ADHD Diagnoses Incline, Focus Declines

I remember hearing about the kids at school who had ADHD. It was the kids who would bounce their legs and tap the desk, and it was the kids who were always in the principal’s office. Later on in life, I realized that I was a kid with ADHD, except I didn’t bounce my leg and tap the desk, and I was rarely in trouble. Instead, I had trouble finishing large projects I started, and an internal, constant sense of nervousness or anxiety, which are both still present today. I have issues thinking before speaking and extreme issues with organization, both physical belongings and my own thoughts.

But these weren’t and still aren’t the common behaviors associated with kids with ADHD, so it wasn’t as recognizable. There’s another problem, too: I’m a girl. Statistically, it is more likely for boys to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD than girls, at 12.5% and 5.6% diagnosed, respectively. Research shows that girls tend to present their symptoms in different ways, as was previously mentioned, therefore leaving many cases in girls and women to go undiagnosed. 

“Being late to things was something I was notorious for last semester, and I’ve heard it’s a big thing for people with ADHD,” junior media and professional communications major Lexi Natale said when describing certain things she deals with on a daily basis because of her ADHD. 

Natale also mentioned that adjusting to watching professors on Zoom presented difficulties. Because she had been used to speeding up a lecture video to 2x speed to account for her focus issues, listening to a lecture in real time posed issues, she said.

Personally, I remember being on the phone with my past therapist last February and describing some of the issues I was having at the time. I had semi-recently gone back to school to begin the Spring semester, which is always most difficult for me due to seasonal depression. I stopped and waited for a response, in which he simply smiled behind the phone and said, “has anyone ever told you that you have ADHD?” I obviously told him no, and my first thought was, “don’t only little kids have that?” This misconception is, of course, incorrect.

He proceeded to send me a self-evaluation called the Amen Screening, titled, “Adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Checklist,” which went through 77 specific behaviors commonly associated with ADHD in adults. He said it was inclusive to women, as well, who usually exhibit different behaviors than men. A few of these behaviors include:

  • Lacks attention to detail, due to distractibility
  • Frequently misplaces things
  • Tendency to be easily bored (tunes out)
  • Has to be moving in order to think

“More than 20 items with a score of three or more indicates a strong tendency toward ADHD,” it says at the bottom of the document. When I calculated my score, it came to 37 having a score of three or more. Later, a doctor confirmed my past therapist had probably been right.

This was the first time I had thought about attributing any of my problems to having ADHD, or even experiencing behaviors of ADHD. I didn’t exactly have issues associated with hyperactivity, which was the main behavior I had commonly associated with ADHD. However, I quickly learned that “not being able to calm down” or “being crazy” were a few of the false assumptions I had about what ADHD was.

“I never realized I had it until a year ago whenever my friends would consistently ask me if I had it. Then I just started to notice it a lot more,” junior at Muskingum University Ryan McKee said in reference to his ADHD. “I used to think I was just a bad listener, or genuinely bad at learning.”

Over the past eight years, ADHD diagnoses are up more than 30%, according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America report. This finding suggests that more than 10% of children in the U.S. likely suffer from ADHD, and that’s not considering those who go undiagnosed. According to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9.4% of children in the U.S., or 6.1 million, have been diagnosed with ADHD. 

Dana Fishkin, a junior urban studies major, wasn’t diagnosed until she was 15 years old. 

“Time management is really difficult for me,” Fishkin said, “which also means I have a hard time with prioritizing tasks from anything like laundry and grocery shopping, to homework and self care.” 

Fishkin continued to explain the other aspects of her daily life that are hindered due to her ADHD and how the pandemic has also affected her.

“I think the pandemic made my attention span way shorter,” she said. “When things aren’t engaging my brain has learned to just tune out from [things like] Zoom classes, so when I’m trying to get things done that aren’t exciting I have an even harder time paying attention.”

Although those with ADHD may suffer more often than others from a term earmarked during the pandemic as “Zoom fatigue,” there are ways to increase focus and concentration when it may be difficult. I often find myself fidgeting and unable to stay still, so fidget toys and stress balls are a great alternative that can be easily used when conducting meetings over Zoom. 

Fishkin also mentioned a few things she does to increase her focus and attention at home. She said she uses reminders on her iPhone, as well as google calendar to remember her various responsibilities throughout the day. She also said she uses whiteboards “to make separate to-do lists in different colors. I also try to keep chores to a weekly schedule so that it’s almost second nature.”

Natale also mentioned that she’s been trying to improve her time management skills by getting ready “30 minutes to an hour before I actually have to be ready, that way I won’t be late.”

So what else can those who suffer from ADHD do to increase productivity and attention when it might be difficult? Using reminders and installing calendars on your phone/laptop to get alerts when something needs done is something that’s helped me a lot. These methods were also mentioned by both Fishkin and Natale as being helpful for them. For those with ADHD, as much organization as possible is key.

In our ever-changing and chronically-online world, it’s more important than ever for those who suffer from issues with inattention and/or hyperactivity to use advice such as this to improve daily struggles. Suffering from ADHD is something that a lot of people have to deal with. Getting a diagnosis can be a positive thing for many, and can mean gaining back that control we so desperately yearn for. 

Best Bang for Your Buck: Oakland Edition

You’ve heard the debates about which fast food chain has the best fries, which gas station is better: Sheetz or Wawa, or even where to get the best pizza , but have you ever heard of the Oakland restaurant debate? Where are the best places to eat in Oakland, the home of the University of Pittsburgh, and what makes them so special?

Students from far and near at the University of Pittsburgh, depending on their own perspectives and opinions, had a lot to say about what restaurants were top-tier.

Restaurants in Oakland come in all different shapes and sizes. Take Bao, which is located on Atwood St., for example. It’s a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant with amazing food, as described by Phoebe Appel, a junior majoring in legal studies.

“It’s like a secret little gift I forgot to open,” Appel laughed. “It’s so unsuspecting, but you go in and there’s tables, nice lighting, and a really great staff, too.”

Photo Credit: Kimberly Rooney | Pittsburgh City Paper

Appel has studied at Pitt since August 2019, and only lived  a short fifteen minutes from campus in Carnegie for the first 18 years of her life. However it was only by accident that she discovered her “new favorite restaurant,” as she described, when her mom chose it from a list on Google and said, “let’s go here.”

Ocha Thai, Appel said, is another hidden gem she recently discovered. Located beside Phat’s Bar on Semple St., Ocha Thai is the ideal destination after any night out, she said. 

“I highly recommend the Pad See Ew and the Crab Rangoon. It’s my go-to order,” she said, smiling.

For other students, Roots is a top pick for those in a hurry. It’s also a top choice for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, said first-year engineering major Isaac Ellis. After a rough week of demanding coursework as an engineering student, Ellis claims that Roots is his favorite place to chow down.

One of their signature bowls, called “The Apollo,” is made with brown rice and spinach as the base, and is topped with chickpeas, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, pita chips, feta cheese, chicken, and lemon za’atar dressing. A perfect combination of healthy ingredients, the Apollo is Ellis’ favorite bowl to get when he visits Roots.

Katelyn Osman, a junior education major, opts for the create-your-own feature at Roots, where she chooses a brown rice and spinach base and customizes it with chicken, corn, pita chips, and cheese.

“It’s definitely a staple for Pitt students,” Osman said. “People love it, and a few of my sorority sisters even work there.”

For others, there are a few more deciding factors that come into play when deciding where to eat on campus. For freshman psychology major, Maeve Sheehan, having a wide range of items on the menu and a reasonable price is important. Atarashi, she says, checks all the boxes for a customizable meal. However, when asked where she would take a friend who is visiting from out of town, she changed her answer. 

Sheehan said Stack’d Burgers has the “quintessential Oakland vibe, and they have really good food. I’d probably go either there or Fuel and Fuddle.” Fuel and Fuddle is a restaurant just a few doors down from Stack’d on Oakland Ave. It’s also a popular pick, but among an older generation of students, particularly those who are old enough to enjoy a beer from their extensive draft list. 

However, arguably the most famous and popular place to get food in Oakland is Frenchi’s Deli & Market, located on the 400 block of Atwood. Frenchi’s attests on multiple signs in their store that “if we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” There you can find a small market with items similar to those in a small grocery store such as assorted snacks, drinks, and pantry goods. And better yet, when you walk in and turn to your left, you’re met with a large deli counter where chefs create both off-the-menu and custom-made orders for students. Sometimes they cook as late as 3:00 a.m.

“Frenchi’s is definitely my go-to because it really just hits the spot after a night out,” said junior engineering major Lizzy Borchick. “If you don’t get ‘Le Frenchi’ when you go, then you’re just wrong. I love to add jalapenos to mine.”

Frenchi’s loyal following is evident through their Instagram, which has over 5,000 followers and almost 4,000 posts. Students are eager to stay up to date on their new items in stock and their famous wraps. 

“Frenchi’s is definitely my go-to because it really just hits the spot after a night out. If you don’t get ‘Le Frenchi’ when you go, then you’re just wrong. I love to add jalapenos to mine.”

Junior engineering major Lizzy Borchick.

Another popular choice among Pitt students is Antoon’s Pizza, which is also located on the 200 block of Atwood St.

“[Antoon’s] is definitely the best. You can get a large pizza there for only $6. To me, you just can’t beat that,” junior media and professional communication major Brayden Tinney affirmed. Several other students also listed Antoon’s as the best place to go after a stressful day. 

As far as Oakland restaurants, you truly can’t go wrong. Between amazing Asian cuisine restaurants such as Bao and Ocha Thai, sit-down and order-in restaurants like Stack’d and Fuel and Fuddle, and quick, on-the-go choices like Roots, there is something that satisfies everyone.

Students at Pitt, no matter their background or dietary restrictions, almost always find a place that they can rely on for a delicious meal. It turns out there isn’t just one place that outweighs the rest—dining in Oakland can be molded to you depending on the day you’re having, who’s in town, and how fast you need to be out the door.

You can all of the mentioned restaurants at the addresses listed below: