Young People Who Rock

Blake Taylor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/23/art.taylor.jpg caption=”Blake Taylor, 18, is the author of ‘ADHD & Me: What I Learned from Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table.'”]
Yes, he set fire to the dinner table with contact lens solution. Yes, he stayed in on the weekends because he had no friends. Yes, he had to clean the urinals as punishment for acting out in class. But Blake Taylor is done being punished and finally ready to proudly say to the world, “Yes, I have ADHD.”

According to the CDC, 4.7 million Americans 18 or under have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Now 18, Taylor is the youngest person to write a memoir about living with it. He says his book, “ADHD & Me,” is the guidebook he never had growing up – a way to deal with the daily struggles from someone who has actually been there and not just studied the disorder.

Taylor is now a freshman molecular biology major at the University of California, Berkeley, where his book is used in the curriculum. Professors tout it because it’s the first time academia and the general public can see the once-taboo disorder being tackled with candor, since diagnosis only really started to spike in the 1990s. Through anecdotes about taking tests and dealing with tics, Taylor aims to tackle the often-stigmatized side effects of the disorder, which if left untreated, he says, only worsen when someone gets older. “You wouldn’t want to set fire to a table ever, but especially not when you’re 30, right?”

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview