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ADD/ADHD News

October 21st 2001 - 00:30 GMT

Billy Connolly An ADDer?

Well Billy's Clinical Psychologist wife, Pamela, thinks so. In her book, simply entitled, Billy, released last week, Pamela Stephenson describes Billy's life in this excellent biography.

Billy ConnollyMore interesting though from our readers point of view is that in the book she describes the many ADD like traits that go to make Billy what he is. Pamela states, "Everyone who knows Billy today is aware of his considerable, albeit unusual, intelligence. However, he does not process information the same way that many others do. Psychologists currently ascribe a diagnosis such as 'Attention Deficit Disorder' or 'Learning Disability' to such a way of thinking and, in the more enlightened educational environments, there is understanding and help for such children. In addition to having a learning difference, however, Billy is and was a poet and a dreamer, as well as a person suffering from past and present trauma, and these factors all conspired to make concentration and left-brain activity extremely challenging for him. Rosie (one of Billy's teachers) thrashed him for many things that were unavoidable considering his organic make up: for looking out of the window, for breaking a pencil, for scruffy writing or untidy paper, or for looking away when she was talking."

Pamela StephensonIf you haven't heard of Billy Connolly, I'd better advise you that he is a hugely talented and extremely popular comedian in the UK and around the World. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, he now lives with his wife, Dr. Pamela Stephenson Connolly, in Los Angeles. Pamela herself is a well known, comedienne, famous for her starring role in the TV comedy series "Not the Nine O'Clock News". An Australian, born in New Zealand, she now practises as a clinical psychologist in LA.

In an interview with Tim Adams for the Observer newspaper, Pamela Stephenson is a little more definite about Billy and ADD. Tim Adams writes, "In many ways, you guess, his second wife was the first person who ever really got through to him. Connolly talks about himself as being on 'permanent transmit', never having quite mastered 'receive' - Stephenson puts it down to Attention Deficit Disorder - and, to prove the point, all the while he is talking, smiling, laughing at his own jokes, his eyes are darting about your face as if anxiously looking for clues."

......and later in the article, "At school, however, things were hardly looking up. He had always had difficulty grasping things and keeping up with his homework. Everyone who knows Billy today is aware of his considerable, albeit unusual, intelligence. However, he does not process information in the same way that many others do. At school now, he might be described as having Attention Deficit Disorder."

We wrote to the agents for Billy and Pamela, in the hope of getting some comments for this article. Pamela's agents have forwarded our email onto her but pointed out that she was, understandably, extremely busy, so not to expect a reply too soon. So we may have some comments from Dr. Stephenson Connolly to add here at some point in the future.

Our email to Billy's agent was a little ambitious as in the book, Pamela writes, "Billy calls the internet 'The Great Anorak in the Sky'. 'You know why those people are on the internet?' he asks. 'Because you wouldn't speak to them in the pub, that's why!' Billy has sent one email in his whole life, to Eric Idle. He knows there's a reply for him somewhere out there in the electronic cosmos, but he's b******d if he can remember how to retrieve it."

His agent did get back to us, however, and their reply is interesting in inferring their confirmation regarding Billy and ADD as follows. "Thank you for your letter to Billy Connolly. I am sorry but it will not be possible for Billy to contribute to your website by replying to questions by email. I realise that this would be helpful to you, but will not be possible for us to arrange. I imagine however that the mention in the book will be helpful in its own way. We wish you the very best with your work for those suffering from ADD."

Click here to buy, Billy, online from Amazon UK for 8.99. It really is a remarkable story and further proves our point that ADD doesn't have to be a disability.

Simon Hensby for adders.org




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