Peter S. Jensen – Part Five of the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD Series

Guest of the fifth lecture (Monday, April 28, 2008) in the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series was Dr. Peter S. Jensen.

Dr. Jensen earned his medical degree from George Washington University Medical School and currently is the CEO and Director of the REACH Institute, the Resource for Advancing Children’s Health, created “to accelerate the acceptance and effective use of proven interventions that foster children’s emotional and behavioral health” (formally launched in July, 2007).

From 1989 to 2000, Dr. Jensen was the Associate Director of Child and Adolescent Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and while at NIMH he served as the lead NIMH investigator on the six-site NIMH and Department of Education-funded study of Multimodal Treatment of ADHD (the MTA Study). He has also been involved with the follow-up study of children who participated in the initial MTA Study, the findings of which are discussed in a July 20, 2007 press release from the NIMH titled “Improvement Following ADHD Treatment Sustained in Most Children, But Linked Problems Persist Into Adolescence – Major Follow-up Study”.

Dr. Jensen is also a co-chair of the School Mental Health Alliance, “a coalition of over 25 organizations with interests in advancing school-based mental health services,” which in 2005 released a 37-page-long position paper “Working Together to Promote Academic Performance, Social and Emotional Learning, and Mental Health for All Children,” distributed to members of the Senate by Senators Pete Domenici and Edward Kennedy.

Last but not least, in addition to writing numerous articles for scholarly and academic journals, Dr. Jensen is also the author of Making the System Work for Your Child with ADHD (Making the System Work for Your Child), published in 2004, by Guilford Press; co-author of Toward a New Diagnostic System for Child Psychopathology: Moving Beyond the DSM, published in 2006 also by Guilford Press, and co-editor of Parent Empowerment Advisors Guide (Improving Children’s Mental Health Through Parent Empowerment: A Guide to Assisting Families) published by Oxford University Press in 2008.

Dr. Jensen’s message tied in with what Dr. Hallowell and Kathy Kolbe were saying in previous interviews – unconditional love and support of the family and other adults make the biggest difference over time in a child’s life. Children need to know that they are loved and that ADHD will not hold them back in reaching the stars. He also emphasized the importance of having good relationship with all people involved in child’s treatment, therapy, and schooling, so that both the child and the parents feel comfortable with everyone on the “team.”

Later in the program Dr. Jensen discussed adult ADHD, and the need for practitioners to be adequately trained and educated in diagnosing adult ADHD which manifests itself differently than childhood ADHD, and might show up in being inattentive, impulsive, missing deadlines, and failing to make up to promises. He commented that even though the Civil Rights Law guarantees accommodations for people with disabilities, many individuals with ADHD are unwilling to admit that they have ADHD to their boss and co-workers and request for accommodations for the fear of losing their job. Yet, Dr. Jensen noted, even adults need to have a supportive team around them to succeed – their spouse, their family, their doctor, maybe a coach, and if possible an understanding boss and co-workers.

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