International Success and ADHD

Following on from yesterday’s post about successful British people talking about their ADHD. Today I am sharing some words from successful people internationally who have ADHD.

Again, I have used their own words, rather than things that people have written about them as we learn more from people with ADHD talking about themselves than what other people say about them.

Despite the obvious success of the people I posted about yesterday and today, they all talk about challenges before their diagnosis. As teachers it is really important for us to listen to their stories and realise that we need to change the way we approach ADHD in the classroom.


Karina Smirnoff

Karina Smirnoff, from ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” shared her story of finding out about her ADHD

“I’m an adult with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I learned that the inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that affected me as a child and into adulthood were, in fact, symptoms of ADHD.”

Howie Mandell

Howie Mandell is a Canadian comedian, actor, television host, and voice actor but is best known as the host of the US version of “Deal or No Deal.” He says of his ADHD,

“When I was in high school, my impulsivity led me to all kinds of acts
and pranks. I had trouble sitting still and could hardly focus or pay
attention in class. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was diagnosed
with ADHD, I’m involved in the Adult ADHD Is Real campaign
because I want adults to know that it’s never too late to seek help for
ADHD. I hope that sharing my story encourages people to seek help. I didn’t
let ADHD prevent me from achieving my goals and neither should anyone

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is an American former competitive swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals.and he is also an ADHD success story. His mother Deborah is an advocate for her son and for others with ADHD:

“In kindergarten, I was told by his teacher, ‘Michael can’t sit still, Michael can’t be quiet, Michael can’t focus.’   I said, maybe he’s bored.   The teacher said that was impossible. “He’s not gifted,” came back the reply. “Your son will never be able to focus on anything.”

Michael himself says;

“I saw kids who, we were all in the same class, and the teachers treated them differently than they would treat me. I had a teacher tell me that I would never amount to anything and I would never be successful.

Growing up, I was someone who was constantly bouncing off the walls — I could never sit still.

I think the biggest thing for me, once I found that it was okay to talk to someone and seek help, I think that’s something that has changed my life forever, now I’m able to live life to its fullest.”

Justin Timberlake

Justin Randall Timberlake is an American singer-songwriter, actor and record producer and he also has ADHD and OCD.

“I have OCD mixed with ADD, you try living with that.

My earliest memories as a kid was I would always try to make my mom and my stepdad laugh at dinner. Or make my friends laugh in class. And I don’t know, it’s something I just really enjoy doing.”


Adam Levine

Adam Levine is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer. He is the lead singer for the band Maroon 5

“I struggled with ADHD throughout my life. It was hard for me to sit down, focus, and get schoolwork done. My parents were patient and helped me, along with my doctor, to move forward with a treatment plan that worked.

My struggles continued as an adult. I had trouble sometimes writing songs and recording in the studio. I couldn’t always focus and complete everything I had to. I remember being in the studio once and having 30 ideas in my head, but I couldn’t document any of them.

So, I went back to the doctor to discuss my symptoms, and I learned that I still had ADHD. It was affecting my career the way it had affected me in school. I got the word out that ADHD doesn’t go away when you grow older.

If you were diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, you might still have it now. ADHD isn’t a bad thing, and you shouldn’t feel different from those without ADHD.

Remember that you are not alone. There are others going through the same thing.”

William James Adams, known professionally as, is an American musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, DJ, record producer, entrepreneur, actor, and philanthropist.

“I have ADHD; I admit it. I’ve got all these thoughts running around in my head at the same time as I’m doing other things. I can’t seem to stop or slow down. But the good news is, I know how to control it. For every obstacle, there’s some type of solution. So, if you have ADHD, it becomes your passion point to find ways to deal with it.

My ADHD makes it hard for me to focus on any one thing and to sit still. I’m always moving and thinking about a whole bunch of things. But those traits work well for me when I’m in the studio or coming up with creative ideas for songs or lyrics. If I were stuck at a different job, I’d be a horrible employee and wouldn’t survive.

I don’t control my ADHD with Ritalin, but with music. Music brings control to my thoughts. When I write music, I make order out of disorder. If you think about it, the songs I write are very ADHD-ish. They have five hooks in one, and it all happens in three minutes.

Music is my ADHD therapy and my straitjacket. It keeps me sane and keeps my mind focused.”




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