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Family of five learns to manage and thrive with ADHD | News

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Family of five learns to manage and thrive with ADHD

(WXIA) -- The Taylor-Klaus household is passionate.

"I really like going from soccer to softball and softball to ultimate," teenager Sydney Taylor-Klaus said bursting with enthusiasm.

They're also high-energy and extremely focused and organized.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus, a mother of three, makes sure her children outline their homework, nightly. But it wasn't always this way.

"Our life before we really understood all of this was pretty crazy," Elaine explained.

In their Buckhead home, 11-year-old Josh, 15-year-old Sydney, who prefers to be called 'Syd', and their oldest sister, Bex, who has moved away from home, all have ADHD.

"We're learned to manage our lives and understand the way we work and think," Elaine said.

This mother of three says 'we' because she and her husband have also been diagnosed with the common neurobehavioral disorder, which many believe is inherited.

"When my third child was not yet diagnosed, but showing signs of the same behaviors as his siblings, I realized there had to be something else going on; something that would explain why I was constantly feeling overwhelmed, and sort of, in over my head," Elaine said. She was finally diagnosed in her early 40s.

"At first I got really sad, missed opportunities, and then my whole life made sense," she explained.

Elaine has turned the diagnosis into a business she co-founded with another Atlanta mother, Diane Dempster, who also juggles a child with ADHD. Impact ADHD provides support and coaching for parents with ADHD kids.

Elaine's husband, David, is also a coach, but on the evening of our interview, he was on dad duty getting their eldest daughter settled in a new home, so we connected through Skype.

"With an ADD family of 5 everything is in motion all of the time," David said.

He also explained what many consider positive traits of the disorder, such as hyper-focus.

"When it's something of interest, it's an incredible asset," the father of three explained.

Many believe that hyper-focus has been an asset successful business people, entertainers and athletes such as billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, singer Adam Levine and Olympic swimming phenom Michael Phelps, who have all spoken publicly about it. But undiagnosed, untreated, it can derail you.

"It can be dire and it can ruin people's lives," Elaine said. "It can destroy marriages, it destroys careers."

Common symptoms, for kids and adults: trouble getting things done, a tendency to lose things, impulsive behavior, a struggle being on time, intense frustration or guilt and hyperactivity. Although research shows hyperactivity can diminish with age.

"In order to make a diagnosis of ADHD in a kid or adult, you have to demonstrate that it's causing impairment, in two settings or more, not just at home, but at home and work for an adult or for a kid, at home and at school," explained Ann Abramowitz, a clinical psychologist at Emory University.

With adults, Professor Abramowitz also takes a careful look at history. And that means going back to early school records, and if possible, corroborating with the adult's parents, since the onset of ADHD must be in childhood.

Armed with all of the knowledge, Elaine embraces the diagnosis for her family of five.

"There tends to be a lot of creativity involved and a lot of excitement, exhilaration in the world, a fullness of life. And with that come some complications and challenges."

To cope with those challenges, you may be curious about medication for ADHD. In addition to counseling or coaching, stimulants, such as Adderall or Ritalin, can be prescribed for adults just like for kids. While research shows medication can be effective, experts stress it doesn't mean it's right for everyone.

If you would like to learn more about ADHD, and being diagnosed as an adult, the non-profit Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or CHADD, has a comprehensive list of helpful documents. CHADD also has detailed information about medication for ADHD.


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