Thursday, May 26, 2011

Now What?! Join Us on June 12!

This week's guest blog is by Steven Peer.

I always take an interest in new efforts that focus on ADHD education and information, especially when those efforts are fun, creative, and innovative. The new stage show about adult ADHD called Now What?! is one of those efforts. And it is coming to the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Maryland.

Rick Green and Patrick McKenna, the creators of ADD & Loving It?!—the popular documentary that has aired on PBS around the country—along with ADHD expert Dr. Umesh Jain (Dr. J.), have created this new stage production to help dispel the myths and misinformation about adult ADHD. They have made the process fun and engaging. This unique show was created for people with adult ADHD and for those who suspect they may have adult ADHD or who know someone with adult ADHD symptoms.

Now What?! is not a Broadway production or a long-winded dissertation about ADHD. It is a stage production the promoters call “edutainment.” As far as I know, nothing like this about ADHD has ever been done before!

If you’re familiar with the ADD & Loving It?! performances by McKenna and Green (both of whom have ADHD), Patrick gets his own ADHD diagnosis and learns from top experts about adult ADHD. The groundbreaking documentary is a blend of humor, hope, and science that educates while being entertaining, ergo edutainment. Now What?! does the same, but is a stage production that engages the audience in ways the film production doesn’t. It goes to the next level and takes the audience on a hilarious and transformative journey combining humor, drama, first-person stories, and interactive exercises.

Dr. J. and Rick Green created this funny, lively audience experience to help adults recognize the symptoms of ADHD, understand the process for a proper diagnosis, and become familiar with the various treatment options. The primary message of Now What?! is that much can be done in treatment and that diagnosis should not lead to fear, but hope!

In Now What?! Rick, Patrick and Dr. J. explore everything from careers and finances to relationships and parenting; from the history of ADHD to coping tools and strategies. “I’m the free form, free thinking out-of-the-box kinda guy,” McKenna says to Dr. J. in a hilarious skit called “The Therapy Session,” in which Patrick plays an adult with undiagnosed adult ADHD coming to see Dr. J. As the patient, Patrick inadvertently displays the most common adult impairments. “Where do you work, by the way?” asks Dr. J. “On an assembly line… making gas pedals for Toyota,” responds McKenna. And it goes on from there… hilarious at times, intense and enlightening at others.

“I’m not here to make you normal, I’m here to make you functional. Mediocrity is overrated,” Dr. J says in one of the show’s interactive audience Q&A sessions. The audience gets into the act a lot during the show. “Relationship Issues—Opposites Attract,” “Are You Smarter than an ADDer?” and “Embracing the Diagnosis” are a few of the other funny and informative elements in the production.

There's something about Canada that breeds great comedians. Rick Green and Patrick McKenna join the ranks of Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Phil Hartman, Seth Rogen, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, and John Candy.

These two world-class Canadian comedians talk about their experiences and relate how they initially resisted their diagnosis, then discovered the facts, and the resulting rollercoaster of emotions from anger to joy to sadness to relief. Rick and Patrick talk about the difference knowing that they have ADHD has made in their lives. Despite all their career successes, according to McKenna and Green, life was much improved once they learned about ADHD and more importantly, that it was not the end of the world—more like a new beginning.

The initial Canadian performance was sold out and I expect the upcoming event at the University of Maryland will sell out, too. If you’re in the DC area on June 12 I recommend you take time and see this production, for yourself and for your loved ones.

Now What?! is scheduled for two performances (1:00 and 6:30 pm) at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Dekelboum Concert Hall on the College Park, Maryland campus on June 12.

For information visit the CHADD website and for ticket ordering, click here.

Steven Peer is the president of CHADD.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Secrets of Power Advocacy

Today’s guest blogger is Lisa LaVardera, Esq.

If you have a family member with ADHD and you are looking to cut through the information/advice clutter, then One Day, One Location, Many Solutions to ADHD and Co-Occurring Conditions is the place to go! By the end of the day, you will have a clear understanding of ADHD...and more importantly, you will have strategies to manage it.

ADHD is a lifespan disorder, and often comes with multiple coexisting conditions. If you are new to the world of ADHD, or continuing on your journey, you will find many interesting breakouts at this conference, from understanding twice exceptional kids, to special education law, to bullying, to how to transition your child to college, to women’s relationship issues and how to keep your marriage alive with ADHD. Plus, the keynote speaker is the one and only Chris Dendy, author of multiple books on ADHD and executive functioning deficits. Like to eat? This conference comes with lunch!

Do you have a child with special needs whose needs are not being met in school? Would you like to learn more about how to become a powerful advocate for your child? Separate myth from fact! Find out how recent changes in the law can help your child with ADHD. I will tell you what the school districts do not want you to know. Learn the secrets of Power Advocacy!

• Children whose parents are knowledgeable about ADHD and know how to advocate have better long-term outcomes.
• Recent changes to the law now make more children eligible to receive special education accommodations and services.
• Your child can receive services and accommodations in school even if he is doing okay academically.
• A school psychologist might not diagnose your child’s disability.
• Why you need to get an independent outside evaluation.
• New York State has a new IEP format that is both good and bad for our kids.

In my session, we will cover the basics of the special education process; why you should have an outside medical evaluation; and what the recent changes to Section 504 may mean for your child.

Come to Long Island on Saturday, May 14, for CHADD's NY Regional Conference on ADHD and be sure to register for Power Advocacy!

Attorney Lisa LaVardera, a Certified Parent to Parent trainer, serves as coordinator of CHADD of Suffolk County, NY, a CHADD Affiliate of the Year recipient. She has received the Long Island Speech and Hearing Parent of the Year Award and the Nassau Region PTA Advocate in Action Award.