Thursday, September 27, 2007

Contributing to a Social Movement

Did you ever have one of those periods of time when you constantly are on the run, you are accomplishing a lot, and you are exhausted? Welcome to the CHADD national office right now.

In addition to preparing for our annual international conference—which typically draws 1,200-1,400 attendees—preparations for this year’s conference include organizing appointments for all attendees with their U.S. Congressional delegations, and organizing and hosting our 20th anniversary gala dinner celebration. Almost every week during the past month, major academic studies on AD/HD have been published. CHADD must analyze and help publicize these studies, and respond to media portrayals. Thousands of inquiries pour into our National Resource Center on AD/HD. We are constantly striving to increase our services to our members and our community affiliate leaders. We just made the Web site login process easier. We are carefully preparing our regular communications and public education materials, such as Attention magazine, CHADDNotes, and NRC News. We are conducting a forum entirely in Spanish for a targeted community. Congress is considering legislation that would impact AD/HD and CHADD is actively involved. We are committed, active, and tired.

This year we mark CHADD’s twentieth anniversary and celebrate the tremendous change over the last two decades for people living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). Thanks to an incredible social movement, made up of people like you, we have influenced public policy, shaped public perceptions and successfully raised awareness about a disorder that, if left untreated, can have devastating consequences.

Despite the progress we have realized, we nonetheless have an incredible amount of work ahead of us. There is a formidable anti-mental health campaign that would like nothing better than to undo all of our accomplishments and turn the clock back on how our country views and deals with people with AD/HD and other mental health disorders. To beat back many of these efforts and to continue to move ahead with our science-based message, we need your help.

Want an example of some of our challenges? Consider this…

This month the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine features a study (similar to findings from studies produced by the CDC and Mayo Clinic) that reports a prevalence rate of 8.7 percent for children 8 to 15 years old. Disturbingly, the research also found that fewer than half of those with the disorder were diagnosed and receiving treatment. Because the consequences of untreated AD/HD are potentially so severe, this study is an important reminder that we must continue to raise awareness with medical professionals, the public, policymakers and educators.

Yet, to look at the bills being proposed and debated in statehouses across the country, one could easily walk away with a different impression altogether. Many state legislatures are actually considering and voting on bills that would have the effect of preventing teachers from communicating to parents about behavior and learning patterns they observe in the classroom. Teachers, ever fearful of lawsuits, are becoming increasingly guarded about what they report to parents. Unfortunately, this could prevent countless parents of children with AD/HD from seeking a medical evaluation for their children.

CHADD is working strategically with our sister organizations to educate policymakers in key states through letters, one-on-one conversations, briefings and other methods. We are also reaching out to journalists in these states by proposing story ideas, submitting opinion/editorial pieces and providing comments on the record. We are reaching out to educators with information that will inform their efforts, and we are raising public awareness, both in these key states and nationally.

This is just one part of what we do each day to make this country an even better place for people with AD/HD. But we can’t do it without your help. You are an extremely important part of this social movement. We need you to actively participate in your local CHADD chapter. We need you to raise your voice—write a letter to your local newspaper and actively communicate with your local leaders. And we need your generous financial support as we move ahead. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to CHADD today.

This is truly an historic time for CHADD. Thank you for the very important role you are playing in a social movement that will impact the lives of people affected by AD/HD for generations to come.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Every Day is AD/HD Awareness Day

As we head into fall, there are a number of accomplishments and projects in the works I want you to know about. Here is a quick sampling of ways we're raising awareness about AD/HD.

Over the soundwaves
The findings of a recent study, released in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, showed an AD/HD prevalence of almost 9 percent among children 8 to 15 years old. The findings were consistent with research produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mayo Clinic. Because there was so much interest from the media about this topic, I taped a couple of comments for an audio news release (ANR) that was disseminated to 11,300 radios stations worldwide. Be sure to click here and listen to my comments. I made sure I included the CHADD Web site address.

We reached a whopping 2,253,650 listeners. The soundbite was played by local radio stations across the country and by the following national radio networks:

· ABC Radio Network
· Washington Audio News Distribution (WAND) System
· CNN Radio Network
· American Urban Radio Network (An African-American owned radio station)

I was also interviewed by the Orlando Sun Sentinel and Mental Health Weekly about the study.

On television and in print media
Our communications department worked closely with the producers of CBS Evening News on a story about the study on AD/HD prevalence. We contacted the lead researcher on the study and invited her to take part in a special Ask the Expert chat. Excerpts will appear in December’s Attention magazine.

We worked with USA Today columnist Kim Painter on a story about what some of the latest research findings mean for people affected by AD/HD. The story appeared in that newspaper on September 17, close to AD/HD Awareness Day. CHADD board president Anne Teeter Ellison was quoted, and the article also featured AJ Copeland and his mother Tamara Copeland of Washington, DC. The communications department facilitated the interview. A link to the CHADD Web site will be included in the article. We will be sure to include this article in AD/HD in the News.

Please take a look at the latest edition of VideoCHADD, which features our board president Anne Teeter Ellison promoting this year’s 20th Anniversary Hall of Fame Conference. This is a very creative way to promote the conference, and it keeps our Web site fresh for visitors. Links placed near the video take people to more information about the conference, the gala, and the Morning on the Hill. We plan to make updates to the section regularly.

YouTube and Google Videos
CHADD is now on YouTube and Google Video. As people search for key words (such as AD/HD, CHADD, etc.) on these sites, they will pull up videos of science-based information posted by CHADD. The world of online videos through YouTube and Google Videos is a new frontier for us. But it will certainly be an effective way to let the public, particularly younger people, know about CHADD, our conference and perhaps membership benefits.

The Leadership Blog
I am glad you’ve found my blog. We’re trying to reach people in new and innovative ways, and we feel the blog is an effective way to do so. Each week there is a new topic. I have noticed that some people have begun linking from their blog to mine. It’s nice to know these connections are being made, and people feel connected to CHADD.

Attention magazine re-design
The October issue of Attention magazine will feature a new look. We have been extremely impressed with the creativity and professionalism of our new designers, and we think you will agree that the new look is fresh, clean, and visually appealing. The purpose of the new design is to more effectively share information with busy individuals and families. We look forward to receiving your feedback.

Homeschooling Parent magazine
We authored a feature story on AD/HD for Homeschooling Parent magazine, which was released in late August/early September. We also promoted membership and conference in the publication. There is a real need for more science-based information in the homeschooling arena. It is nice that we’re getting this kind of publicity from one of the major publications read by homeschooling parents. Hopefully, we will attract more members from this effort as well.

Addressing undiagnosed AD/HD
CHADD joined forces with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) and former CHADD board member and current coordinator Karran Harper Royal to produce a video that pulls at the heartstrings, while highlighting what the research tells us. The video was presented to the National Medical Association section on psychiatry and behavioral science in August. Numerous people have requested copies of the video. It will be shown to an annual meeting of Women in Government next week, and we have plan to disseminate via e-mail to staff members in the U.S. House of Representatives in the next several weeks. The video will also be posted in VideoCHADD in the coming days.

Letters to governors
State legislatures are increasingly considering bills that could impede communication between teachers and parents about students' behavior and learning habits in the classroom. As a result, CHADD has focused a great deal of attention on getting our message out to state legislators. For AD/HD Awareness Day, we sent letters to the governors of all 50 states. In the letter, I talked about the importance of receiving an evaluation and treatment for AD/HD. I also provided the governors with resources, including our public policy director’s contact information and our Web site URL, so they can seek more information from us. Unfortunately, given the timing, we shared the letter with our affiliate leaders a day after writing the governors. We apologize for this timing quirk.

We are working hard to produce science-based information and reach key audiences in an effort to raise awareness about AD/HD. Thank you for allowing me to share just a sampling of the work that is being done at CHADD.