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Cranberry library lecture to address living with ADHD

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Susan Lieber
Susan Lieber

Sam Jones is a sophomore majoring in music at Temple University, and Ed King is a pediatrician in Pittsburgh at Pediatric Alliance.

Jones, 20, and King, 45, have lived with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder their entire lives, but where they are now could be different without the help of Susan Lieber, a certified organizer coach and professional organizer.

Lieber works with people who have ADHD through her 10-year old business, Leave It To Lieber.

She will lecture at the Cranberry Public Library on Oct. 6, at 1:30 p.m. about how ADHD affects people's executive function skills.

While there are different theories, Lieber cited psychologist Dr. Thomas Brown, who developed a framework for executive function skills. The skills that Brown looks at are activation, focus, effort, emotion, memory and action.

“Every one of those skills is on a continuum for someone with ADHD,” Lieber said.

“Couple it with personality, life circumstances, intelligence and you'll get a unique collage of what ADHD looks like for each person.”

Lieber's lecture will also help people with ADHD and their loved ones understand why they're struggling with different tasks.

Hyperactivity, impulsivity and distractibility are typical symptoms of ADHD, but Jones, King and Lieber don't see ADHD as a disorder.

“ADHD effects how people approach things, because their brain processes things differently,” Leiber said.

Sometimes when a teacher says something his mind will go off on a tangent, connecting what his teacher said to something that happened the day before, which then connects to something else and so on.

“When I'm in class I make connections in my head very rapidly and in many different directions, like my mind is moving forward like a train that won't stop,” Jones said.

Jones' distractibility sometimes causes him to be unorganized, which Lieber has helped him with.

“If a big project is due, write down ‘big project' on a piece of paper, bullet all the steps you need to do and schedule that across a period of time,” Jones said.

“Visually, organizing content by different color tabs, folders, notebooks, that sort of thing, that's really where I fell short.”

Jones said he went from being a B and C student in high school to having mostly As in college.

King was elected as having the “Most School Spirit” as a senior in high school, though in hindsight he realizes it was his way of channeling hyperactive symptoms of ADHD.

King also couldn't take notes or study for long periods of time and regularly forgot where he put things that he just had in his hand.

“I couldn't take notes well in med school, so I had to make my own study groups where we did comics to study for microbiology,” King said.

Lieber has helped King set-up external cues, like having a large bedside bowl, to empty his pockets into so he doesn't spend time every day looking for his car keys, wallet and more.

While ADHD may present challenges to Jones and King, they also embrace the advantages it gives them.

“ADHD actually really helps me with music, because I can pay attention to quite a few things at the same time,” Jones said.

“Instead of going through routines, we're stuck with never having a routine thought,” King said. “Whatever I'm doing, I'm always coming up with creative ideas. It just doesn't stop.”

Susan Lieber can be reached by phone at 412-967-9567 or by email at

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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