On ADHD: Parent to Parent – Honor your child’s individuality while seeking solutions to challenges you face every day.
ADHD is a complex disorder that affects both individuals and their families greatly. There’s so much to know about ADHD that you might wonder just what it is that your child really needs from you. While there’s no one right way to deal with the problems you may face, you may find ideas that will work for you from other parents who have faced similar situations. These three articles offer down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.
One treasure offers 85 – Yes, ‘85 Important Facts about Raising a Child with ADHD.’ And you’re likely to use every one of them. Why? Because:
“…You will need help Face it: Everything is easier when there are people to help you.
Yes, you will be judged – This is why it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand you and who accept your child as he is.
Several ADHD kids have other problems – Whether we’re talking about learning issues, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, or problems in the autism spectrum, all these things can be tagged to an ADHD diagnostic.”
A healthy life hygiene is of utmost importance
Chips + chocolate at 10PM = catastrophe.
Lower your expectations It won’t hurt as much. No one is perfect.
Yes, having a routine is very, very important If you never liked routine, you’ll learn to love it. Your sanity depends on it…”
By Eloïse Beaulé from “FamilleTDAH,” a French-Canadian blog that talks about the daily life of a family with three children affected with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Translated by Lauren Berkley
You think your kids don’t notice when you forget what they’re going through and lose your patience with them? ‘What my Son with ADHD would Like Grownups to Know’ records what Heather LeRoss finally understood what it meant to her son to have ADHD. He had more than a few things to say, but here’s a sample.
“I want people to know I feel like they don’t like how I am. I want Daddy to know I am not stupid and it hurts my feelings when he says, ‘Are you dumb?’ I want you to know I don’t like it when you yell.”
“I just want it to stop. The yelling, comparing me to other kids that are ‘normal.’ How people tense up sometimes when I just walk into the room. I want people to say I am nice and funny and good at drawing. And not follow it with, ‘If only he could focus like that in other areas.’ I just want to feel like it’s OK to be me.”
Dealing with ADHD isn’t easy. But others have gone before and are willing to share their experiences and expertise. You can survive the challenge, but don’t go it alone. If you can, join a support group. Make friends with fellow parents you meet at school or in the Doctor or therapist’s office. If these avenues aren’t possible, follow reputable websites, blogs, social media or join an on-line organization that will keep you informed and offer encouragement. Your goal is to let your child know that they are loved and that they are worthy – That it’s Okay to just be themselves.
As an adult with ADHD, you know that it is much easier to follow through on tasks that interest you. So, of course, the more of these you can have on your plate the better.
But the reality is we all have tasks we don’t want to do, and for one reason or another they still need to be on our plate. We can’t delegate, barter, drop or defer these tasks. We need to do them. Now!
Obviously, these are also the tasks that we are most likely to procrastinate on starting, never mind completing.
And, while we are dragging our feet on these tasks, they still take up a great deal of our mental time and energy. Consider the following statements as they relate to a taskyou are putting off.
While I really don’t want to do (fill in the blank), I am thinking about it a lot, even worrying about it.
And thoughts of it will pop into my head at random times, distracting me from tending to my task(s) at hand.
I will likely be behind the eight ball when I eventually get around to it, and will need to put aside everything else to get it done.
Another day. Another fire drill!
So, how do we follow through on those tasks that having us screaming, “I don’t wanna!!!”
What About The Task Turns You Off?
First, figure out what about the task turns you off. Here are some possibilities:
It bores me. Simple as that.
It takes too much time and energy because it is hard for me.
It is not important to me.
I have too many other tasks on my list… “Take a number and fall to the back of the line” is what comes to mind when I think of this task.
My other reasons are…
Once you’ve figured out why you don’t want to do a task, the next step is to figure out what you can do to follow through on those tasks that must fall on your plate.
Because often it is the not deciding and not doing that can contribute significantly to your feelings of overwhelm.
Activating the Reward System
Then, take into consideration the other challenges that may be getting in your way. An understanding of the process that happens in the brain’s Reward System is a good place to start.
In simplified terms:
We make choices and prioritize goals when a sensory stimulus is sent and processed in the brain indicating a reward is on the way.
When a reward is anticipated, dopamine is released to various parts of the brain, which activates our motor functions, attention and memory pathway. (When the memory of this stimulus and associated reward is in place, we will be more likely to tackle the task next time.)
When the reward is concrete, it is easy to do something because we are motivated by the obvious anticipated reward. But here is what may happen when you think about doing the report you dread that is due in two days:
♦ As you look at the bathroom, you think, “I should clean the bathroom. Then I’ll do the report.”
♦ Then when you sit down at the computer, a notification from Facebook comes in. “Facebook, take me away from all of this…. I need a break before I start the report.”
♦ “Wow. Look at all those emails. I really need to answer those before doing the report!”
When deciding to clean the bathroom, look at FB or plow through your emails the stimulus is right in front of you and the reward is immediate. Because the reward for doing the report is not so obvious or immediate, it is harder to make the connection at the moment.
In this simplified version, you can see that your motivation to do a task is related to the immediacy of the reward when all is working as it should be in the Reward System of the brain.
Remembering Your “Why”
True enough. It is important for everyone to make the connection between doing a task that may not be intrinsically interesting and the potential rewards.
Here are some possible starting points:
I want to be successful at my job and doing reports is just part of the gig.
These reports are important to have the data we need to make good business decisions.
The reports actually aren’t that important to me, but I want to be a dependable team player. And Bob really needs these reports…
But you need to have a visceral connection to the payoff, not just an intellectual connection. That is, you want to be able to really feel and see the reward in all colors of the rainbow. To do this you will need to go one step further.
For example, you might want to think about having a visual cue (pictures, quotes totems, etc.) to help you remember what it will feel like when you are successful; you can look at this item in those moments when you think, “I don’t wanna!”
Now you are thinking, “Ok, got it, Marla. I have to make the connection between the task and the reward. But I don’t think that is going to be enough…”
You are right!
Along with a weak working memory, it is believed that there is not enough dopamine in the ADHD Brain to carry out the processes in the Reward System, particularly motor functions and attending.
So, even when you can really feel the reward of a task that does not interest you may still:
feel like you are standing in cement.
avoid it – not do it or think about it.
Not to despair, though. You’ll just have to incorporate a few more workarounds in order to get going.
Knowing Why Is Not Enough
Yes, it is important to acknowledge that there are going to be times you are bored. It happens. And remember that your particular brain chemistry makes it harder than for neurotypical people
Be that as it may, you can still be proactive in meeting the challenge of doing these type of tasks by having a few strategies ready to employ when you feel resistance to doing a task you need to do. Here are a few options:
making a game out of a task, such as “beat the clock.”
setting a timer for the amount of time you think you can tolerate working on a particular task.
timing when you do a boring task to when you take your stimulant medication.
taking a break and doing something else. Then coming back to the task when you have more energy
taking notes during meetings to keep your attention.
using a fidget toy help keep you on task.
What other strategies have you used?
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
Getting started and following through on tasks that are not immediately interesting for you is harder for Adults with ADHD.
But taking the above steps, and getting the support you need, can make it easier!
Like many people today, do you find life overwhelming? Is getting through one day an exhausting marathon? Does your day include kids to be picked up, doctor’s appointments, bills to be paid, and dry cleaning to be retrieved? Are you afraid to open envelopes for fear of seeing the negative bank balances and the unpaid bills? Are you afraid of wasting time and money on impulsive flings every time you go shopping? It all adds up to a paralyzing sense of doom called overwhelm.
Today’s hectic world puts tremendous pressure to perform on everyone, but if you have ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) the pressure is magnified several times over.
Here are some ways ADHD contributes to that desperate feeling.
Number one is poor organization. It is now recognized that ADHD often presents as chronic disorganization. If you have ADHD, you have difficulty sequencing actions (or papers thus the unmanageable piles). Difficulty organizing the events of the day is just one example.
The second problem is an elastic sense of time. You have difficulty estimating how long tasks will take adding to the problem of planning the day.
The third is what I call the slipping clutch or the getting-started syndrome. When you do fix a time to do a task it still doesn’t get done because you can not start. Instead, you get sucked into the internet or the TV or another low priority activity.
Finally, the lack of boundaries makes it difficult for you to say “no”, so you have too many things to do. Poor boundaries also mean that you absorb more than your share of emotional overload; other people’s problems swamp your brain and make it difficult to think coolly about what needs doing.
Take these 6 steps to plan your day and beat overwhelm.
Stop. Recognize that overwhelm has captured your brain and is interfering with your ability to plan and get things done. Take a minute to observe how you are feeling. Take several deep breaths into the abdomen and exhale slowly.
Listen to your self-talk. Change negatives to positives: tell yourself “you can do it”. Talk out loud to yourself at each step as though you were explaining to another person what you need to do.
Make a list of the tasks you need to do, estimate the time needed including travel or set up time. Then weigh the importance and urgency of each task. Could some items wait until tomorrow or next week?
Consider what help you can get. Could a husband or a friend pick up the kids?
Plan the day. Group tasks according to location. If you have to go out, consider the time of day. If you must drive during busy times of the day, allow for extra travel time.
Write out the day’s route map and put it in your purse or place it where you can’t forget it. Now you are ready to go. Go!
Still having difficulty? A coach or coaching program can help you stay on track.
“Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Coaching Key to ADDPermission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
*** About Sarah Jane *** Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. The Newfield Network’s graduate coaching programme “Mastery in Coaching” and a programme “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. She is an American living in Switzerland who coaches in French and English by telephone
The standard meal in Western cultures is loaded with sugar and simple carbohydrates in the form of white bread and pasta, and candy bars and sweet soda for snacks. Such food creates a surge of sugar in the blood which briefly gives a feel of energy, but a flood of insulin follows which removes the sugar from the blood and causes an energy crash leaving you feeling more tired, spacey, confused and inattentive than before. This food also lacks the proteins and vitamins your body needs to build and repair your body.
The ideal program is four or five small meals a day each containing protein and complex carbohydrates to maintain a steady supply of fuel to the brain. Proteins are found in meat, dairy products, nuts and soy products. They provide amino acids, the material to build and repair all the body systems: the immune system, muscles, hormones and especially the neurotransmitters which make the brain function. Complex carbohydrates are found in vegetables, whole grains, and beans. They provide energy but take longer to digest than sugar and simple carbohydrates and, therefore, do not create the insulin surge that leaves you more tired than before. They also contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber which your body needs for optimum health.
A word about fat – In western mythology, fat is a baddy, but, in fact, fats in the form of oils are essential for a healthy brain. By weight, the brain is more than half fat. There are different kinds of oil and all in appropriate quantities are important.
Water is essential. The brain needs a steady supply of oxygen and energy. If the blood flow slows due to dehydration, you will feel sluggish and inattentive. A glass of water will help the blood flow better.
In a school for an Apache Indian Tribe, the program includes exercise five periods a day. If it rains they send the children home because learning is impossible without exercise. 95% of the children are hyperactive.
Until recently, experts thought that new brain cells could not be generated, that the brain cells you had at birth had to last your entire life. Research in the last ten years has shown that the brain is much more plastic. It is like a muscle; it grows when you use it. Brain cells are created, grow and link to other cells in response to usage. Exercise promotes brain growth. Use it or lose it.
The brain is a very expensive organ; it uses 50% of our food and more than 50% of the oxygen brought to the brain in the blood. Exercise increases blood flow and encourages the growth of new capillaries to increase blood carrying capacity. Exercise releases nerve growth factors called Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) known as Miracle-Gro, a fertilizer for the brain. BDNF enables cells to bind to other cells and makes stem cells grow. Pursuing an intellectual or physical activity stimulates the growth of new cells.
Exercise fuels the chemical factory producing neurotransmitters such as endorphins, norepinephrine for arousal and alertness, dopamine for the attention system, and serotonin for mood regulation and stress control. It allows nerve cells to survive and grow. Studies have shown that exercise is as effective as Prozac in combating depression and the results last longer. Exercise also increases a recently discovered neurotransmitter, the neuropeptide of love, called phenylethylamine (PEA).
What kind of exercise suits you?
Intense aerobic exercise is best, 30 to 45 minutes at least five times a week. Once you feel the benefits you won’t want to miss it the other two days. If you aren’t the extreme type, a fast walk, enough to raise your heart rate will do. Dance and Tai Kwon Do or other forms of the martial arts are highly recommended for their total effect on the attention system. They take large amounts of brain power and teach respect for oneself and others and foster resilience. Yoga has also shown good results.
If you already have a well-filled schedule, you can try just running in place or skipping rope for three or four minutes whenever those neurons start playing leap frog under your skin.
Yes, breathing. Oxygen is essential for every cell in your body and especially the brain. Breathing brings oxygen in and blows off waste products like carbon dioxide. Slight changes in oxygen level can change the way you feel and behave. Under emotional stress, anger or anxiety, people change the way they breathe. Breathing becomes shallow and rapid, an inefficient pattern which lowers oxygen levels.
Slow, deep breathing from the belly will help you be more focused and less anxious.
People with ADHD often have difficulty going to sleep at night and even more difficulty getting up in the morning. Sleep deprivation makes ADD symptoms worse and can interfere with every aspect of life. There are many strategies for getting to sleep. Here are some basic rules. Avoid stimulating activities such as TV or exercise for at least two hours before bedtime. Eat a small snack which includes protein such as a glass of warm milk or cheese and crackers before going to bed. Take a warm quiet bath. Play a tape of music or sounds of nature. Experiment to find which ones work for you.
Perhaps you were brought up to believe that work comes before play and the two do not mix. Well, here’s a new belief: doing things you enjoy and thinking enjoyable thoughts is good medicine for the brain.Try it!
When you think positive, happy thoughts your brain produces serotonin the feel-good neurotransmitter. When you think negative stormy thoughts your brain produces adrenaline, the stress hormone. Doing an activity that you enjoy acts as a stimulus for the brain.
Permission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
“Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
ADHD Coaching is a partnership dedicated to you. ADHD Coaching provides support and encouragement for you to follow your passion and realize the visions of your childhood.
Editor’s note: A coach can be anyone who believes in you and cheers you on. Your friends or family, a mentor, or even an employer can help you find your strengths and develop them. It’s important, however, for both of you to understand ADHD and how it impacts your life so that you can work around it. If you cannot afford a personal coach, see Alternatives to ADHD Coachingwhich lists group coaching, self-coaching, and other options.
ADHD Coaching will help you vanquish negative thought patterns and help you build strategies to master organization and time management. New confidence and a healthy self-image provide the motor to climb your personal mountains.
Your coach will listen to your stories of pain and frustration and hear your wholeness, your strengths, and hidden resources. Powerful questions open up new vistas to explore. Making choices leads to ownership instead of victimization. The result is a new awareness of self. Your coach is your loudest cheerleader, and they expect you to succeed.
ADHD Coaching startswith an inventory of where you are now and where you want to go. Many clients want some help organizing, managing time, and surviving overwhelm. You will choose two or three areas on which you want to focus in your coaching.
In following sessions, usually held once a week by telephone, a coach will hear your success report, help you explore problems that have arisen and ask you to choose and commit to your next steps for the next period of time.
A successful ADHD coaching relationship requires honesty and a willingness to change. You will do the work of creating new habits. It is important that this is important to you and not your spouse, parent or employer. A coach must be able to be honest with you. It may be hard, but important for you to learn how others see you.
The reason for making this list is that ALL (or most) AD(h)D’ers have a low self-esteem issue. I wanted to make this list to help myself as well as others.
Follow my steps to a better, more confident YOU!
After all, I made this list for my tribe!!
Let’s get started!
Your first step is STRUCTURE.
By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!
The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).
Step 3. FOCUS on your good qualities. Look in the mirror and choose 5 things about yourself that you DO like about you! Write these 5 things down and tape it to the mirror (changing the 5 things each week). By choosing 5 things you do like about yourself, you’re creating hope and mindfulness that goes deep down to create an inner peace. Inner peace leads to a sense of power and in a matter of weeks, a more confident you!
4. Be your own cheerleader! No one else will do it for you. Your only concern should be you. If you have to, tell yourself, “I can do this”, “I am going to do great”, “I AM worthy”.
5. Learn to LIKE yourself. Meditation works wonders!! Sit in a quiet place for 10 minutes and just breathe in and exhale all of that negativity.
6. Get CREATIVE. DIY projects, draw/sketch something, crochet or paint a landscape. Anything that makes you use your mind in a positive, constructive way.
7. Get ACTIVE! This means anything from exercise to walking up your street. You could also try Yoga or Karate. This activates the positive chemicals in your brain- happy vibes! If all else fails, DANCE!
Number 7 would tie in perfect for the eighth step as well, which is, SEEK SUPPORT. This can be a family member, a close friend, a Facebook support group or any other networking support groups. Enlist someone you trust to get active with you. Killing two birds with one stone is always a plus! By enlisting a close friend or relative, you’re getting the support aspect as well as working those happy brain cells. If you make this a habit and decide, “I’m not up for this today”, that partner will get your butt up and make you do it! Ah, support is great!! That brings me to number
9. All of us could use a little pep in our step and we’re not getting there by loading up on donuts. Try introducing a, once a day, healthy snack. This will promote energy and unlike donuts, won’t bog you down. With time, you can baby step your way to healthier meals. Instead of that scone in the morning, try a banana and yogurt. Protein and potassium make for a great and energizing way to start your day. An apple with peanut butter is a great option as well. Make that apple and peanut butter a snack and you have a totally guilt-free snack and an afternoon burst of energy!
10. GET OUTside or change the scenery. It’s a great way to promote a healthy mentality and a happier you.
11. TAKE CARE OF YOU! The world is an amazing place, but it’s also very stressful at the same time. Take time for yourself. Get a massage, pedicure or do something you love. (We’re nearly there!)
12. TRY SOMETHING NEW! This is a way to get out of your comfort zone. Say you decide to try Yoga, well, some of those stretches are hard to do. Go with me on this. You sign up for a class, get in there and do better than other first timers. That will boost your confidence and make you proud that you were able to try something new and excel! If you don’t do as well, hey, practice makes perfect and you’re working your way up to a brilliant confidence level while achieving a goal. That is definitely something to be proud of. It’s a double plus!
13. LEND A HAND! This is a no-brainer for me. I love helping. It makes my inner self-pleased to do something completely selfless and the reward- a smile on someone’s face. Examples of ways to help out are volunteering, helping an elder struggling to carry groceries etc. Get creative and look around. There’s always someone out there that needs a little assistance.
14. STEP IT UP. Comfort zones are hard to get away from but in order to succeed anywhere in life, you must step it up. Put on a smile (even if you’re not feeling it.) You never know who will see your smile and it impact their day and mood positively or, to go a bit further, your smile could save a life. I’m not kidding – Those people that are lonely, that never get noticed, the ones that keep a frown because no one cares – You notice. STEP IT UP, greet them. You may be preventing them from ending their life.
15. MEDITATE every morning to promote a peaceful mindset and every night before bed to promote a healthy, restful night’s sleep to wake refreshed and ready to begin your day.
16. BABY STEPS. Nothing happens overnight (Rome wasn’t built in a day), contrary to beliefs and otherwise. Start out slow and work your way up. All good things come with time, so be patient.
Finally, REINFORCE STEPS 1-16 each and every day. A healthier mind and body lead to a happier and more confident YOU!
Allow yourself to follow these steps and you will surely improve your esteem!
Just remember, I believe in you!
Time can be elusive for many with ADHD. So, it is no wonder that running late is a common problem. Yet, I know you want to get to places on time because you want to be responsible and honor your commitments.
It would also be nice to be grounded and present once you arrive at your destination, right? Just think of those times when you arrived someplace feeling like you had just slid into home base. How ready were you to engage in the task before you?
Even if getting to places on time has felt like a fire drill up until now, you can change this.
Use the suggestions below to the degree that you need. Of course, if you are going to a job interview, you will want to do a lot of preparation. But, if you are meeting a friend for coffee, you may not want to put in as much effort.
The first step is to visualize and write down everything you need to do to get ready for your appointment.
For example, if you are going to a meeting, the following are examples of what you may need to have ready:
clean clothes, stockings, etc.
purse/wallet with keys and phone
documents for the meeting
phone number (you never know when an unforeseen incident may delay you)
money for the meter
time you need to leave
The second step is to check and make sure you have what you need. Do this a few days in advance, so you have time to get what you don’t already have at hand.
The third step is to schedule when you intend to accomplish what you need to do to get ready. When are you going to get ink for the printer, iron your shirt, get quarters for the meter, etc.?
Yes, I know it may seem like a lot of effort. But I think you will enjoy the peace of mind that will come with preparing.
Estimate the Time Needed
As estimating time is a challenge for many with ADHD, determining when to leave for an appointment can be a bit tricky.
A helpful strategy is to think about how long it could take for each step along the way, such as:
programming your GPS
driving in traffic for that time of day
finding a parking spot for that time of day
walking from your car to your appointment
going to the washroom, if you are going to an interview.
In Boston, where I live, traffic is more of a factor than the distance. And there is almost always traffic. According to my GPS, it “should” take about 20 minutes to drive Downtown. But I will add as much as a 1/2 hour to my travel time to make sure I can get to meetings on time.
If it is critical that you get to the appointment on time, try overestimating the time needed. I heard your gasps of surprise at this suggestion! And I know you may get bored easily. So, bring a book or some other work to keep yourself occupied in case you arrive early.
It is true. Preparation and intention may not be enough to get to your destination on time.
You still need to stop what you are doing and get ready to leave. Not always an easy feat! If transitioning between tasks is a challenge for you, as is true for many with ADHD, not giving yourself enough time to transition may still torpedo your plans.
Stop what you are doing at least 15 minutes early so you can give yourself time to clear your head and get ready to leave. Use a timer to cue you, if you need a reminder.
Actually Getting out the Door
One last hurdle is actually getting out the door on time.
You may, however, suffer from the common affliction of “one more thingitis.” Those who suffer from this ailment often suddenly remember things they “have to do” at the most inconvenient times, like when they are leaving to go to an important meeting.
Does the scenario below sound familiar?
As you are walking out the door, you decide you really need to take out the recycling. Then you drop it. As you drop the recycling, a glass falls. You need to clean it up so the kids do not cut themselves. Ten minutes later, you are still not out the door.
It is a slippery slope, to be sure.
The antidote is to resist the urge by using some type of self-talk, like, “If I don’t go now, I’ll be late and that will not look good. The recycling can wait. It would not be the worst thing if it went out next week.”
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
If you want to get to places on time, you can optimize your chances by adopting some or all of the steps above:
Prepare in advance
Estimate the time needed to get to your destination. Better yet try over estimating!
Have a plan to transition from your previous activity.
This is How you Treat ADHD based on Science with Russell Barkley, Ph.D.
How to refuel your Fuel Tank and be less ADHD. Create external scaffolding to support Executive Functions. Behavior modification techniques work for children. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or coaching works for adults. Develop specific strategies for time and organization management that work for the individual.
13-minute video from Part 2 of the 2012 Burnett Lecture – Includes slides and lecture on same clip.
“The back and front parts of the brain involve two processes, knowledge and doing. ADHD splits them apart… I don’t care what you know, you won’t be able to do them… You’ve got a real problem on your hands.”
“ADHD is a performance disorder. A disorder of intention, not attention. It’s an executive function disorder (EF)…. It’s time blindness. You won’t be able to aim your behavior toward the future to care for yourself as effectively as other people can…”
“They know what to do. They just can’t do it. It ends up looking like a problem with motivation… The only way to deal with executive deficits is to re-engineer the environment around them to help them show what they know… All treatments must be out there, in their lives, where you have to build that scaffolding…”
“Build that “ramp.” You must reinforce external reminders and consequences. Put them “in the now…”
“EF deficits (Executive Function) are neuro-genetic in origin. Therefore, medications may be essential for most (but not all) cases. Meds are neuro-genetic therapies.”
“ADHD is the diabetes of psychology. It’s a chronic disorder that must be managed every day to prevent the secondary harms it’s going to cause… ADHD is the most treatable disorder in psychiatry… The biggest problem is, most people don’t get treatment.”
See links to the complete lecture below the embedded video.
Self-advocacy can give you the opportunity to speak for yourself regarding your needs and help to secure the necessary support at work or school and for your personal life. We don’t have to struggle so hard. Developing self-knowledgeis the first step. ADD Coach Dana Rayburn reminds us, that, “When properly treated, ADHD loses much of its power over our lives. As adults, we can paint a new picture of who we are and what we contribute to the world…” (1)
The goal is to develop your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.
Don’t go it alone, feeling you have to prove yourself over and over again that you CAN persevere! The truth is, delegating the things you aren’t good at, or just plain don’t like, is a good idea for anyone. If you have ADHD, however, it can make the difference between constant struggle and an enjoyable, successful life.
Negotiate with other workers/family member/friends/employees for help in areas where you struggle. (Hint: Ask them for help in areas where they shine – or at least don’t mind doing with the right incentive). What can you offer or trade to make their lives easier? Make it a point of honor to follow through with your end of the deal.
1stName your challenges both at home and at work. What are your weaknesses? When and where do they cause you the most problems? For basic challenges of ADHD, refer to any ADHD symptom checklist. The official DSMV diagnostic criteria or any of the ADHD screeners we list are good choices. You need to separate your ADHD from yourself. You are NOT the disorder. Your symptoms cause certain behaviors, like being late or missing deadlines, but they don’t define you.
It’s also important to identify the situations when problems are most likely to show up. Being in a hurry, under stress, and during times of transition between places or activities are common reasons. Certain environments can also bring out symptoms. Being unable to move about freely, noise levels and visual distractions are just a few. We often think of ADHD as involving “getting things done,” but don’t neglect to note emotional reactions and uncomfortable social interaction as challenging symptoms.
2ndKnow exactly what your strengths are. Your values, talents, and skills are all contributing factors. You probably have a general idea, but the more specific you can be, the better. According to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator practitioner, Nila Nealy, “You don’t need someone else to tell you what your strengths are. Your heart knows them. Still, I believe that sometimes we take them for granted or are so sucked into the “you must be broken” viewpoint that using tools other people have created can be helpful.” (2) Don’t forget that you have friends and family that can also help you identify your strongest points. (After all, they know you, love you anyway and are probably your biggest fans)
“Give yourself permission to proceed with identifying, embracing and integrating your unique brain wiring into your life,” ~ ADD coach and trainer, David Giwerc. “The standardized ways of learning, processing information, and performing may not work for you…Your job is to discover the options that naturally work for you and integrate them into your daily life…Educating others in your life about what works best for you, can help you facilitate home, school and workplace environments that…serve you.” (3)
Another reason to utilize these tools is that self-esteem is a core issue of ADHD and you may not be comfortable “claiming” your strengths without outside verification. Don’t neglect to ask those who know you well what they think are your strongest points. Your friends and family are likely to be your biggest fans. Don’t let self-denigration get in the way of accepting their positive feedback
3rdYou can’t wait until you ‘get over’ your ADHD before you start your life. Develop strategies that reshape how you approach life. Leading with your strengths rather than your weakness allows you to fully express yourself in new ways. It’s about accepting yourself and making good decisions based on what you do naturally, without the struggle. It is based on getting the help that you need to highlight your ability rather than simply shoring up your weaknesses.
What are you looking forward to in the next two to three weeks?
What are you proud of?
There are also many Tools for Discovering your Strengths.
Discover your Strengths by assessing your values. – In recent years, some people have proposed that ADHD itself conveys certain strengths. In 2015, the VIA Institute on Character, in conjunction with the ADD Coach Academy, conducted a research study to identify whether there are indeed specific strengths of people who have been diagnosed with ADHD. (5) Instead, but not surprisingly, the study found that most people with ADHD had shared difficulties in areas related to impulsivity and sustaining attention. Their weakest ”Strengths” were Prudence, Self-regulation [self-control] and Perseverance. Although the qualities of Creativity, Humor, Kindness, and Teamwork did rank slightly higher in people with ADHD, their highest “Character Strengths” were uniquely individual.
What was a revelation, however, was that when individuals worked in accordance with their highest values, their weaknesses proved to be situational. That is, they were far less of a factor in getting things done when interest inspired action. As David Giwerc explains, “When you focus on what ignites your heart and your positive energy, you will always be able to self-regulate.” (6) That is why a “Strength-based” approach works so well. You can continue to struggle to “will” yourself to do work which does not inspire you, or create an environment where your interest and urgency based nervous system works with you to achieve what you desire. The eight-minute video at the bottom of the page explains more about character strengths and their place in creating a meaningful life.
VIA Youth Survey (Also FREE, but for ages 10-17) Takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.
VIA Reports– Take the VIA survey, but receive more in-depth reports of your personalized profile. Learn what your strengths mean and how they can help you reach a more optimal, positively fulfilled life, whether you are using for yourself or with others. ($10 for youth, $20 to $40 for adults)
The VIA survey is also available for free at AuthenticHappiness at Penn State. Results are not as complete.
Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator Tests
MBTI is what it says it is, an indicator. It points you to the general area of preferences you have for interacting with the world, taking in information and making decisions. Some ways just may feel more natural than others. The MBTI assesses how you get energized as well as the ways you perceive and express yourself.
Official MBTI assessment with certified professionals ($50 or $150 with person-to-person feedback from a certified MBTI practitioner.
If you want to investigate even further, I recommend the Gallup book and Strengths Finder 2.0– Buy the book. ($12 to $16 (+ S&H) Use the code within to take the online test. *One use only. Your Goal? Identify your top 5 talents. (You can buy a version of the test only through another site, but the book provides great personal stories and ideas for using your strengths at work and in your social life.)
Remember, the first step towards advocating for yourself, for getting the help that you need, is getting to know yourself. Explore those areas where you struggle as well as those where you have competency and shine. You are so much more than your symptoms. Don’t battle endlessly with your challenges. Ask for help. Discover your strengths, your best self. Create a more positive future for yourself. You deserve it.
Some children with ADHD continue to have it as adults. And many adults who have the disorder don’t know it. They may feel that it is impossible to get organized, stick to a job, or remember and keep appointments. Daily tasks such as getting up in the morning, preparing to leave the house for work, arriving at work on time, and being productive on the job can be especially challenging for adults with ADHD.
These adults may have a history of failure at school, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships. Many have had multiple traffic accidents. Like teens, adults with ADHD may seem restless and may try to do several things at once, most of them unsuccessfully. They also tend to prefer “quick fixes,” rather than taking the steps needed to achieve greater rewards.
How is ADHD diagnosed in adults?
Like children, adults who suspect they have ADHD should be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. But the professional may need to consider a wider range of symptoms when assessing adults for ADHD because their symptoms tend to be more varied and possibly not as clear cut as symptoms seen in children.
To be diagnosed with the condition, an adult must have ADHD symptoms that began in childhood and continued throughout adulthood.26 Health professionals use certain rating scales to determine if an adult meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. The mental health professional also will look at the person’s history of childhood behavior and school experiences, and will interview spouses or partners, parents, close friends, and other associates. The person will also undergo a physical exam and various psychological tests.
For some adults, a diagnosis of ADHD can bring a sense of relief. Adults who have had the disorder since childhood, but who have not been diagnosed, may have developed negative feelings about themselves over the years. Receiving a diagnosis allows them to understand the reasons for their problems, and treatment will allow them to deal with their problems more effectively.
How is ADHD treated in adults?
Much like children with the disorder, adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments.
Medications. ADHD medications, including extended-release forms, often are prescribed for adults with ADHD.27
Although not FDA-approved specifically for the treatment of ADHD, antidepressants are sometimes used to treat adults with ADHD. The antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin), which affects the brain chemical dopamine, showed benefits for adults with ADHD.28 Older antidepressants, called tricyclics, sometimes are used because they, like stimulants or atomoxetine, affect the brain chemical norepinephrine.
Adult prescriptions for stimulants and other medications require special considerations. For example, adults often require other medications for physical problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or for anxiety and depression. Some of these medications may interact badly with stimulants. An adult with ADHD should discuss potential medication options with his or her doctor. These and other issues must be taken into account when a medication is prescribed.
Education and psychotherapy. A professional counselor or therapist can help an adult with ADHD learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as a large calendar or date book, lists, reminder notes, and by assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork. Large tasks can be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps so that completing each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.
Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, also can help change one’s poor self-image by examining the experiences that produced it. The therapist encourages the adult with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting, or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks.