Book by Wallingford couple tackles negative stigma attached to ADHD

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WALLINGFORD — A couple is trying to help break the negative stigma of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder through their memoir, “Itchy Brain: A Family’s Perspective and Positive Outlook on ADHD.” 

In the memoir, Jill and Adam Laudati tell their story of living with ADHD. Both of their sons and Adam Laudati are diagnosed with ADHD. 

“It’s just simply our story to let people know they’re not alone and everything can be OK with the right support,” Adam Laudati said. 

The name of the memoir was inspired by their oldest son’s description of what his brain felt like when he was “really having some dysregulated emotion.”  

“He grabbed his head and he said, ‘My brain, my brain, it just feels itchy,’” Jill Laudati said. “The two of us looked at each other thinking, ‘Wow, what a great way to describe how one might feel having an ADHD tendency or some sort of characteristic.’ From there we just thought why don’t we put our story on paper to share with the world.” 

Both of the Laudati boys have faced situations where there was a negative stigma toward ADHD.

Jill and Adam Laudati said they tackled those moments in different ways.

“There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of explaining...a lot of defending, conversations we had with the schools,” Jill Laudati said. “I would write letters to the schools to sort of explain how the boys might act in a certain situation…We try to turn a lot of the negative energy that people might think they have into positive energy...”

Laura Saunders, licensed psychologist at Hartford HealthCare’s Institute of Living, said that it isn’t productive for people to use negative labels toward those with ADHD.

“Using negative and dismissive labels like, ‘He’s just hyper’ or ‘He just can’t pay attention’ or ‘He’s lazy,’” Saunders said. “Those kinds of negative and pejorative labels make people really feel like this is something you can just snap a finger and control differently.”  

The memoir is split into different chapters that discuss various aspects of living with ADHD.

“You don’t have to read the memoir from page one to page 60, it’s a light read,” Adam Laudati said. “You can jump based off chapters. We talk about school, early years, sleep, diet, myself and Jill.” 

Saunders said it is important for families to understand the different aspects of their child’s diagnosis.

“It’s important for parents and families to recognize that understanding what the disorder is, understanding how their child functions with a particular diagnosis and developing strategies to minimize the negative effects,” Saunders said. 

Jill and Adam Laudati also hope the memoir can help give those with ADHD a voice.

“It’s really just having other people understand what ADHD is as well as the individual with ADHD, having them be open minded and speaking about it freely as well,” Adam Laudati said.

“I think that helps and it’s helped me a ton.”

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