April 2016

UKAAN Conference - 22nd and 23rd April 2016

Key Challenges and Practical Solutions

IET Savoy Place - London 

The 5th UKAAN Congress brought together leading experts on adult ADHD who presented state of the art research and best clinical practice on the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD across lifespan.

The conference was inaugurated by Professor Susan Young, Vice-President of UKAAN, who emphasized the importance of the adult ADHD NICE Guidelines which are currently being updated (see https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg72 for latest guideline). She also recommended the UKAAN Handbook for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults as a further valuable source of evidence-based information (http://www.springer.com/gb/book/9781908517500). Her talk was followed by Professor Philip Asherson, the President of UKAAN, who addressed a number of pressing issues and raised areas of ongoing research, including: 1) An adult-onset type of ADHD; 2) Low reliability of self-report data for ADHD symptoms; 3) The impact of ADHD-related emotional instability on diagnosis in adult mental health; 4) High offender/conviction rates in ADHD populations; 5) The use of cannabis and treatment effects of cannabinoid medications; 6) Phenomenology of ADHD, including excessive mind wandering.

The first plenary session included Huw Williams on ADHD and physical brain trauma; Jane McCarthy on the overlap in clinical practice of ADHD, ASD and intellectual disability; and Celine Ryckaert on the development of depression in young adults with ADHD.

A Shire sponsored symposium just after lunch started with a short presentation by Dr Noel Young on the efficacy of Elvanse Adult and was followed by a panel debate moderated by Dr David Bull, with an interesting discussion on the differences in ADHD prevalence across different countries, with the variability explained most likely by an inconsistent use of measurement tools.

The second plenary session focused on impairment and high-functioning ADHD. Rebecca Champ suggested that the wider attention span in ADHD can potentially lead to greater creativity and that people with ADHD might have a natural tendency for a non-linear thinking style. On the other hand Margaret Weiss warned to be careful not to idealize ADHD. She called for more research into resilience and protective factors and suggested a more positive model for ADHD that would focus more on resilience than risk. Her reflections were supported by a fascinating case study of a 72 year old patient, who succeeded in developing strengths out of his symptoms.

James Kustow offered some great advice for assessing impairment in ADHD, stressing that it is a subjective process involving careful clinical judgement that should also take environment, culture and physical health under consideration. He reminded us that treatment should be a lifelong endeavour and not an isolated episode.

Throughout the congress participants could join four out of eight different parallel sessions, including a lively discussion on ADHD in borderline personality disorder, involving many comments from the audience. During another session, Margaret Weiss made a striking comment on high-functioning ADHD – that due to multiple early failures, a profoundly low self-esteem (or even a lack of self) could develop, so even the most successful individuals with ADHD often cannot internalize the success they achieve later in life.

On Saturday the focus of the first pair of parallel sessions was on psychological treatments tailored to adult needs.  James Kustow and Mark Pitts presented an overview of psychoeducation; and Susan Young and Kobus van Rensburg on cognitive behavioural therapy and supportive coaching. Kobus and Susan offered 24 strategies to help adults with ADHD in their everyday functioning and stressed the importance of mindfulness training, diet, exercise as well as individualized and multimodal approaches.

Early in the morning, Philip Mollon offered his unique psychoanalytic perspective inspired by the work of Freud, Kohut and Bion. His lecture focused on a mutually reinforcing relationship between a neurobiologically driven ADHD ‘temperament’ and trauma. He included an insightful remark that a child with ADHD would often provoke counter-aggression from others leading to a malignant spiral of negative emotions.

The Saturday lunch symposium sponsored by Lilly hosted a lecture by Professor Katya Rubia on the mechanism of action of stimulants, neurobiology and neuropsychological deficits in ADHD. Her presentation included a fascinating section on a pioneering trial of fMRI neurofeedback in children with ADHD.

Later during the day participants had a unique opportunity to hear personal stories shared by Susan Dunn-Morua and Jonathan Lanham-Cook.  A health-economic perspective was offered by Professor David Daley who used a very clever design controlling for familial/environmental factors, which estimated the cost of ADHD in adults to be the overwhelming £10k per person/year.

Apart from fascinating lectures, presentations and workshops, UKAAN included a poster session as well as a carefully selected bookstall and an inspiring “Heartwork” by Jacki Carnis, aimed at raising awareness of female ADHD through her art.

The 5th UKAAN conference was concluded on Saturday afternoon by a lecture from Professor Eric Taylor, the doyen of British ADHD specialists, who congratulated everybody on the enormous progress made in the field. He observed that in spite of powerful therapies, the long-term outcome is still a struggle.

Professor Asherson closed the conference with a call to reduce misdiagnosis within the mental health system by intensifying professional training and putting more effort into raising awareness of adult ADHD. And what better way to do that than to attend the 6th UKAAN Congress next year!

UKAAN would like to thank its sponsors and exhibitors.  Venue costs, Scientific and Administrative support for Faculty and Attendees was made possible through the sponsorship from Shire Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly, Flynn Pharma Ltd., Qbtech, and The TOVA Company.

Report written by Bartosz Helfer

Keynote Presentations

Philip Asherson

Phil Mollon

Alexandra Philipsen

Eric Taylor

Plenary Session presentations

Huw Williams                         Jane McCarthy                        Celine Ryckaert               
Rebecca Champ Margaret Weiss James Kustow
Susan Dunn-Morua Kobus van Rensburg Susan Young
Jonathan Lanham-Cook Joe Johnson David Daley

Parallel Session presentations

Philip Asherson Esther Sobanski
Ulrich Muller and Susan Young James Kustow and Mark Pitts
Rebecca Champ and Jane Sedgewick Susan Young and Kobus van Rensburg
Margaret Weiss  Marios Adamou
Emma Woodhouse  Muhammad Arif

Image Gallery

Below are a selection of photos taken at the conference.  

Photos taken by Emma Woodhouse


The 6th UKAAN Congress will take place from 20th to the 22nd of September 2017, at the Mermaid Conference and Events Centre, London