Author Archives: joanjager@live.com

ADHD Awareness

@allontheboard information sign for public transport— in 
London, United Kingdom

“Issues can arise in day to day life. From mood swings and losing things to struggling to focus and getting ready on time.” Walking in circles with a head feeling like chaos, overwhelmed, highly emotional, and exhausted. As hard as it can be with ADHD, you are more than your condition, so don’t give up.”

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Enews Healing ADHD: Love Who You Are

Healing ADHD: Radical Acceptance Meets Executive Function

February/March 2020 Enews

Welcome to March.

Somehow I missed the February newsletter altogether. I’ve been very busy – especially with worrying, researching, and watching the news about the Coronavirus, doing ANYTHING else “more important” or more interesting, and otherwise procrastinating. I’ve even started a few times but didn’t manage to get it done.

Unfortunately, “most of us with ADHD have to hijack the emotional part of the brain to get started.  We use our emotions to help us to think, remember, plan, and act.” It’s amazing just how harmful this tactic can be. Self-acceptance is a universal problem, but those of us with ADHD struggle with it again and again. With every slip-up and failure to produce, we hammer the message home. “You are NOT enough!”

New treatments for ADHD are beginning to focus on the importance of accepting the reality of ADHD and celebrating the core of our “being” despite the problems we face. The challenges exist. Never the less, in order to heal, we have to learn to live with them with grace, WITHOUT tearing ourselves down with each new “failure.”

Loving yourself is a basic need of the human spirit, but we’re talking about ADHD and things get complicated because of the emotional aspect of the disorder. I explore this approach to Healing ADHD through a number of resources this month. They include:

  • 5 Perfectly Awful Ways to Motivate the ADHD Brain
  • Radical Acceptance Meets Executive Function
  • ADHD Choices: Things I CAN do!
  • Self-advocacy for ADHD: Know yourself

Read the newsletter online here. Healing ADHD: Love Who You Are

Until next month,

Take care of yourself in this uncertain time of contagion. Educate yourself and remain vigilant about hygiene and distancing to protect yourself and your loved ones. Don’t let fear and anxiety take over.

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources.net

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Healing ADHD: Love Who You Are

Radical Acceptance Meets Executive Functions

Welcome to March.

Somehow I missed the February newsletter altogether. I’ve been very busy – especially with worrying, researching, and watching the news about the Coronavirus, doing ANYTHING else “more important” or more interesting, and otherwise procrastinating. I’ve even started a few times but didn’t manage to pull my thoughts together.

Unfortunately, most of us with ADHD have to hijack the emotional part of the brain to get started. Just a few ways that we “motivate” ourselves are Anxiety, Avoidance, Procrastination, Anger, Shame, and Self-loathing. Tamara Rosier writes more about why these are so harmful in “5 Perfectly Awful Ways to Motivate the ADHD Brain“.

“Many of us with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) have less reliable access to our prefrontal cortex (PFC) than do neurotypical people,” she says.  “Life’s details are (typically) managed in the PFC. It is a calm, rational butler, directing behavior in a Siri-toned voice: “Sir, your keys are on the table.” Or, “Madam, you must leave now if you want to arrive on time.”

“Those of us with ADHD can’t rely on our PFC butler for planning, short-term memory, working memory, decision-making, and impulse management. (Also known as Executive function) So we go to our emotional centers, in the limbic system, to remember things, make decisions, and to motivate ourselves. We use our emotions to help us to think, remember, plan, and act.

I know. I’ve been doing it myself all my life. The problem is that this DOES work. Well, Sometimes. Eventually. Maybe. But just as often, it really does NOT work, not at all. And using our emotions to fuel action comes at a very high cost to our psychological well-being. This month, ruminating over NOT writing the newsletter was just one of many tasks that I gave myself a hard time about not getting done. Honestly, I’m so tired of beating myself up.

I also know that I not alone in feeling this shame and self-loathing. Psychotherapists Sari Solden, MS, and Dr. Michelle Dougher Frank. write about coming to terms with this negative image of self in  A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers. ($10.50 on Kindle, $16 in paperback)

Although their focus is on women, Solden and Frank’s ideas apply to everyone with ADHD or other neurological disorders – men, women, and children.  In an article for Psychology Today, Radical Acceptance Meets Executive Function, they advocate a shift in treating ADHD from a medical perspective to a person-centered point of view. (Link works)

They explain, that, “This approach measures the success of these woman’s lives not by the decrease in their symptoms (which is helpful) but instead by how they can continue to lead fulfilling authentic lives; the goal is not just getting over their struggles but developing a healthy relationship to them.”

Mind you, their advice to therapists includes using many coaching techniques for ADHD such as identifying individual strengths and interests as well as problem areas where their ability to cope falls apart. They recommend delegation, organizational tactics for the physical environment, as well as time management skills to address executive function difficulties. But the focus is on restoring the individual to wholeness through connection, meaningful purpose, and acceptance. As Solden and Frank remind us, “Disowning oneself is far more destructive than living with the chronic disorganization and executive functioning issues of ADHD.”

In other words, all the tricks and “hacks” for living with ADHD that we have put into place, no matter how successful we are in “getting things done,” mean little if you can’t be happy with who you are. Stop trying to “fix” yourself. That doesn’t mean stopping the strategies that are helping you, but that we need to separate, to untangle, our “brain-based challenges from our core sense of self.” This video helps explain. Helping Women (and Men)with ADHD Live Boldly

We can choose how we react to our challenges. Our guest author, Meagan from  Happy Hyper Shiny, offers us a few ideas in  ADHD Choices: Things I CAN do!

  •  “I CAN take one step at a time.  Moving forward and making the smallest step is progress towards success.
  • I can, I can, I can….
  • The point is that even though my brain doesn’t allow me to do normal things in a normal way, I can try and find a way to do them so I am successful.  My brain isn’t “normal”.  I can’t expect it to work that way.”

It’s an ongoing process. 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. We don’t have to struggle so hard. Developing self-knowledge is the first step. Find tools for discovery in the collection of resources in Self-advocacy for ADHD: Know yourself.

Helping to define your “purpose” in life is a great way to inspire action. Partly due to our feelings of shame and inadequacy, we tend to believe that something that comes easily to us has little value. But the ADHD brain “lights up” when we are interested in something and many of our struggles fade away when positively engaged.

These 9 Questions to Ask Yourself to Help you Find Your Passion can be another starting point in learning to value your strengths rather than dwelling on areas where you struggle.

  1. “What is something that you are really good at doing? Something that comes naturally to you? Something that you do with hardly any effort or difficulty?
  2. What is one thing that when you do it, you forget about the time, about eating, about using the bathroom, or about any of your responsibilities? Meaning, you are so focused that you naturally forget about everything else.
  3. What is something that you can talk about for hours, and when you talk about it, it lights you up, gets you excited, and gives you energy?”

You can download the complete list at Follow your own rhythm.com

Taking good care of your body and mind is also vital. Although we tend to ignore (or overindulge) even minimal basics like food and sleep, we work best when our time is balanced and supported by good self-care. I am inspired by a meme by Liz and Mollie on Instagram that illustrates the importance of self-care. It’s composed of two Venn diagrams. The first is titled “What I thought would make me productive” with the entire circle devoted to “Hard Work“. The second diagram, “What actually does” is divided into numerous pie-shaped sections with Hard Work taking up about 1/3rd of the space while Exercise, Healthy Eating, Sleep, and Time Off fills up the rest.

Self-acceptance is a universal problem, but those of us with ADHD struggle with it again and again. With every slip-up and failure to produce, we hammer the message home. “You are NOT enough!”  Leo Babauta of Zen Habits urges us to consider ourselves as whole and wonderous beings (NO MATTER WHAT!) in You’re Not Doing Life Wrong.  

“ See how you are enough. Just as you are. Without any need for improvement. You are also a wonder, exactly enough.”

“You can go about your day, pausing every now and then to do a check: is this moment enough? Are you enough? And try answering, “Yes, absolutely and wonderfully.”

For now, I’ll try to take my own advice,

Start from enough. Better may or may not follow. Live with that for a while. Let that be enough too.”

Until next month,

Take care of yourself in this uncertain time of contagion. Don’t let fear and anxiety take over.

If your children will be home from school for any length of time, Our ADHD Kids page can help fill the time. It contains Things to read, Things to do, Things to Watch, More Reading, as well as a few Pinterest Boards for Kids. If your children get specialized accommodations, it’s important to try to maintain their routine. See “Grab that IEP! Preparing for School Closures”. To help you cope with spending so much time together, On ADHD: Parent to Parent offers down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources.net

 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Modified on Canva.com

 

January 2020 enews: There will be flowers!


Welcome to 2020.

Once again, the New Year has come and gone without any action on my part to name any “resolutions”. My ideas for goals are still rolling around in my brain with no specific starting date, commitment, or accountability. For now, the ideas are flowing and hope sustains me. That will have to be enough

I’m taking my own advice again this month, better late than never. I’ve also written another post full of resources for you to explore. Writing these newsletters, with long posts full of resources to explore has never been easy for me nor really very popular.  But ADHD advocacy is what gets me up in the morning and collecting information, sharing, and offering support is what I do best.

Turns out there’s even a name for it. Curation. (Google definition: cu·ra·tion – /kyəˈrāSHən/ – the selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.)

Our article this month addresses ADHD Routines and Resolutions.

  • Highlights include:
    The problem with resolutions
    Choosing goals of inherent value to you
    Create routines that support your ability to find success
    Using your strengths to inspire action
    The importance of unconditional acceptance.
  • Inspiration: Mr. Rogers song lyrics and video – It’s you I like. Just as you are.

Continue newsletter here>>> Creative Routines to Fulfill your Goals 

Until next month.

With hope, but no hurry, for the New Year.

 

Take care, Joan Jager

Creative Routines to Fulfill your Goals

By Joan Jager

Once again, the New Year has come and gone without any action on my part to name any “resolutions”. My ideas for goals are still rolling around in my brain with no specific starting date, commitment, or accountability. For now, the ideas are flowing and hope sustains me. That will have to be enough.

I’m taking my own advice again this month, better late than never. I’ve also written another post full of resources for you to explore. Writing these newsletters, with long posts full of resources to explore has never been easy for me nor really very popular. But ADHD advocacy is what gets me up in the morning and collecting information, sharing, and offering support is what I do best. Turns out there’s even a name for it. Curation.

(Google definition: cu·ra·tion – /kyəˈrāSHən/ – the selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.)

I saw a cartoon last week with two characters talking. The first one asks, “Why do you think that 2020 will be better? The second replies, “There will be flowers.” The skeptical creature retorts, “There are always flowers. What makes this year any different? Then, looking over the other’s shoulder, he wonders, “What’s that you are doing? Our optimistic fellow simply answers, “I’m planting flowers.”

And therein lies my both my dilemma and my hope. Choosing wrong will have consequences – adding yet another failure to my already sketchy history. My coach, Jennie Friedman, recommends first imagining how the “flowers” or goals will look and feel when achieved. What will success look like? What’s in it for you? Why is it worth the effort? The stronger your picture, the more likely it is that you will be enjoying your own garden this year.

For those with ADHD, setting a goal is just one of many decisions. Making it happens requires creative thinking. Neither the importance of a task or depending on willpower works well. Because the ADHD brain works so much better when interested, goals first need to be something we can get excited about, invested in SO MUCH that you will not have to depend on “shoulds” or shame to propel action. Only then can we create a PLAN for positive and sustainable action. With this new approach, it becomes much more probable that this year there will indeed be flowers!

In the past, my best tools for success have been using small and sustainable actions to create habits and build routines that move me forward.  As Darius Foroux says in “Stop Trying to do Everything  “Success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

Things add up. You learn one skill. Then another. You finish one project. Then another. Over time, your accomplishments add up to form an impressive feat.”

Identify those “things” that are most appealing, important to your values, or necessary for the future imagined. It may be a cleaner house, better health, looking good, more money, or happier family life. Traditional guidelines for housekeeping, organizing, weight loss or planning techniques can be helpful, but many methods don’t come naturally to those of us with ADHD. Our memory fails us. We may lose track of what we were doing every time something new attracts our attention. We often fail to follow through on commitments to yourself or others. Over time, we come to lose faith in ourselves.

When the goal reflects your internal values, however, your natural strengths and talents come into play. See Self-advocacy for ADHD: Discovering your Strengths or Be the Best Version of Yourself: Explore your Strengths for more information. These not only compensate for problems from ADHD, but they also make most tasks feel almost effortless.

Your progress need not be so hard-fought. Try making small changes, usually by linking them to already established routines. Linking taking your medication with brushing your teeth is one example Taking five minutes to plan your day with your first cup of coffee is another. When you get home from work, you might bring in the mail and immediately throw away any junk mail.

Whatever your final intent, the first steps towards creating habits to add to your daily routines should be easy to implement. Actions should ideally be small enough to prevent an emotional reaction of alarm, fear or overwhelm by the task ahead. To help you get overcome those barriers and get started, ADHD coach Sue West provides us with 20 Momentum Strategies to Combat Procrastination.

Create routines to make larger changes a reality. Your reward comes as each day goes a little smoother. You begin to string a series of successes that move you towards the future you want. Small actions build new habits, and your routines provide the structure and support for areas that we struggle with.

It’s not just getting things done that matter. Many of us fail to meet such basic needs as eating, sleeping, resting your brain or controlling your emotions to keep from procrastinating, being overwhelmed, or succumbing to perfectionism.  We rush towards productivity without the self-care we need to sustain progress. I recommend 16 Steps to Better Self-esteem with ADHD by Kari Hogan yet again because it excels in providing strategies to meet your basic needs, to feel whole, and enjoy more success in your personal and public life.

For more ideas, ADDitude Magazine just put out an article by Michelle Novotni with more specific “ADHD Hacks” that can be helpful when “tweaked” to work for you.”  My 25 Rules for Life: A Practical Cure for ADHD Shame and Stagnation 

“Think of ADHD as a marathon, not a sprint”, she says. “To be a successful marathon runner, you have to conserve your energy, pick your battles, and pace yourself. You have to plan for the long haul.”
Her tips include:

  1. Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection. As long as you’re making progress toward your goals, I encourage you to consider your efforts a win. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Value the Power of Praise. Praise is a way of sharing love and building self-esteem
  3. Quiet the (Inner) Critic.

Like anyone, and especially if you are a child or adult with ADHD, we need to feel loved and accepted before we can keep our feelings under control and move forward towards our goals. This control is also known as self-regulation. Children need acceptance from their parents and adults that guide them, but so do grown men and women. Adults may need to “re-parent” the wounded part of themself – to connect with and work on accepting that inner child who bears the scars of being misunderstood and misjudged in childhood. I highly recommend Learn to Parent Yourself, an article by Sharon Martin.  “If we didn’t get age-appropriate discipline, unconditional love, models for healthy relationships, or the skills to understand and manage our emotions and behaviors, we’re likely to struggle with these issues in adulthood. Adults often think they should just innately have these social-emotional skills – but these are learned behaviors.”

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has written about the art of  Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself.

“What if we applied unconditional acceptance of who we are? Leo says. “What if we took a good look at ourselves, our body, our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and said, “You are perfectly OK. You are perfectly good”?

“What if instead, you loved yourself, fat body and all? 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?”

“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. I vote for unconditional love.”

Coming from a place of love and understanding, you can work within your own values and interests. The more you can put boring, mundane, or difficult duties on automatic, the less time you have to manage the most damaging aspects of ADHD. You can live and work more “in the flow”, using the way the ADHD brain is motivated, not by importance but by interest, challenge, and deadlines, and in ways that match your most treasured values in life.

Your routines provide the structure to do what you “need to do” but are not inspired by. Habits and routines help you get to what you WANT to do by handling those necessities of life that may not even be on your radar otherwise. Your routines should not look like anyone else’s. They should reflect your own values, minimum standards, and ease of following the steps to the routine.

For instance, I hated cleaning the bathroom, but having a clean sink with polished chrome was important to me. I started using the toilet paper method of cleaning the bathroom.  Now, every time I use the restroom, I grab some tissue, clean up the sink, spot clean the countertop, and polish the chrome. When I see hairs on the floor or in the tub, I scoop them up. If these areas look fine, I’ll take a minute to address the toilet, getting dust and hair off the seat and top of the tank, and clean up the floor around the toilet too. Same for the tub and floor, spot clean and wipe up hairs. By doing these small tasks throughout the day I seldom have to deep-clean the bathroom.

Now really, how many of you now believe that the toilet paper method the best way to keep the bathroom clean? But it works for me. And that is what is important. You will need to develop your own habits and rules. Ask yourself, “What the least thing that I can do that will move me towards my goals or projects?”

You may soon find that learning to plan your day becomes vital. Sara Jayne Keyser has a very simple list of 6 Steps to Survive ADHD Overwhelm.   If you have a busy work and home life, I love the Next Action List planner by Learn, Do, Become. Printable and podcast with directions. For an easier to use and less structured format, you can start with a Simple Weekly Planner from Emily Ley. Use 2 pages to make up a week – Just split the bottom sections of the second sheet for Saturday and Sunday.  You can also find a daily planning sheet among her other printables.

For those of you collecting more “hacks”, we have a number of useful articles.  46 Small Steps to Save Time from Sue West has easy tips to help you work with Executive Functioning Challenges.
ADHD coach Marla Cummins provides us with 20 Valuable Tools to Enhance your Memory. I wrote about more resources for planning and household tips in Manage your Life, House, and Home with ADHD featuring 9 resources that I have used to build routines.  A good starter article for housekeeping would be The Quick Start Guide to a Decluttered Home that Leo Babauta has generously shared.

Still, despite years of treatment and instituting numerous coping strategies, I continue to struggle to accept and value myself just as I am.

I am sure that I am not alone in this. I was recently inspired by the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I have the lyrics to a simple song, I Like You as You Are.

I Like You as You Are
Lyrics by Josie Carey | Music by Fred Rogers

I like you as you are
Exactly and precisely
I think you turned out nicely
And I like you as you are

I like you as you are
Without a doubt or question
Or even a suggestion
Cause I like you as you are

I like your disposition
Your facial composition
And with your kind permission
I’ll shout it to a star

I like you as you are
I wouldn’t want to change you
Or even rearrange you
Not by far

I like you
I-L-I-K-E-Y-O-U
I like you, yes I do
I like you, Y-O-U
I like you, like you as you are

Recommended Pinterest Boards
Habits, Routines, and Systems for ADHD
House, Home, and ADHD
Basic Self-care for ADHD
Planners, Journals, and Calendars

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash – Modified on Canva.com

There will be Flowers! ADHD and the New Year

Welcome to 2020.

Once again, the New Year has come and gone without any action on my part to name any “resolutions”. My ideas for goals are still rolling around in my brain with no specific starting date, commitment, or accountability. I’ve decided that’s okay with me.

I saw a cartoon last week with two characters talking. The first asks, “Why do you think that 2020 will be better? The second answers, “There will be flowers.” The first retorts, “There are always flowers. What makes this year any different? Looking over the other’s shoulder, he then asks, “What’s that you are doing? Our optimistic fellow simply answers, “I’m planting flowers.” And therein lies my both my dilemma and my hope.

Imagining how the “flowers” or goals for my life might look like is just the first choice. They need to be something I can get excited about, invested in SO MUCH that I will not have to depend on “shoulds” or shame to create a PLAN for positive action. For now, my hope sustains me.

There will be flowers! (Flowers to be named later.)

I’m taking my own advice again this month. Better late than never. Moving towards those yet unnamed resolutions, I look to my best tools for success in the past, using small and sustainable actions to create habits and build routines that move me forward. As Darius Foroux says in “Stop Trying to do Everything ”, “Success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

“Things add up. You learn one skill. Then another. You finish one project. Then another. Over time, your accomplishments add up to form an impressive feat.”

Continue newsletter here>>>

Once I identify those “things”, that are creating problems in my life, I can try out small changes, usually by linking them to already established habits. When they work, they will eventually create routines to make larger changes a reality. My reward comes as each day goes a little smoother and I begin to string a series of successes behind me.

It’s not just getting things done that matter. Many of us fail to meet such basic needs as eating, sleeping, or resting. Your brain is already hampered in its ability to perform the necessary executive functions of the brain, those skills whose development is delayed – that give us the ability to coordinate actions needed to effect positive change for the future. The ADHD brain struggles with the ability to plan, keep items in working memory, move past procrastination, overcome overwhelm, or succumb to perfectionism. We rush towards productivity without the self-care we need to sustain progress.

I recommend 16 Steps to Better Self-esteem with ADHD by Kari Hogan for an easy to understand process to help you meet your basic needs and progress towards feeling whole and successful. ADDitude Magazine just put out an article by Michelle Novotni with more specific “ADHD Hacks” that can be helpful when “tweaked” to work for you.” My 25 Rules for Life: A Practical Cure for ADHD Shame and Stagnation.

“Think of ADHD as a marathon, not a sprint”, she says. “To be a successful marathon runner, you have to conserve your energy, pick your battles, and pace yourself. You have to plan for the long haul.”
Her first tips include:
1. “Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection. As long as you’re making progress toward your goals, I encourage you to consider your efforts a win. Be kind to yourself.
2. Value the Power of Praise. Praise is a way of sharing love and building self-esteem
3. Quiet the (Inner) Critic.”

Like anyone, and especially if you are a child or adult with ADHD, we need to feel loved and accepted before we can keep our feelings under control and move forward towards our goals. This control is also known as self-regulation. Children need acceptance from their parents and adults that guide them, but so do grown men and women. Adults may need to “re-parent” the wounded part of themselves – to connect with and work on accepting that inner child who bears the scars of being misunderstood and misjudged in childhood.

To help you with this, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits wrote about the art of Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself. He writes:

“What if we applied unconditional acceptance of who we are? He says. “What if we took a good look at ourselves, our body, our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and said, “You are perfectly OK. You are perfectly good”?

“What if instead, you loved yourself, fat body and all? 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?”

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. I vote for unconditional love.”

Coming from a place of love, you can work towards better within your own values and interests. The more you can put boring, mundane, or difficult duties on automatic, the less time you have to spend trying to manage the most damaging aspects of ADHD. You can live and work more “in the flow”, using the way the ADHD brain is motivated, not by importance but by interest, challenge, and deadlines, and in ways that match your most treasured values in life.

Your routines provide the structure to do what you “need to do” but are not necessarily inspired or motivated to do. Habits and routines help you get to what you WANT to do by handling those necessities of life that may not even be on your radar otherwise. Your routines should not look like anyone else’s. They should reflect your own values, your own minimum standards of “good enough”, and the ease of following the steps necessary to complete the routine.

For instance, I hated cleaning the bathroom, but having a clean sink with polished chrome is something that is important for me. I started using the toilet paper method of cleaning the bathroom. Now, every time I use the restroom, I grab some tissue, clean up the sink, spot clean the counter top and polish the chrome. When I see hairs on the floor or in the tub, I scoop them up. If these areas look fine, I’ll take a minute to address the toilet, getting dust and hair off the seat and tank top and doing the floor around the toilet too. Same for the tub and floor, spot clean and wipe up hairs.

By doing these small tasks throughout the day, I seldom have to deep-clean. Even the tub and shower are easy. I have a soft toilet bowl brush that looks like a mop. I just spray Awesome cleanser with bleach that I get from the dollar store, wait a minute and wipe down with the “mop”. I don’t even have to get on my hands and knees.

Honestly, how many of you now feel that the toilet paper method the best way to keep YOUR bathroom clean? But it works for me. And that what is important.

You will need to develop your own habits and rules. Ask yourself, what is the “least thing that I can do” that will move me towards my goals or projects. If you have a busy work and home life, I love the Next Action List planner by Learn, Do, Become: Printable and podcast with directions. For a less –structured planner, you can download a weekly planner from Emily Ley. Choose the Simplified Weekly Planner. Use 2 pages to make up a week – Just split the bottom sections of the second sheet for Saturday and Sunday. You can also find a daily planning sheet among her other printables.

For those of you collecting more “hacks”, I wrote about more resources for planning and household tips that I’ve used with success in this newsletter, “Manage your Life, House, and Home with ADHD.” See these 9 tips to build routines. A good starter article would be The Quick Start Guide to a Decluttered Home that Leo Babauta has so generously shared.

For hundreds of extra ideas, I also have three Pinterest pages, House, Home, and ADHD, Habits, Routines, and Systems for ADHD, and Basic Self-care for ADHD.

Through all my years, my biggest struggle remains learning to accept and value myself just as I am. I am sure that I am not alone in this.  Writing these newsletters, long posts full of resources to explore has never been easy for me nor really very popular,  but ADHD advocacy is what gets me up in the morning and collecting information, sharing, and offering support is what I do best. Turns out there’s even a name for it. Curation. Google definition: cu·ra·tion – /kyəˈrāSHən/ – the selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.

I was recently inspired by the lyrics to a simple song from the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I’ve also included a video of the more well-known song “It’s You I Like” that includes Mr. Rogers’ conversation with his guest Jeffery Earlinger.

I Like You as You Are
Lyrics by Josie Carey | Music by Fred Rogers

I like you as you are
Exactly and precisely
I think you turned out nicely
And I like you as you are
I like you as you are
Without a doubt or question
Or even a suggestion
Cause I like you as you are
I like your disposition
Your facial composition
And with your kind permission
I’ll shout it to a star
I like you as you are
I wouldn’t want to change you
Or even rearrange you
Not by far
I like you
I-L-I-K-E-Y-O-U
I like you, yes I do
I like you, Y-O-U
I like you, like you as you are

It’s You I Like (7-minutes)

Until next month,

With hope, but no hurry, for the new year.
Take care,

Joan Jager

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash

Modified on Canva.com

ADHD Holidays: Simplify and Discover your Strengths

Welcome to all of you.

This month I want to address the value of simplifying the holidays and everyday chores. We also have ideas for discovering your strengths and creating a life that features your best qualities.

Holidays are a break from everyday routines. They are therefore an extra challenge to normal coping skills for people with ADHD.  The lack of structure and increased social demands can be a problem for both kids and adults. Christmas is next week. How are YOU doing?

I hope that whatever holiday you celebrate, this season is a time of joy and communion with loved ones. Some of you may be excited and easily manage the many tasks involved, while others feel overwhelmed by the upcoming holidays and all its physical and social trappings. To keep your mental and physical energy at comfortable levels, you may have to simplify.

That doesn’t mean you have to drop everything from your schedule. But by thinking ahead, choosing your activities carefully, you can help your family enjoy the most important traditions while feeling safe and able to keep difficult emotions under control.

This newsletter comes too late to help you simplify the holidays this year, but I have a Printable from Andrea Dekker, Simple Steps for Staying Organized, that will guide you every day. It starts,  “If you open it, close it. If you drop it, pick it up. If you try it on, put it away…”   I keep a copy on my refrigerator. Amazing what a daily reminder can do to inspire action.

I did find an article by Katherine Quie with some great ideas for helping children and their parents cope with family get-togethers. My Top Ten Suggestions on How to Survive and Thrive During the Holidays.

Please see my Pinterest Board, Holidays and other Celebrations for many more ideas.

Strength-based treatments and self-advocacy

Trusting my abilities despite still needing to work on certain areas doesn’t come easily. Because of the erratic nature of whether I am capable of handling routine, boring, or difficult work on schedule, I have devalued the progress I have made. I ignore my talents and areas of strength. Coach Linda Walker writes on the importance of strengths and self-advocacy for both adults and children. Don’t miss her Twelve Great Strategies that Help ADHDers Thrive.

1.      Take advantage of your strengths.
2.      Surround yourself with people who can embrace your differences and who accept you for who you are and for what you are not…. and
12. The most important: laugh.

When we are interested or challenged by a project, most of us find that in those situations, our mind works well and we can shine. The best strategies build on your natural interests and skills.

To explore your best qualities, see my collection of resources, Self Advocacy for ADHD: Know yourself – Tools for self-discovery. You’ll find many more articles on discovering and using your strengths on the website.
–          Be the Best Version of Yourself: Explore your Strengths by Marla Cummins
–          Encouraging Self-Advocacy in Teens
–          For younger children, try the VIA Youth Survey – Ages 10 to 17  which examines 24 Character Strengths
–          Our ADHD Kids Page is also great for children to explore. It includes a few strengths and talents activities.

There is only so much that medication and remediation techniques can do in addressing those areas where people with ADHD fail. Learning to “lead with your strengths” can make a world of difference.

 

Enjoy yourself this holiday season,

Take care,

 

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources.net

 

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Created on Canva.com

ADHD Advocacy and Social Media: “Play Attention”

Changing your working hours to playtime makes all the difference.November 2019 Newsletter

Hello again,

Welcome to the chilly nights of November. This begins the holiday season traditions and getting together with friends and family to celebrate. Holidays, however, often break down established habits and routines and thus challenge normal coping skills. The lack of structure and increased social demands of the season can be a problem for both kids and adults with ADHD. As Erin Synders of Honestly ADHD says in Six Tips for Handling the Holidays,  “We keep coming back year after year torn between the dread of the ADHD-fueled chaos and the hope for something different and more meaningful this holiday season.” If you need more tips on surviving the holidays for yourself or the kids, see our Pinterest Board, Holidays and other Celebrations.

November is also a time for expressing gratitude. This will be my family’s first Thanksgiving without our mother, so expressing my thanks for the year is a little tough. But then I realized that even small things can be a blessing. One thing that helped get me out of bed and kept me going the past month was by following other advocates, searching for the best they had to offer, and sharing on social media. Thank heaven I can call this part of my “work”, so I could use my time to “Play Attention.”

Changing my working hours to playtime made all the difference. The ADHD brain wants stimulation, challenge, novelty, deadlines, and works best when very interested in a project. It’s not laziness or uncaring. It’s a glitch in the way the brain works. Emotions also get in the way with fear of failure, perfectionism, and shame stopping progress. Weak Executive Functions contribute to the problem. Poor planning systems, not being able to picture the first steps, or what the finished project should look like are all examples of what keeps us on track.

I began my advocacy efforts 5 years ago by posting my research for an ADHD non-profit on the “crack” of all social media formats, Pinterest. At the time, the format was perfect for my need to help others with ADHD because many small steps created a finished project and following the stats on “repinning” offered quick rewards that encouraged me to keep going.

Later, I added a website, but maintaining and building my site feels like WORK! I wanted to keep on “playing, so I started a Facebook page. This offered a great opportunity to encourage others while also providing quick clips of valuable information as well as a laugh or two.

Today, many other individuals and groups offer ever more interesting content to support understanding ADHD and advocacy efforts. Together, we are attracting attention and influencing the lives of ever more people. It’s a group effort. Indeed, my featured articles this month come from freely shared writings on various support groups and informational pages.

ADHD and Learning Disability advocate, Nichola Parody, reached out to me on Facebook messenger. I soon began following her new page Heidi and Me, Our Neurodiversity Journey. As a public service, she posted  An Open Letter to my Child’s Teacher.   She describes in some detail her child’s individual challenges and strengths the teacher may expect to see and offers tips on tactics that have worked in the past. The way I see it, she says, “My child’s successful education depends on teamwork, with you and I understanding and supporting each other.” Her example provides a good template to follow in introducing your own child to a new teacher, babysitter or even family members that struggle to understand ADHD.

I found ADHD Marbles: An Analogy on the ADHD Reddit page.  It begins,  “HAVING ADHD IS LIKE HAVING TO HOLD ONTO 100 MARBLES TO BE CONSIDERED AN ADULT…You’re trying to manage all the stuff that neurotypical people are able to manage but it’s just too much. The marbles keep falling out of your hands. And everybody else is giving advice…. It gets discouraging.”

You may have your own analogy, the way you like to explain the experience of having ADHD. If you haven’t come up with your own description yet, maybe it’s time to work on one. Sharing your story in simple metaphors is a great way to combat stigma.

For a bit of fun, I love to follow Dani Donovan,  who creates mental health comics. Her insightful chalk drawings/comics describing ADHD symptoms and how they impact children and adults are funny as well as informative and offer gentle lessons to help others understand ADHD a little better. Follow her on Instagram or Facebook – Support Dani’s work through Patreon.

You can also find “Comics about the daily struggle with ADHD” on the ADHD Alien. Created by Pina, her work is also found on her Tumbler page.  Her Patreon page offers the first views of her work and invites your ideas for her next work. Her comics were originally inspired by the often misunderstood expression of inattentive ADHD, but have expanded to include many different types and other ADHD symptoms. I particularly like the Time Blindness series.

Of course, you can always find the best comics, memes, articles, and videos on ADD freeSources. I invite you to explore ADD freeSources.net.  ADHD Websites and the Find Support section list a number of social media sites that I follow.  Enjoy  ADD freeSources on Facebook or see our many Pinterest Boards.   I know that some of us can get “sucked in” by social media, so be careful. A little bit of time on the right sites, however, can go a long way to provide information, support, and encouragement for your own journey with ADHD.

 

Until next month, take care,

Joan Jager

An open letter to my child’s teacher

Children with ADHD are not defined by their diagnosis. They are individual persons like you and me. by Nichola Parody

Good afternoon Mr/Mrs/Ms New Teacher,

I trust that this letter finds you well. I hope you have had a relaxing summer holiday and are feeling relaxed and replenished after a busy year. I look forward to meeting you and getting to know you over the coming school year.

I hope that we will work well together. The way I see it; my child’s successful education depends on teamwork, with you and I understanding and supporting each other.

I want to start by expressing the gratitude that I have for your dedication and devotion to being a teacher. I am in awe of the work you put in; those restrictions placed on you, and those long hours required to do your job. I know that finishing work for the day is not the 3:15 pm I once imagined. After attending to you and your family’s own needs – dinner, chores, and time to connect,  you still have to sit down and plan tomorrow’s lessons, mark your pupils’ work, and reply to parents’ emails. The list goes on. You probably even had to work over the summer holidays too; labeling books, and doing much more to prepare for this school year.

My child will be joining you this year,
He/she has a diagnosis of ADHD.
They may or may not be medicated.

He/she is not defined by their diagnosis, they are themselves an individual person like you and me, but with their diagnosis brings some slight differences I think you should know about.

Perhaps you have taught pupils with ADHD before or someone in your family shares the same diagnosis. If so, I am sure you know lots about ADHD already. Hopefully your school supports extra Special Education training for staff

I hope that teaching my child this year will be fun and rewarding for you. He/she really is a sensitive, caring, energetic, and passionate child. I hope he/she will make you smile with their quick wit and sense of humor.

He/she does fidget a lot. They may scribble or play with pens while listening to you to help them. For your own reassurance, check that they are listening but please don’t assume that they are not and take that pen/item from them. I can provide a few unobtrusive fidgets to use in the classroom.

My child doesn’t want to zone out when you talk, but if you notice that they are; I find a little break helps. Ask them to either fetch you something, get a quick drink from the water fountain or my child’s favorite; some jumping jacks somewhere private.
This little burst of activity really helps reset and refresh his/her brain.

My child is a chatterbox. Be assured he/she will butt in when you talk or forget to put their hand up. He/she doesn’t mean to be rude but may worry about forgetting the answer and keen to impress you with their knowledge and questions.

He/she isn’t great at taking turns when playing with classmates or friends. They don’t mean to be a bossy-boots. A bit of gentle prompting about give and take, or encouraging a change of game works well at home. I am working a lot with him/her at the moment about friendships, sharing, and being respectful.

He/she can be forgetful, disorganized, and appear unmotivated to start tasks.
He/she just doesn’t know where to start and so needs some gentle encouragement and perhaps help to initiate or better organize their task. I find that I have to really break tasks down for them into small steps and provide lots of repetition. Executive functioning and working memory are the culprits.

He/she has suggested to me that they would like to discuss with you a “prompt” that you can both agree on to help them know when it’s time to start work. Something gentle and friendly, please. You see they are afraid that you may say something that will embarrass them or draw attention to them.

My child really wants to work hard for you this coming year. He/she has talked excitedly about you all summer; what you might be like, whether you wear glasses, and what golden time treats you may give the class as a reward.

Sometimes he/she just doesn’t have that ability to wait for a later reward. It may be a bad day for paying attention, for being more hyperactive, or he/she may have slept poorly or is feeling nauseous from their medication. But hopefully, you can learn to detect a bad day from a good day, reward the good days, and be understanding of the bad.

Be assured that we both want what’s best for your class and my son/daughter to ensure a successful and happy new school year.

See you very soon,

A parent of a child with ADHD ❤️

 

This is an open letter written by Nochola Parody to articulate the thoughts and worries a parent of an ADHD child may feel when their child starts school. Nicola is an ADHD and Learning Disabilities advocate who hosts the Facebook page, Heidi and Me: Our Neurodiversity Journey.

The letter had an incredible response. ❤️ It was shared by 23 SEN/ADHD and relevant charities and advocacy pages in Europe and got as far as Canada and the USA.

More importantly, it was read and shared by many parents of other neurodiverse children. ❤️

 

 

Heidi and Nicola’s photo found on Facebook (Heidi and Me )

Title Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Modified on Canva.com

 

 

 

ADHD Marbles: An analogy

ADHD IS LIKE HAVING TO HOLD ONTO 100 MARBLES TO BE CONSIDERED AN ADULT

HAVING ADHD IS LIKE HAVING TO HOLD ONTO 100 MARBLES TO BE CONSIDERED AN ADULT.

You’re trying to manage all the stuff that neurotypical people are able to manage but it’s just too much. The marbles keep falling out of your hands. And everybody else is giving advice like “Why don’t you just put them in your bag?”

BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE A BAG.

You lack that bag because your attention and emotions are not well regulated. The ADHD brain is either engaged and active or bored and unable to proceed. Also, executive function skills like being able to plan and work towards a future goal are compromised. It is bitterly discouraging to see people around you easily managing 150 marbles while you’re struggling to carry even 50. But the fact that you can even hold on to that many is incredible. You don’t have a bag, but you’re still trying.

MEDICATION HELPS, BUT IT’S LIKE HAVING A BAG WITH A WHOLE IN IT!

It’s so much better than what you’re used to so when you FIRST start using it you feel on top of the world. Then you notice that marbles are still slowly falling out and you think “What’s the point, it’s just as bad as before.” But you have to remember it’s still worth it.

The worst thing you can do is trip over your emotions because of the marbles you’ve dropped. That’s my biggest struggle. I focus on one little thing I’ve messed up. All of a sudden I come crashing down and drop all the marbles I was able to hold just minutes before.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this but as soon as I thought of the analogy, I fixated on it (Hyper-focus perhaps?) and just had to share it. Hopefully, this helps you in some way.

Maybe HOLDING ONTO ALL YOUR MARBLES CAN BE A WAY TO EXPLAIN ADHD to yourself and people who don’t understand it.

 

Notes from the author: Not everyone wants/needs meds, and that’s fine! The “bag with a hole” can represent whatever coping mechanism fits you best (eg therapy). In addition, to those asking if they can “steal” this, no you can’t because I’m freely giving it to you. 😉 Do with it what you will, no credit necessary.

Editor’s note: This piece has been edited for clarity and syntax.

Found on Reddit ADHD page – Original source: u/emmeline29 on  https://www.reddit.com/r/ADHD/comments/a12oa9/adhd_is_like_everyone_has_to_hold_100_marbles_and/ 3.8 K views in ten months 238 comments

 

 

Photo by Crissy Jarvis on Unsplash

Modified on Canva.com