Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often associated with children, but the condition often lasts well into adulthood. One Louisiana group is learning to cope together.
“You're like right there for hours and you didn't really turn the page,” Teresa Alvarez said at a recent monthly meeting.
There were several strangers sitting around the table at Me’Pa’s Diner in Central, but listening to them talk you’d never know.
“I was diagnosed in high school, but I traced it all the way back to first and second grade,” Deputy John Simoneaux told the group.
Along with the burgers and cokes, they serve up a healthy side of therapy.
“I outlined a couple reasons why we need downtime,” Simoneaux continued. “It's just to break up the monotony and the stress, and it just decompresses us.”
Simoneaux, a school resource officer for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, started the monthly support group about five years ago. He got the idea while meeting with his long-time counselor Jan Hebert.
“A person does not become an ADHD adult just all of a sudden. It began in childhood,” she explained. “85 percent of adults with ADHD don’t know they have it.”
The symptoms in adults and children are the same: Inattentive behavior, impulsivity, hyperactivity, restlessness, and trouble staying organized. But in adults the stakes are higher, with those symptoms often affecting personal relationships and careers.
Hebert said many don't realize there are treatment options besides medication.
“Live by lists every day,” she advises. “Break down tasks of what you need to get done. Write notes to yourself, use your electronics, use your notepad.”
It took time, but Simoneaux learned to manage his condition years ago. Now he brings his strategies to anyone willing to listen.
“This group is all about empowering those of us who are living with ADHD and allowing them to recognize that, man, this is a gift,” he said. “It’s refreshing to have somebody to kind of bounce some things off of.”
“If they would have told me that they had a meeting like this before, I would have been here a long time ago, and I would have brought my whole family. I think I'm going to start bringing my son if he wants to come with me,” she said.
“There's a lot of intimidation that's going to go with walking into that restaurant and sitting down,” Simoneaux said. “I want people to know that we are a relaxed setting. We welcome everybody.”
The Louisiana Adult ADHD group meets at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. Me’Paw’s Diner is located at 6643 Sullivan Rd. in Central.