For 41 years of his life, Paul Kadri lived with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) without knowing he had it. Since his diagnosis, he has discovered so much about himself that he never realized. As a school administrator, Paul Kadri now has the opportunity to help students with the same condition have a positive outlook for the futures.
Aicube: How could you go so long without knowing you had ADHD?
Paul Kadri: This may sound funny, but unless you know you’re different, you think that everyone else is like you. For example, my brain is always thinking and trying to solve problems. I assumed that everyone else’s brain was doing the same thing, perhaps some better than others.
Aicube: What made you get tested?
Paul Kadri: A school psychologist in the district where I was superintendent told me that she wanted to use me in a presentation for parents. I said sure and asked her what it was about. She said it was a presentation about people with ADHD who are successful in life. I asked her if she really thought I had it, and she began to laugh.
Aicube: When you finally found out, what did you learn about yourself?
Paul Kadri: It answered a lot of strange questions that I had about the way I acted and interacted with things. For example, a stimulant actually relaxes people with ADHD. I remember how certain medicines seem to have the opposite effect on me. ADHD people tend to do a great job in working under pressure but are not as successful in getting things done ahead of time. That is the story of my life. But by far the greatest realization was why I had such a difficult time concentrating when reading a book. I wanted to learn so much through reading, but I found myself becoming distracted and having to read pages over and over.
Aicube: If it was so obvious, why didn’t someone notice it earlier?
Paul Kadri: Schools are much better prepared now to recognize and test students for early identification. Back when I was in school I’m sure there were others who had it as well, but I didn’t know anyone who was identified.
Aicube: You talked about some of the challenges. Are there any positives to being ADHD?
Paul Kadri: Absolutely. The way the ADHD brain works allows it to be very creative. Some of your best inventors or entrepreneurs have ADHD. All through my life I’ve been known as someone who can think outside the box, and now I know why. It is also a great condition to have if you want to be a superintendent. Not only am I always on the go, but I’m dealing with multiple issues in a constant flow of information. This is easy to manage for someone with ADHD.
Aicube: Why is it important for you to speak publicly about this?
Paul Kadri: As I mentioned, this condition is a natural occurrence with many more advantages than disadvantages. As a school superintendent, I want to show students with the same condition that it’s nothing to hide and can be used to your advantage once you know how.
Aicube: If years ago you knew you’d be taking medicine regularly would you have believed it?
Paul Kadri: Not at all. I was the type of person who didn’t even like to take aspirin. But I have to say, the medicine that I take makes a significant difference in my ability to focus and be more productive. The reason why someone with ADHD likes to procrastinate is because they need to feel pressure in order to simulate what the medicine does. In other words, stress is a form of self-medication. By taking the medicine, I can be focused without having to put myself in situations where I feel the motivation of pressure.
Aicube: What downsides frustrate you the most?
Paul Kadri: Unfortunately, some of the characteristics of having ADHD are to be very fidgety or give the appearance of being not interested. If I meet someone for the first time, and they don’t know that I have ADHD, they may interpret some of my facial expressions incorrectly. For example, when I speak, I tend to not look someone in the eyes. For some people, that is a sign of disrespect. For me, my brain processes best when I look up. It may sound silly, but it has been a problem a few times.
Aicube: Have you had any funny experiences?
Paul Kadri: I’m not sure if this is that funny, but I find it humorous. It appears that the world has gone crazy over the use of caffeine. From 1 million different types of coffee to these quick drinks, people want to have energy. As a person with ADHD, I have plenty of energy and people are amazed that I don’t drink coffee yet still am ready to go. The ultimate irony is that if I were to drink the coffee it would do more to put me to sleep than it would to keep me awake.
Aicube: Are there any famous people we know who have ADHD?
Paul Kadri: There are many famous people who have or have had it. Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Ted Turner, Charles Schwab, Robin Williams and Jim Carrey are but a few.
Aicube: In conclusion, if you had any wish regarding ADHD, what would it be?
Paul Kadri: Believe it or not, I would not wish for it to go away. It has given me great creative capabilities that I would hate to lose. I just wish that I had been diagnosed earlier in life because I believe I would have taken extra steps to make sure I had finished my doctorate. I also wish that there wasn’t a stigma associated with it, since it’s as natural as any other characteristic a person can have. Hopefully by talking about it in forums like this, I can help make that wish a reality.
Paul Kadri has been a very successful public school administrator for 16 years. He has always been as committed to students with special education needs as possible. Paul Kadri has used the creativity he gets from ADHD to execute very innovative programs in his districts.