David Goodall is a contained ball of energy.
He’s struggled to control that energy, along with his inattentiveness and his inability to focus, since he was 2 years old.
Now 50, it still affects every aspect of his life.
Goodall is diagnosed with a neurological condition known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD, a condition that affects more than six million Americans, according to Dr. Deborah Pearson with UT Health Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.
His family first became aware of his condition when his father took him to day care for the first time as a 2-year-old.
“They called him back a half hour later and said, ‘We can’t deal with your son, he’s too wild,’” Goodall says.
A pediatrician diagnosed him with hyperactivity and put him on Ritalin, a medicine to treat ADHD. Goodall says it helped—until he reached his teenage years.
Doctors believed for decades that hyperactivity ended when children reached adolescence and they “grew out” of the disorder.
Such wasn’t the case for Goodall.
He stopped taking his medication and his somewhat stabilized world turned upside down.
“The teacher would call me out and say, ‘What’s the answer to number three?’ and I would have to retrace my steps,” Goodall says. “Where was I? What class was I in? What problem were we working on?
“I spend so much energy pulling my fat out of the fire because I was always off in la-la land.”
To keep focus, Goodall says his father brought a refrigerator box to put around him in class so he wasn’t distracted by other classmates.
“I learned to think inside the box,” Goodall jokes.
Although his personality allows him to find the humor in life, he says there was nothing easy about junior high and high school. And he didn’t find relief again until after he was in college at the University of Minnesota.
One summer, when he was back home in Texas, he met Pearson, a child psychologist, who suggested he get tested again. He was diagnosed with ADHD.
“I was surprised because one part of me thought, ‘That’s just supposed to be a kid’s thing,’” he says. “But the other side of me was like, ‘I know, I know.’”
Pearson primarily works with children—and their parents—to help them better understand ADHD.
Often times, she says, parents are diagnosed with the disorder themselves after their child comes in for an evaluation.
“You might be the adult that’s tapping your pencil on the desk all day, moving your hands constantly or kicking your feet,” Pearson says. “You’re saying things that you shouldn’t say, blurting out things in the workplace or in a personal relationship that you wish you could take back.”
Although Pearson says roughly 2 percent of Americans—about 6.5 million—suffer from ADHD, she believes that number is much higher due to the number of diagnosed cases.
And about a third of the population with ADHD suffers from the most severe symptoms, which can sometimes lead to serious—and even fatal—consequences.
So what’s being done to treat it?
Pearson points to studies that show a combination of medications and behavioral therapy prove to be most beneficial for adults with ADHD.
A variety of medications are used to treat the disorder, including Adderall and Vyvanse, but Goodall says Prozac has helped stabilize his energy.
It’s a positive impact for the husband and father of two, who hopes that by speaking out about the disorder, other adults can get the treatment they may need.
“It can only help you be a better parent, a better person,” Goodall says. “If you can let go of any stigmas, any ego issues about it, you can grow.”