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How Alabama residents can support each other through ADHD medication shortage


Alabama is still experiencing a shortage in medicine used to treat one of the most common neuro-developmental disorders. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a common condition that is shown through inattention, hyperactivity and sometimes, impulsivity.

An article by Forbes said about 129 million children and adolescents in the United States aged five to 19 have ADHD. The article also said as of 2020, 366 million adults have ADHD.

At the beginning of August, the Food and Drug Administration announced an Adderall shortage. The shortage has affected several states including Alabama. ABC 3340 reported pharmacies and patients in Central Alabama struggling without the medicine.

Sharon Saline is a clinical psychologist, author of What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew: Working Together to Empower Kids for Success in School and Life, speaker and consultant, said even with a medication shortage, those with ADHD can still learn to manage without it.

“Everybody with ADHD needs to learn and have systems score and strategies about their executive functioning skill, deficits. That's the reality and so on. Even if you take medication, medication is a catalyst for, for basically retaining these systems and these strategies, but there are lots of ways of, of tools that people can use to improve their executive functioning skills,” she said.

Saline also said adults with ADHD are held to the same expectations as their neurotypical coworkers.

“One of the things that happens for adults in the workplace is that they're expected to perform at the same levels as neurotypical adults, often adults who have ADHD in the workplace, don't let people know that they have ADHD,” Saline said. “So they can struggle with turning projects in on time, or making it through a really boring meeting, without doodling or interrupting.”

Saline said one thing workplaces can do is be more accepting of their neurodivergent employees. She said when there is an accepting environment, workers who are neurodivergent feel more comfortable expressing their needs. Neurodivergent is defined as people whose brains function in a different way than what is considered the norm.

“What workplaces can do is to have a culture of, of real acceptance, that is that if someone is neurodivergent, to make it safe for them to talk about it, and to explore what kinds of supports will you need? What kind of structure how can I help you as a supervisor? You know, how can we break this down this big project into doable chunks, to have conversations that are related to the executive functioning skills, and the support that these people might need, rather than to treat everybody the same,” Saline said.

Saline says ADHD is also a struggle for children. She adds that parents who have children with ADHD should support them. She recommends using what she calls the five C’s: self-control, compassion, collaboration, consistency and celebration.

This method, according to Saline’s website, reduces stress and emotional reactivity, improves cooperation and communication and increases self-esteem and satisfaction in relationships.

“It's not about baking a cake because your child decided to clear the table. It's about noticing and validating their efforts and encouraging them along the way. And this helps improve the positivity ratio in their lives. And it also reduces the negativity bias that so many of these kids live with, because they hear so often about the ways that they've missed the mark,” Saline said.

She said despite the challenges and negative connotations that come with ADHD, those with it still have a variety of positive aspects to them.

“These are creative, sensitive, interesting, inventive, active, energetic people who are curious and often have wonderful senses of humor and I can be incredibly bright, and struggle with applying their intelligence in in day to day situations. And I think sometimes one of the myths about ADHD is that it's confused with a lack of intelligence,” Saline said. “ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence. It's about how you process information, how you manage emotions, and how you're able to motivate yourself and regulate yourself at times, as well as understand, you know, and why you do things and in what order and what's working and what's not.”

Andrea Tinker is a student intern at Alabama Public Radio. She is majoring in News Media with a minor in African American Studies at The University of Alabama. In her free time, Andrea loves to listen to all types of music, spending time with family, and reading about anything pop culture related.

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