Pete Quily wages a lonely fight to get provincial politicians to pay attention to an expensive disorder

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      Ever since the B.C. Liberal government shut down the only provincial adult clinic for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Pete Quily has been raising concerns.

      Quily, a Vancouver-based adult ADHD coach, has made it his mission to spread greater understanding about this neurobehavioural condition.

      He knows of which he speaks. In his early 30s, he concluded that he had the disorder.

      It's characterized by having an ability to concentrate intensely on what interests him, but to fade out for sustained periods for tasks that fail to attract his attention.

      Often, people with ADHD have low self-esteem, are extremely sensitive to those around them, and have a great sense of humour, but they often want to defy authority.

      Quily, a prolific blogger and user of social media, recent wrote a post offering a theory into why the B.C. Liberal government killed the adult ADHD clinic at B.C. Children's Hospital in 2007.

      According to him, it was the easiest way to put an end to an embarrassing 12- to 14-month waitlist.

      Quily tried at the time to get the NDP health critic, Adrian Dix, to commit to reopening the facility. In the end, Quily writes, all he received was "a lot of empty promises and nothing in the end".

      "I’ve asked Adrian Dix and other BC NDP candidates on twitter during the BC May 2013 provincial election if they’d reopen the BC adult ADHD clinic," he writes in his post. "Got no response."

      He also asked Christy Clark at a town-hall meeting in May 2011 if she would reopen the adult ADHD clinic.

      “I don’t have enough information about the specifics of the program that you’re talking about, but I’m absolutely committed to working with you on it,” Clark replied, according to Quily.

      He added that Clark ended up doing absolutely nothing.

      "Maybe I need to make a big donation to the BC NDP or the BC Liberals to get their attention, but I don’t have a big union or big business budget and can’t afford to hire expensive lobbyists to rent access to BC NDP or BC Liberal politicians," he writes.

      But curiously, he has received positive responses from the B.C. Conservatives and the B.C. Greens.

      John Cummins, the B.C. Conservative leader, simply said: "We should reopen it."

      According to the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance, ADHD "is the most common psychiatric disorder of childhood affecting 5-12% of school-aged children".

      Vancouver physician Gabor Maté wrote a brilliant book about ADHD a few years ago called Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing Of Attention Deficit Disorder.

      In it, he explained why this disorder is sometimes linked to addictive behaviour.

      Children with the condition are more likely to suffer major injuries, more likey to be hospital inpatients and outpatients, and more likely to visit the emergency room. This was reported in a 2001 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

      A 2007 study in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology pegged the estimated annual cost of illness for ADHD at between $36 billion and $52.4 billion for children and adolescents.

      Given the seriousness of the issue, it's surprising that both major provincial parties would give Quily the runaround.

      We could attribute it to the politicians' ignorance. But it's just as likely that Quily is right when he says that ADHD will only get noticed when people with the disorder start making large campaign contributions.



      Duane Nickull

      May 14, 2013 at 12:59am

      Funding ADHD should be non-partisan. I encourage all new MLA's to listen to Pete. This is simply common sense when a few pennies of prevention pay back society 100 fold later. Left wing, right wing... doesn't matter. Pete lives in these trenches. Listen to him and learn how to help BC in general.


      Jean Nystrom

      May 15, 2013 at 1:08pm

      I just don't understand why not more funding is going into alternative treatment for ADHD. I used a behavior shaping program with my 8 yr. old and it worked. It is called playattention. New studies are indicating that we shouldn't be medicating the young. I just do not understand.

      Avis Picton, MD

      May 21, 2013 at 10:30am

      I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 49. Would that it had been many years sooner. This came to a crisis point when I attempted to return to specialty training and was unable to cope or complete the program, in spite of having an extremely high IQ. I saw a number of mental health professionals over the years and was always diagnosed with depression, which I have come to understand was largely a consequence of living with untreated ADHD. I tried many medications, which in general worked extremely well, but unfortunately the side effects were intolerable for me. Consequently I have chosen to treat my condition by modifying my lifestyle, which means that I am less able to fully participate in a medical career than I otherwise would be. ADHD has also created difficulties for me in work, study, and personal relationships.

      I now have a practice in which I see only injured workers and I see many cases of obvious but undiagnosed ADHD in this group of patients, sometimes associated with addictions, which I believe arise, at least in part, in an attempt to compensate for having a brain that will not stop and settle down, and it is very difficult to find appropriate specialists to assess and treat these individuals. I applaud Pete Quily for his tireless efforts to have ADHD recognized as a significant disorder and treated as such.

      Avis Picton, MD

      May 21, 2013 at 10:36am

      Forgot to give a shout-out to the doctor and psychologist who were of such great help to me in the Adult ADHD clinic. It was an amazing resource.


      May 21, 2013 at 1:42pm

      I am in my early 40s and figured out about 3 years ago that I have ADHD. Coupled with anxiety and depression it is extremely debilitating. Because most people do not see, recognize, or understand it is also very isolating. Imagine having extremely poor eyesight, no glasses, and everybody treating you as though you should be able to see just as well as everybody else - that's kind of what it's like. It is a very hard condition to deal with without appropriate social supports and structures.


      Jun 10, 2013 at 5:29pm

      Dr. Avis Picton's' personal story could be mine, except I was 53 and a Registered Nurse who specialized in Emergency trauma nursing and I too was treated for depression when I 'hit the wall' @ 41. I was doing night shift work every weekend and managing a busy household with 4 children under 6 the rest of each week .... I felt I couldn't cope any longer with life's complexities. Treatment with SSRIs alleviated the depression but I continued medication since my psychiatrist subsequently diagnosed me as dysthymic. Anxiety and OCD are additional complicating conditions. I wonder how my life would be now if there had been earlier recognition of the impact ADHD was having on all aspects of my life? I felt like a failure scholastically, socially and personally, and despite high IQ tests, was not capable of doing better despite my tremendous efforts. Mislabelled as lazy, "not trying hard enough" and being immature were the comments from teachers and family members that ate away at my self esteem. My late diagnosis answered so many questions and what a relief it was to learn that there is a chemical/cellular reason (probably of genetic origin)for my lifetime difficulties. In the last decade, more has been learned about ADHD, the higher recognized prevalence in girls, the fact of adult ADHD and the life-long impact of thinking 'fast'. The support I received from Dr. Margaret Weiss BCCH as well as other skilled medical professionals has made my life journey easier since I now have the answers to my questions and more understanding about this condition. The path has been far from easy but now there are often times when I wouldn't choose to change how my brain functions, even if that were possible. Meeting and sharing stories with other ADHDers has been invaluable, supportive and encouraging. The written works of Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell and Sari Solden, among others, inspire me to lead the best life I can ......... and I am once again enjoying the ride!