Archive for Famous People with ADD ADHD

Britney Has ADHD

britneyspearscropped Britney Has ADHD

Britney Spears has ADHD (picture from

It has just been reported that Britney Spears has ADHD. The Grammy winning pop star, who holds Guinness World Records, and has her own Star on the Walk of Fame has now shared that she has ADHD.

Britney has taken on the role of a judge on the singing reality show “The X Factor”, and she is now currently filming for the show. During the filming of auditions, Britney reportedly needed to take breaks, and the explanation was that she has ADHD, and that she had to take breaks during the long filming sessions.

The reports also go on to explain that Britney was diagnosed with ADHD when she was young, and used to take medication for it. Her doctors apparently have now forbidden her from taking ADHD medication for reasons related to other mental health concerns. Here is a link to one of the news reports about this story.

Now that Britney has come forward and shared her diagnosis of ADHD, she joins other celebrities like: Howie Mandel, Ty Pennington, Adam Levine, Michael Phelps, Karina Smirnoff and many others.

I personally view this as a brave and helpful admission. Millions of kids and teens get diagnosed with ADHD, and they feel that they are disordered, and they wonder if they will have a positive future because of their “Disorder”. Having celebrities come forward to share their diagnosis helps kids to realize that they can be successful even though they have ADHD.

While I view Britney’s disclosure as a positive, I have come across some comments on social media sites (which I don’t want to support with a link right now…) who say that Britney is “blaming” her behavior on ADHD, and how awful is that. They are suggesting that she is acting like a diva, and using ADHD as an excuse.

Before responding to this, I’d like to share that I have no direct knowledge on Britney’s diagnosis or medical care – I only know what I’ve read online. And saying that – here’s my response: Britney apparently disclosed to her employer (Simon Cowell) before signing on for the show that she has ADHD, cannot take medication for it, and needs to take breaks at times because of it. Simon apparently agreed to this before hiring Britney. Britney can’t take medication for ADHD, and instead she is using strategies to help herself to function well. And let’s remember – although an ‘audition show’ makes it seem like 1 hour for each city (i.e. the LA auditions only seem to take 1 hour), in fact, they are filming for very long days… (and of course there is much more involved – make up, lighting, direction, breaks, etc.) They just edit it to seem short for us – the viewers.

In my understanding of the situation, Britney is acknowledging her challenges, putting strategies and supports in place, and working to function in the best way that she can. I think that is a great model for others to learn from and to emulate. I would not try to tear her down for being a diva and blaming it on ADHD.

The reality is that ADHD medication is helpful for Adult ADHD, and it is not the whole solution. There is some research that shows that most of the time, ADHD medications do not fully treat the symptoms of adult ADHD. So, it is very important to use strategies and to develop skills to improve functioning with ADHD. This is even more important if someone is unable to take medication.

Why can’t Britney take medication for ADHD?

There aren’t any reports that I’ve read which explain this in more detail. One news report said that she can’t take medication for ADHD because of mental health issues. While I don’t know what these are for Britney, it is possible that she has had one of these challenges: intolerable side effects from ADHD medication; mood instability from ADHD medications (i.e. depression or induction of hypomania or mania), sleep disruption, significant decreased appetite, etc. In other words, I’m guessing. I’m sure she has expert and capable doctors.

The take away I encourage you to get from this is: Britney is a talented star, who has ADHD, is using strategies to manage it because she can’t take medication (on doctor’s orders). That’s a great example for all of us.

What impact do you think this admission will have for you, or your kids with ADHD, or the people you work with (if you’re a professional working with people with ADHD)?

Please share your thoughts or comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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Why I Like NBC’s “The Voice” and Its ADHD Lessons

230px TheVoiceTitleCard Why I Like NBCs The Voice and Its ADHD Lessons

The Voice (picture from

In general, I’m not one for reality shows, especially not ones about singing (maybe it’s because I can hardly carry a tune…). But, something about the promos for “The Voice” caught my attention. This season (season 2), I caught a couple of the early shows – with the blind auditions, and I’m now watching the final shows (to see who’s going to win!).

As a doctor who specializes in ADHD, I think “The Voice” has some important lessons for parents of kids and teens with ADHD, as well as Adults with ADHD, and I’ll share them with you here.

If you’re not familiar with “The Voice”, it has some interesting twists on a singing competition show.

Firstly, on this show, the judges aren’t just judges, they’re coaches. The four coaches are: Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Ceelo Green and Blake Shelton. While they do ‘judge’ throughout the competition, they each choose contestants, and they coach them. The coaches help to develop their singer’s talents, and help them to do the best they possibly can during the show. Through the course of the show, the contestants get great advice, training and encouragement from their coaches, and viewers can see how close the relationships develop during the course of the show.

ADHD Lesson: getting coaching from people who have been where you are, and can help you to go where you need to go, can be life altering. When it comes to ADHD treatment, there are doctors, therapists and other health professionals, and now there are also expert ADHD Coaches – who can help you in many ways as well. To find out more about coaching, visit the ADHD Coaches Organization.

Secondly, when the contestants audition, the judges are ‘blind’ to what they look like. The judges have their chairs turned backward, and they can only hear the singer’s voice when they’re deciding if they want to choose them for their team. This is a real twist, because the judges have to choose the contestants based solely on their voice, and not on how they look. We all know that certain people look like stars, and many people don’t. In some reality shows, a person’s look has a big impact on whether they’re chosen. In this show, people are chosen based on their own merit. Although the world doesn’t always work that way, it’s great to see it happen.

ADHD Lesson: Many times, kids, teens and even adults with ADHD are judged negatively because of their ADHD symptoms (i.e. they’re too inattentive, or too impulsive in a situation). We need to help people to see ADHDer’s talents and actual abilities. Often, they’re incredibly talented in particular areas. Hopefully, people can look past ADHD to see the talent, and hopefully, good treatment for ADHD will help people to develop their talents, and share them well with others.

Thirdly, I love how many contestants and participants make so many sacrifices to pursue their dream of singing. Early in the season, there were many people who left their jobs, left a semester at college or made other sacrifices to be able to attend the auditions. And not all of them even got chosen for the show! From my perspective, even if they weren’t selected for the show, those participants were hugely successful for choosing to pursue their dreams.
To quote Zachary Scott: “As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” (source

Fourthly, many of the show’s contestants/singers are singing for reasons which are much bigger than just themselves and their dreams. Many are singing to stay true to themselves and to support their families; to honor and thank those that believed in them; and Erin Willette even stayed in the show and sang when her father passed away in between the auditions and the live battle rounds. Although she was quite emotional about it, she knew she had her father’s love and support, and both of her parents (and her family) wanted her to pursue her dream. What a gift her family gave her, and what a gift she gave her dad – for him to see her pursuing her dream (and succeeding!) in his final days.

ADHD Lesson: Combining points 3 and 4, we learn that it’s important to pursue our dreams, and to work for a reason bigger than ourselves.
For many of us, getting through the day to day and week to week can be challenging (especially when dealing with ADD/ADHD in ourselves or our children). And it may seem selfish, indulgent, or just absurd to take the time to dream again, or to connect with our long lost dreams. And it is still important to do! Why do you get excited when you see an underdog win a gold medal in the Olympics? Why do we love hearing the back-story of someone who goes on to do great things? Because it inspires us. It touches us deep insider – where we have our dreams, goals and our greatness. And when we hear their story, we briefly remember our greatness. Make a decision to pursue your dreams again. You don’t have to quit your job, or move to Los Angeles right now, but if you love music – start playing your guitar again, or start singing again. Maybe there’s a local ‘open mic’ night, and you can enjoy connecting with your creative side again. Or the church choir would love to have your voice join them…

When it comes to helping to motivate kids/teens and adults with ADHD, it’s important to have a great ‘reason why’. People with ADHD don’t pursue goals ‘just because’. The daily, mundane, boring (and seemingly irrelevant tasks) don’t get done just because they should. When there is a great reason why – that motivates ADHDer’s to do great things. So, think about some great reasons why. And if you have a child or teen with ADHD, take the time to help them to find the reason why things are important (like Math homework that they think will never be relevant in their life… try putting a dollar sign in front of the numbers :-)) With a strong ‘reason why’, the contestants in “The Voice” are more compelling, and in real life, if we have a strong ‘reason why’, we work much harder to pursue what’s important to us.

Finally, one of the reasons that I love “The Voice” is the huge respect I have for Adam Levine, the singer from Maroon 5. Not only is Adam a great singer, a great coach on the show, and the coach who won in season 1 of “The Voice”, he is also an adult with ADHD.

Not only is Adam an adult with ADHD, he is one who is sharing it widely, and using his position of celebrity to help others who have adult ADHD. Up to 60-70% of kids/teens with ADHD still have it as adults. However, most believe that they have outgrown it, and don’t need any more help. Adam’s message is simple – you may not have outgrown it, and you should review it with your doctor, and get the help you need. Recently, Adam has worked with Shire to create the “Own It Project” target=”_blank”, which encourages adults with ADHD to ‘own their ADHD’, and if that’s you – you can submit your story to qualify to win a prize.

Adam is doing a great thing to raise awareness of adult ADHD, decrease stigma, and to help others. And for that, I’m grateful.

When it comes down to it, I don’t mind whether you watch “The Voice”, or whether you ever will. Hopefully, these reflections will help you in your life (or your loved one’s life) by taking the messages and applying them to your situation.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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ADHD Superpowers?

superhero 150x150 ADHD Superpowers?As an ADHD expert, and a proponent of a strength based model of ADHD, I do look for the strengths and the positive side of ADD/ADHD (as I wrote in my book: Attention Difference Disorder). I don’t know if I would say that people with ADD/ADHD have super powers.

That said, there was a great article online that just came out, which talks about how some entrepreneurs consider their ADHD to be a superpower. It was in Smart Money, was called: “Why Some Entrepreneurs Call ADHD a “Superpower”" and it talks about some successful business people with ADHD.

How can these entrepreneurs consider their ADHD a superpower?

This article shares the positive, as well as some of the possible negatives associated with the condition, as seen in this quote:

On the plus side, people with ADHD often have an immense amount of energy, and they think outside the box — because their ideas could never fit inside one box. On the minus side, they have an inability to focus on what bores them, can make sloppy errors when rushing (which is almost always) and have a stronger-than-average tendency to put a foot in their mouth.

Some of the entrepreneurs mentioned include high profile business people with ADHD, including:

  • Paul Orfalea: founder of Kinkos
  • David Neeleman: Founder of JetBlue airlines
  • Peter Shankman: angel investor and technology expert and principal of The Geek Factory

This article also discusses some smaller business owners – like Steve Ferree – who bought a franchise of Roto rooter, and found that his ADHD impacted some of his ability to manage his business.

It is important to do one task at a time – and not to multitask – especially if you have ADHD. My favorite example of this from the article is from Peter Shankman:

Shankman takes that concept to an extreme. Asked to write a book in two weeks, he reserved a business class flight to Tokyo. When he got there, he drank a few espressos in the lounge, turned around and came back. He finished the book in 30 hours. The trip cost $4,000 and was “worth every penny,” he says.

All in all, this article highlights how the ADHD brain can help people in business, and at the same time, it provides some balance… i.e. that ADHD can cause problems if the right strategies or treatments aren’t in place. I like this approach, because this is similar to the stance that I take in my book – that ADHD can have its strengths, but you do have to get the negative symptoms out of the way.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.


Dr. Kenny

Adam Levine Has ADHD

Another celebrity has come forward to share about his ADHD. Adam Levine – the singer from Maroon 5, and mentor on the TV show “The Voice” is helping to raise awareness about young adult and adult ADHD. He’s participating in a national education campaign called: Own It.

You can read more about the campaign here.

One of the biggest concerns that people have around ADD and ADHD is stigma. And stigma interferes with people getting the right diagnosis, and the right treatment. When someone like Adam is willing to come forward and share his story, this paves the way to increase awareness, and it can make a difference for thousands of people’s lives.

Adam – I’m impressed! Keep up the great work to support people with ADHD.


Dr. Kenny

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Rory Bremner Has ADHD

Rory Bremner, the British comedian and TV personality, has shared that he has ADHD.

He started to consider it after finding out that one of his young relatives had the condition. This is often how many adults come to learn that they have ADHD.

Bremner recently did a BBC special called: ADHD and me.

Although I don’t watch BBC (I’m in Canada), I really appreciate and admire Bremner for sharing his experience and diagnosis with the public. This helps others to realize that ADHD is real, and it helps to break down stigma.

You can read more about this story in this BBC article.


Dr. Kenny

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Lindsay Lohan: ADHD?

A recent article online reported that Lindsay Lohan has been given the right to take Adderall and Ambien. She is currently struggling with substance abuse and dependence, and apparently she has to go for regular drug screening. Court documents show that Lindsay has been prescribed Adderall – presumably for ADHD.

Does this mean that Lindsay has ADHD?

Most likely, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s unconfirmed.

It’s my hope that she can get good treatment for all of her current challenges, and get her life on track.


Dr. Kenny

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Gossip Lead Singer Has ADHD

The lead singer of the Rock Band: Gossip has revealed that she was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.
Beth Ditto explained that when she was finally diagnosed with ADHD, it helped to explain many of the struggles she’s had in her life.
You can read more about it here.

I am happy to see that celebrities with ADHD are starting to step forward more readily. That is a good indication that we are moving toward less stigma with this condition – which will hopefully help people to get the help that they need, and break down many of the myths that are out there about this common condition.


Dr. Kenny

Celebrities With ADHD

I am always so appreciative when people step forward to share their stories and become advocates for ADD and ADHD.
In this article/slideshow, 7 celebrities share that they have ADD/ADHD.

The list of celebrities with ADHD includes:

  • Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimmer and Gold Medalist
  • Solange Knowles, Singer
  • Ty Pennington, host of Extreme Home Makeover
  • Howie Mandel, host of Deal or No Deal
  • James Carville, Political Consultant
  • Christopher Knight, child actor on Brady Bunch
  • Cammi Granato, US Olympic Hockey Gold Medalist

Be sure to check out this article/slideshow, and also share it with other people – to help to raise awareness of successful people who have ADD/ADHD. This will be especially helpful if you have a child or teen who has ADHD and looks up to one of these celebrities. If you do share this with your child or teen, please come back to this blog post and let us know how he/she responded to seeing this.


Dr. Kenny

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Poker and ADHD

Recently, famous poker player Mike Matusow revealed that he has been diagnosed with ADHD. He also deals with addiction and Bipolar disorder.

Matusow has revealed his story in his biography, called: Mike Matusow: Check-Raising the Devil Poker and ADHD In this book, Mike shares his life challenges. He hopes that this book helps others to understand him, and to learn from his life experiences. He was quoted as saying:

“I spent two years working on it and I wanted to make sure that it reaches people and I hope people can learn from it and enjoy it. I wrote it to help people and help younger poker players so they don’t go through the same problems and situations that I went through.”

You can read more of Mike’s interview here.

From my perspective, I’m encouraged to see that another celebrity is coming forward and sharing his personal stories with psychiatric issues – particularly ADHD. This is so important for kids and teens to realize what’s possible for them, even if they have ADHD.

So, if you know an ADHD child or teen who loves watching the World Series of Poker (WSOP), let them know that Mike Matusow has ADHD, and they may want to read about it in his book.


Dr. Kenny

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Nascar and ADHD

Nascar driver Jeremy Mayfield has shared that he has ADHD, and takes the medication Adderall for it.

This disclosure has come in a ’roundabout’ way. This relates to the reports that Mr. Mayfield was suspended from driving due to finding amphetamines in his urine during a random urine drug screen. Mr. Mayfield has explained that he takes Adderall medication for ADHD, as well as Claritin D. This issue is before the courts. You can read the news updates here.

While Mr. Mayfield is going through a rough time right now, I am happy to hear that he has openly disclosed his diagnosis of ADHD. This can lead to advocacy and support for the many kids diagnosed with ADD or ADHD each year.

I do wonder how many of the Nascar drivers have ADD or ADHD?

Although there is research which shows that people with untreated ADHD are at risk of more accidents while driving, my clinical experience in ADHD suggests that people with ADHD often excel at ‘extreme sports’. Whereas driving to the store at 40 miles per hour may be boring, driving on a Nascar track at speeds in excess of 200 mph can be exciting and can command one’s attention. And as Mr. Mayfield explains – he is taking an ADHD medication while driving.

I do hope that things work out well for Mr. Mayfield, and that he uses this situation as a springboard for advocacy for ADD/ADHD. I hope that he can be a role model for the thousands of boys (And girls!) diagnosed with ADD and ADHD each year.

What are your thoughts and experiences? Please share them below.


Dr. Kenny

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