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 wikipedia.org)

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 Brainyquote.com)

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.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Comments

  1. Those were great reflections, Dr.Kenney! I am impressed. I never ever thought of connecting a reality show with ADHD which made sense in all ways! Well, I am certainly going to watch the program at least once now! Nevertheless, you were able to convey such great message and encouragement to all those great people with ADHD. I hope your reflections have a huge impact on those, at least the few, who still sit in the darkness of stigma and fear of the world of ADHD. I see that a great deal of education and awareness is still needed among professionals and people to treat and manage (especially) Adult ADHD for those to be successful who try to run away from it. Your efforts are certainly very much appreciated.

  2. How I wish I had been diagnosed at the time the Dr Kenny and I were in Medical School! Since getting my diagnosis of ADHD, I’ve learned so many feat strategies like the ones that Kenny mentions!

  3. This is a great piece you have written – so often, we forget to acknowledge the gifts of our children with difficulties. My son has ADHD and I have always tried to encourage his strengths and continually bring them to his attention because so many around him (especially teachers) always focused on the negative or what he was doing wrong – unfortunately, kids with ADHD do get labelled and hopefully this will continue to change. I helped my son manage some of his symptoms with nutrition and lifestyle changes (and ended up becoming a nutritionist as a result) – it just gave him another tool in his arsenal to help him live as balanced a life as possible – something to which we all have a right. Your approach is very refreshing since in addition to meds, you are open to coaching as well as dietary changes- which a lot of doctors aren’t – bravo!!

  4. Excellent post! I’m a fan of The Voice, as I am of all the singing competitions (they’re such great background entertainment for doing admin and paperwork). I didn’t know Adam Levine had been talking about ADHD. He’s a positive credible tie-in for Shire — not only talented and successful, but providing excellent coaching support for his team as well.

    It’s good to know about another ADHD role-model out there!

  5. Simply wonderful…love your thoughts and always can rely on your expertise and wise words for encouragement. Thank you.

  6. Overall, you make some excellent points, especially about how those with ADHD need a bigger reason “why” to do things; pointless repetitive tasks are boring!

    But I must nitpick with you over your declaration that “…60-70% of kids/teens with ADHD still have it as adults.” How did the 30-40% grow out of it? That’s a very odd statistic.

    I can certainly imagine that, since ADHD is certainly a spectrum, some may have such mild effects that it poses no significant impact on adult life, and I know there are kids who are misdiagnosed with ADHD when something else is actually the cause.

    But grow out it? Give me some of that!

    • Hi Marie,
      Long term follow up research shows that a percentage of kids/teens no longer meet criteria for ADHD when they are adults. This is found in well designed research studies (so that the ‘misdiagnosis’ issue doesn’t really apply here).
      While it’s hard to predict who will outgrow ADHD, it may be people who have more mild symptoms when they are younger.
      I’d love to ‘give you some of that’, but I’m not sure how to do that :-).
      All the best,
      Dr. Kenny

  7. MY SON STRUGGLES WITH ADHD READING AND WRITING ARE A STRUGGLE AND PROCESSING i WISH THEIR WERE MORE TEACHERS COULD DO FOR OUR KIDS BUT ESPECIALLY BOYS WHOM ARE AND SCORE MUCH LOWER THAN GIRLS HE HAS BEEN TAKING VYVANSE FOR THE PAST 2 YEARS AND SEEMS TO BE MANAGING BETTER ATTENTION WISE BUT HASNT BEEN ABLE TO MAKE MUCH PROGRESS WITH THE READING AND WRITING JUST SEEMS SO UNFAIR THE HOOPS WE HAVE TO JUMP THROUGH TO GET OUR KIDS HELP THROUGH OUR EDUCATION DELIVERIES…

    • You should look into the Davis program for Dyslexia and ADHD- a lot of kids that have ADHD are also dyslexic and dont even realise it. my son has ADHD and finally told me his letters were ‘turned around’ in highschool. i put him in this program and what it did to his confidence was amazing – he is now the fastest reader in his class and his writing is now a lot easier as well. they also taught him focus/awareness technicques using visualizations which he uses to focus when he feels he needs it – the program is beautiful in its simplicity and the whole premise is that kids with ADHD and Dyslexia are creative picture thinkers who use the right brain instead of the left to read an once you teach them within the parameters of how they think, it’s no longer a problem.

  8. T.V PERSONALITY TY PENNINGTON WHO DOES HOME EDITION HELPS FAMILIES WHO’S HOMES ARE IN NEED IS ALSO ADHD WOULD LOVE TO HEAR HOW HE HAS MANAGED AND WHAT ADVICE HE HAS FOR BOYS AND TEENS WHO ARE GOOD WITH THEIR HANDS AND APPLY THIS TO THIS TYPE OF WORK…

  9. Great point about needing purpose for motivation. Something we can all learn from ADHD sufferers, in my opinion. And yeah, Adam L is totally ADD!

    -B

  10. SPEAKING OF WINNING . . . Congratulations!

    Sorry to change the subject BUT — have you heard the news that you (and I!!) have been recognized as two of the 2012 Top 20 ADD/ADHD Blogs on the net? I’m thrilled! I linked to the entire list – let’s stay connected.

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC – (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!) “It takes a village to educate a world!”

Leave a Reply