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May is by far my favorite month. “Of course it is, Becky,” my family and friends say. “It’s when your birthday is!” Still, even if I were born in a different month, I would like May the best. The weather is perfect; it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold. The winter is behind us, and the entire summer is ahead of us. The days are long and they keep getting longer. So many of beautiful flowers are in bloom: colorful tulips, fragrant lilacs, dainty bleeding hearts, elegant roses, bell-like lilies-of-the-valley, and my favorite flowers: the azaleas.

If you’ve read my book “Distracted Girl,” you know that the front cover has a picture of me as a little girl standing in front of an azalea bush in bloom. I clearly remember the day that the picture was taken. I was in second grade, and it was just a couple of months after I had been diagnosed with ADHD and started therapy and medication. I even included a description of that day in “Distracted Girl,” which is as follows:

May 17, 1986

                It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and when I read the thermometer in the kitchen the way Mrs. Whitman taught my class earlier this year, I see that it was seventy degrees Fahrenheit.

                “That means it’s warm enough for you to wear shorts!” Mommy says to me and Lisa.

                “Yay! Summer’s here!” I say. I put on a red t-shirt, red and white striped shorts, and red jelly shoes. I go outside, and feel the warm sunshine on my arms and legs. It feels so refreshing after so many months of cold weather and being stuffed into heavy layers of bulky clothing. The bright pink azaleas are in bloom, and I stop by the bush to admire them before going into the backyard. I run around on the emerald green grass, as if I were letting go of everything that has been cramped up inside of me all winter long.

This spring brings not only a new season of warm weather and the rebirth of the plants and the earth, but also the dawning of a new phase in my own life. Ever since I’ve been taking Ritalin and meeting with Vance, I haven’t been getting in trouble anymore and I’m doing better in school.

                The Ritalin doesn’t magically make me feel different or anything like that, but I have noticed that I don’t feel an urge to get up and walk around in the middle of class, and that I’m able to sit still and control myself. I keep remembering what Vance said about how some behaviors that are appropriate in some situations aren’t appropriate in others. Before I do or say something, I try to stop and think about whether what I’m about to do is appropriate or not.

                It’s also easier for me to pay attention in school. I no longer make as many careless mistakes on my tests and I am getting A’s in spelling and math like I did at the beginning of the year.

                After Lisa and I have spent a few hours playing on the swing set and climbing trees, Mommy calls us inside for lunch.

I have always remembered the joy I felt back in ’86 when I stood in front of the azalea bush, and every May when the azalea bushes bloom; I am filled with joy again in anticipation of summer and all the wonderful times the season has to offer.

To me, the azalea has always symbolized hope. No matter how cold, snowy, and treacherous the winter is (and believe me, it was extremely treacherous this past winter in Massachusetts), the snow will eventually melt, spring will come again, and the azaleas will once again bloom.

I like to think of it as a metaphor for the difficult times we go through in our life. Though we experience pain, depression, and loss; nothing lasts forever, and someday, we will experience happiness and rejoice, just as I rejoiced in the warm sunshine and the beautiful azaleas blooming in May of 1986.

Excerpt from Distracted Girl by Rebecca Rizoli, copyright 2014 ©

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In light of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, I find it necessary to address the fact that there is a character named “Darren Wilson” in my book, Distracted Girl. I assure all of my readers that this character’s name is purely coincidental. Distracted Girl was published in October 2013, long before Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown and subsequently became a name in the national news. Prior to Michael Brown’s death, I had never heard of either the town of Ferguson or of Officer Wilson.

The character I named “Darren Wilson” is based on a real individual with whom I graduated college. His real name is not Darren Wilson. As I stated in the introduction to Distracted Girl, I used fictitious names for all of the characters with the exception of me and my immediate family. I chose the name “Darren” when a newspaper article about an actor named Darren caught my eye, and I chose the last name “Wilson” because I thought it sounded good with Darren.

At the present time, it may not be possible for me to change the name of the character for copyright reasons. Even if I legally can do so, the name “Darren Wilson” will still remain in copies of the book that have already been published. I deeply regret any discomfort that may occur as a result of my use of the name “Darren Wilson.”

Please know that I stand in solidarity with all victims of violence

My previous article referenced the song “Defying Gravity” and the lines “I’m through accepting limits, ‘cause someone said they’re so. Some things I cannot change, but till I try, I’ll never know.”  This song can be a powerful anthem to anyone living with a disability determined to make the most of their situation and prove to the world that they are so much more than a diagnosis. In the first of this two-part series, I gave several examples of times in my own life when I overcame obstacles and proved that I am capable of succeeding despite my differences.

 
However, there are some times when, no matter how hard we try; we discover that there are some things that we just aren’t capable of doing. My ADHD is not going to magically go away someday, and there will always be limitations on the things that I can do. 
 
For instance, learning to drive was a struggle for me. As a teenager, the regular driver’s education program offered at my school wasn’t enough to prepare me for my license, and had to take several additional lessons with a special alternative driving school. Although many people with ADHD are able to learn to drive without any problem, it wasn’t the case for me as I also have other sensory and processing issues, including NLD (non-verbal learning disability). When I am focused on looking straight ahead, my brain turns off the signals from my peripheral vision in order to prevent constant sensory overload, a common condition in people with ADHD. I also lack the ability to perceive distance and depth; and to process spatial directions. As a result, driving on the highways and on city streets was impossible for me. I managed to pass my driver’s test and get my license, but I only felt comfortable driving on the suburban streets of the quiet New England town where I lived.
 
When I moved to an urban neighborhood as an adult, I had to learn to drive all over again. I took lessons with the same alternative driving school I had as a teenager, but this time, I was unable to progress. The combination of my ADHD and other learning disabilities just made it too difficult to process all of the necessary cues on the road to drive safely. I made the decision to stop driving altogether. I am fortunate that Boston has such an excellent public transportation system and that my family and friends are willing to drive me places.
 
At first, I was ashamed and felt like a quitter. I kept thinking of all my mentors who gave me advice such as, “If you try hard enough, you can succeed at anything,” and felt that the reason why I failed to learn to drive was because I hadn’t tried hard enough. Even worse, I felt that I had let my mentors down by giving up. 
 
Then I remembered “Defying Gravity” again. I took another look at the lyrics of the song, “Some things I cannot change, but till I try I’ll never know.”  Driving was an instance where I had certainly tried my best; and I discovered that this was something that I could not change, nor would I ever be able to change. Now, it was time for me to accept limits- not because “someone said they’re so” like in the song; but because I had tried my best and came to realize that some things are beyond my control. I realized that it wasn’t worth the possibility of getting in an accident where I could injure myself or someone else just to prove something. This wasn’t like learning to dance on pointe or auditioning for a play, because safety was a real issue.
 
Once, when I was out with my friend Lorie and she was driving us on the highway, I sighed and said, “I wish I that I could drive, too, so that I wouldn’t always have to rely on you.” Lorie just laughed and said, “Becky, I’ve told you a billion times, I don’t mind driving you!” I said, “I know you don’t, but sometimes I wish I could be normal like you and be able to do all the things you can do.”
 
Lorie then said, “Okay, first of all, none of us are normal. Normal is just a setting on the washing machine. And secondly, there are so many things that you can do that I can’t. You can sing, and play guitar and piano, and you’re such a good writer, and you’re so creative with words. I can’t do any of those things, and sometimes I wish I could. And just because you can’t drive a car doesn’t mean that you’re not in control of your life in other ways.”
 
I took a minute to muse on Lorie’s words, and I then I said, “So I guess what you’re saying is, even though I’m physically in the passenger seat of your car, I’m still in the driver’s seat when it comes to the road of life!” Lorie laughed again, and said, “See, that’s what I mean about you being creative with words. I never could have come up with something like that!”
 
I realize that although I have a disability, I am not without ability. All of us have limitations, even people without diagnosed disabilities. There’s a reason why they are called disabilities and not inabilities. There are some things that I am not capable of doing, but that doesn’t mean that I am helpless or a failure. As many have said, the only real failure is the failure to try.
 
Once you have tried your best, accepting that you can’t do something is not a sign of weakness or defeat; but rather a sign of strength and maturity. It takes a certain amount of strength to be realistic and acknowledge your shortcomings; especially if you’ve been told your whole life, “there’s nothing you can’t do if you try.” Humility is not easy.
 
So, when is it appropriate to keep trying your best until you get it right, and when is it appropriate to accept limits? When you are unable to progress any further and the life, health, or safety of yourself or someone else is at risk; that is when it is time to stop trying.
 
It’s also important to accept limits when looking for jobs and choosing a career. As I discovered as a teenager, it can be fun and exciting to challenge yourself to rise above your limitations by taking a class or starting a hobby that requires skills or abilities that you don’t currently have. However, it is not a good idea to use this same philosophy when applying for jobs. For instance, if you are not good at math, do not take a job at a bank because you want to use it as an opportunity to improve your math skills. Or, if you are deathly afraid of snakes and rodents and want to get over your phobia; it would be unwise to take a job at a pet store. You would be putting yourself in a situation where you would have to deal with a serious anxiety trigger every day, and you would be unable to effectively perform your job. In the real world, people will be negatively impacted if you make too many mistakes or cannot perform the basic duties of your job.  So do not apply for a job unless you possess the necessary skills or are confident that you can learn them without too much effort. For instance, I’ve only used PowerPoint a few times, but I would not be put off by a job description that required “proficiency in PowerPoint” because I am confident that I could easily master the intricacies of PowerPoint if given the opportunity. However, I have tried to learn to sew several times and discovered that my poor fine motor skills made it nearly impossible. Therefore, it would not be wise for me to take a job as a tailor or a seamstress.  
 
Above all; try not to be disheartened over the skills that you’ve attempted to learn and discovered that you weren’t able to master. Instead, focus on the things that you can do and the skills that you have, and you will be “flying so high, defying gravity!”

This article previously appeared in  Perspectives: the blog of the Federation for Children With Special Needs.

One of my favorite songs is “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked. It contains the lyrics, “I’m through accepting limits, ‘cause someone said they’re so. Some things I cannot change, but till I try, I’ll never know.” To me, this song, performed by Idina Menzel, expresses the determination that I have always had to strive for success despite my ADHD, and my desire to challenge myself in new ways rather than defining myself by a label or a disability. I was fortunate to have parents and mentors who emphasized the importance of focusing on what I can do rather than what I can’t. I carried that philosophy with me throughout my life, and I am proud to say that it has led me to success.

 
In middle school and high school, I took a number of honors and Advanced Placement classes. I was the one of the first students on an IEP to take some of these classes. Some of my teachers were hesitant to make accommodations to classes that they had been teaching for years; arguing that since I was smart enough to be in an advanced class, I was “too smart” to need accommodations. After these teachers were informed that my disability was related to attention and processing rather than intelligence, and that they were required by state and Federal law to follow the guidelines in my IEP; I was able to do very well in their classes. I even got an A+ on my final project from the teacher considered to be the hardest and most critical grader in the entire school.  My success in these classes inspired other students on IEP’s to sign up for the classes in the years that followed; and they found that the teachers had become much more flexible about making accommodations.
 
 
 
My determination to rise above obstacles was not limited to academics; but extended to extracurricular activities as well. When I was five, my parents were advised by professionals to sign me up for ballet classes; in the hopes that they would improve my poor coordination and gross motor delays that resulted from my sensory integration disability. I enjoyed my dance lessons and also found a new mentor in my dance instructor; and continued to study with her throughout the years. Like all young ballerinas, I was eager to progress to the advanced level of ballet known as “pointe,” where the dancer performs on her toes, rather than the balls of her feet as beginning ballet students do.  Pointe requires the dancer to have significant muscle strength in her quadriceps (upper thigh muscles) after taking several years of ballet classes, and she wears special toe shoes instead of regular soft ballet shoes. Because of my delays, I was still dancing in soft shoes at the age of 14, while the other dancers my age had been on pointe for several years.  I was aware that pointe would be more of a challenge for me than for others and that I might not ever acquire the muscular strength necessary for pointe. However, I was determined to dance on pointe and I wanted to at least give it a try. My dance teacher allowed me to train for pointe, and by the end of my freshman year in high school; she told me I was ready. I got my first pair of toe shoes, and the following year, I performed a solo on pointe in the dance recital.
 
 
In addition to my attention and motor issues, I also had a speech disorder as a teenager. I spoke unintelligibly and often stuttered. Nevertheless, I did not let it prevent me from auditioning for my high school’s theater productions. I spent a lot of time practicing my monologue for auditions; and discovered that when I was reciting from a script I had memorized, I was able to speak completely fluently as I was putting all of my focus on how I was speaking rather than what I was saying. I introduced myself to the theater teacher; who later told me that he initially was hesitant to cast me in a speaking part because of my speech disorder; but then when he heard me read from the script at auditions, he was so impressed that he gave me a significant speaking part.
I was quite nervous at first; but he worked with me to make me feel at ease and perform my role with an acting ability that I hadn’t even known I possessed before. On the opening night of the play, the audience was fascinated by my performance. People couldn’t believe that this was the same girl who used to stutter every time she opened her mouth; and I was showered with praises and admiration when I walked out into the lobby after the show. I felt like a Hollywood star, and it was the highlight of my high school experience. Today, I no longer have a speech impediment, and I believe that acting played a role (excuse the pun) in making my speech fluent.
 
 
 
Throughout my college and into my adult life; I have approached each new situation with the same determination and confidence that I had in high school when taking an advanced placement class, learning to dance on pointe, and acting in plays. I attended a highly selective college and graduated in four years with a GPA of 3.16.  I wrote for the college newspaper, led a student retreat where I gave a talk, participated in an outreach trip to the Bronx over spring break, took voice lessons, sang in the college chorus, performed in a musical theater production, was on the dance team, served on a committee to educate students about violence prevention and safety issues, and still managed to find plenty of time to socialize and make many wonderful friends that would last a lifetime.
 
 
Today, I am married, have been employed at the Federation for Children for Special Needs in a variety of roles for over a decade, and own a home. I also have written a book , Distracted Girl, about my experiences growing up with ADHD, and have started writing a fictional novel. In addition, I sing in my church’s choir every Sunday, have taught myself to play guitar, and have written some original songs. I am also very passionate about politics and this past fall I volunteered on a campaign to get a candidate elected.
 
 
 I didn’t get this far by playing it safe. Had I not taken the risks; I never would have been able to achieve all that I have. It certainly hasn’t been easy for me, but the results were well worth it. I hope that you can be inspired by my story and learn that you, too, are more than just a disability or a diagnosis. Don’t be discouraged just because you have a specific condition that presents challenges. Just like the song says, some things you cannot change, but until you try you’ll never know!
 
 
 
This is not to say that I have succeeded at everything I tried, or that I have completely surpassed all the limitations that my specific condition presents. In fact, you may be wondering, what happens when you try your best at something and discover that you aren’t able to overcome obstacles or master the skill? And are there times or situations when it’s best not to try something new or to give up at attempting? I will address these questions in the second part of this series. Stay tuned!

Hello friends and followers!

I haven’t written anything on my blog in a very long time, because, well, I’ve been writing something else…..

distracted girl

That’s right! My book, DISTRACTED GIRL, is now complete and available for purchase! Order your copy today at Amazon!

The following letter appeared yesterday in “Dear Prudence,” an advice column on the online newspaper Slate Magazine:

Dear Prudie,
I’m a single mother with two children, a son, age 13, and a daughter, age 16. My son has ADHD. For the past few summers, we have shared a vacation beach house with two other families, one who has a son the same age as mine and the other with a girl the same age as my daughter. This year we were not invited—the two friends pretended they weren’t going—but I found out that they were. I asked them why we weren’t included and the friend who arranged the house said that the stress of my son’s impulsive hyperactivity ruined her vacation. Instead of talking to me about it, she found it easier to just exclude us. My son and I have been in therapy to work on ways to help him with his self-control. The other friend says his behavior didn’t bother her, but she also didn’t talk with me about it. Right now I feel that these people are no longer my friends. Should continue to be friends with them and what I should say?

—Lousy Summer

Dear Summer,
Your two friends behaved badly and I understand you’re questioning your entire relationship. It’s the case that vacation traditions are sometimes written in sand, not stone, but it was cruel of your friends to exclude you this year with the pretense they weren’t going to have a beach jaunt. But you found out and confronted them, and hard as it was to hear, give one credit for spelling it out. (The other who went along with excluding you, then acted as if she wanted you to come, seems the more egregious violator.) Let me assume the blunt mother is the one with the 13-year-old son. It could be that her boy was the default companion to your son and that he found it difficult. It might have been kinder if instead of excluding your family for the entirety of the rental, they had asked all of you to join them for a long weekend. (Though if they were going to be honest about the limited schedule, maybe it wouldn’t have been any more palatable.) You’ve got a tough road, and supportive friends would make it easier. But now that you know what happened, you have to decide if there is something still to value in their friendship. If you think there is, get together with them at the end of the summer and say as painful as it was to hear, you preferred knowing the truth about their plans. Say you understand your son can be difficult, but that is something he is working hard on. Tell them you hope to stay friends, but say that means they need to open their hearts to a struggling boy.

—Prudie

This letter really hits home for me. While I understand that no one wants to have their vacation ruined by someone else’s kid, I know all too well what it’s like to be excluded by people who I thought were my friends. Throughout my middle school, high school, and college years, many of my peers bullied me, rejected me, excluded me from social activities, and generally made me feel inferior and worthless. It’s possible that they were just being immature, petty “mean girls” who were too shallow to take the time to get to know me because I was “different.” However, I wondered if I was unintentionally offending them because I was misreading social cues and acting impulsively. Before I was diagnosed at the age of eight, I often got into trouble in school. Although I was smart enough to get good grades, I had a difficult time understanding why behavior that was acceptable in one situation was not okay in others.  Other children seemed to instinctively know how to behave and why; but it wasn’t until after I was diagnosed and the school counselor worked with me one-on-one that I began to understand certain things that came naturally to everyone else.
 Perhaps something similar was happening in my social interactions as an adolescent. Because of my ADHD, I may have failed to realize that some of the things I was saying or doing were inappropriate. People thought I was deliberately tuning them out and being rude when I wasn’t paying attention to them in conversations. I would often blurt out the first thing that came to mind, later to realize that it might not have been the best choice of words. Sometimes, people thought I was lazy and slacking off because it took me longer to get everything done. I wished people would just directly come out and tell me if they had a problem with something I was doing, rather than exclude me and act like my feelings didn’t exist.

As I look back now, I realize that many of these misunderstandings could have been avoided if I had simply been open with others about my diagnosis, but I foolishly thought that people would think less of me for having ADHD. When I finally became comfortable enough to disclose my ADHD diagnosis to my friends and peers, not one person thought less of me. Instead, they were all very understanding and supportive of me. Many people apologized for the way they had treated me before, as they now understood that I wasn’t tuning them out or slacking off on purpose. I wished I had been open about my diagnosis sooner.
 That being said, I wonder if the other two moms know that the letter writer’s son has ADHD. If they don’t, I can understand their reluctance to say something to her, because it would seem like they were accusing her of being a bad parent who couldn’t control her child. Given the context of the letter, it appears that the two moms, do, in fact, know about his ADHD. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t feel comfortable bringing up his ADHD and his behavior. Often, people feel awkward about mentioning things like ADHD and other disabilities, so they just brush it aside and avoid talking about it. If this was the case with the two moms, it seems that their attempts not to offend the letter writer backfired. By excluding her and her kids from the beach vacation, they wound up offending her much worse than they would have if they had addressed his behavior in a more mature, appropriate way. The letter writer knows her son has ADHD, and she is actively seeking out treatment for him. I doubt that she would have been offended by her two friends directly addressing her about his behavior; as it certainly would not have been her first time hearing that her son’s behavior was problematic.
 How, then, were the two moms to approach the subject in a tactful way? Part of it depends on what specific behaviors of his “ruined their vacation.” Was he going through the others’ belongings, stealing them, or deliberately breaking them? Was he getting into physical fights with the others, hitting them, punching them, or pulling their hair? Did he pull down the 15 year old girl’s bikini bottom at the beach and then giggle (or do anything else sexually inappropriate)? Did he do drugs, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes? If he did any of the above, they should have sat down and had a talk with their friend and his son and told them right then and there that they were no longer welcome on any more vacations, and to pack up and go home immediately.
 Since he wasn’t kicked out of their vacation house last summer, it’s safe to assume that he did nothing illegal and did no serious or lasting harm to any of the people or their property. I suspect that he was just a little too rambunctious and loud for them. If this was the case, it would have been better for the other two moms to directly confront the letter writer, rather than acting like the adult versions of the girls who bullied me in middle school.
 The letter writer said they’ve been vacationing for years together, so clearly they are no strangers to the son and his hyperactivity. What did he do last summer that made them finally draw the line, when they tolerated him the previous years? Regardless of what it was, it would have been better to talk to his mom (and possibly him) and say something like, “We understand your son has ADHD, and we’ve been putting up with him for years on our annual beach vacation, but it’s getting to the point that his behavior is too much. Please try to monitor him better/get him in therapy/address whatever problem behavior needs to be addressed.” They could have even said something like, “We’ll give you and him one more chance, and if he’s still out of control next year, it will be the last time your family is welcome on our vacation. We don’t want to have another vacation ruined because of him.” 
 I also wonder if he is on medication, and if not, I wonder why. Perhaps he tried several medications and they didn’t help, or they caused negative side effects. Perhaps the mom is one of those new age hippie types who doesn’t “believe” in medicating her kids, despite several doctors insisting that medication is exactly what he needs and clearly explaining how ADHD medications work and that they are safe. If that is the case, I have a hard time sympathizing with her; but I sure feel bad for the boy. (If you want to be a new age hippie, then wear tie-dye and batik clothes and big dangling earrings, listen to Enya, burn incense, read books on astrology, and greet everyone with “Namaste,” but please, please, leave decisions about your child’s medical needs to those who have the letters M.D. after their names! They are more qualified to make those decisions than you are.)
 There is also the possibility that he is on medication, but that he doesn’t take it during the summer. Until I was about 16 or so, my parents took me off Ritalin for vacations, weekends, and other days that I didn’t go to school. I seem to remember the doctors telling them that Ritalin can stunt your growth if you take it every day. Perhaps, if the two moms had sat down and talked to their friend about her son’s behavior, she could have made the decision to put him back on his medication for the week or two that they all went to the beach (as I doubt they were there for the entire summer vacation). This would have made it a more pleasant vacation for all of them.
 After reading this letter to “Prudence” and reflecting on it, I am reminded once again of the importance of communicating about ADHD and similar disorders. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends about your diagnosis. If your child has ADHD, be sure to disclose his or her diagnosis to all adults who will interacting with him or her- including teachers, babysitters, nannies, camp counselors, and your friends or relatives who you will be vacationing with for an extended period of time. If your friends have children with ADHD, and their behavior is problematic, don’t be afraid to speak up. It will not be an easy conversation, but remember: they are aware of their children’s diagnosis. If you think it is stressful to spend a few hours or days with these children, remember that their parents have to deal with them every day and so they are constantly under that much more stress. (Just an aside: if you think parenting a child with ADHD is stressful, imagine being a child, and later an adult, with ADHD!) As Prudence said in her reply, they need your friendship and support through the challenging job of raising a kid with ADHD. Excluding them and lying behind their backs is only going to add insult to injury. Sure, the two moms and their families don’t deserve to have their vacation ruined; but then again, neither do the letter writer and her son. 

No, that’s not the utterance of someone with ADHD lamenting that she misplaced her car keys or forgot that she had a doctor’s appointment. It’s a song by Britney Spears.
My most recent post on this blog was about celebrities with ADHD, and had I waited until this week to post it, I could have included Spears. Earlier this week, the singer-turned-X-Factor-judge publicly disclosed that she has ADHD. After an episode of the X-Factor where Spears repeatedly walked out of the room while the show was being filmed live; she reassured the audience that she was not ill, but that she needed to take frequent breaks due to her ADHD. Spears also revealed that she had previously been on Ritalin, but is currently unable to take it because she is on another medication.
As I have stated elsewhere in this blog and in my other writing, I am a firm proponent of self-disclosure and self-advocacy, as it gives you a stronger voice and helps others understand you and your symptoms better. So, while I believe that Spears’ disclosure was a good choice for her own sake, I also worry that it may have a toxic impact on the ADHD community as a whole. I find myself anticipating people sarcastically saying, “You have ADHD? Oh, great. So now this means I should expect you to shave your head or to run off to Vegas and get married and divorced within a few hours.” While Spears’ impulsive, erratic behavior may very well have been caused by ADHD, the disorder affects everyone differently. For this reason, it can be unwise to expect all people with ADHD to exhibit the same behaviors, particularly if one’s knowledge of ADHD behavior is limited to outrageous paparazzi-produced news stories about celebrities.
I thought about it some more, and I realized that sometimes Britney Spears also seems to possess the more positive aspects of ADHD. Studies have shown that people with ADHD can be especially resilient, perhaps because of our tendency to hyperfocus on the things that are particularly important to us. Although Spears is hardly a positive role model when it comes to making mature choices, she has also proven to be extremely resilient.
When Britney Spears first rose to popularity as a teenager in the late 1990’s, many people predicted that she would have a short-lived career. She managed to prove everybody wrong by extending her projected fifteen minutes of fame into nearly fifteen years of fame. She has won a Grammy and numerous other awards, and several of her songs have made it to the Top Ten. Equally impressive is her ability to stage many a comeback after low points in her career. Spears has perhaps been under more media scrutiny than any other celebrity of the twenty-first century. She has struggled with substance abuse, mental health issues, and problems in her personal life, all of which have been heavily documented in the tabloids. A far less resilient person would have given up and quit performing as a result of such stress. Spears, however , persevered time after time, and continued to make albums that always shot to the top of the pop charts.
Through it all, she continues to have fans, particularly young girls, who look up to her. My own little nieces and their friends love to sing and dance to her songs. Perhaps somewhere, there are adolescent girls who feel ashamed about having ADHD and believes that they will never be successful; and they can be inspired by knowing that ADHD didn’t stop their idol Britney Spears from being a star.
I say that’s a reason to keep on dancing- until the world ends!

Trivia challenge: There are several titles of Britney Spears songs hidden in this blog post. Can you find them all?