In the Northwest, we’ve been luckier than others around the country this winter. Although it’s been wet, our mild winter is already yielding to spring. I’m already enjoying the hours of light lengthen each day and watching crocuses and other early bulbs emerge.
ADHD in the Family: Working Together for Peace, Love, and Understanding
ADHD impacts everyone in the Family. Understanding the complexity of ADHD and developing strategies for your home and personal life are important steps to coming to accept and deal with challenges. This month, I have a mix of articles for both parents and adults. The first celebrates keeping peace in the family and love alive in your relationship. Next is an extensive article I’ve been working on detailing the new perspectives on ADHD. If you prefer videos to reading, I’ve included a few short ones further expand on the topic. The final articles offer ideas you can tailor to fit your own needs, like using music to keep on task and decluttering your home and/or office. Hope you find some “treasures” this month.
“What I found most frustrating is that I thought I had no control over anything.”“Once I learned that there were some things I could do to make life with ADHD better for all of us, the building process began and the frustration diminished.” (Note: Duane Gordon is the current President of ADHD for Adults) ADD.org
Attention problems, Hyperactivity and Distraction symptoms for diagnosis in childhood are just the tip of the iceberg. Many aspects of ADHD, especially in adults, are now better defined as developmentally delayed Executive functions and poor emotional control. Coexisting conditions or comorbidities further compound the issue. This realization has been slowly changing how we understand ADHD and its expression throughout the lifespan. (Includes a number of videos for further information. )
Music helps with many challenges of kids with ADHD. Studying music can teach listening skills, patience and the ability to pick up on cues. Music can not only get one’s brain moving, but it also helps with psychical coordination.
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.
Yesterday, my husband, Duane, and I celebrated 29 years of marriage. I would like to say it was all blissful, but I’d be lying and I’m a terrible liar. (Not the anniversary! That was wonderful! I mean the 29 years of marriage!)
Until Duane received his diagnosis of ADHD in 1996, neither of us knew what the problem was. Duane and I struggled with dividing household chores (the struggle was not in dividing them, I did it all despite his best efforts and promises to do better), with our finances and the added pressures of Duane’s frequent job changes as he became bored with or lost his jobs. Under so much pressure, we fought… a lot. Duane’s impatience and emotional outbreaks affected our relationship and his relationship with our daughters. The entire family was dysfunctional.
After his diagnosis, Duane began his journey toward embracing the positive and overcoming the negative aspects of his ADHD. Duane and my youngest daughter, as is quite common, received their ADHD diagnosis around the same time – Kyrie was diagnosed first and as we read about her situation, light bulbs went on about Duane’s struggles. And while only Duane and my youngest were diagnosed, I think of us as a family with ADHD. We could only solve this problem working together, and so this was as much my journey as theirs.
Today, as an ADHD coach, when I work with an adult ADHDer, some of our biggest challenges are with the spouse. And I get it. Been there, done that! Being a member of a family with ADHD can be exhausting, nerve-wracking and absolutely frustrating. And I think what I found most frustrating is that I thought I had no control over anything. Once I learned that there were some things I could do to make life with ADHD better for all of us, the building process began and the frustration diminished.
Here’s what I did to fix Duane:
First, I changed my mindset. I realized that I wasn’t the only one suffering in the family. I know Duane had it worse than me – he was living it 24/7. He wanted to be a better partner and a more patient father. Our daughters suffered too. They saw their parents constantly worried, fighting or impatient. Kyrie struggled with her ADHD and learning disabilities, and our oldest daughter, Jennifer, felt neglected as all our efforts were directed at helping Kyrie and Duane. Duane wasn’t the only one who had some work to do, I did too. As parents, we feel for our children and would do anything to make their hurt stop, after all they didn’t ask for this. Oddly enough, we don’t always feel the same empathy towards our spouses with ADHD (even though they didn’t ask for it either!) I let go of my martyrdom and embraced empowerment, realizing that at any given moment, people do the best they can with what they know at the time.
I learned all I could about ADHD. I didn’t just learn so I could help my daughter (which as a mother, I would do without question) but also for my husband. The more I knew, the more empowered I felt. I read books, listened to webinars and went to conferences on ADHD. Attending our first ADDA Conference as a couple was a life-changing event. We both learned so much, met other people coping successfully with what we were going through and left empowered.
I became part of the solution. Duane struggles with several aspects of ADHD, but the worst is his short-term memory, which IS an ADHD problem. So why was I asking him to do things or to pick things up at the store when he didn’t have a pen and paper or his PDA to take notes? I also often asked him to help when he was tired or distracted. How likely was that to turn into a positive situation? It was only when I was willing to let go of the way things were done and turn responsibility over to Duane that we began to make progress. He told me he’d take over certain tasks… if he could do it his way. He took over the grocery shopping. I offered my help if he needed it (secretly thinking we’d probably starve to death waiting for Duane!) To my surprise, he created his own system for doing it (don’t ever tell him I said this, but it’s much more efficient than the way I did it!) and we’ve never looked back.
I took care of myself. I lowered my standards on things that didn’t really matter much, especially in the beginning. So what if I didn’t clean the house EVERY week and cook ALL my meals from scratch? Instead of chasing dust bunnies, I spent time with friends to relax and return to my family a lot more ready to laugh as freak out at the wacky situations most ADHD families encounter regularly.
The most important thing I did was to notice any positive changes. As Duane began to work with his physician and his coach, I avoided nagging about what wasn’t yet addressed – change takes time – and made sure to notice what was moving in the right direction. And I was sure to let him know how much I appreciated it.
There are several other things we did to improve life as an ADHD family. We learned to communicate better how we felt rather than blaming, and we shared our dreams and aspirations. We started dating again; no, we didn’t have much money back then, but using Duane’s vivid imagination, we found fun things to do that cost little or no money. We didn’t get bogged down by social norms of gender roles and what constitutes woman’s work and man’s work, opting instead to take on the jobs around the house that we were better at or liked more.
We even created our own secret language to use discretely in public (I could provide Duane with cues to appropriate behavior in social situations, for example. And he could signal when he couldn’t take another minute of the 47 family members sharing a cabin in the woods for Christmas anymore and needed a break for some peace and quiet.)
And so now 29 years later, here we are still married, and much, much happier. We laugh a lot more and fight a lot less. I can safely say that Duane is my best friend and I, his. Was it easy? Absolutely not, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together and I know it was definitely worth it.
By Linda Walker. Linda Walker, PCC, B. Admin., is a certified ADHD Coach who helps adults with ADHD overcome the special challenges of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) they encounter at home and in the workplace. She is the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, a training program for adults with ADHD and the author of With Time to Spare. http://www.CoachLindaWalker.com Originally Posted May 7, 2013 http://coachlindawalker.com/heres-how-i-fixed-my-adhd-husband/
About once a week my kids accuse me of being ADD. I’m not, actually, but they see the challenges I have managing the details of life, and it can look A LOT like the things I’m coaching them to manage.
Besides, it’s fun to razz Mom a little.
After listening to one of our guest experts recently, I’ve discovered the truth. I suffer from:
STRESSED OUT SUPERMOM SYNDROME!
Being the grown-up in the family with the most executive function can be a challenge on the best of days. Add to that single parenting, menopause, full-time job (ok, more than full time), and mostly it can be exhausting. Personally, I have complete compassion for the other moms out there who add their own ADHD to the mix – hats off to you girls!
For the most part, I wear my elevated executive function status like a badge of honor. I’ve got it – all!
Seriously, there are days that I handle things seamlessly, bopping from here to there, with a smile on my face, and a task list in my hand.
But on other days, the balls are dropping so quickly that I can’t even remember the ones I’ve missed. I can hear myself muttering expletives, or worse yet, yelling them at my kids! The challenge comes when I realize that the ratio of “got it” days to “oh crap” days is not in my favor.
In reality, how we handle dropping balls is about biology. How well our brain operates under life’s stressors is directly correlated with our stress level and attitude. It’s not all that different from our kids and their ADD – a stressed out, overwhelmed brain simply can’t function at optimal capacity.
So what’s the solution? Something I call:
Simple Self Care for Super-Moms!
Taking care of yourself isn’t all that hard, and doesn’t take that much time or investment. It can make a huge difference in terms of how you are able to manage your life, and the lives of your family.
Here are my four simple steps:
Manage Triggers Consciously – Know what sets you off – pushes your buttons – and find ways to sidestep them if you can. This requires letting go of some things, or delegating others (or getting some coaching around specific triggers, which, by the way, was my salvation!) Learn about the threat cycle and practice the steps religiously when you do get triggered.
Do for You – A wise woman once told me that if you want your family to give you what you need – tell them what you want – or better yet, give it to yourself! Simply spending 30 – 60 minutes each week doing something just for you can be sufficient fuel to balance the most challenging weeks.
Practice Radical Compassion –We work with parents every day around having compassion for our kids and their ADD. It’s equally important that we do the same thing for ourselves. If you are able to see that everyone has best intentions and does the best that they can in the moment, including you, then supporting yourself on the rough days becomes easier. Ultimately, it requires letting go of the “should,” not taking things personally, and seeing setbacks as opportunities to learn and adjust, rather than mistakes or “failures.”
Let Go of Resentment – This is often the hardest because it is so intertwined with the others. We get triggered by the idea that we “have” to do everything; we get resentful that we don’t have time for ourselves; and instead of having compassion for our family members and what they are capable of, we get frustrated that they aren’t doing more. All of these are completely normal and appropriate reactions.
AND your reaction is a big part of what is STRESSING YOU OUT!
Finding a way to be “ok” with the situation, even seeing how much it helps your kids that you are carrying a heavier load, can actually help decrease how much the situation stresses you out. Being a super-mom isn’t a bad thing, and it isn’t necessarily a good thing either. Finding a way to support yourself in being the kind of mom you want to be is what is important. Spend some time looking at how you’re managing and supporting your own life, and take some simple steps forward. Ultimately, it will make thing better for the whole family.
By Diane Dempster. Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with permission of ImpactADHD™
“Image courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva.com
Can’t attend an ADHD conference? You can still learn about ADHD from experts in the field. Best of all, you can view them on your own time and for no charge.
*Best of the Web –2009 and 2010 CADDAC Conferences videos- Look under Educational videos to choose the clips that are most applicable to your needs. A wonderful gift from – The Centre for ADD/ADHD Advocacy of Canada- (CADDAC) Choose from a number of presentations filmed over both days.
The 30 Essential Ideas Every Parent Needs to Know (about ADHD), by Dr. Russell Barkley
This is the 3-hour video presentation from the CADDAC conference (found above), broken up into 27 manageable parts with an average length of 6 to 7 minutes. It’s far easier to watch. To take a saying from Barkley, “Small Chunks, Frequent Breaks.”
ADHD Neurology and Genetic Research 6 short videos with Professor Philip Shaw from NIH (National Institute of Health) DNA Learning center series – Makes difficult concepts more readily understandable.
You, Me and Adult ADD with Gina Pera – 7clips containing Gina’s talk for CADDRA’s 2009 Conference. Find on ADHD Rollercoaster’sYouTube Channel
Classroom Interventions for ADHD Video with Russell Barkley (3 ½ minutes)
ADHD: Undiagnosed in Millions, Do You Have it? (4 minutes) Alan Brown gives us a call to action to be advocates to bring awareness and attention to ADHD so individuals do not fall through the cracks and have the safety net they need to succeed.
Join an ADHD support group if you can. Realizing that you’re not alone and that others are facing common challenges is a tremendous step towards building knowledge and coping skills. Change may come slowly, but sharing the journey with others who have been through the ropes can help lift your burden and point the way towards new options.
Many groups also have a list of providers that have been recommended by members over the years. Those attending meetings may share the names of providers they are currently working with. If you cannot find a group nearby, try an online forum or Blog. See the bottom of the page for a few of these.
Ned Hallowell M.D. offers these tips for being a welcome member of a group in ADDitude Magazine’s article, “Your ADD Life.” (Link works)
“Save chatter for the right time. Some ADHD support groups schedule casual social periods along with group sharing, while others provide opportunities to mingle only before and after the official meeting.
Balance personal disclosures. Observe one or two meetings before jumping in. Sharing too much may make other members uncomfortable – sharing too little can make you seem standoffish.
Be supportive. Aim for a three-to-one ratio – three responses to others’ comments for every personal comment you make.”
Find a local Support Group
A search at Google
Try Support, your city, and ADHD (Because groups are often held in nearby suburbs, you might try your whole state instead of a specific city to find nearby groups, for example: your state, adhd & support (maybe include parent or adult)
Try Meetup – Find or start a Meetup group near you
ADDMeetup.com “Find Attention Deficit Disorder Groups Near You. Meet other local people dealing with ADD and ADHD. Gather to share your experiences, progress, and thoughts with one another.” Search by country then city. They have groups all over the world. 223 ADD meetup groups worldwide. Thanks to ADHD coach Pete Quily.
ADD Care Meetup Group Meet other local Parents and Caregivers of children with ADD/ADHD. Offer support and share advice with others.
Find Nationwide support groups
CHADD Directory – CHADD is the national leader in support groups. Current listings of their many groups. Most are for parents, a few are for adults but adults with ADD are welcome at all meetings. Please note: CHADD now offers an Accessibility and Language option that includes text to audio in any language as well as oher features. Look for it on the top right-hand corner. Pressing the link brings up Recite me, an amazing tool!
ADDA Virtual Peer Support – Would you like to meet with other adults with ADHD without leaving the comfort and privacy of your home? ADDA members* have the opportunity to connect with peers for support in a safe non-judgmental environment 2 evenings a week. 90-minute phone calls every Tuesday and Thursday at 9 pm Eastern time. 5 pm Pacific. (*Membership in ADDA is $50, $20 for students.)
Reach Further – A truly affordable ADHD coaching group offered by Jennie Friedman. Facebook community for accountability, online meetings and shadow coaching available a few times a week. Try the first month for FREE. Just $29 a month thereafter
The ADHD Enclave on Mighty Networks with Liz Lewis – Facebook pages too much? Try the Enclave. Basic membership is $20 a month, $200 for the year. Community membership with live small-group sessions includes basic services. It’s $50 a month, $360 per year. Meet Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. (Afternoon and evening – 5 pm to 8 pm Eastern) timme. FREE trial.
On-line support groups
If there’s no group meeting nearby, try an online forum or Blog. Here are a few possibilities:
ADD Forums – Very active and long-lasting forum – Wide variety of specific online message boards just for: men with ADD/ADHD; women with ADD/ADHD; teens with ADD/ADHD; parenting issues; non-ADD spouses, partners, and significant others; careers and job impact; relationships and social issues. Additional message boards for those with co-existing conditions such as ADD/ADHD and: substance abuse, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, or autism spectrum disorders.
How to ADHD is a video channel with an active Facebook page. Well researched with easy to understand explanations and strategies. Jessica McCabe appeals to kids, teens, and adults.
For parents facing very difficult behavior, Surviving the Storm is somewhere you can feel comfortable and get understanding support and advice. Do a search for the three Oppositional Defiant Disorder Facebook support groups and find your favorite.
ADD freeSources has a mix of posts about both children and adults, but is open and not a traditional support group.