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Why ADHDers are late, pt. 2: Overcompensating instead of skill building

Mar 15, 2019

When confronted with this situation and a lack of compensation skills, most people I work with will then over do it and create an entirely different set of problems. So, a person who is chronically late and realizes that it may be because they set their alarm for too late a time everyday tends go super far in the other direction, intending to build in a huge cushion believing that then they couldn’t possibly be late.


This doesn’t work for two reasons. First, there is no incentive to get up super early. This person has no evidence that it is the appropriate time to get up and should be already. But, they know in their heart that they don’t possibly need two-and-a-half hours to get ready in the morning. So, they hit the snooze button and end up getting up when they would have anyway with more anxiety and less rested. Or they semi-consciously turn off the alarm and way over sleep.


(Preface to this next paragraph: I found the easiest way to write this was in the second person. But having written it, it seems kind of accusatory. Please don’t feel like I’m trying to shame anyone for their behavior. And, if this resonates with you, please don’t feel like speaking to you directly or chastising you in any way. Just trying to point out a pattern.)  


The other way this method malfunctions if you can actually get up at 5:00 am instead of 7:00am. What are you going to do with those extra two hours? Are you going to take your meds early and clean the house? Are you going to go to the gym and get your dopamine on for the day? Are you going to meditate? Are you going to make a big batch of something healthy to take for lunch the next few days? Are you going to get to work early and get in a few extra hours so you can take a long lunch, get fresh air, catch up on person stuff, have some down time? I’d love to say the answer is yes… but it probably isn’t. You’re probably going to drag out your coffee and checking your phone and maybe even avoid the shower until it’s too late to be on time anyway. Or you might get a rush of inspiration and do one of those productive things. But if you still don’t know what time you need to leave, you can still be late. It almost doesn’t matter if you’re sleeping, playing candy crush, or curing cancer. Late is late.




Part 3 coming soon!



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.



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Why are ADHDers late, pt. 1: We suck at time.

Mar 08, 2019

In my experience there are a few reasons that ADHDers are chronically late. The most  fundamental issue is our lack of time sensitivity. In my opinion, this stems from our basic neurochemical wiring. We don't experience time as a constant. Whoever said that time flies when you're having fun was most likely and ADHDer. When you are not aware of the time, it’s really easy to be late.


Our tendency towards hyperfocus is also a contributing factor. When we do effectively attend, it is often in this hyperfocus way, which blocks out the rest of the world. Whether we are doing something fun or have finally found “the zone” for something tough, we can get totally lost in that thing. There are no clocks in “the zone.”


There are also some ADHD folks who are so not present in the moment that it doesn’t even occur to them to interact with time. I always ask a clients who tell me that they are chronically late to work, “What time do you need to leave for work?” I am, (more often than you might think,) met with a very long pause and the answer, “I don’t know.”  My follow up question is usually, “How long does it take you to get to work?” There usually isn’t a great answer to that question either. Obviously, if we don’t know how long it takes to get to work, we can’t figure out what time to leave.


There is a basic skill set lacking here in terms of planning before doing. For example, if I were going to start a new job tomorrow, I would Google Map my route considering what time I would need to be there, figure out the parking situation and add in time for that, and probably add a buffer of 10 minutes. Of course, that takes attention, executive function, mindfulness, and a belief that taking these steps will actually work. But, if you avoid planning because it challenges your attention and executive function, you may be late on day one and never really know what time it is other than being “behind schedule.”



Part 2 coming soon!



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.



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The most dangerous word in the English language: SHOULD

Feb 15, 2019

It does not matter if you should do it faster.

It does not matter how fast the kid next to you does it. 

It does not matter how your grandmother did it back in the day.

All that matters is reality. It only matters what you can do.

If you live your life comparing yourself to everyone else, you will always be disappointed. There is always someone who is bigger, stronger, faster, etc. There is always a Michael Jordan or a LeBron James. (And, those best of the best people are often insufferable pricks anyway.)

The only thing that matters is what you are capable of. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses and accept them both. Yes, continue to work on your weaknesses. Always try to be the 2.0 version of yourself. But don't budget time based on how long you SHOULD take. That will lead to failure. Figure out how long it will take you and adjust accordingly. Find the way you can deliver with whatever your limitations (real or perceived) are.

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New Entry

Feb 7, 2019

It's no secret that I believe that exercise is one of the most important ways to manage ADHD. Even with successful medication therapy, exercise is key to managing our brain chemistry. And if you have depression and/or anxiety like I do, you get twice the benefit from the exercise, as I also believe it to be crucial to managing those issues as well. And for the record, it's not just me. There is more an more research all the time pointing to the neurochemical value of exercise.


I've written a good deal about how to get a workout routine started in the past. I've also written about how to make it a habit and other similar topics. Today I wanted to share some recent successes I've had in my workout life. This is not to toot my own horn, but to share some new insights that I've recently gained.


Let's start with today since that's what made me think about bringing this up. Well, actually, let's rewind to yesterday... Or maybe we should rewind and I should share where I am in my overall workout life...


My goal is to work out everyday... on average. That can mean many things. Typically I cycle through three different workouts: 5 mile run, usually on the treadmill at the gym, interval sprinting on the spin bike while watching hockey or Netflix, and one of three lifting routines. Sometimes I do two-a-days to balance out days that I don’t work out. Kind of maniacal, I know. But it works for me. I don’t necessarily recommend every do what I do.


Anyway, I had taken a day off on Sunday and really didn’t feel like going on Monday. But I don’t take two days off in a row, so I forced myself to go to the gym, stretched out, and got on the treadmill. There are definitely times when I get on the treadmill, take two steps, and my body tells me, NO. Then I just turn around and go home. On this day, (Monday the 4th,) I got on by telling myself that I’d just run nice and easy at 7:50’ish mile. That’s about as slow as I go and is generally pretty easy… but sometimes pretty boring.


Once I got on, I felt more energy and cranked it up to a 7:00 minute mile. But that was exhausting. Sometimes when I do that I can only last 3 miles. I’d rather do 5 miles at a slower pace and get in a longer workout. But ADHDers like novelty. I generally like consistency in my workout, but not that day. That day I needed to mix it up to get through it. Hint: I think the victory here is that I was willing to be flexible and innovative. So I changed my speed for each song on my running mix on shuffle. The catch being that I varied between 7.5 miles/hour and 8.6 miles per hour with no discernible pattern, while doing a different speed for each song. And I managed to make it 5 miles averaging about 7:22 mm which is pretty good for me.


Again this is not designed to toot my horn. I’ve been running for 25 years. This is the first time I’ve ever done it this way… the first time it ever occured to me to do it this way. And, even if it only worked this once, it worked this one. Victory!



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Great Article in ADDitude

Feb 1, 2019

Rarely do I come across something that is so perfectly said that I don't feel the need to put it in my own words. Please check this article out: 6 Reasons ADHD treatment fails


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Great med research opportunity

Jan 22, 2019

See attached: 

Here are the details as emailed to me from the doc.

Participants can either be diagnosed with ADHD or ADD or have symptoms and need to be evaluated.  The medication is a long acting methylphenidate product (same as Ritalin or Concerta) but it lasts all day and into the evening so it should be very helpful for people who need coverage from morning to night.  It would be especially good for college kids (rather than giving them short acting stimulants that are more likely to be abused) or for men and women who need longer coverage during the day.  Methylphenidate is FDA approved for ADHD but this formulation of methylphenidate is being studied because of the unique delivery system. 

Participants will receive a very extensive evaluation and testing (that is above and beyond what is done in ADHD clinics) and includes a physical, labs, IQ testing, SCID-5-CT diagnostic interview, tests of concentration and accuracy levels, and lots of rating scales, etc. plus observation by trained clinicians and raters during the visits.

There are 2 simulated workplace days (held on Saturdays-one half day and one long day) in which their symptoms will be assessed throughout the day by trained clinicians and raters (and on the long day into the evening).  They will play group games that are fun and then take a 10 minute math test to assess their concentration and accuracy multiple times during those days.  The math tests are just addition and subtraction and are adjusted to the person's ability and comfort level.  We make the days fun.  Most people enjoy the day and interacting with staff and other people their age with ADHD.  We provide breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks (and dinner on the long day) on the Saturday visits.  Anyone who wants to stay at a local hotel, so they don't have to drive far in the morning, will be provided with a hotel room on the Friday night before the 2 Saturday visits.  All medications and study visits are free of charge.  

They will be reimbursed $1125.00 for their time.

 Anyone interested must meet the following criteria to participate:

  • Be 18-60 years old, 
  • have no MAJOR medical problems such as high blood pressure or heart problems, etc. 
  • Be able to come to the clinic weekly for 8 visits, then come to a classroom/conference room site for 2 Saturdays (one half day and one  long day).
  • Be able to take simple addition and subtraction (10 minute) math tests.
  • have no Major CURRENT psychiatric diagnosis (MDD, anxiety, etc in past is fine as long as it isn't very impairing currently).  Schizophrenia is an exclusion.  
  • not be on any other psychotropic drugs, other than ADHD medication during the study.

It's ok if they are on an ADHD medication but they need to be willing to switch to the study medication (a methylphenidate compound with a longer duration of action) during the trial which is 10 weeks.

Participants will all be on the actual study drug throughout the trial but during the last week of the study, 50% will be on a placebo for 7 days.

If you have someone who is interested, please have them call 781-837-8833 as soon as possible or you can send me their name and phone # and I will have someone call them right away.

Thank you for your help.

**I will send the IRB approved advertisement/flyer as soon as I have the phone number updated on it.  Jodi's number is on it and she is out on maternity leave.

Great med research opportunity

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