Toby Stumpf, Student, Author & Dawn Schaefer-Stumpf, MEd, Author and Parent Support Group Facilitator at the Annandale School District

By Lee Gehrls, Volunteer Resource Development Coordinator

Take one 14 year old boy who has many interests: golf, downhill skiing and snowboarding, guitar and percussion just to name a few of the things he participates in. Then there is high school which means homework and special projects. Oh yeah toss in one more activity: write a book with your Mom about having ADHD and get it published. That is an impressive undertaking for anyone but doubly impressive when you are a teenager and one who lives with all the daily challenges of ADHD. Tobias Stumpf, who goes by Toby and is now 16, is a teen with a mission – to get us all to open up about all aspects of living with ADHD. He and his Mom are seasoned speakers at events and they also put on workshops. Toby also finds time to maintain an active social media network.

The book, Journal of an ADHD Kid – the Good, the Bad and the Useful, is written so you think you are reading a journal. It’s easy reading but still informative and honest about life with ADHD. There are checklists, illustrations, questions to think about and space to write down your own thoughts. It’s a book for parents, grandparents, all extended family members, teachers and students who are in middle school and high school. It’s a book that can promote discussions within your family to understand what it’s like to have ADHD. For kids with the disorder, it lets them know they are not alone and there are other kids out there going through the same daily issues. ADHD can be managed and you can be active, creative and successful just like Toby.

Like I said, that’s Toby and Dawn’s mission – to open up the dialog on ADHD. In an interview done by Joseph Palmersheim and currently on the LDA Minnesota website, Toby said, “I want kids (everyone, really) to know that it’s OK to have ADHD. If we talk about it, we’ll all understand it better and we can help each other. Kids can have great ideas and we should share them. Like how to use a certain app to keep track of stuff or how to color-code our notebooks and folders to try and keep things organized for classes. Sometimes just telling others about having ADHD helps you to just know you aren’t the only one with some of these challenges.”

Hurray Toby! Good going Dawn! I agree with you. While I can read all kinds of books, journal articles, newsletters and watch webinars, for me the best and often times most satisfying information I have gotten over the years is when I went to a workshop and I listened to a person talk about their life with ADHD and what they have learned. It’s empowering to be able to talk to that person, to share your thoughts, to ask them questions. Kids and adults with ADHD are just like everyone else except that their brains work differently. But you know what? In their world, they are all the same. And for those of us who are parents, friends, relatives, teachers, employers, health care and mental health care providers we can learn a lot from them.

October is National ADHD Awareness Month and attending this special evening will be a great way to start the month. Come join us on Saturday, October 8, 2016.