October is ADHD Awareness Month. The latest and greatest information will be available to everyone with Internet access. Myths will bust, and more people will get over the stigma that surrounds the condition. And more people will discover that they, or someone they love, has ADHD.
We now know a lot about ADHD. It is a neuro-developmental disorder, which impacts the executive functions, a construct used to explain how the brain matures. (Editors note: With ADHD there is about a distinct delay in the development of self-regulation of one’s emotions and actions.) These impaired functions of the brain are associated with activation, focus, effort, emotions, memory, and action. In other words, most of the skills needed for building self-control.
(Editors note: It’s not that someone with ADHD cannot pay attention or focus. It’s just that imprtance is NOT a factor that helps motivate or activate action. Someone with ADHD can find it hard to direct and regulate their attention. On the other hand, both children and adults may over-focus on something, like with video games or on Facebook. But they will often struggle with homework, fail to turn in finished work or have a bedroom strewn with items from their latest interests. Adults may fail to open their mail, pay the bills or run out of gas once a month. Now, this may happen to everyone occasionally at some time. But to be diagnosed with ADHD, they must occur quite frequently with actual impairment at school or work, at home, and/or in social situations.)
Change is possible though. The ADHD brain works by its own rules. There’s a perpetual need for stimulation or novelty seeking behavior that’s characteristic of the condition. Creating structure and developing routines helps, as does an interest in the task or subject, a sense of urgency, or immediate consequences or rewards for their actions to help successfully manage their life.
When someone with ADHD is not engaged, their symptoms include:
- Poor Memory
- Poor Listening Skills
- Time Blindness
- Intense Emotions
- Chronic Procrastination
- Poor Organization Skills
But, just knowing about ADHD isn’t enough. There’s a process involved after you first become aware. First, there is the issue of getting a diagnosis. Then comes the process of getting treatment, Medication, therapy, coaching, and/or other tools and strategies only work when they are used. (Editor’s note: And treatment is only effective when it is used according to how the ADHD brain works. Many will not understand the delay in development and may expect behavior typical of a someone older and believe that criticism, sarcasm, and/or punishment will work to change behavior.)
Some newly diagnosed people will mourn that they had not been aware of ADHD sooner. Others experience a sense of relief, that finally there’s an explanation, a reason, and it’s not their fault. There is also the question of who to tell and what can you expect from them. There’s your partner, the family, friends, coworkers, and others who will either be told or not and all of the rigmarole involved in deciding who knows what. Lastly, there are the challenges that persist after diagnosis and treatment and how to go about finding those solutions. It’s a lot to deal with.
Ultimately, there’s always going to be a lot of confusion surrounding ADHD. How it affects each person is unique to them. True, there are broad commonalities among the ADHD population. There’s the unusual way they process time, as well as how they have trouble prioritizing and organizing. And there’s the issue of not staying motivated and engaged with something; everything becomes boring at some point, and that’s when they can easily shut down. But the degree to which these things affect the person vary and the specific areas in which there’s struggle are unique to each person, so there are no rules. That’s why ADHD so confounding.
You should know that developing coping skills is ongoing. There’s no magic bullet to solve any of the challenges of ADHD because they vary from individual to individual. (Editor’s note: Although, utilizing their unique personal talents, interests, and strengths can be very helpful.) And, on top of that, many times, when a solution to one challenge comes about, it’s only a temporary Band-Aid until a newer, more interesting fix can be found. Each “fix” builds upon the other.
Now you know the process to ADHD Awareness. Hopefully, this article will lessen some of the confusion. Enjoy the process. Learn and grow in confidence that you CAN handle this.
Do feel free to comment below if you still have questions and/ or something to share.
By the author of A.D.H.D. A Different Hard Drive? ADHD coach and podcaster, Jennie Friedman. Originally published as The Process to ADHD Awareness Month http://www.seeinadhd.com/process-to-adhd/
Hire Jennie as a personal coach or choose her reasonably priced group coaching program, Reach Further. Listen to Jennie’s podcasts at See in ADHD as well as at Technicolor Mindset which offers group coaching for entrepreneurs and other professionals.
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