Focusing on the Positive With ADHD
The world can be challenging place for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It seems that everything in life demands the one thing they have an incredibly hard time giving: focus.
Many children with ADHD get lost in the hustle and bustle of life and are never given the tools necessary to cope with their disorder. Danielle Fisher was almost one of those children. She wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until the sixth grade and struggled continually with school even though she was an intelligent girl.
Finding Her Place
"It definitely affected my self-esteem," says Fisher. "I wanted good grades more than anything, but couldn't sit down and concentrate on my homework. It made me think I wouldn't get anywhere in life."
Before being diagnosed with ADHD, Fisher recalls being easily distracted and having a hard time turning in assignments.
You would be hard pressed to find that easily distracted young girl in the daring and focused woman Fisher has become. Now a 20-year-old college student, Danielle Fisher recently became the youngest person in history to conquer "The Seven Summits" – the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.
Fisher became passionate about mountain climbing at a young age. By the time she was 15 years old, she and her father had climbed Mount Adams, Mount Baker and Mount Rainer. In 2003, she and her father conquered the tallest peak in South America, Aconcagua.
In the two years following her South American climb, Fisher successfully scaled Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro, Europe's Mount Elbrus, Australia's Mount Kosciusko, Antarctica's Mount Vinson, North America's Mount Mckinley and Asia's Mount Everest.
Seeking Her Own Solution
Fisher believes that mountain climbing is a part of the reason she was able to overcome her ADHD. "I think that finding a passion is the most important thing in getting over ADHD," says Fisher. "People suffering from ADHD can focus really well on things that they are passionate about, and this ability to focus helps them be more able to focus on the mundane, everyday activities."
Fisher loves all aspects of climbing, from planning the expedition to the climbing itself. "It is my passion," says Fisher. "It's very thrilling and exciting, which helps with my ADHD."
Courage Becomes Her
Even at a very young age, Fisher tackled her ADHD with the courage and tenacity that would come to define her. With the help of medication (Adderall XR) and a good support team of friends, family and counselors, Fisher has managed to deal with her ADHD and become not only a serious mountain climber, but a college student as well. She will be attending the University of Washington in the fall after taking last year off to climb mountains and raise money for future expeditions.
"While climbing, I've found myself to be a very different person," says Fisher. "I become very focused and determined. I forget about the pains of blisters, scrapes and bruises and the fact that I have ADHD. I just keep on going. Since I started climbing, the person I am on the mountain has increasingly become who I am in all aspects of my life, including school and work."
Fisher plans on pursuing a degree in either material science or mechanical engineering. "Then next summer I plan on climbing Gasherbrum 1 and Gasherbrum 2 in Pakistan," says Fisher.
Fisher believes that without her family and friends, she could never have accomplished what she has. She credits her parents and her mentor, Mike Woodmansee, for having taught her how to climb and fundraise. She also believes that her medication has helped as well. "Medication has helped me to focus more and realize that there is something I could do to get through the obstacle course that I was trapped in," says Fisher.
Advice to Offer
Fisher has advice for others who struggle with ADHD. "Discover what your passions are because when you are enjoying what you are doing or working toward something you are excited about, you will be able to focus on that goal," she says.
Besides climbing, Fisher enjoys playing the piano, hanging out with friends and doing the things most people her age enjoy. She also loves reading and spending time with her family, though she admits she hasn't had a lot of time for things unrelated to climbing lately.
"My days are spent exercising, working on my Web site and my slide show, getting interviewed, meeting with my sponsors, etc.," says Fisher. "It's like having a job, only I'm working from the moment I wake up in the morning to when I go to bed at night. This, not the climbing, has been my biggest accomplishment in life. Being able to stay on task is not easy, and I do lose my focus every once in a while, but I've been getting what needs to be done, done. And I'm proud of that!"