Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Very Special Conference

Hopefully you’ve noticed that registration is now open for CHADD's 19th Annual International Conference on AD/HD, which will be held November 7-10, in Crystal City, Va., a suburb of the nation's capital.

Our conference always brings people with different backgrounds together under one roof to share ideas, science-based information, promising practices, and inspirational stories. It’s a great opportunity to network, learn and even earn continuing education credits.

This year is CHADD’s 20th anniversary, so we plan to celebrate at Conference by hosting a special gala dinner on Nov. 8. You probably know by now (with the help of a big announcement on our Web site) that James Carville, one of the best-known political strategists in Washington and an individual who lives with AD/HD, will be speaking at the gala dinner. It is certain to be a lively speech. Mr. Carville will speak about dealing with his own AD/HD.

Also, special to this year’s conference, we plan to take full advantage of the fact that the conference will be held in the nation’s capital. We will be busing our conference participants up to Capitol Hill for a highly structured day of meetings with their congressional delegations.

This will be an excellent way to bring home to members of Congress how AD/HD affects the lives of their constituents. And just imagine what it will look like to have over 1,000 people who are affected in some way by AD/HD walking around Capitol Hill. What a statement that will make! You won’t be alone. Staff and volunteer leaders will serve as resource guides with state delegations during the visits.

Several members of the U.S. Congress, including those running for president, have verbally stated their desire to speak to conference attendees. We are not yet able to publicly announce who they are.

At the gala dinner, Ty Pennington’s mother will discuss dealing with Ty’s AD/HD, we will honor several members of Congress who are advocates for those with mental health and disability challenges, and we will be entertained by the Capitol Steps, a popular musical political satire group.

Consistent with a theme from our sister association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), of “Parents and Teachers as Allies,” this year’s conference will dedicate a separate track to assisting teachers in successfully dealing with AD/HD.

The social movement continues!

Oops, we hope she won’t do it again…
Yes, my headline borrows from Britney Spears’ popular song. While I am several generations away from the young people who listen to Ms. Spears’ music, our communications staff briefs me on these cultural developments.

My son Andrew has AD/HD-Inattentive Type, as well as other co-occurring conditions. So, like other people affected by AD/HD, I took issue with a flip statement Ms. Spears made recently that referred to people with AD/HD as being “bad.” AD/HD is neither “bad” nor willful; it is a neurobiological disorder that needs a “multi-modal” approach to help.

Of course, Ms. Spears doesn’t have the professional training of someone like Joyce Brothers, Ph.D., who recently referred to adults with AD/HD as being hypochondriacs. As you know from previous blog entries, I fired off a letter to Dr. Brothers and then CHADD’s communications staff took the lead in organizing a group response from our sister organizations.

Add to these statements the outrageous and unscientific information that is published everyday in both small and large news markets, and you can clearly see that we have our work cut out for us. Here are some things you can do when you see misinformation or read a cutting comment about AD/HD.

Five tips for combating misinformation and negative comments about AD/HD
1) Write a letter to the editor. If you see something you disagree with, let people in your community know what you think and, most importantly, what the science says. You can find information on the CHADD Web site or at the CDC-funded National Resource Center on AD/HD.
2) Find a reporter’s contact information, and send a letter directly to him or her. Forward an article from Attention magazine or some information from the aforementioned sites. Tell the reporter that he or she can contact CHADD’s communications and media relations department for some creative and science-based story ideas.
3) Enlist the help of a CHADD Chapter Coordinator if the issue is local and you want to brainstorm on how to respond. Our chapter coordinators will contact the CHADD communications department if the need arises.
4) Become a part of our social movement—join CHADD today. Besides getting the magazine and being a part of something bigger than yourself, membership also means you’re joining forces with other to support an organization that is effective in the state and local public policy arenas, with local and national media, and in delivering evidence-based information to the public.
5) Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s (NAMI) StigmaBusters site. StigmaBusters is a network of dedicated advocates across the country and around the world who seek to fight inaccurate and hurtful representations of mental illness. You can learn more at

As we celebrate CHADD’s birthday, we recognize the difference the organization has made over the last 20 years. But with your help we plan to make an even bigger splash in the years ahead.


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