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Evan Bierscheid and the ADHD Spectrum

  • Podcasts

At age 14, Evan wants to share a few of the things he’s learned on this ADHD journey. For example, ADHD is a spectrum. And it’s not taboo. Here more about his journey on this episode of Refocused, Together.

Transcript

Lindsay Guentzel (00:01):

Let’s get right to it.

Evan Bierscheid (00:02):

All righty.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:02):

I ask all of my guests to introduce themselves, so I would say, “My name’s Lindsay Guentzel. I’m a podcaster. I love cats.”

Evan Bierscheid (00:09):

All right. So I’m Evan Bierscheid. I’m 14. I’m a student at Ross High School, freshman. And I really like all things music mainly. Yeah, that’s just kind of making it, listening to it. Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:27):

I love that. Making it is the very cool part.

Evan Bierscheid (00:30):

Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:30):

My name is Lindsay Guentzel, and I’m guessing by now most of you know the drill. This is Refocused Together, a special series of my podcast, Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, where I’m telling a different person’s ADHD story every day throughout ADHD Awareness Month. That’s 31 stories for the 31 days of October. When I approached the team at ADHD Online about this massive undertaking, we were all in agreement about one thing. If we were going to tell 31 stories, we needed to put in the effort to tell as many different stories as possible. So far, I’ve shared stories from working parents, ADHD advocates, engineers, PhD candidates, software developers, even an athletic trainer who moonlights as Santa Claus at Christmas time. And today, I get to share the story of a kid.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:51):

It was my secret goal at the start of this project to get to share a conversation with the youngest of our community. I think a lot of us who were diagnosed later in life wonder what if, what could’ve been had we known at an earlier age. What could’ve turned out differently? I’m so excited to introduce you to Evan Bierscheid. Like many wonderful connections in my life, I met Evan through Twitter. And I should be clear when I say that, I mean I met Evan’s dad, Mike, through Twitter. I put my hopes out into the universe in the form of a tweet asking if anyone knew of a kid with ADHD who might be interested in sharing their experience with me for ADHD Awareness Month.

Lindsay Guentzel (02:43):

According to his parents, Evan’s hyper focus started early. First, it was firefighters, then Star Wars, then cars, and now as you’ll hear shortly in our conversation, it’s music. In elementary school, he was a good student and loved sharing everything he knew about his latest hyper focus, and in details I know were also shared on my very own report cards, Evan had a hard time waiting for the teacher to call on him, as he was so eager to share his excitement over something outrageously cool with his class. Around fourth grade, Evan’s teachers notified his parents that he was having trouble staying on task, especially if he had to work on something by himself. And his distractibility was something they were noticing at home too. Homework, well, doing it wasn’t easy for Evan. And as the tasks got more difficult, so did his level of frustration. Like math, it was difficult for him, and that made it even more difficult for him to focus on.

Lindsay Guentzel (03:54):

There was a point where Evan’s parents thought, “This is getting to be more than just a kid problem.” And as their efforts to fix the problem didn’t bring on any real results, they got frustrated, and in turn, Evan got frustrated. And then it was just a house full of frustrated people with still no homework getting done. And if that isn’t something all of us with ADHD can relate to, I don’t know what is. Evan’s parents brought their observations to their pediatrician, who agreed it would be a wise move to have Evan assessed for ADHD. He was diagnosed not hyperactive and not too severe, but he definitely showed signs of struggling with attention and staying on task. The diagnosis gave the Bierscheids a place to start. It allowed them to be open with Evan’s teachers, who knew ways to approach the disorder in the classroom.

Lindsay Guentzel (04:58):

It also helped them as a family create a better environment for Evan to be successful at home. Evan sees a therapist, and it was through that relationship that he started opening up about some of the things he was feeling, things like anxiety and depression, two things that could be tied to his ADHD, or could be things that happen because Evan is a teen aged boy, and life at that age is a whole lot harder than any of us ever truly acknowledged. Those feelings pushed Evan to ask about medication. And this summer, he made the decision, along with his parents and his medical providers, to start on a medication treatment plan for ADHD to see if that route helps the anxiety and depression, two comorbidities often tied to the disorder.

Lindsay Guentzel (05:56):

After Evan and I met at the start of October to record his episode, I followed up with his dad in an email, and he shared this with me, “He seems to be doing a better job staying focused and getting his work done. And more importantly, he feels like he is doing a better job with it. We know this is an ongoing struggle for him, so we try to adjust our expectations and make sure we are keeping ADHD in mind as we help him set goals and get work done. Most of all, we are both so proud of how he has accepted his diagnosis and not let it be a detriment to him. He never tried to pretend like he didn’t have it or say, ‘Woe is me.’ Instead, he accepted it and tried to work with it. We are proud of his maturity with this and we really hope that his podcast appearance will help other kids and parents consider getting help for ADHD, and realizing that there is help and solutions. There is no shame in ADHD, and taking it on will help everyone do and feel better, parents and kids alike.”

Lindsay Guentzel (07:13):

I am so grateful to Evan and the entire Bierscheid family for allowing me into your life for this project. And I am honored to introduce you all to today’s Refocused Together guest, Evan Bierscheid. Evan, one day you will get to an age where you’ll realize what you’re doing right now is really, really important. And I’m getting choked up about it because I look back at myself at 14, and had I known what I was going through, and had I known there was a name for it and that there were things that would have helped, it would have made life a lot easier. So before we even jump into anything, I just want to say to you, thank you for being so transparent and candid with your story because I know it’s probably not easy. But for whatever reason, you have that strength, and that is so incredible, so thank you for that.

Evan Bierscheid (08:16):

Thank you for having me on here. This is going to be really fun.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:19):

I’m excited too. So let’s start at the beginning, if you wouldn’t mind just telling me about when you were diagnosed and what led up to that, and what you remember about some of the things that were going on.

Evan Bierscheid (08:33):

Yeah. So throughout formal elementary school, I know that my parents had mentioned that it had always been kind of a conversation that was had, but nothing had really came of it until summer between fourth grade and fifth grade was when the main thing they really noticed, that looking back I also noticed, is I was just really struggling with homework and keeping on task and all that stuff, and it was just taking me so long to get certain assignments done. And then we had talked to my doctor about it, and he recommended that I get evaluated, so we went somewhere. And my memory of this is pretty vague, and then it said that it was ADD, but now just kind of ADHD generally. And yeah, so I don’t have a lot of memory from that time. Looking back on it, there were definitely things that pointed to me having it, but yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (09:35):

And life now as a 14 year old, what stands out when you think of how ADHD impacts your life?

Evan Bierscheid (09:42):

I definitely think there’s still that piece of getting stuff done. Especially what I’ve noticed is without deadlines, just kind of that procrastination piece I still struggle with. I’m getting better, but it’s definitely still very real. Otherwise, I just have a lot of kind of nervous mannerisms. An inside joke in my friend group is I just constantly pace whenever we’re hanging out.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:12):

It’s pacing. Also, we both have the leg jiggle going.

Evan Bierscheid (10:16):

Oh, yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:16):

It’s the constant movement.

Evan Bierscheid (10:18):

For sure.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:21):

The nervousness that you have, some of that, is it in social settings? Do you find yourself sometimes being incredibly social, but then other times, you’re just like, “This is too much”?

Evan Bierscheid (10:32):

For sure. And I almost feel kind of that social anxiety piece has almost come in a little bit more. I used to be the kid who was just constantly like, “Hi, hi, hi.” But now I’ve definitely become a little more anxious in those social situations. But still, I’m definitely, in others I’m very outgoing and stuff.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:57):

I want to ask about being open about your ADHD. Do you remember, was there a point when you were just like, “I’m just going to tell people about this,” or how did you kind of come to the decision that it was something you were willing to be open about?

Evan Bierscheid (11:12):

Thankfully, having a lot of support systems around me to explain it, I definitely never saw it as something super taboo. And I think it just kind of came with time. I mean, as a fourth grader, you don’t really fully grasp the concept of it. But now, definitely kind of understanding these things better, I just think also educating others on it, or if I have certain things that might affect my performance somewhere, just letting someone know, hey, this might happen, so yeah, for sure.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:44):

I want to ask about that because one of the things that we’re talking about with adults is how they can go to work or to their spouses and ask for those accomodations. So would you mind sharing any examples you can think of, where you’ve had to go to maybe a teacher, or you’ve had to go to a coach and say, “Hey, this is something that I can do, but I can’t do it the way that you need me to do it, or the way you’re suggesting it gets done”?

Evan Bierscheid (12:11):

Nothing really immediately comes to mind, but just kind of what you’re mentioning. I definitely know there’s been instances of teachers, or will also be family stuff, where I’m just like, “Hey, I don’t know if kind of the way we’re framing it is going to be very effective.” And then also that piece of still wanting to get it done, so maybe if we can frame it in a different way, that would be more helpful.

Lindsay Guentzel (12:37):

That’s a good way to look at it. Are there things you’ve added into your life to help make some of the things that ADHD makes difficult for you, like doing homework, or getting things done without a deadline, are there any things that you’ve added into life to help kind of balance that?

Evan Bierscheid (12:58):

Yeah. I’m more serious now. I recently had the discussion of medication. And then right before school started, I started Adderall, so that’s been really helpful with the school stuff, just like the immediate focus. Whenever a teacher is like, “Oh, take notes on this,” I’m more able to just kind of focus on that one thing. And then beyond that, I’ve just been kind of trying different things of putting my phone in a certain place and leaving it, or the time blocking piece of, well, this isn’t done, but move on so you’re keeping stimulated with homework stuff.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:41):

I love that you are 14 years old and you have implemented stuff in your life that I have been trying to do for the last year and a half, so anytime you want to come over, and we can study together. I mean, it’s not studying that I have to get done, but I mean, what an amazing place that you’re at right now, to have a really great understanding of how your brain works, and then to know kind of what you need out of life in order to be successful.

Evan Bierscheid (14:07):

Yeah. And once again, just kind of having those people around me who are able to explain it and able to help me out, whether they’re coming from a place of also having it, or just knowing that these accommodations are needed.

Lindsay Guentzel (14:21):

What sparked your interest in medication?

Evan Bierscheid (14:25):

It had always been a thing that was mentioned, but it was never super seriously delved into. And then I just kind of had a feeling, especially going into high school, I wanted to try and give myself all the tools to succeed that I could. And I just thought about it a little more, and I also have some friends who have this condition who are medicated, and they’ve talked about how much it helped them. And so I talked about it with my doctor, and he said we could try it. And yeah, so far, it’s been going well.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:05):

That’s really great to hear. I’m super happy to hear that. I think you’re doing everything you can to give yourself as many of the tools that you need, and medication is just one of them.

Evan Bierscheid (15:15):

Yeah, for sure.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:16):

I’m really curious about the time blocking. How did you start to learn some of that? And how did you kind of add it into your life?

Evan Bierscheid (15:24):

Well, my mom is a teacher, so that’s definitely been a big help of just her kind of seeing, and she was the one who suggested the time blocking thing to me, of just her seeing what’s effective for her students who are maybe in a really similar place to me, and then giving me those strategies to help implement.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:50):

So walk me through it, so you say, “I’m going to spend an hour on this,” and then the timer goes off, and you know to switch because you’ve lost interest. Or how does it work for you?

Evan Bierscheid (15:59):

Oh, yeah. I usually, what I’ve found is the best is for bigger things, half hour blocks, because so even if I’ve kind of lost interest maybe a little at the end, when the timer goes off, I’m like, “Oh, I can switch to this thing,” and then usually my brain is kind of tricked for what I would’ve thought was boring or whatever, I’m like, “At least it’s not what I’ve been struggling with,” and then, yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:27):

Are there things that you look at in life that are especially difficult because of your ADHD, and it’s just something that you know will just always be a struggle for you?

Evan Bierscheid (16:39):

I think it’s a lot of the, like we had aforementioned, just the staying on task, and stuff without a deadline. Once again, I know those things are probably going to get slightly easier as I become older. I mean, it’s been a struggle for a while and it’s definitely going to be something to work on.

Lindsay Guentzel (17:03):

Let’s talk about the positives because we’re in this month of ADHD awareness. And one of the goals of all of these different interviews is to dive into the complexities of ADHD. And in the complexities also comes really amazing stuff. So when you look at ADHD and how you live your life, what shines to the top as the really great stuff about you that you know is tied to your ADHD?

Evan Bierscheid (17:34):

I think it’s kind of a lot of the creativity stuff. I know that it’s kind of a thing for me, when I’m supposed to be focused on one thing is when I have my best ideas. But yeah, I think it’s just having a brain that’s so much more active, I’m able to think of certain things. That’s very nice, especially being a musician. Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (18:00):

And music you’ve mentioned is something that you love. You love to listen to it. You love to create it. Is that kind of a hyper focus for you?

Evan Bierscheid (18:09):

Oh, yeah. For sure. I know once again, kind of ties into main ADHD things. But I’ve always had that when I’m interested in something, I’m very focused on it. And it hasn’t always been music, I’ve had other passions, but this is just the newest one where, when I’m in the zone and I’m really enjoying it is when I’m at my most focused.

Lindsay Guentzel (18:33):

And you brought one of your guitars.

Evan Bierscheid (18:35):

Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (18:35):

What else do you play?

Evan Bierscheid (18:36):

So I mainly play drums. I play percussion in the school band, and then I have a drum set at home. And then beyond that, I also play bass. Those are kind of my main two instruments. But guitar, piano, a bunch of just other super random stuff, that’s all kind of more self taught. But there’s also a lot of overlap between certain instruments, so it’s really nice being able to just kind of have all those skillsets.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:11):

It’s interesting. So one of the things that I hear a lot of people talk about ADHD brains is being very playful and trying things out. And so you’re kind of getting that out with all of these different instruments.

Evan Bierscheid (19:24):

Oh, yeah, for sure. Just kind of especially with the internet now and being able to see people playing all these different crazy instruments. It’s like, “Wow, I want to try that.” And sometimes it’s hard because you look it up and you’re like, “Oh, that’s $5000,” but it’s just also kind of nice to just kind of have that want to expand yourself in that skillset.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:55):

When you look at the future, is there anything that stands out that you might want to study or go into? I mean, you’re so young, it’s freshman year. But it’s kind of the time that some people start getting those little inklings. Is there anything that jumps out?

Evan Bierscheid (20:12):

I think just kind of getting to the age where you think more realistically about the question of: What do I want to be when I grow up? It would obviously be nice to be a musician or a musical artist, but just kind of getting more maybe into the technology side of things, like a sound engineer, or a producer, or a studio musician, all of those things. And also, I’m not very knowledgeable of the technology, so kind of going into those fields I think would be really cool.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:41):

I have a podcast you can work on if you ever are looking for a part-time job.

Evan Bierscheid (20:48):

Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:48):

I’m curious. When you think of ADHD and what you know about it and what you see the general population talking about, are there any things that stand out that you’re like, “I wish people understood this better”?

Evan Bierscheid (21:02):

Yeah. One thing I’ve always noticed is I feel like a lot of times, there’s these two opposite ends of the spectrum, where you’ve got people thinking, “Oh, it’s this huge deal and this is going to affect every day of your life.” And then you’ve got people who are almost ignoring it in a sense like, “It doesn’t change you at all, and you can do everything else that a normal person can do.” And I just wish people would realize how much more of a spectrum it is. There’s some people where it really seriously affects their life, and it’s some people where they can do everything normal, but then there’s so many more people in the middle. And yeah, it’s a very complex thing.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:41):

I love that that’s the way you said it because I think for me, it’s also it changes over time.

Evan Bierscheid (21:47):

Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:48):

I look back at points in life when it was that far end of the spectrum where it really impacted every single part of my life. And then there are days where, “Oh, I’m kind of nailing this.” And it’s figuring out how to kind of manage those waves, those ups and downs.

Evan Bierscheid (22:06):

Yeah, for sure.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:08):

What else stands out for you when you look at your life with ADHD, and kind of some of the things that maybe you talk about with your friends or your classmates?

Evan Bierscheid (22:19):

I think definitely relating to the classmates part, just kind of also now being in high school, and coming from middle school, meeting so many more people that also might have it, and then understanding them better, and therefore, understand the condition as a whole better. And just hearing all those different experiences, that makes you realize, oh, there may be sometimes this symptom can play into it. I didn’t realize that.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:52):

I love that. I think that makes you very empathetic.

Evan Bierscheid (22:56):

Yeah, for sure.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:59):

I’m wondering if maybe you would like to play a little bit.

Evan Bierscheid (23:02):

Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (23:02):

I would love that. I think we’re doing 31 episodes in the month of October, and the great thing about them is that every single one gets to be different.

Evan Bierscheid (23:12):

I can’t 100% say it’s going to be in tune. It’s always 70% of practicing is just messing with stuff.

Lindsay Guentzel (23:58):

That was amazing. And I have to ask because you mentioned 70% of practicing is just messing with stuff, but you practice.

Evan Bierscheid (24:05):

Yeah, for sure.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:07):

How do you get there? Because you enjoy it.

Evan Bierscheid (24:11):

Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:11):

Yeah.

Evan Bierscheid (24:12):

That’s a big part of it, is just kind of seeing it and be like, “Oh, yeah, this is fun.” And usually practicing for me is just a lot of noodling around and trying things. But then also when you were talking about having those days of like, “Man, I’m killing this,” sometimes you just sit down and I just feel like, “Oh, wow, I’ll really put in some time here to try things,” and that’s fun. Yeah, a lot of kind of fun progress gets made.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:44):

I like that you used the word progress because I think sometimes it’s really hard to see that. You put in all this time and this energy, but it’s not like if you were to play a video game and you did something that was good, you’d get a notification, you’d get a prize or something. Life isn’t like that. So how do you work through some of that stuff when we know that our brains, we really like tangible evidence? So how do you keep working at something when you’re not constantly getting …

Evan Bierscheid (25:15):

Yeah. Well, it’s kind of a joke with musicians in general of, your biggest critic is you. And I think that a lot of times, it can be kind of frustrating, but it can also be kind of helpful of just thinking, “Oh, I really want to learn this to get better.” Or bringing it back to the piece of the internet and all these instruments, and I might see someone on YouTube and be like, “Oh, wow. That’s super impressive. Maybe I should try that out, or a simplified version of that.” And then all of a sudden, I have that skill now.

Lindsay Guentzel (25:51):

I’m going to put you on the spot. I sent the questions along to your dad. But as we’re sitting here, I would love to ask if you had a message for any other kids out there who maybe have been diagnosed with ADHD already, but aren’t as confident or as accepting of it as you are, and don’t have the people around them that you do because that is the unfortunate reality of this, is we are subject to the lives we’re living and the bubbles that we’re in.

Evan Bierscheid (26:19):

For sure.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:20):

So what would that conversation look like?

Evan Bierscheid (26:24):

I think the main takeaway would just be try not to ignore the symptoms, even if the people around you aren’t offering the support. Find the people through the internet who are talking about these things and look for whatever accommodations and changes that you can make to help yourself, even if you’re not receiving that support.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:51):

The last thing I want to ask you is: Where do you see yourself thriving right now?

Evan Bierscheid (26:59):

I mean, obviously mainly in musical settings. And also, I’m in the school play at theater, so definitely just kind of the performance art piece I definitely think is a high point right now.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:16):

What show are you doing?

Evan Bierscheid (27:18):

I don’t know if people know it. I think it’s called Peter and the Starcatcher. It’s a Peter Pan origin story, so it’s been really fun to see what’s all what he was like before he became Peter Pan.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:32):

I’m not familiar. I will have to take a peek. I also grew up doing theater, and I love performing. And I love that you’re doing that because I think it tends to be a very inclusive group of people.

Evan Bierscheid (27:43):

For sure, yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:45):

Is there anything that we did not talk about that you think would be really important to share during this conversation for ADHD Awareness Month?

Evan Bierscheid (27:53):

I think we kind of covered everything. Just coming back to the piece of, I know I already mentioned it, but it’s just very much a spectrum, so even if you meet someone who says, “I have ADHD,” I feel like that’s a very small part of the equation, and it’s more important to just understand what they’re going through, coming back to the empathy thing, what they’re going through compared to just knowing, oh, they have that condition.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:23):

Well, Evan, I can’t thank you enough for coming in and for sharing so much of your own story. And I mean, truly, you are a gift to all of the people around you, but specifically to the ADHD community for being so open and candid, and so I just truly thank you.

Evan Bierscheid (28:40):

Thank you for having me. This was super fun.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:43):

Do you want to just play us out?

Evan Bierscheid (28:44):

All right.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:44):

That was incredible.

Evan Bierscheid (28:45):

All right.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:30):

A standing ovation of thanks to Evan Bierscheid for not only being brave, but for being way cooler than I was at 14. I meant what I said, Evan, if you want to fill in as a host on this podcast, you have my info. And of course, to Evan’s parents, for trusting me with your son’s story, I do not take that responsibility lightly. Thank you. Added thanks to Hector and Kenneth and the team at Snack Media for handling all of our live tapings in Minneapolis.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:06):

This project wouldn’t be possible without the entire team at ADHD Online, including Zach Booker, Dr. Randall Duthler, Tim Gutwald, Keith Brophy, my teammates, Keith Boswell, Suzanne Spruit, Claudia Gotti, Melanie Mile, Paul Owen, Kirsten Pip, Sissy Yi, Trisha Merchant Dunny, Lauren Radley, Corey Kearney, and Mason Nelly, and the team at Dexia, Cameron Sterling and Candace Lefke, Camilla Eden, Lauren Terry, Sarah Gelbard, Phil Roderman, and Sarah Platanitis. Our theme music was created by Luis Ingles, a songwriter and composer based in Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 39.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:49):

To find out more about Refocused Together or to share your story with me, head over to adhdonline.com and check out the ADHD Awareness Month page, which highlights this project, as well as each day’s episode after they’ve been released. You can also find out more by following along on social @LindsayGuetnzel and @RefocusedPod.

Our ADHD Online corporate office will be closed Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 so our employees can enjoy this special time with their families. 

As always, you can still take our assessment at any time online, whenever and wherever is best for you.

Please note that each clinician sets their own holiday hours and may be processing your requests during this time or they may be out as well.

We will resume normal business hours Monday, November 28. Thank you for your understanding and patience as our staff enjoys time with family to celebrate the Holiday.

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Treatment Plan Development**

The patient completes our asynchronous assessment and receives the report from a doctorate-level psychologist within 3-5 days.

The patient schedules an initial appointment with one of our providers to develop a treatment plan through a secure virtual appointment. We provide you and your patient with a copy of our full report. You take it from there.

**If available in your state

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The patient completes our asynchronous assessment and receives the report from a doctorate-level psychologist within 3-5 days.

We provide you and your patient with a copy of our full report. You take it from there.

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Prescriptions via telemedicine for Schedule II (stimulants) medications are not permitted by state law in South Carolina. Patients can receive prescriptions from our providers for non-stimulant medications.