Letters: ADHD Symptoms In Girls; Being First Lady Listeners weigh in on ADHD symptoms in girls, and on Michelle Obama's transition from working mother to "Mom-in-Chief."
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Letters: ADHD Symptoms In Girls; Being First Lady

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Letters: ADHD Symptoms In Girls; Being First Lady

Letters: ADHD Symptoms In Girls; Being First Lady

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It's Tuesday, the day we read from your emails and blog comments. Many of you wrote in about our show when we asked you to tell us your expectations of future First Lady Michelle Obama. Tamara Foster wrote when I see Mrs. Obama. I see a new light for young African-American women. I have two daughters that can aspire to be more than their dreams. She, as well as her husband, is an inspiration to all people of minority races. This country has been run by the white man for so long that dreams put in the minds of our young were far reaching and almost impossible. But with these two people as a shining example, we can bring those dreams into reality. This mother is admired. This lawyer is respected. This wife is loved and I am proud to be an African-American woman. And as President-elect Barack Obama reaches out to several of his former rivals, we asked you about the concept of frenemies, the people you keep close by who may not have your best interests at heart.

Many of you sent us stories about the frenemies you deal with at work or school or in your neighborhood. Josh Roney emailed to tell us that frenemies can be good for you. Over the course of my career, he wrote, they've pushed me, they prodded me and they've undercut me. But all of this has required me to raise my game and in the end has contributed to my success. It's all in how you perceive their influence.

And so many of you wrote in with questions during our show on girls and ADHD, that we've invited Stephen Hinshaw back to answer some of them. He is a chairman of the Psychology Department at the University of California at Berkeley and a well-known researcher on girls and ADHD. He joins us now by phone from his home in California. Nice to have you back.

Dr. STEPHEN HINSHAW (Chairman, Psychology Department, University of California-Berkeley): Well, thanks for inviting me back.

CONAN: And Renee Rivers in Phoenix wants to know isn't there a distinction between ADD and ADHD, the girls who are daydreaming, aren't hyper and fall into the ADD category?

Dr. HINSHAW: Well this is a bit of the alphabet soup controversy back in 1980. The old term hyperactivity or hyperkinesias was renamed ADD which could occur with or without hyperactivity. Now a few years later, the name changed again to ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which now comes in a variety that's called the inattentive type which is like the old ADD without hyperactivity or what we call the combined type, it's a combination of inattention plus hyperactivity and impulsivity.

So, ADD today can mean the whole shebang, what we now call ADHD, but it often signifies what we now call the inattentive type of ADHD. Girls, as I talked about last week, more than boys are likely to have the inattentive type or the former ADD term. Many girls do have the combined type. They show a lot of hyperactivity and impulsivity too. But again more than boys, girls can suffer in silence not showing the flagrant running around, jumping around symptoms but suffering in silence not learning, not paying attention in a classroom.

CONAN: Lucy Shelby in Portland, Oregon asks is there research being done on adults?

Dr. HINSHAW: There is now until about 30 years ago, there was no research done on adults because everybody knew that hyperactivity or hyperkinesias really went away when you hit puberty. It was a benign condition because it vanished during adolescence. The only problem with that statement was that no one had really done any systematic follow-up studies. And now that we have, we find that whereas the most fidgety squirmy running around symptoms do tend to abate by middle or late adolescence. The underlying attention problems and impulse-controlled problems and corresponding academic and social difficulties persists through adolescence in at least 80 percent of cases and through adulthood in probably 50 percent or more.

So only relatively recently have we had a new topic of research on ADHD in adults, and we're learning that even though it might not have been diagnosed in childhood depending on where the person lived, that it can compromise work abilities, relationship abilities. There's risk for substance abuse and other impulse-controlled problems. Its still - to sort of mix metaphors - research on adults with ADHD is still in its infancy because we're just now getting into how over the many years of adulthood how the symptoms of ADHD can impact a lot of different life areas.

CONAN: And we just have a few seconds left, but Sarah Heinz wonders how do you distinguish between nature and nurture along this behavior continuum? And I have a four-year-old girl who wiggles everywhere she goes. She has trouble sitting still in her chair. It feels like the issue stems from discipline or emotional issues rather than ADHD.

Dr. HINSHAW: ADHD in most cases has a strong genetic contribution even though we all sort of know that of course discipline problems are caused by difficult parenting or bad schools, etcetera. But even though the reason that child A is extremely fidgety and active and inattentive and child B is not, is largely through the genes that child's inherited, how the child is parented, the quality of the classroom can make a big difference for outcome. So it's really not nature versus nurture but its how nature and nurture can combine together to lead to a difficult or a much better set of outcomes.

CONAN: Stephen Hinshaw, thanks very much.

Dr. HINSHAW: I'm - I really appreciate being back on. Thanks.

CONAN: Stephen Hinshaw, chairman of the Psychology Department at U.C. Berkeley and director of the Hinshaw Lab. And finally that drip, drip, drip of bad economic news has turned into a gush.

Unidentified Man #1: The GDP report normal goods.

Unidentified Man #2: Irrational exuberance.

Unidentified Man #3: Oil is totally fungible.

Unidentified Man #4: Bare market.

Unidentified Man #5: Leaning indicator.

Unidentified Woman: Naked trip selling.

Unidentified Man #6: Market capitalization.

Unidentified Man #7: Hedge fund manager.

Unidentified Man #8: Dow Jones S&P 500.

CONAN: If you find yourself wondering what all that gobbydie gook(ph) means you're not alone, we want to help. Send us your question, and we'll try to get clarity. Worried about whether your money market account is safe, unsure if you should buy or sell in this market, wondering what it means that the GDP shrank more than expected or if you just want to get an idea of what ups and downs of the markets mean, send us your question, we'll try to address it this time next week. Drop us a line, the email address is talk@npr.org, please put economy in the headline. And if you have any other comments, questions or corrections for us the best way to reach us is by email at that same address, talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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