The Scottish, impressionist, playwright and comedian Rory Bremner has provided a nice example of the familial link to ADHD. During a programme called ADHD and Me broadcasted on Radio 4 in the United Kingdom (2012), he told the story of his recent diagnosis of adult ADHD and how it came about. Rory explained that he first started to question his own behavior when a young family member was formally diagnosed with ADHD. He recognized many of the symptoms in himself and wondered whether this was a familial commonality they shared. He had previously attributed his chaotic lifestyle as simply just part of his personality and make-up. However, he recognised that as a child, he was frequently described by others as disorganized and forgetful. Similarly, as an adult he admitted that he needs a things-to-do list in order to get through daily activities. He also confessed to putting his watch 5 minutes forward in order to avoid being late for meetings. Other issues included struggling to focus, concentrate and pay attention and leaving important items such as completing scripts for television performances until the night before.
His immense curiosity and scientific enquiry into the nature of ADHD led him to a meeting with one of the UK’s most prominent psychiatric experts – Professor Eric Taylor (Emeritus, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London). During the interview, Professor Taylor explained that the attention component of adult ADHD is often a little misleading because the problem is really in disorganization. People with ADHD can often focus really well especially if something captures their imagination or when they are really interested in something. Some of the common types of problems people face with ADHD on an everyday basis are more to do with waiting; organization; thinking ahead; planning; not being able to follow the thread of a conversation and persistently losing or breaking things. The hyperactivity side, Professor Taylor explained, is really just acting without thinking. For example, going into a situation before it is fully understood it – jumping in with both feet and often getting it wrong as a result, but sometimes getting it right as a result – in an interesting and creative way.
Professor Taylor described also the notion of individual variability in ADHD and how for one person they will make their ADHD work for them in an intuitive and effective way. However, another person with ADHD may completely go under and feel they are a total failure and have a miserable time in life. The difference, he advised, between these two opposite scenarios depends on how other people support and help them.
Towards the end of the interview, Rory asked Professor Taylor how hereditary ADHD is given the thread in his family and seemed surprised to learn the answer. There is not one gene, Professor Taylor explained, but quite a number of genes, each one with a small effect contributing to different parts of the spectrum. Overall it is thought that about 80% of the difference between how hyperactive people are comes from the way the genes work. The genes do not work in isolation and the environment and the genes are always at work together. Click here to listen to more of this informative programme http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011c0nn