We are lucky to have two posts this month from guest author Elizabeth Lewis, founder of A Dose of Healthy Distraction. We’ll expand on her work with a focus the on how it feels to have ADHD and the power of self- acceptance in finding new ways to meet the challenges of ADHD.
I struggle with feeling worthy, like I am ENOUGH, just as I am. (That I’m doing pretty well. …considering everything…most of the time.) I suspect that I am not alone in feeling this way.
But, I AM getting better and feeling more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve been blessed by many people who reassure me, who see and nurture my gifts with love. Support groups, coaches, and group coaching members have been a great help as well.
As you enjoy the final days of summer, consider this FREE 12-week self-coaching program that ADHD coach Linda Walker is leading again this year. Short videos introduce each segment with a simple assignment for the week. These help you develop small habits to build routines for accomplishing both daily tasks and larger projects. I had great results following the steps last year. Try it out!
Elizabeth Lewis delves into the emotions many people with ADHD deal with in Against the Wind: How it Feels to be a Woman with ADHD. Liz writes, “It seems like we are forgetful or careless. Sometimes we come off as self-centered or even lazy. But you are not lazy or unmotivated. And you are not self-centered.”
“ADHD is frustrating and infuriating. A lifetime of criticism, from our self and others, really takes its toll.” Woman and girls have traditionally been under diagnosed and feel overwhelmed by combined roles of working, homemaking and caretaking. But, man, woman or child – all report the frustration, racing thoughts, mental exhaustion, and irritability that Liz describes. These feelings reflect problems with managing well at home, school, in the workplace and socially. Because of these feelings of failure, individuals with ADHD often judge themselves unfavorably.
Shame and Acceptance
All too often children and adult with ADHD “view themselves as fundamentally different and flawed.” William Dodson, M.D. writes on this encompassing feeling and how to overcome its hold on us for ADDitude Magazine in “When the Shame of Living with a Disorder Is Worse Than the Disorder Itself.” He points out that “Feeling shame is different from feeling guilt. Guilt focuses on what is done. Shame focuses on who one is.
But, “What if you loved yourself, laziness and all? What if you loved yourself, all that is ugly and incompetent and mean, along with the beauty and brilliance and kindness?” In Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits talks about this radical change. Acceptance does not mean you cannot make improvements in your life, Leo says, “Acceptance isn’t stagnation — you will change no matter what. You can’t avoid changing. The question is whether that change comes from a place of acceptance and love, or a place of self-dislike and dissatisfaction.”
For good examples of how this acceptance leads to successful change and self-advocacy, see “Know your Brain” (Link works) by Psych Central’s “ADHD Millennial” blogger Neil Peterson. He explains, “The key to making progress on managing my ADHD was the shift from trying to change internal things that I can’t control to changing external things that I can control… In other words, shifting from trying to change my brain to accepting my brain and trying to change my environment.”
Dr. William Dodson in Secrets of the ADHD Brain explains that with the ADHD brain, interest, a challenge, novelty, urgency or a strong sense of purpose help spur action We can develop routines for most mundane tasks but, we usually need an extra boost for projects. Medication helps with many symptoms, but you will need additional supports to manage your life well. Rather than focus on remedying areas where you struggle, you need to use your specific tools that get you “in the zone” and help you start each morning feeling motivated and capable.
What do you need to do to turn your brain on? How can you put your knowledge to work for you to adapt your life and environment?
Acceptance of their child’s diagnosis and meeting their needs is vital for parents as well.
In How to Accept your Child’s Diagnosis: Even When it Hurts, Elizabeth Lewis reveals her ongoing process. First and foremost, remember to enjoy your child. Love them, and seek to understand their differences – both their talents and challenges. You’ll also need to take personal time, grieve, and modify your vision for the future. Be ready to support and advocate for your child and teach them to ask for help to meet their own needs.
Liz admits that “I am scared and I am sad. But I know I am not alone. A diagnosis gives you the chance to learn and grow and provide the resources your child needs.”
But, “There is no “fixing” ADHD. There’s no cure. Nothing will erase its symptoms. When I realized that I couldn’t’ make ADHD better, but I could make life with ADHD better, things took a drastic, positive turn forward. Our job is to make life better, not to make the disability better.”
Podcast and Videos
One person who found a way to thrive with ADHD through self-acceptance is ADHD advocate and educator Jessica McCabe, founder of the popular YouTube Channel How to ADHD. ADHD pioneer Ned Hallowell interviews Jessica about how working with a coach helped her define her strengths and driving purpose. Listen to the Distraction Podcast: Jessica McCabe tells us How to ADHD. Link works. (20-minutes) Together with her fiancée/producer Edward, Jessica has developed a unique service that now has over 100,000 subscribers. Her friendly, “Hello brains!” invites viewers to enjoy her informative videos. You might also enjoy Jessica’s interviews with Hallowell.
Stage I: “The Journey Begins” (Discovery and Diagnosis)
Relief: “Finally, an explanation!”
For many adults, discovering they have ADD, usually by reading an article, a book or seeing something on television, is a very emotional moment. People at this point in time are usually very excited. They want to talk. They want to tell their story. They want to be understood now that they are starting to understand themselves. Most want to immediately seek a professional diagnosis so they can move forward with treatment.
Stage II: “Wandering in the Wilderness” (Increasing Awareness)
This stage is marked by a variety of feelings and questions.
Denial: “How do I know this is a valid disorder?”
Flickering Optimism: “Maybe there is hope.”
Fear, anxiety, and more anxiety: “What if I follow through with treatment, but nothing changes? All that effort and for what?” Another failure?” “Is medication safe? If I use it, will I have to take it for the rest of my life?”
Grief, Anger, and Resentment: “Why wasn’t this diagnosed and treated sooner?”
Stage III: “Up and Over the Mountain Top” (Restructuring)
At this stage, the ADDult no longer puts his energy into “What might have been ….” She moves forward with her life, focusing on what works and minimizing the impact of what does not. Some ADDults go to bed in Stage II and wake up in Stage III. It is hard to predict when or why the transition occurs, but it does, and it feels good! In Stage III, ADDults feel less shame about their disorder. They feel more empowered and more comfortable with telling others about their condition. Stage III involves:
Accepting: “I’m ready to let go of the past. I want to get on with my life.”
Delegating; Using Strategies and Accommodations: “Could some else more easily do this task?” “What strategies can I use, what accommodations can I request to accomplish my goals?”
Stage IV: “Enjoying the Peaceful Valley”(Self-Acceptance)
Along your journey you have enjoyed the occasional oasis…the moments when you recognize and praise yourself for new behaviors, small accomplishments, and completed tasks. You note where you started and how far you have come. The journey has been difficult, (and often you wanted to quit or turn back), but you realized you were making progress toward your destination. By noting the oases along the way, you confirm for yourself that you are traveling in the right direction, on the right road and keep you nourished for continued travel.
Eventually, you reach a point in your journey when you are traveling light. You no longer carry baggage from your past. You are a seasoned traveler, good at figuring out how to pass through this rough landscape. You are confident in your abilities and strong in your knowledge of having survived. You know your journey will get easier–that you will even start to enjoy it. You continue to journey, but now you travel without needing guides and fellow travelers. You journey down the open road of life, sometimes skipping, sometimes trudging, sometimes limping, but now there is usually a song in your heart, a twinkle in your eye, and a smile on your face. It is good to notice another oasis just ahead. Your journey of life has become the adventure you have always looked for.
Everyone on an ADD JOURNEY needs guides and fellow travelers to show the way and provide support when we weaken and falter. Our guides and fellow travelers provide the six essentials of multi-modal ADD treatment.
Just as the wise backpacker carries the ten essentials when out trekking, the journeying ADDult needs to have the ADD treatment essentials at hand. Whether or not all treatments get used during the journey depends on the traveler. Some need to employ all treatments; others, only a few. Below is a chart showing which Guide or Fellow Traveler is most suitable for each stage of the journey
Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counselor or Primary Care Physician
Education and Support
Education and Support Groups Self-education Self-Help Groups Friends and Family
I and II,
I and II,
II and III
Medication (and/or Alternative Treatments)
Psychiatrist, Primary Care Physician (and/or Alternative Health Care Providers)
II, III, and IV
Counseling (and Therapy Groups)
Counselor, Psychologist or
II and III
Professional Coach or Coaching Partner
WHO ARE YOUR GUIDES FOR STAGES I AND II?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in helping people with mental health problems. Their training includes medical school and usually a three-year postgraduate residency. One advantage of their training is that it enables them to understand, use, and prescribe medications. With respect to ADHD, this is a definite advantage, since ADD treatment usually includes medication. In addition to psychiatrists, other medical doctors along with physician assistants and some nurse practitioners have prescriptive authority. However, none of them do psychological testing.
Sometimes psychological testing is recommended–not to make the ADD diagnosis–but to gain other information on the person’s functioning. Only psychologists do this kind of testing. So, at times, an adult seeking an ADD diagnosis may see several different professionals. Some adults see several experts for another reason. They cannot find a knowledgeable helper. Sadly, many mental health professionals are not knowledgeable about adult ADD. They may look at it as either a “made up” or an over-diagnosed problem. Since mental health professionals are not used to working with adult ADD patients, it is likely that they may believe another problem is dominant.
Professionals in any field tend to “see” only what they know. If they don’t know or understand something, they can’t see or treat it. For example, the psychologist may see your problem mainly as depression or anxiety (especially if you are a woman), not recognizing the ADD as the underlying concern. How you feel about your life because of your untreated ADD may cause you to be depressed or anxious. ADD may be your primary problem, but other problems may need treatment as well.
In evaluating a mental health professional’s knowledge about ADD in adults, many of the following questions could be asked. Most of these questions could also be asked of ADD counselors and ADD coaches.
Do you accept my insurance? Do you diagnose ADD/ADHD?
How long have you been diagnosing this disorder in adults?
How many ADD/ADHD adults have you diagnosed in the past five years. What percent of your practice has a primary diagnosis of ADD/ ADHD?
How familiar are you with the day to day tribulations of having ADD? (You’re trying to learn if they or someone they are close to has this condition. How intimate is their understanding of ADD on a daily basis?)
What is your treatment philosophy? (Will the clinician work with you and be open to suggestions or will he/she call all the shots. Is their treatment of ADD the same for everyone or is it individually tailored?)
In a subtle way, learn what they do to keep current in their knowledge about adult ADD and its treatment protocols.
How do you make a diagnosis? How many visits will it take and how much will it cost?
How long will I have to wait for an appointment?
Ask psychologists how they handle the medication part of treatment.
Ask physicians (and other medical personnel with prescriptive authority) what medicines they use to treat ADD/ADHD.
YOUR GUIDES FOR STAGES II AND III – Therapists and Coaches
Counselors/Therapists: Often, after being diagnosed with ADD, it is a good idea to find a therapist with you whom you can work. Many times adults with ADD have become so mired in negative feelings about themselves that the first thing they need to do is to face these feelings directly and learn how to let them go. Besides dealing with the ADD symptoms themselves, there may be depression, anxiety, or other problems that need to be addressed.
A good therapist can help you develop practical ways to deal with your daily life based on your own problems and circumstances. You will develop insights into how your ADD symptoms have interacted throughout your life, which is likely to help you understand why your life has taken a certain direction. It is our belief that a good therapist will educate you thoroughly about ADD.
Individual therapy is the most likely choice because most people prefer the privacy of a one-to-one relationship with a mental health professional. In individual therapy you and your therapist talk about your particular problems and develop ways in which you can deal with them more effectively. You will probably see your therapist once each week, although the schedule may later change. Visits usually last about forty-five to fifty minutes. After the initial screening is completed, you and the therapist will spend your visits talking about specific challenges, developing coping strategies, sharing new insights, and whatever concerns are on your mind.
The therapy will vary according to the therapist’s orientation. For example, one therapist may help you listen to your negative thoughts and get you to actively challenge them. This method is central to cognitive therapy. Another therapist may help you develop strategies for actively confronting and, hopefully, overcoming the ADD symptoms that make your life less than optimal. Often you will gain insight as therapy proceeds. You may have misunderstood your ADD and thought that you were just “lazy, crazy, and stupid.” You may have many misconceptions that you built up over the years that you can now interpret in the light of your new understanding of ADD.
This does not in any way release you from doing the necessary work to get your life in order. Yes, you will develop insights. But you will also need to work at developing skills you have never had before.
A good therapist will teach the ADD adult to acknowledge the importance of small steps in making progress. Often people don’t continue along the road of self-improvement because they don’t acknowledge their small steps of Progress. The person with ADD often expects a difficult problem to be solved rapidly. “I want it yesterday.” If it can’t be solved soon, the person gets frustrated and gives up. The adult with ADD who learns the value of taking small but positive steps toward a goal learns a very valuable lesson. The good therapist keeps the client on track and helps the client maintain a positive perspective.
Coaches can be therapists, although coaching is not therapy. Coaches can also be another ADD adult, a friend or someone in your family. ADD coaching focuses on practical issues confronting the ADD adult, such as organization, managing time and setting and reaching goals. Coaching could help ADD adults to develop routines and daily habits which will simplify and make their lives more manageable. Some coaches are very forceful and offer lots of suggestions while others prefer coaches who mostly listen and then offer ideas.
A coaching relationship could last any length of time, but a typical relationship lasts at least six months. Sometimes coaching is done in person, one hour a week. It can be done over the phone, 10-15 minutes a day, or even done through e-mail. Hiring a trained person to be your coach is called professional coaching while getting someone else to work with you is called peer or partner coaching.
A coach works with you to improve your results and your successes. A coach will:
help you set better goals and then reach those goals
ask you to do more than you would have done on your own
get you to focus your efforts better to produce results more quickly
provide you with the tools, support, and structure to accomplish more
How does coaching differfrom consulting? …therapy? ….sports coaching? …Having a best friend?
Coaching is a form of consulting as coaches provide advice and expertise in achieving personal change and excellence. However, unlike the consultant who offers advice and leaves, a coach stays to help implement the recommended changes, making sure they really happen and ensuring that the client reaches his goals in a lasting way.
In most therapies, patients or clients work on “issues,” reflect on their past experiences and try to understand the psychodynamic causes of their behaviors. Coaching focuses only on the here and now, looking at the problems in the present needing solutions. In this way, it is like solution-focuses therapy. Coaches work with their clients to gain something, such as new skills, not to lose something, such as unhealthy thought patterns. The focus is on achieving personal and professional goals that give clients the lives they want.
Professional coaching includes several principles from sports coaching, like teamwork, going for the goal, and being your best. Unlike sports coaching, professional coaching is non-competitive. You develop your own way to achieve your goals. There is not one best way to do it. It is not focused on outdoing someone else. It is focused on strengthening the client’s skills, such as a trainer might do.
Having a best friend is always wonderful, but you might not trust your best friend to advise you on the most important aspects of your life and/or business. A best friend might not be able or willing to provide the consistency in monitoring and feedback that coaching demands. The relationship with your coach has some elements of a good friendship in that a close relationship evolves. The coach knows when to be tender or tough with you, is willing to tell you the truth, and keeps your best interests foremost in the relationship.
“A coach is your partner in achieving professional goals, your champion during a turnaround, your trainer in communication and life skills, your sounding board when making choices, your motivator when strong actions are called for, your unconditional support when you take a hit, your mentor in personal development, your co-designer when developing an extraordinary project, your beacon during stormy times, your wake-up call if you don’t hear your own, and most importantly: Your coach is your partner in living the life you know you’re ready for, personally and professionally.” —Thomas Leonard, President of Coach University
People hire coaches because they want more to their life; they want to grow as individuals, and they want to make achieving their goals easier. When using a coach, people take themselves and their goals more seriously. They immediately start taking more effective and focused actions. They stop focusing on thoughts and behaviors that drag them down. They create a forward momentum to their lives and they set better goals for themselves than they would have without a coach.
COACH SELECTION RECOMMENDATIONS
Rapport is very important. Your relationship with your coach is important to your professional and personal growth. The effective coaching relationship is an effective model for all your other relationships: inspiring, supporting, challenging and productive. Choose someone you will be able to relate to very well.
Experience in your field is less important, although knowledge of A.D.D. is important. Coaching technology works for a wide variety of people, professions, and situations. A coach with experience in your personal or professional situation may understand you more quickly. However, much of your work with a coach will involve encouraging you to use and develop your personal skills and your expanding network. Therefore, the specific business experience of your coach is not as important as you might think. Coaching technology works independently of the business or professional environment.
Location is normally not important. While some coaches do offer on-site coaching, it is normally not necessary nor efficient. You will get the same or better results with telephone coaching at a fraction of your investment with on-site coaching.
Interview more than one coach before you decide. Most coaches are happy to speak with you for several minutes in order to get to know you and your situation. You can use this time as an opportunity to gather information and an impression about the coach’s style. Compare two or three coaches and select the one who seems most helpful to you. Trust yourself to know what you need.
Ask the prospective coach good questions. Great coaches are willing to answer your questions directly and forthrightly. Consider asking questions about their depth of experience, qualifications, skills, and practice. For example:
“How many clients have you coached, and how many are presently active clients?”
“What is your specialty and how long have you been practicing in that specialty?”
“What is your knowledge of Attention Deficit Disorder? (expand this to be lots of questions–modify those suggested earlier for evaluating a mental health professional’s knowledge of ADD)”
“How many clients have you had with A.D.D.?” What percentage of your clientele has this diagnosis?”
“What qualifies you to coach people in my situation and how many people with my concerns have you coached?”
“How do you typically work with a client?”
“What are the names and numbers of some of your clients so that I may ask about your coaching?”
The inspiration for this article and some of the information on the journey, its stages, (stage IV is my addition), guides and fellow travelers came from a self-published booklet, “Coaching Partners,” by Lisa F. Poast
Material on therapy and therapists was adapted from Do You Have Attention Deficit Disorder? by Lawrence Thomas, Ph.D. It is published by Dell Books
Information on coaching was obtained from the International Coaching Federation.
*About the author
Cynthia Hammer, MSW, ACSW, an adult with ADHD and the parent of three sons, two with ADHD. At age 49, she learned that she had ADHD and realized she knew very little about the disorder. Cynthia founded ADD Resources in 1994 and went on to become a nationally recognized advocate for the understanding of ADHD among both those who have it and those who treated it. Cynthia is now retired and lives in Tacoma with her husband.
NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health. They work to raise awareness and provide essential and free referral, support, education, and outreach surrounding mental illness.
Call 211 to locate appropriate treatment and agencies. There’s also a website if you want to search for yourself. ADHD, Learning Disabilities or Parenting classes yield good results. Washington Information Network – 211
Washington State ADHD Treatment Providers – Note: ADD freeSources does not endorse or recommend any provider or services listed. Nor should not being on the list affect your choice of provider. Most of these were chosen because they were associated with ADD Resources or local CHADD groups at some time.
Ark Institute of Learning in Tacoma assists students with a variety of learning challenges including; dyslexia, language disorder, nonverbal learning disorder/visual-spatial processing disorder, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, specific learning disorder or disability, and attention issues. Provides assessments, training, and support – – Nonprofit, but services are billed at a regular rate.
Low-cost Parenting classes and counseling available at some locations
Education Issues Washington State
WashingtonP.A.V.E.Parent resource detailing the rights of children with disabilities to a free and appropriate education. 1-800-572-7368.
Parent training Centers – Statewide Parent Training Information Center (PTI) is a federally funded program that provides training, resources, and support for parents in Washington State whose children have special learning needs, individuals with disabilities, professionals – anyone interested in people with disabilities. Staff and volunteers work with you one-to-one or provide workshops on various aspects of obtaining appropriate services in the public school system.
Conducts workshops for parents and others on laws governing special education, testing and assessment, IEP’s, communication, 504 plans and other topics as needed.
Staff assists parents individually to increase skills in working with their children’s teachers, therapists, and other team members to obtain appropriate educational services.
Has volunteer community liaisons who assist parents.
Provides information about resources and specialists in your community.
Has information about resources and laws in Washington and other states.
Office of the Education Ombudsman is an agency within the Governor’s Office created to help elementary and secondary public school students and families in Washington understand how the public school system works, how to find education-related resources and how to resolve conflict with schools. This organization is independent and neutral and not a part of the state public education system.
StaffSeattle office-Toll-free: 1-866-297-2597 Phone interpreter services available
Fax: 206-729-3251 OEOinfo@gov.wa.gov
Low Income Help
Diagnosis and Treatment for Children
Catholic Community Services in Whatcom and Skagit Counties offers specialized ADHD assessment, counseling, and case coordination for children of families with low income. Treatment includes collaboration regarding medication evaluation and management with primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and community clinicians. The clinic also provides parent education, behavior management classes, school consultation, and parent/teacher education.
Child Development Clinic – University of Washington has been operating since 1965 and serves approximately 200 children each year. Each child visits the clinic one to three times during the year and is served by multiple clinicians at each visit. About 80% of clients seen at this clinic are less than nine years of age. Over 50% of children served are insured by Medicaid.
Clients are diagnosed with an array of developmental disabilities including intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, motor disabilities, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, communication disorders, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
I wish I could thank every donor for their interest and support. We couldn’t have survived without anyone of you. Here are just a few examples of the many ways that leaders in the field of ADHD contributed to our efforts.
Drs. Ned Hallowell and John Ratey were early supporters, contributing articles for the Adult ADD Reader that helped fund the organization. Hallowell gave numerous talks in the early years, including a Training Seminar for Professionals and was our first main Conference presenter. Perhaps, your first connection with ADD Resources was talking with Cynthia at home or later calling the office for help after seeing the phone number listed in the Resource section at the back of their classic book, Driven to Distraction.
We could always count on Daniel Amen, of Healing ADD and PBS fame, to attract a crowd. He often donated his time when presenting for us and once contributed a free ADHD evaluation, complete with SPECT Brain Scans, to a fundraising raffle. Did you enter to win? Ted Mandelkorn, M.D. from Mercer Island was also a wonderful friend. Always generous, he wrote an extensive article on ADHD medication, presented at the first Parent and Teacher Workshops and every conference thereafter for gratis. David Pomeroy, M.D. not only presented, he also served on the Board for two terms. Therapist Don Baker and ADHD coach Pete Terlaak both led the Seattle support group at different times as well as serving as Board president. (Pete Terlaak – http://coachforfreedom.com/)
Non-profit organizations depend on the kindness of friends and strangers. You could list services for free in Our National ADHD Provider Directory, but many chose to contribute through Professional membership. In time, we built a group of loyal members who provided a solid funding base, but other donations also helped provide services we wanted to offer. Many authors sent us a number of their books to contribute to our growing Lending Library. Sam Goldstein sent us copies of his documentary on Resilience DVDs after presenting at a conference.
Sandra Reif donated enough training DVDs and other material to provide every Teacher a bonus packet worth more than their cost to attend the workshop. Chris Zeigler-Dendy made her great “ADHD is the Tip of the Iceberg” posters available at cost, so we could send them out to schools to post in the teachers’ lounge. Sari Solden came to lead our intimate Women’s Retreat in 2004 and gave a public talk the night before as well. William W. Dodson, M.D. arranged to have his speaking fee covered after realizing how tight our budget was. These are a just a few examples of how strangers united in service became a positive force in spreading ADHD awareness. Please help support those ADHD nonprofits who still serve the public so well.
Note: We couldn’t have succeeded without the support of local ADHD professionals. We depended on them both to promote our organization and to present for support groups, a workshop or at a conference. A large number also supported our work through membership. Many of the providers listed in this informal collectionWashington State ADHD Treatment Providerswere chosen because of their involvement with ADD Resources or CHADD affiliates.
Always good to see you again. Now, let’s get work.
Our board members have been some of our most important volunteers. Board members play an important role in the governance of a nonprofit. Serving without compensation, they determine the Mission and Vision of the organization and plan how to best provide the services that further those aims. “Rather than steer the boat by managing day-to-day operations, board members provide foresight, oversight, and insight.” (1)They also work to ensure the financial stability of the organization by raising funds and providing careful stewardship.
In other words, it involves a lot of boring meetings, careful planning, following strict rules and guidelines, meeting deadlines and lots of other things that don’t come naturally if you’ve got ADHD. Happily, a number of people, including a few neurotypical types, took up the challenge. It was always a “working board,” with members taking an active role in planning and hosting events as well as tackling larger projects at times. Sometimes it was creating new services and pursuing grants to help achieve them. Twice it involved collecting fresh material to update the ADD Reader. It’s never been an easy or immediately rewarding job. You had to really believe in the work to keep going.
A few had come to the organization looking for help for themselves or their family but ended up giving much more than they received. Some were support group facilitators who took on the larger leadership role as well. Others were professionals who worked with ADHD concerns, had been presenters, and joined the cause when asked. Occasionally, they were just friends that believed in the value of our work and felt they had something to offer. We’re grateful to have had such a diverse and hard working group of individuals.
Support group leaders are often the first friendly face that people associated with ADD Resources. Few have taken on the challenge. Yet, many have served for a number of years. Their commitment to the organization and members of their group is evident at every meeting. They must plan for, schedule presenters, and host welcoming and informative events every month.
Keeping the meetings interesting and on track, not allowing people to wander too far off topic and to keep peace amongst a diverse group, is a real art. For years, they also had to store and haul the group’s Lending Library, cartons full of books and audio and video tapes, back and forth to meetings. Facilitators provide new understanding and valuable tools for coping with the challenges of ADHD. Seeing and hearing about the positive results and changes lives of their members is their highest reward. We’re so grateful that they felt the position of leadership important enough to be worth the effort.
Phone and email help through the National Resource Center on ADHD Hot Line, a program of CHADD subsidized by government grants
The NRC is the only national resource where people can receive an individualized response from a Health Information Specialist knowledgeable in the full range of issues concerning ADHD. We receive inquiries from all over the United States and more than 20 countries. Our English and Spanish-speaking Health Information Specialists respond to queries Monday–Friday, 1–5pm EST. If you have a question or would like to talk to somebody about ADHD, call 800.233.4050.
You can also call 211 to locate services. They may help you appropriate treatment and agencies. There’s also a website if you want to search for yourself. ADHD, Learning Disabilities or Parenting classes yield good results. Washington Information Network – 211
Washington State Nonprofit and State Organizations – A good collection of local agencies offering help for ADHD, Learning Disabilities, and Mental Health. – Find support groups, information, provider directories, educational advocacy, parenting classes, and low-cost services.
Washington State ADHD Treatment Providers – Note: ADD freeSources does not endorse or recommend any provider or services listed. Nor should NOT being included on the list affect your choice of provider. Most were chosen simply because they were associated with ADD Resources or local CHADD groups at some time and I could find their contact information.
Many groups will continue to meet. Olympia has a new location, but the others will continue to meet at the same time and places. Get on your local group’s mailing list so you can keep in touch.
Join CHADD – http://www.chadd.org/The leading non-profit national organization for children and adults with ADHD hosts hundreds of local support groups around the nation. They have an informative website, run the National ADHD Resource Center and publish Attention Magazine. FREE Monthly Ask the Experts Chats and/or Webinars. They’ve also got a great Facebook page! (Membership – Individual or family – $53, Student $41, Professional $130)
Get on their mailing list!
Join ADDA (Adults with ADD) – Membership is the key to access on-line support and personal contact through their ambassador program and peer support groups- http://www.add.org/ Must be a member to access their monthly Webinars, $10 for others, but they have top names presenting. Thier website and monthly email are FREE to all. ($55 a year for a family, $20 for students, and $50 for individuals) Can be paid monthly.
Has the quality of your life been changed by the services they offered? Maybe you found a treatment provider that finally understood? Perhaps you’re a parent who learned to advocate for their child who now enjoys going to school each day. Did you make a new friend or two – someone who understands the way you operate? Maybe you found a favorite book or listened to podcasts from their Members’ Library that helped you cope better with the challenges of ADHD. Did just knowing that you were not all alone make all the difference?
Your are the lasting legacy of ADD Resources. Won’t you please share a bit of your story?
Unrecognized, ADHD may damage lives and relationships. Diagnosis and effective treatment can bring understanding and healing. ADD Resources promoted ADHD awareness through their publications, website, and educational events. Yearly workshops taught teachers how to deal with ADHD in the classroom and the conferences helped other professionals learn how to deal with ADHD in their caseload. Through the ADHD Directory, they helped link you to the providers you needed. They also offered direct help to many people who’s lives are affected by ADHD. The opportunities for involvement, support, and education they offered through the years were numerous, especially to those of you who could attend a local support group and/or a special event they put on. Celebrate the work and/or people that made the organization special.
Since 1994, ADD Resources was there to help you find the information, advice and help you need to cope with the many challenges of ADHD. One of the best things was being able to call up and get a helpful and caring person on the line. With the office closing down, here are a few other ways to find quality information and support for ADHD. It won’t be the same, but there are other organizations that can still help.
( My Spam program holds comments for approval before they are posted. My apologies for the delay. I do monitor the site throughout the day. If this is a problem, Facebook may be the better option for you. )
Just after I graduated from college at forty, I found a note posted in the library about a support group for adults with ADHD. I’d just read “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid?” by Peggy Romundo and Kate Kelly. Maybe ADD was one of the reasons it had taken 18 years to finish my degree. I thought I’d look into the group.
Within months, I’d begun volunteering for mailing parties and had been drafted to serve as a board member. Every meeting was a new opportunity for learning and each volunteer effort a time for sharing stories. I’d found a refuge where my talents were appreciated and my problems understood. I was not only getting better, I finally belonged.
Cynthia Hammer, MSW founded our first support group in Tacoma, WA in 1993. Established as a non-profit a year later as ADDult Support of Washington, Cynthia became the unpaid director. She and other professionals she’d approached to contribute compiled the ADDult ADD Reader to raise funds. In 1995, we started a quarterly newsletter, ADDult ADDvice, packaged it with the ADD Reader and an ever-growing lending library of books, tapes and videos as benefits of membership. We also began hosting public talks, professional workshops for treatment providers and teachers, one-day workshops for parents and others for on work and relationship issues for adults.
Many of our events relied on presenters speaking for gratis or at a discounted rate. For many years, all promotion, preparation, and hosting duties relied on volunteers and board members recruited by Cynthia.
2002 was a banner year. We merged with the Seattle ADHD Support group and changed our name to ADD Resources to reflect expanding our services to parents. By the following year, we’d opened an office, hired staff and hosted our first annual conference. I worked part-time in the office, taking phone calls and meeting new visitors looking for answers. A few became vital volunteers.
We also added additional support groups, 2 of them for parents – each with their own library. 2004 connected us to a wider audience with the new version of our website and the National Providers Directory. Cynthia wrote a monthly e-news. Just notes really, but always packed with new sources of information she’d found online. To provide support via the web, Cynthia approached presenters to provide free monthly podcasts. We soon added another each month. Over 100 are now saved in the Podcast/Webinar archives reserved for members.
Cynthia retired at the end of 2007. I left at the same time. Francine Lawrence replaced Cynthia, with Kathy Engle serving as the office manager. Kathy took over the reins as Executive Director a year later and managed the organization for 3 years. I returned to work with Kathy as a volunteer. The office was getting busier with more calls for help from further away. Making connections among the growing number of available providers and services available for ADHD showed how far the field had grown since the organization was begun. We started a Facebook page to serve a wider audience and opened an online bookstore which provided additional funding until Amazon began selling many of our titles at a better price.
Events were getting more professional but still depended on the kindness of local providers, both to present and promote. Board members and select volunteers provided hosting duties with the event facility providing basic services. Kathy Engle, Dr. David Pomeroy and other members of the Board of Directors also updated The ADHD Reader in 2011, seeking new articles on the latest information about both children and adults. Several new support groups were started, but keeping facilitators was a problem. We owe those who have served faithfully as group leaders a debt of gratitude.
Kathy’s departure brought difficult times. The duties of the director of a non-profit organization involve combining the support and efforts of many good people and transforming them into services that inspire and benefit many. Filling the position is not an easy task. For nine months, Steve Curry served as the interim director in addition to his full-time job. Brandon Koch worked part- time and we carried on as we were able. Thanks to hours of overtime, Steve pulled off the planned conference, but we had to close the bookstore and the lending library, and began using email and the answering machine to cover the hours when no one was in the office. Webinars also fell by the wayside. Many of the services we’d pioneered were now available elsewhere.
Laura Del Ragno took over in early 2013 but on a part-time basis. She had two months to plan, promote and host a workshop on relationships and we’d lost our office lease. Seeking to protect the membership section of the website, access to the many articles that had previously been public became inaccessible. Navigating the website became a frustrating experience. When Laura left, Brandon continued on, working with the office manager, Janice Tharp, and occasional volunteers.
Late in 2013, Megan McDonald was brought in as the new executive director. Due to the lack of continuity during the previous years, she and her staff have a steep learning curve. They need to recreate infrastructure, connect with old friends and supporters of the organization as well as redesign the website. Meanwhile, the board has been revitalized. They are asking for the help of volunteers and members to maintain and rebuild ADD Resources into a vital organization by providing both local support and information through web services.
We now host 6 support groups in Washington state including one for partners. Three more are planned to open by 2015. Working towards building the faith and loyalty of members whose support continues to drive the non-profit’s funding base will take time. But, with your help, those who work with and for the organization will be able to serve the ADHD community well through the coming years.
Editors note: Unfortunately, the organization was unable to recover financially and did close its doors in March of 2016. If you would like to share some way that the people or services of ADD Resources impacted your life, pleasevisit the Memorial page and leave a comment.
I retired last year. I still go the meetings every month.
Joan Riley Jager (2014)
Note: In the three years since retirement, I have curated a Pinterest page with over 15,000 pins about ADHD and related topics. I now have almost 10,000 followers. February 29, 2016