. months
  278. moved
  279. multiple
  280. nail
  281. needed
  282. neurodevelopmental
  283. neurotransmitters
  284. neurotypical
  285. nicolas
  286. norepinephrine
  287. normal
  288. numbers
  289. ocean
  290. offer
  291. operating
  292. order
  293. overwhelmed
  294. parenting
  295. parents
  296. people
  297. personal
  298. planning
  299. play
  300. plenty
  301. podcasts
  302. poem
  303. point
  304. pools
  305. poor
  306. population
  307. positives
  308. potential
  309. presentation
  310. primary
  311. prioritizing
  312. problems
  313. procrastinating
  314. produce
  315. program
  316. project
  317. projects
  318. published
  319. pull
  320. puts
  321. putting
  322. quit
  323. raise
  324. raising
  325. ran
  326. range
  327. rates
  328. reach
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  330. reading
  331. real
  332. realized
  333. realizes
  334. realizing
  335. reason
  336. recognize
  337. regular
  338. regulate
  339. regulating
  340. remembering
  341. remote
  342. research
  343. researchers
  344. responsible
  345. ride
  346. room
  347. ruined
  348. sad
  349. school
  350. schools
  351. scoring
  352. sense
  353. sentences
  354. severe
  355. shiny
  356. short
  357. sight
  358. sign
  359. signed
  360. significant
  361. significantly
  362. skewed
  363. sleep
  364. slides
  365. smart
  366. society
  367. solutions
  368. sound
  369. space
  370. spaced
  371. spankings
  372. speaking
  373. spectrum
  374. speech
  375. spend
  376. squinting
  377. standardized
  378. staring
  379. start
  380. started
  381. statistically
  382. statistics
  383. stereotypes
  384. stimulant
  385. stimulation
  386. stop
  387. story
  388. strategies
  389. strengths
  390. struggle
  391. struggling
  392. stuck
  393. students
  394. stumbled
  395. stupid
  396. succeed
  397. successful
  398. suffer
  399. sugar
  400. super
  401. sustain
  402. swim
  403. swimming
  404. switching
  405. symptoms
  406. system
  407. tackling
  408. talk
  409. talked
  410. talks
  411. tasks
  412. taxi
  413. teach
  414. teachers
  415. team
  416. technical
  417. technology
  418. tedx
  419. ten
  420. tend
  421. tens
  422. terrible
  423. tests
  424. therapy
  425. thornhill
  426. thought
  427. thousands
  428. time
  429. timer
  430. times
  431. tired
  432. today
  433. ton
  434. translate
  435. treatable
  436. tree
  437. trees
  438. tribe
  439. trouble
  440. true
  441. truth
  442. turns
  443. underaroused
  444. understand
  445. understanding
  446. urgent
  447. usc
  448. version
  449. video
  450. volunteers
  451. wait
  452. waiting
  453. walk
  454. wall
  455. wanted
  456. watch
  457. watching
  458. weaknesses
  459. websites
  460. weird
  461. words
  462. work
  463. worked
  464. working
  465. works
  466. world
  467. worried
  468. wrestling
  469. written
  470. wrong
  471. year
  472. years
  473. youtube