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A Doctor With ADHD Turned Giving Back Into a Lasting Legacy

In the News blog post by Geri Coleman Tucker
Mar 26, 2015

Dr. Robert C. Young

The saying goes, “physician, heal thyself.” That’s exactly what Dr. Robert C. Young set out to do as a young man. The Texas doctor ended up using what he’d learned from managing his own ADHD to help thousands of others with the same issue as far away as New York and California.

Young died in February at age 84. But his legacy is set to continue.

He was born in the 1930s, decades before the term “attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder” existed. “Nobody knew how to treat it back in those days,” says his widow Dianne.

In high school, Young found it hard to concentrate on his subjects. But he discovered that if he walked around while studying, he could focus and learn. “That helped him tremendously in getting through high school and college,” Dianne says.

Young got his bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force for three years. Then he joined his father’s practice and worked side by side with him as a pediatrician.

Eventually, he took over the practice. “He started noticing that he was treating a lot of kids who showed the same signs of ADHD that he’d experienced,” Dianne says.

Young began to specialize in treating these kids. He used a combination of exercise, nutrition, and education about ADHD. He also prescribed medication when it was needed.

“His joy was in seeing how that could change people’s lives—watching grades go up or problem behaviors change,” Dianne remembers. “People loved him. He had that gentle, kind, compassionate way. And when his patients grew up and had families of their own, they would bring their kids to him.”

A number of years ago, Young was thinking about retiring. His wife suggested that instead he open a clinic for kids and adults with ADHD. That’s how he came to found the ADD/ADHD Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Plano. Young started the center with 49 patients in 2008. By 2012, when he retired, it was serving more than 2,000.

The work he'd been doing continued after his retirement. Dr. John Chuang, who was mentored by Young, bought the clinic from him. “I am still great friends with him,” Young says. And the clinic is still thriving.

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Geri Coleman Tucker is a freelance writer and editor and a former deputy managing editor for USA Today.

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