Cynthia Hammer originally connected with me on LinkedIn for her work in raising awareness around Inattentive-Type ADHD (previously known as ADD). Since many inattentive ADHD symptoms are internal and harder to observe, many with this type of ADHD go unnoticed and fly under the radar. In addition to her advocacy work, Cynthia recently published a book about living with Inattentive-Type ADHD.
- First, tell me a bit about yourself and your professional background?
I have my Master’s Degree in Social Work, received in 1972, specializing in geriatrics. I worked in a continuing care retirement home, and it was there, in 1992, the CEO of the facility, during my annual evaluation, helped me recognize my ADHD.
I had been accompanying my son, diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, to his monthly appointments with the pediatrician. When I next saw the pediatrician, I suggested I had ADHD, and he replied, “You do.”
- How did you become interested in Inattentive-Type ADHD?
I have the inattentive type of ADHD, but when I started my first non-profit, ADD Resources, I focused on educating adults that ADHD exists. I led this non-profit, based in Tacoma, WA, for 15 years and got to host many national authorities at our annual conferences in Seattle.
While writing my book, I only focused on the inattentive type when I became aware that this type of ADHD continues to be underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed. That was the impetus for starting the second non-profit, the Inattentive ADHD Coalition, at www.iadhd.org in March 2021.
- How did Living with Inattentive ADHD come to be?
Shortly before Covid isolation, I received a memoir from a college classmate. Writing my memoir for my three sons and four grandchildren would be a good thing to do while isolated.
Without this enforced restriction on my activities, I could never have written the manuscript. I liked my manuscript, which was about my entire life, not specifically about inattentive ADHD (IA), so I hired a development editor.
He was the one who said it should be a hero’s journey about my inattentive ADHD. I had written 50,000 words, but he eliminated 10,000 of them as not on the topic of IA, then he had me write 5000 other words in response to questions he asked.
He helped me write what I would send to agents and publishing houses. Covid made this an easier and less costly process. Instead of printing out whole packages and mailing them to various places, I sent my proposals via email. I contacted over 50 businesses and was on the verge of pursuing self-publication when HatherLeighPress expressed interest.
As I continued to write for the blog on our website and write guest posts for ADDitude and articles for CHADD’s Attention magazine, I had more information to add to the book, which the publisher accepted. Dr. Stephen Faraone also made a few suggestions as well as Katherine Ellison, a Pulitzer Prize winner, also with ADHD and the author of a book, Buzz, about a year with her son with ADHD. (I am sure she would be happy to be interviewed.) which I added to the manuscript along with facts at the end of each chapter about ADHD—and two articles in the Addendum—a questionnaire that helps adults identify their possible IA (available for free download at www.iadhd.org/adult ) and an article, What an Adults Needs to Know Before and After a Diagnosis.
- What do you hope your readers learn from your book?
Readers with IA or wondering if they have IA will relate to everything I experienced and write about. I am candid; describing in detail the kinds of challenges I had and continue to have—the behaviors that, because of our shame, are often hidden from others. I hope my book makes them realize that there is nothing to be ashamed of—that we are worthy of respect and empathy and understanding.
It will give family members and friends an insight into IA and enable them to view their family member or friend in a new light.
- What do you wish the general public knew about Inattentive-Type ADHD?
That it exists. It can harm a person’s life when not diagnosed and treated during childhood. Research shows that medication is the most helpful treatment and that it is a very effective treatment. Stigma about ADHD and medication for ADHD is wrong and jeopardizes life. People with undiagnosed ADHD die, on average, 12 years earlier than their peers because of suicide, poor health, SUD, and accidents.
In my case, there is no other explanation than the IA for my challenges. I was fortunate in life. I come from a loving, stable, upper-middle-income professional family, have a 53-year marriage to a retired surgeon, and am well educated. There is no trauma, poverty, SUD, domestic violence, or other psychosocial problems in my history. Yet, despite these advantages, I struggled in life.
After learning about the lives of others, who lived many years with their ADHD undiagnosed, I often said, “I have a mild case of ADHD, but it was bad enough.” My first child, a 17-month-old toddler, died because of my undiagnosed IA; years later, I almost died because of my undiagnosed IA.
- Where can people order your book?
It is already available for preorder at Amazon (in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia) and at Barnes and Noble in the US, which has an eBook available. Listeners are encouraged to ask your independent bookseller to obtain it and your local library. If the book has outstanding sales, this, by itself, will bring more awareness to IA.
All royalties from the book will go to the non-profit Inattentive ADHD Coalition. The book was released on March 28.
- Anything else you would like to add?
If people want to keep up with me as an author and my activities to promote the book, go to www.iadhd.org/book
Praise for Living with Inattentive ADHD
As a therapist, I often suggest books to my clients to help them understand their struggles and know they’re not alone. Cynthia Hammer’s Living with Inattentive ADHD, which describes her journey from grieving to healing, is such a book.
Cynthia vividly describes how ADHD confounds and, at times, paralyzes her. You’ll grieve alongside her as she discovers the truth about her diagnosis and the “new” reality of living with ADHD as an informed person.
If you have ever questioned whether you have Inattentive ADHD, Living with Inattentive ADHD will bring you clarity and a deep understanding of this topic. Cynthia’s story shows that it’s never too late to create a new path in life.Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC, Certified Gottman Therapist specializing in couples with ADHD
Cynthia Hammer’s Living with Inattentive ADHD is a compelling and, at times, harrowing journey through a life lived with the disorder. Filled with valuable insights based on Cynthia’s professional knowledge and personal experience, it is a tale of struggle, tragedy, growth, and, ultimately, hope. It deserves a place next to the most important scholarship on ADHD, as well as indelible personal memoirs.Brendan Mahan, M.Ed., M.S.,; Host, The ADHD Essentials Podcast
This book is wonderful. Cynthia’s honesty, insight, and sense of humor about her lifelong ADHD will be both a comfort and inspiration to others.Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist