ANT MCPARTLIN’S revelation that he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, has been hailed for raising vital awareness.
The star made his public return last week, teaming up with pal Declan Donnelly for the Britain’s Got Talent auditions; and the duo’s enduring popularity was illustrated when they won the best presenter award at the NTAs.
The BGT shows were his first TV appearances since his conviction for drink-driving last April, and in the run up to them he spoke for the first time about his ADHD.
He said the diagnosis, during his recovery “made sense” and that, like fellow presenter Richard Bacon, who spoke of his ADHD diagnosis last year, it actually helped his TV career.
“In my job, having what they call ‘popcorn thinking’ is good because it means you can jump from one thing to another,” he said. “Professionally, it’s brilliant. Personally, I’m all over the place.”
Such public recognition has been welcomed by the ADHD Foundation, which has impressionist Rory Bremner, who was diagnosed in 2011, as one of its patrons.
“It’s a tremendous help when such a high-profile figure as Ant McPartlin speaks out,” said Dr Tony Lloyd, CEO of the foundation. “One in 20 people have ADHD and it’s not something you grow out of so it’s great when awareness is raised and it challenges stereotypes and stigma.
“There are so many very successful people with ADHD.
“A high percentage of entrepreneurs have it, along with many professionals in sport and in the creative industries. They have been hiding in plain sight.”
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that results in a group of behavioural symptoms including inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is caused by structural and functional abnormalities in the brain. Up to 90% of cases are linked to genetic factors.
Around one in three people with ADHD have at least one parent with symptoms.
Pamela Thomas, from Perth, has seen family life severely impacted.
Two of her five children have had major issues with it and been in serious trouble with the police. A third had problems at school but is on a better track after diagnosis and help.
Pamela herself was only diagnosed less than a year ago.
“If something is of interest to me I can hyper-focus on it,” said Pamela, 38. “But I am really impulsive. My husband has come home to find I’ve ripped the wallpaper off or torn up the carpets because I want a change on the spur of the moment.
“I’m constantly all over the place. I was at an airport in Paris with my husband and daughters last week and he didn’t realise I had no idea how we were going to get to Disneyland. It was an adventure to me, but when I do things like that I can see the disappointment in his eyes.”
While it’s often seen as a childhood condition, many become adults without it being picked up, and the ADHD Foundation says greater awareness and funding is required to increase the chances of vital early diagnosis.
“We know there are competing demands on health budgets, but there is still a lot of ignorance and stigma,” said Dr Lloyd. “Some still think it’s about badly-behaved boys, which is complete nonsense; that myth has been a major factor in why so many with ADHD have not been identified properly. All the research evidence tells us that early intervention improves the quality of life hugely.”
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