My First CHADD Meeting: September 20, 2010

I did it.

I went all the way.

I exposed myself.

I went to my first CHADD meeting.

*          *          *

I was excited! The blogger extraordinaire — ME!! — making his big, public debut. I brought my Jeff’s ADD Mind business cards. I brought copies of my latest post, the review of The ADHD Activity Book. I wore my ADHD outfit – black jeans, black boots and a white and gray striped shirt. [note 1] And the part I am most proud of, I printed the directions to the meeting directly from the CHADD chapter website. I was sure I could not get lost since the directions had to be written by an ADHDer for an ADHDer.

Directions to Nassau County CHADD

Like a Talmudic scholar I analyzed the directions, parsing each word to determine its true meaning.

“Piece of cake,” I thought. “I can’t get lost with these simple directions even if I’ve never been there before.”

Famous last words.

For me, driving to a new place is like driving in the desert. Everything looks the same.

“See that grain of sand over there? Make a left, go straight for twelve sand dunes, then make a right.”

Which grain of sand?

“That light brown one.”

They ALL look light brown!!

(How do people ever find a f*cking thing with these kinds of directions?)

I followed the directions provided by the CHADD chapter.

Take Meadowbrook Parkway South to Hempstead Turnpike East.

Okay. I know that parkway. No problem.

Southbound was going smoothly…until it wasn’t. Traffic halted. There was an accident ahead. But it didn’t take long for it to clear and I was again looking for “Hempstead Turnpike East.” I suspected I passed the exit but the sign didn’t say “Hempstead Turnpike East.”

When I saw road signs for the beach I knew I went too far. (FYI to non-New Yawkers. When you go north or south on Long Island (it’s an ISLAND, get it?), you eventually reach water: Long Island Sound when going north; Atlantic Ocean when going south.)

I found a place to turn around. Now I was northbound. You know what? Still no sign that says “Hempstead Turnpike East.” But I went with my earlier hunch and found the correct exit. [note 2]

At first light, turn right onto Merrick Ave.

Perfect!! I found this street without a hitch!

Go approximately 2 miles. Make a slight left onto Bellmore Ave.

I found this slight left by accident. (“This looks important. I’ll turn here.”) It might have been helpful if the directions said that this was a BIG intersection. In fact, it’s a major fork in the road and there’s a large diner on the right hand side. Hard to miss that diner even if you’re nearsighted like me.

Turn left onto Prospect Ave. 0.1 mile on your right.

I found this by accident too. I could barely read the street signs (it was 7:30PM and it was already dark and I’m in a panic) but I figured that maybe, just maybe, this street was at the traffic light. I was correct. It would have been helpful if the directions said, “At the traffic light…..”

I parked, scooped up my business cards and copies of my book review and searched for the entrance. I try a few doors (“Why is it locked? Isn’t this the place?”). I found an unlocked door and headed down the stairs. There were two women at a sign-in table. One of them asked for  five dollars.

“I didn’t know this meeting cost anything.”

It’s free but we pay for the room.

“I hope this comes with coffee and donuts,” I joked.

I was kind of right. There was coffee and Oreos™.

As I was led to the support group meeting…panic! “Shit, where’s my cell phone? Did I put it down on the table? Is it in my shirt pocket?”

Whew! Found it.

The phone was squeezed under my arm. Attached to that arm was the hand that was holding a hot cup of coffee. At least I spilled it on the floor and not on my shirt.

“Here it is.”

I expected a large group.

There was a man, a woman, and a doctor.

With some difficulty I controlled my mouth (to a degree).

I was quite impressed by the doctor.

My blog business card

I handed out my business cards and copies of my book review.

“I hope everyone has a sense of humor.”

The crickets chirped.

The man said, “I think I saw your blog.”

The woman said, “I don’t own a computer.” I figure she’s not a regular reader of my blog.

At 8:30PM we went to the main meeting room for the parent workshop: “AD/HD: To Medicate or Not to Medicate.” The speaker — James B. Snyder, MD — was extraordinarily knowledgeable. As he addressed parent concerns about stimulant medications, he touched on the nuances of prescribing medications: if you give drug X, check blood pressure regularly…blah, blah, blah.

He never mentioned that ADHD was a gift.

Surprising omission. ;)

But he did say that children with ADHD can be like Lamborghinis that are equipped with Hyundai brakes.

(I think I’m a Dodge Charger with Edsel brakes.)

I gave out a few more of my business cards.

Still no adoring blog fans.

I stood off to the side for most of the workshop, behind the sales rep from Shire plc. (He was there “to observe” and the speaker made a point of saying that this was a CHADD meeting, not a drug-sponsored meeting, and therefore he (the speaker) was free to say whatever he wants to say.)

I drifted from the book sale table in the back to the information table on the side to the table that had lemonade and Oreos™.

Eventually, I sat down.

*           *          *

I’ll be going to more of these meetings. It feels good to be in the presence of so many “gifted” people.

And now that I’ve been there once, I won’t get lost.

  1. The complete ensemble really requires a black shirt. See the second video in this He Said /She Said Series for information on my ADHD outfit.
  2. FYI to CHADD chapter. There is NO SIGN AT ALL that says “Hempstead Turnpike East.”
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  • Denim

    Sweet!!! The first step may not have been the most fruitful on your new journey, but it was a step toward freedom. So proud of you!!!

    • Jeff

      Thank you!! I’m actually quite excited and I look forward to the subsequent meetings. I must admit I was surprised by how much knowledge that I have acquired. I was listening to the doctors (both in the support group and in the parent workshop) and I’m mentally nodding in agreement with them. My only complaint? They didn’t recognize me. (hahahaha!)

      • Vicki

        Jeff — Thanks for your comment about the directions on our website. I will make sure that they get corrected. You are right — the exit doesn’t say Hempstead Turnpike. It says Rte 24 East Meadow.

        • Jeff

          I thought it was kind of ironic that the directions were not ADHD friendly. And the meeting was really good. I’m looking forward to the next meeting on time management.

          • Denim

            Of course it was ironic. You are a magnet for iron. Somewhere you will find the Y. Can’t wait for that read.
            (I do believe my thought was good, but its written execution was lousy and I don’t want to continue working on it any longer.)
            Oh my, I just had a vision for an Excel spreadsheet. It is a check list for how a person’s ADHD expresses itself. Because I don’t know if this is an issue for me. It may be one of those things I avoid. Hmmm….

  • gina pera

    Ha! You’re no longer a CHADD virgin.

    Dude, help those beleaguered volunteers and draw up new directions. :-)

    Remember: CHADD chapters are all volunteer-run. Moreover, most of the volunteers are affected by ADHD in some way — they have it or their children do. So they’re often dealing with a lot personally.

    Plus, they are often faced with a constant barrage of urgent pleas for help via e-mail, phone, etc., especially from people with few resources and often no health insurance. (I know personally of what I speak.)

    In short, CHADD chapters depend on people like you to help out.

    • Jeff

      That’s right…I’m not a virgin anymore. And while I may rewrite their directions…at this point in my life…that’s about the extent of my volunteer work. I gave ten years to Rotary International. I am on sabbatical from volunteer work…at least for now.

      • gina pera

        Hey, I understand.

        Just pointing out that CHADD is primarily its members and its volunteers. It’s not some giant, highly funded organization with lots of money to throw around. (You should be grateful you got Oreos! lol!) It’s small, scrappy, and depends on impassioned members and volunteers to do community outreach.

  • Pingback: Zoë’s Pet Peeves: Adult ADHD – Looking for Help in All the Wrong Places, Part III | ADHD from A to Zoë

  • Laura


    So ironic because I just joined CHADD last month. I plan on attending the conference here in Atlanta in November. The Ex actually said he would be interested in going after I told him he needed to learn more about it to help support our daughter. Hopefully if he goes he will learn more about himself. Wishful thinking.

    Congrats on the first meeting. I have not attended mine yet but looking forward to soon.

    Take Care,


    • gina pera

      Hi Laura,

      Great! You will learn so much. Moreover, just being in a place where ADHD is “out” and accepted is a great thing for individuals and families. It can help get people over the hurdle of acceptance and moving on to evidence-based knowledge.

      This will be my 10th CHADD International Conference on ADHD, and I’m looking forward to it. There is ALWAYS something new to learn.


    • Jeff

      Laura, your ex will likely begin to see himself in the stories of others…but it will probably take a few meetings before the bell goes off in his head. And to emphasize Gina’s point…it’s a place where everyone knows what you are going through (for the most part) and no one has to hide their ADHD-ness.

      Please let us know how it goes.

      • gina pera

        Very true, Jeff. That might be one of the best things about the conference: It’s an ADHD free for all. No one worrying if they’ve committed a social “faux pas” and so on.

        It really is WONDERFUL to just see the looks on people’s faces, if it’s their introduction to ADHD. They are validated left and right by people “just like me!” The tension simply dissolves, and there is much joy on their faces. That can pave the way to dropping normal defenses and embracing helpful info.

        • Jeff

          Well…as I described my meeting experience…I stood towards the back for at least half of the meeting and paced around the room. One person asked, “Are we all out of chairs?” and I said, “Nope”…and not a single word was said again about that. That’s just “me” and that seemed to have been acceptable.

        • Laura


          Thanks so much for the response. I have your book and it was truly a God send for me. Although my marriage did not survive, your book gave me a better understanding of ADHD and how it can play out in marriages and relationships. It helped me realize that many things my spouse was doing were not being done on purpose or out of malice but because of his undiagnosed ADHD that neither of us knew about until after we split. It also helped me see how my reaction to him played into issues in the marriage as well. I was truly shocked when I asked him if he wanted to go to the conference and he responded quickly via email that he wanted to attend. I am glad to hear that when he goes it will be a welcoming and non-threatening atmosphere for him. It may be just what he needs to take the next step of acceptance and treatment.

          And thanks to Jeff on the recommendation to read your book! Hopefully I will get to meet you in Atlanta when you are here.

          Take Care,


          • gina pera

            Hi Laura,

            I’m so happy to know you’ve found my book helpful in understanding the confusion that can ensnare couples when nobody knows ADHD is involved. Sorry it wasn’t available earlier. :-(

            If you see me walking by in Atlanta (I’ll have one of those name tags with all the colored ribbons on it), just grab me. I’d love to say hi.


      • Laura


        That was my hope when I made the offer for him to attend the CHADD Conference. I told him it was to support our daughter but I felt if he did attend, that hopefully he would be able to realize that there were many people that were dealing with the same thing and it would break down some of the walls of shame and denial for him. I am excited to go and have the opportunity to listen to all the great speakers and to gain valuable information that I can use to not only support my daughter but also him as well. Even though we did not make it, I see that in order for him to be the best father he can be, he needs to address his ADHD so that he can be present in his daughters lives and not miss out on the best parts of their lives. Right now this is really a struggle for him.

        Thanks again for all the support Jeff. I wish you could be there because I would love to meet you in person. You have been there since the beginning of my journey and your wisdom, guidance and especially humor have been invaluable. Keep up all the good work you are doing on your website.


        • Jeff

          Laura, I’m so glad that all our discussions and emails (and even my humor) have helped you through your ordeal. I’m sure someday I’ll be in your neck of the woods and we’ll get to meet and have some good food and good laughs. – Jeff

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