BYLINE: By John Carlsen
Humor, awareness and understanding were the focus of a symposium on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, co-hosted by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and University College on Friday, Sept. 28 in the Grande Ballroom.
One of the highlights at the symposium was a keynote address by comedian Patrick McKenna, who spoke about the challenges of growing up with ADHD without even knowing it.
“That was a huge thing trying to get over,” McKenna said. “When I got diagnosed, I had to really kind of rethink my life. What part was [ADHD] and what part was me? Who’s to blame for this? I’m still on that journey as everything kind of falls into place as you go.”
McKenna is most noted for his tenure on “The Red Green Show” as character Harold Green, the techie nephew of Red Green. Before this performance, McKenna was part of Second City, a comedic troupe in Toronto. McKenna was diagnosed with ADHD in 2009 while filming the documentary, “ADD and Loving It.”
“It seems it’s 80 percent hereditary,” McKenna said about ADHD. “Oftentimes people are wondering, ‘Is this thing real?’ Or you know, ‘He’s just like the old man, there’s no problem there and I’m okay.’ You really look at him and say, ‘No, Dad, you’re not. Ask any of my friends.’ So 80 percent, that’s quite high.”
Following the keynote, concurrent workshops ranging from diagnosis to executive function as well strategies for students or parents who struggle with ADHD ran throughout the day.
According to Drs. Jack L. Jensen and Cameron R. John of Student Health Services, around 1,000 students at UVU have ADHD—roughly four percent of the population at the school. Jensen and John also said that ADHD often occurs with co-conditions such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and learning disabilities.
“ADHD is a spectrum and nobody will have it exactly the same because nobody has experienced life to that point the same,” McKenna said. “So, there’s no cookie-cutter answer. It doesn’t work that way. It’s that individual in that moment and what makes them succeed.”
Students who think they may have ADHD can go to Student Health Services for a $60 diagnostic interview. The interview informs the person about various treatment options and steps he or she can take to manage ADHD.
Accessibility Services Department also serves students who struggle with the disorder. Working with the student and their teachers, ASD finds accommodations to ensure understanding and success in a classroom setting.
People who struggle with ADHD may also contact Vocational Rehabilitation and other government job programs directed toward people with disabilities.