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Living and thriving with ADHD 

Tyree Barrett has been suspended from Hillside High School in Durham several times because his Type 1 Diabetes affects his behavior and focus.

Photo by Justin Cook

Tyree Barrett has been suspended from Hillside High School in Durham several times because his Type 1 Diabetes affects his behavior and focus.

Some mornings Tyree Barrett, 16, wakes up in a fog, his vision blurred by Type 1 diabetes, his mind muddled by ADHD.

The diabetes can be regulated by insulin injections, pills and diet; the ADHD by medicine, but mostly by patience and therapy.

At school math stresses him out. History stimulates his mind, as does graphic design and doodling. His mother, Sharon, says the girls love Tyree's charisma; the phone is always ringing. But ADHD leaves him feeling lonely.

About 6.4 million children ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD worldwide, and the percentage of children diagnosed increases each year. Eight percent of adults experience the symptoms for a lifetime. North Carolina has one of the nation's highest diagnosis rates of ADHD—14 percent as of 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are debates about ADHD's cause, and even its legitimacy as a disorder. Some studies suggest it is the result of an intense and creative personality that has to be self-mastered. The positive traits of hyper-focus, boundless energy, impulsiveness and mania have to be harnessed and regulated with diet and exercise.

Other people thought to have had ADHD include Michael Jordan, President Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Picasso and Walt Disney. Tyree is not alone in his struggle.

Justin Cook is an INDY staff photographer. He lives with ADHD.
  • Diet, exercise help people focus their energy

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