"ADHD & Asperger Syndrome in Smart Kids & Adults:
Often it is assumed that anyone who is quite smart will be able to find success in anything they really want to do. A new book by psychologist Thomas Brown describes twelve very bright kids and adults who struggled in schooling or employment and social relationships due to unrecognized executive function impairments of ADHD and social-emotional problems of Asperger Syndrome.
This book includes 12 engaging case examples of very bright children and adults.
Here are some case highlights:
A kid often bullied in school because he unwittingly provoked classmates.
An 8th grader whose parents polarized over his going “on strike” in school.
A college student jailed for repeatedly contacting a girl he wanted to date.
A top graduate in computer science reluctant to leave his parent’s home.
A brilliant attorney fired from 3 law firms for difficulties in relating to staff.
Released August, 2021
These bright, but often underachieving people had been criticized by parents, teachers, and themselves as lazy, unmotivated, or oppositional because they were obviously smart, but rarely studied or completed assignments.
Yet each of these individuals demonstrated strong interest and sustained effort in playing a sport or video games, working on a science project, reading self-selected books, or producing art or music. Though they could focus easily on a few tasks or activities that strongly interested them, they could not mobilize focus and sustain effort for many other tasks or activities they found less interesting, despite their being important.
When evaluated, these inconsistent individuals were found to have unrecognized ADHD, a usually inherited problem in the brain’s system for self-management. They were impaired in their ability to prioritize and get started on assignments, to sustain focus and effort, and to utilize their short-term working memory. Once recognized, their ADHD usually could be treated effectively to help them engage significantly better, even for tasks not especially interesting to them.
Very bright children and adults described in this book also had a second problem: chronic difficulty in managing emotions. Some were often awkward socially. Many had considerable difficulty understanding other people, especially their age mates. Some often ignored or simply could not grasp social expectations usually followed by most others their age. Their cognitive intelligence was above average, but their social communication and emotional intelligence was more limited.
Until 2013 such social difficulties in those with strong intelligence were described by mental health specialists as Asperger syndrome. That term is no longer included in the psychiatric diagnostic manual, yet the syndrome persists unrecognized and is not adequately dealt with in many smart kids and adults.
Recognition of and support for those with the combined challenges described in this book is important. Based on their studies of similar individuals, researchers at Harvard cautioned that:
…failure to recognize ADHD--especially in intellectually capable youth with autism
spectrum disorder--can seriously undermine educational and social functioning… and predispose these youth to increased risk for disruptive disorders, mood dysregulation and substance use disorders (Joshi, et. al, 2014)
This book supports that caution and suggests that similar difficulties can result from failure to recognize autistic impairments that occur in some individuals with ADHD. It also describes effective supports and treatments using didactic psychotherapy, family therapy, and carefully fine-tuned medications for these bright and talented children, teens and adults.
PEER-REVIEWED & EXPERTS' PRAISE FOR THIS BOOK:
“I’ve read your book and really like all the case histories of adults, young adults and children. It will provide valuable insights to parents and teachers.”
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., author: The Autistic Brain and Thinking in Pictures-My Life With Autism.
“This book does a marvelous job of exploring the complex connections between Asperger’s and ADHD. It has much to offer mental health practitioners, teachers and parents.”
Fred R. Volkmar, M.D., Yale University Child Study Center, Editor: Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders; Editor: Journal of Autism and Related Disorders.
“Drawing on his decades of clinical work and meticulous research, Brown shows us the talents and strengths in this widely misunderstood group of children and adults. A major contribution, a beautiful book!”
Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., Director of The Hallowell Centers. Author, N.Y.T. Best seller: Driven to Distraction and ADHD 2.0
"This well-written and informative book fills a great need for clinicians, patients, and families. It presents clinical cases of highly intelligent people struggling with both ADHD and Asperger Syndrome and wisely informs us of what can improve their quality of life."
Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina. & author of Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, Fourth Edition, and Attention-Deficit Disorder: Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment.
"Dr. Brown has created a superb and widely accessible book focused on smart children and adults with ADHD who have specific interests, but who also encounter significant difficulties in social and school settings. This volume is well worth reading by clinicians, educators and parents as well as those dealing with Asperger syndrome."
James F. Leckman, M.D., Ph.D., Nelson Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology, Yale University.
"This book is a must read for mental health professionals, educators and families interested in understanding the intersection between ADHD and Asperger Syndrome. A masterful storyteller, Brown uncovers the “central mystery of ADHD” and provides a science-based understanding within the framework of beautifully articulated stories of daily life in those overcoming challenges of ADHD with Asperger Syndrome."
Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UCLA Semel Institute. Author: The Science of Making Friends. Founder and Director: UCLA PEERS Clinic for individuals with social impairments.