87: A Professor Learning ADHD


Diagnosed with ADHD just this past summer, Kent Kersey has ventured into the world of ADHD management. A professor of theology at Corban University, Kent tells of how his success made it harder for some to think he had ADHD, the changing nature of education in the information age, and how he discussed his ADHD with his boss in a productive way.

About Kent Kersey:

  • Kent is a theology professor at Corban University in Salem, Oregon, and has been for the past 13 years.

  • After someone close to Kent was diagnosed with ADHD ten years ago, he noticed how similar their symptoms were to his own experiences. Researching more, Kent decided to ask his doctor about it and was initially turned down.

  • This past summer, in talking with his current and different doctor, Kent was encouraged to be tested. The tester wondered how he had managed for so long.

  • Over the last few months, Kent has begun to look into various treatment methods and strategies.

  • As Kent began his initial research, he noticed how more and more ADHD symptoms pertained to him, noting specifically how aggravated driving and traffic made him, some of his creative tendencies, and how he gravitated toward a hectic schedule.

  • Noting his early grade-school assessments and how his grades improved as he progressed though college into his master’s degree and Ph.D studies, Kent realized he performed dramatically better when studying what he is interested in.

  • Following his diagnosis, when Kent looks ahead to his future, he feels many goals he imagined previously only as ideas are now readily attainable.

Storytelling:

  • Kent: “Before I took the medications, I realized my thoughts were a room full of three-year-olds screaming for attention. And now, they actually will sit and wait.”

  • Eric notes how important stories and metaphors can be for empathizing with others with ADHD, remembering Ryan McRae using a similar analogy in episode 45.

  • Asking someone to tell of their experiences progressing through high school or college is especially useful to Eric, often more useful than simply assessing data.

Technology on the Brain:

  • What with the prevalence of so many easy ways to become distracted, thanks to technology, Kent points out both how much more challenging those distractions are for those with ADHD and how many more people without ADHD are incidentally experiencing symptoms.

  • Eric emphasizes the distinction between those who display ADHD-like symptoms and those who actually have the neuro-biological developmental delay that is ADHD.

  • It might be interesting to see a properly controlled study comparing the brains of people labeled with technology-related addictions with those who have ADHD.

  • While in group study of brain scans there are significant differences between those with and without ADHD, the technology isn’t at a point yet where, on an individual basis, specific people can be compared directly.

  • Kent thinks that the ease of finding certain information via the internet and smart devices is so substantial that it must have some sort of different effect on the brains of people today than back when more memorization was needed to be functional.

Education and Technology:

  • With the ease of access to information Eric wonders about moving the schooling systems away from focusing as much on facts and more toward developing creativity and critical thinking skills.

  • While Kent has a certain amount of information in his mind, a particularly curious student who knows how to research information on the internet well might end up knowing more than Kent about particular subjects. Especially in higher education, moving from a model of collecting information to a model of curating that information and guiding students through it instead is where Kent thinks the educational system should move in the future.

A Professor with ADHD:

  • The most challenging task for Kent and his ADHD tends to be grading. While grading a few papers is easy, reading and grading upwards of eighty papers all about the same subject can be a struggle.

  • One way Kent has reduced his struggles with grading has been to redesign assignments to be different or more creative in nature, such as writing a story from a certain perspective or about what students disliked instead of liked. The greater variability helps better motivate Kent through the work.

  • After beginning medication, Kent found he could power through large numbers of papers without stopping, which he could never do before.

  • Kent also mentions using the “Pomodoro method” to help manage his attention.

  • Partially because Kent had been so relatively successful in his career, his doctor was initially apprehensive about the necessity for ADHD medication. Eric points out how, in episode 85, there were an attorney and Ph.D. neuroscientist in the discussion.

Telling His Boss and Others:

  • Before talking as a guest on ADHD reWired, Kent mentioned it to the dean of his school and his provost.

  • During the conversation, Kent explained why and how his ADHD may have been preventing him from being as productive of a faculty member in terms of research, writing, and publishing.

  • Kent established that now, with the diagnosis and some new tools and strategies, he can begin to make progress toward accomplishing a number of goals he’s had. He mentions ideas for books he’s had but never acted upon.

  • Both his provost and dean responded positively, the provost mentioning others he knew who were diagnosed.

  • Kent mentioned to someone working in student support that he would be willing to talk to students about his ADHD if it would be helpful. Within ten minutes, a student was sent Kent’s way.

  • Eric notes how Kent explained his situation to his bosses in a way that focused on the what and why of ADHD alongside how he was handling it, rather than using it as an excuse.

  • Depending on one’s job and relationship with their boss, it might not always be safe to tell one’s boss. In Kent’s case, he knew the people in question were great and that the environment on campus amongst faculty was very positive.

  • After his diagnosis, Kent’s doctor ended up being the most apprehensive about moving forward with medication, though his apprehension was more due to wanting Kent to maintain some form of objective measure of the medication’s effectiveness.

Miscellaneous:

  • Eric mentions being close to his weight loss goals.

  • Kent cites Dave Ramsey in saying “You can do whatever you want, but you can’t do everything you want.”

Products, Services, and Other Links:

Find and Contact Kent Kersey:

Other information:

  • If you like Eric’s idea of live streaming shows on the service Blab, Tweet at @erictivers and use the hashtag #blabrewired. You can also contact him via facebook.com/eric.tivers or email eric@erictivers.com.

  • If you are interested in reserving a spot in the ADHD reWired Coaching and Accountability Group group, visit coachingrewired.com.

  • Eric is collecting videos describing people’s experiences with CHADD. If you are currently involved with CHADD, record a video however you wish (horizontally, please!) of you describing your relationship to ADHD and what CHADD does for you. Send it to Eric via Facebook, Twitter, or email here: eric@erictivers.com.

  • Help CHADD, an ADHD organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with ADHD through useful research and support, by donating to their fundraising campaign here: gofundme.com/oneof15m.

  • Visit erictivers.com/audible for Carolyn D’Argenio’s list of her top Audible.com audio-book picks, complete with preview links.

  • Connect with people virtually using Eric’s favorite video conferencing and connectivity platform, Zoom, by visiting erictivers.com/zoom – the basic service is totally free.

  • If you want you hear your question or comment on a future episode, go to erictivers.com/adhdrewired and look for the comment form, or click on the yellow button for either “Be a Guest” or “Record your question”.

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