Adult ADHD – It’s Real, and Real Disabling

Although multiple brain studies have established the “cred” of Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, many people still roll their eyes and say, “Yeah, so you can’t sit still, what else is new?”  In this article Andres Torres of the San Francisco Giants talks about how help with Adult ADHD (in the form of medication, in this case) changed his life.


This is not merely a baseball story but meant to inspire people, particularly children, with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD often is misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all and disrupts concentration so much a person sometimes cannot function.

The feature-length film, titled “Gigante,” could be released this summer. It was conceived and financed by a Giants owner, William Chang, who had an intimate motivation. Though never diagnosed, the 54-year-old native of Japan is certain he had ADHD as a child.

Children who have it often fail in school. Torres is convinced that his stubborn refusal to take medication for five years after his 2002 diagnosis nearly cost him his career.

An 0-for-30 start to his 10th minor-league season in 2007 helped changed his mind. So did a Detroit Tigers coach who had a child with ADHD and implored Torres to take the meds.

“I was desperate,” Torres said. “At the moment I said, ‘That’s the only thing I have to try. Just get on the medication consistently to see if it works.’ ”

His .306 average for the Cubs’ Triple-A team in 2008 was evidence that it did. A year later, the Giants snagged him as a minor-league free agent. The following year’s story ended with a parade down Market Street.

The genesis of the film was a chance meeting between Chang and Torres in the lobby of the team hotel in Dallas the morning before Game 5 of the World Series. Torres knew Chang was associated with the Giants but did not know he was an owner and asked for a favor.

Chang said he would try to oblige and decided to read up on Torres on Wikipedia. There he learned the outfielder had ADHD, and that struck a nerve.

During judo classes as a child, Chang was required to sit still and meditate. Even a twitch resulted in a whack in the back with a wooden sword. He could not last a minute.

“The masters would say, ‘Why can’t you calm yourself down and get into the Zen position?’ ” Chang recalled. “I said I didn’t know. Now I know I had ADHD. It’s a condition, a disease. I have a soft spot for anybody with ADHD.”

Through a mutual friend, Chang met a pair of filmmakers, two brothers from Venezuela who own a Sundance Film Festival award, and the project was born. The film will combine documentary-style footage with dramatic recreations of Torres’ life.

Like Chang, Torres realized in hindsight he had ADHD as a child.

“In school, I never paid attention because nobody told me about this,” he said. “I try to help people, their kids and parents, get educated. If you have a kid who has ADHD, go to school and get medication. It’s going to help them a lot. Look at me. I was a good athlete, but the years went by. From ’07, ’08 and ’09, taking the medicine, I became more consistent.”

At FanFest, a woman who said she was 55 and had ADHD thanked Torres for publicizing his diagnosis and started crying, a scene that has become familiar.

“I met a guy in Puerto Rico who said, ‘For 50 years, I’ve only told my family. Now that I see you, I want to talk about this,’ ” Torres said. “People feel bad. I told them they don’t have to feel bad.”

E-mail Henry Schulman at hschulman@sfchronicle.com.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/22/SP301HS0IC.DTL#ixzz1FJVBtiZ1

Dan Quinn, Psy.D.

I’m a licensed clinical psychologist who provides warm, down-to-earth, practical help with: relationship skills, assertiveness, conflict, anger management, anxiety, depression, trauma (PTSD), career counseling, couples counseling, autism spectrum, adult ADHD (ADD) and other psychological challenges.