My Blog: ADHD Since 1978-

Compromising with our children without negotiating

I have a four year old. He is awesome, but like any child can be a pain in my … One technique I’ve developed that I use with him came up in a session earlier this week with a client. My client liked it, so I thought I’d share it with all of you. When my little guy wants something, or doesn’t want something he often has a remarkable ability to articulate what he’s feeling. He also has the ability to spectacularly melt down. I read an article a few years ago about what goes on in a toddler’s brain during a tantrum. It was described as an electrical storm. The take away was that you literally could not reason with a child when in that state. You just have to let them calm down first. Well, my guy isn’t a tantrumer, per se. But, he can get his cry on like any kid. Here’s how I deal with it. I am the one who sets the limits (along with my wife.) He is the one who is learning, with our help, to stay within the lines. There are some rules that are hard and fast, some are situational, and some decisions are semi-arbitrary just to keep life moving. For example, what the options are for lunch. When the melt down is about one of the many daily things that are not hard and fast rules, I don’t mind being flexible… within reason. But, I also can’t have him knowing that he gets his way by crying or freaking out. So, when he melts down. I gently and lovingly ask him to pull himself together, ask him if we get what we want by freaking out, and offer to have a conversation with him once he has calmed down. When…

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Winter Doldrums

I have a new theory… I would love it if the earth’s orbit was faster. It would be awesome to have two months of snow and then spring. It would also be great to have only two months of summer. More frequent change would be great. So, after I came up with this idea, it didn’t take me long to realize this is a pretty ADHD take on life. Constant change would freak me out. But more regular change would be nice. The reason I bring this up is that I think as ADHD adults we need to be acutely aware of the seasons and how they affect us. I certainly struggle in the winter. Right about now, post holidays, I realize that I’m looking at two more months of freezing my @$$ off, taking 15 minutes to get my 4 year-old out the door, snow days (which I don’t look forward to as an adult,) cleaning off the car, not getting to run around, going (it seems like) days at a time without seeing the sun, and having far fewer options for fun and exercise. I think all these factors mean that we need to be particularly aware of the decisions we make and our motivations. It is easy to feel stale, stuck, and blah at this time of year. Major life decision should probably be under particular scrutiny. Is it the right time to change jobs? Is the the right time to make relationship decisions? Is it the right time to buy that shiny new car? I don’t know. But, I know that it might be a good idea to hold off just a little while and make sure it’s the right decision. My suggestion for the winter is to take a look at what you can add…

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Teaching my 4 yr old structure with a picture calendar

  My wife is away at a conference for four and a half days. She doesn’t travel for work too often, usually about twice a year. I started making these calendars with my son when he was about two. It has now become some what of a routine that he enjoys. But more importantly, it gives him (and me) structure while Mom is away and helps him learn to understand time. I apologize in advance for my crude artwork. Crayons are not my medium. Here’s what he gets out of the calendar in a little more depth. Four days can seem like an eternity to a toddler, preschooler, or most of us with ADHD. The calendar is a visual way to represent time, which is a pretty abstract concept. Making the calendar together is an opportunity for us to bond and plan fun things to do while Mommy is away. It is also the first step of allowing him to help me plan. So, I’m modeling good executive functions and teaching them to him. He has always enjoyed crossing the days off with me and seeing how many days are left. (I also did this with him for the month before we moved in to your new house. I really think it helped him understand the process and somewhat eased the transition.) For the first time he has really taken ownership this trip and crossed the previous day off by himself before even coming to get me in the morning. He has even taken to crossing out the pictures of things that got changed, moved, or taken out of our schedule. FYI: for whatever reason my post won’t stop bullet-pointing… so get used to it! We don’t do the calendar every weekend, but I do make a point to give…

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Coming to terms with our children’s diagnosis

I watched a great movie yesterday while I was home sick, Phoebe in Wonderland. I’m telling you about it because I think it is relevant to how we as parents of kids who have issues look at the world. I also think this is one you might have missed because I don’t think the publicity about the film really did justice to what it was all about. I thought it was going to be a light hearted film about a child who doesn’t quite fit in. It was actually a much deeper exploration of a child who was really struggling with a real diagnosis. (A real diagnosis that I won’t spoil, though it is not a huge surprise in the end.) In large part the movie was also about her mother’s journey though accepting this. I’ll let you watch the movie and see how it turns out. I will say that even though this girl’s issue wasn’t ADHD, it reminded me very much of how some parents struggle to handle a child who has a something that has a real name. There’s not just “spirited, energetic, march to the beat of their own drum, day dreamy, adorably absent minded, imaginative, etc.” They may be some of these things, but if they have ADHD too, it needs to be addressed in order for them to be the best whateverthey are that they can be. I guess my take away here is that as parents we can’t get caught up in our own conceptions of what we want our children to be or how that may reflect on us a parents. We have to recognize who they really are and love them for that, warts and all. And, we simply have to take advantage of everything we can to help our children,…

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More of practicing what I preach

As ADHD’rs we have the bad habit of getting away from things that are helpful. (Perhaps another post on why this is at some point in the future.) I recently re-started a practice that I’ve used in the past and wanted to share how helpful it has been for me, even though I consider myself pretty squared away at this point in my life. I have been struggling with organizing my days lately. This is a struggle which plagued me earlier in life, but hasn’t been much of a problem lately… or so I though. Recently, I have had a long list of things to get done, but none of them have been accompanied by too much urgency or a definitive deadline. As a result, with the exception of my client sessions, I had lapsed in to a pattern of largely unproductive days. Needless to say, that was not helpful to my business and wasn’t great for morale. Last weekend was super relaxing with the house to myself. I was free to catch up on some shows, watch movies, work out, and eat take out – aka food that I didn’t have to cook myself. But when Sunday night rolled around and I was having trouble sleeping, I realized that I needed to give myself some structure for Monday morning in order to get myself back in the flow of working and being productive. My solution was something that I hadn’t done in a while but had always worked in the past. I made a very detailed schedule for the following day. I pulled out my two lists of things to do (personal & professional) and I accounted for my time for the following day down to five minute increments when needed, and included everything. This technique allows me to…

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It is no secret that many ADHD’rs struggle with being assertive. I have noticed this especially with my female clients. I think that this is a place where our ADHD interacts with our societal expectations. I’ve often noticed that women politicians seem to be in a no win situation. If they aren’t assertive they are criticized for being “soft” and “emotional.” Yet, if they are aggressive (just like their male counterparts,) they are labeled as “bitches.” It seems to me that this leaves women in our culture in a bit of a pickle. Add in the idea that many ADHD’rs have trouble articulating and enforcing their boundaries, (as well as sometimes not recognizing others’,) and the result is a woman who can be paralyzed by indecision or trapped in a cycle of personal unhappiness while striving to placate and please others. I gave one of my clients a homework assignment last week to think about the difference between being assertive and being mean. (Mean was her word, and she was quite worried about being perceived as mean.) She came back to me the following week with a fantastic definition of assertiveness that she found online. I want to share a link to that definition as more food for thought on this topic.

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ADHD & distracted driving

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time. Parents often ask me what to do when their ADHD kids get their licenses. I don’t think there is a simple answer. When impulsivity, inattention, sometimes hyperactivity, and predictable delays in maturity come together it can be the perfect storm. I guess my advice starts with don’t be overprotective, but trust your gut. Just because society says the average kid is capable of being behind the wheel without being a menace to society, doesn’t mean your teen is ready. Impress upon them that driving is a privilege. Don’t be afraid to take away that privilege if not properly earned. And I understand that this punishment is also a punishment for you. If they aren’t driving, that means you most likely are. But, that is parenting, isn’t it? Sometimes their punishment sucks just as much for us. (Sorry Mom and Dad. I get it now!) Practical tips: Cruise control is a wonderful thing for hyperactive types like me. For me, speed, especially on the highway was my nemesis. I would also recommend podcasts, books on tape, and old school radio shows for kids like me. Punk rock gets the blood flowing a little too much for a hyperactive 18 year old boy. DRIVE WHILE MEDICATED!!! For distractible types, I recommend driving stick. It keeps us more engaged in the process and more present in the moment. Navigation is wonderful. I get mine for free on my HTC Droid Incredible. DRIVE WHILE MEDICATED!!! Have hard and fast rules about who is allowed in the car. 8 kids in a minivan is not a recipe for success for most ADHD kids. Have hard and fast rules about phone use in the car — as in, there is none, unless you are using…

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Personal ADHD & impulsivity victory

I bought the second house I ever looked at on the first day of looking when we weren’t really looking. It was a great decision. It was quick and decisive but not impulsive. We saw it on Sunday. I went back on Monday. I brought my parents to see it on Wednesday. I made an offer on Friday. A counter offer was accepted (which included being contingent on an inspection and an engineer’s evaluation,) on Friday night. I was reminded of this by something that happened today. Last week I got a call from an internet marketing company. They offered me a $9.95 website evaluation. I said sure. Today I had a phone meeting with their sales manager. Long story short, he overwhelmed me with information for over an hour. And, then gave me the pricing with lots of confusing options and the let me talk to my manger thing. I told him I needed a night to think about it. He said he couldn’t do the special pricing tomorrow. I told him I would need ’til the end of business. Here is where I did two smart things. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that prices don’t change day to day and that as excited as I was about what he was selling, there was something “used car salesman” about him that I didn’t like. I reached out for advice. With the house, I asked my Dad. For this I reached out to my coach. (Probably the two guys in the world I trust the most.) He immediately hooked me up with his web guy, who cut through the BS. Offered me a clearer explanation in about 5 minutes, offered to do more for me, and all for less than half the price. (And, he came with…

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The Hard Sell

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post. These are actual emails that I received from the guy at the first Company. I’m posting them because… well the last one is so funny/scary it is worth reading. 2:35pm Matt, I will be ok for the time you need to decide which plan you want as long as it is done before the end of the day and corporate does my audit I will be fine. The prices 3 months $2500.00 your price $1500.00 3 months6 months $4500.00 your price is $2000.00 6 months Today 4 months $1500.00 Today 6 months $2000.00 Today 12 months $2200.00 All inclusive We will talk just before 5pm your time unless you call me sooner 3:00pm High pressure voice mail was left offering me some vague additional deal that I had to call him for. 4:00pm Doug, Hi. I got your message. I’ve done some thinking and talked to a few people. I’ve decided that, even with your discounted pricing, it seems pretty expensive, based on other information that I have. I’m sure you are very good and I very much appreciate your time and energy. I’m just not prepared to move forward with such an investment in such a short time frame. I plan to explore other options and will be back in touch if I decide to go with your company. Thanks again for your time and for educating me on how much I do not know. 4:04pm Matt, you are THE FIRST person in 15 YEARS to say we are expensive as my closest competitor is over $13.000.00 per year and that is firm. I believe that we all get what we pay for and this business is no different I can’t imagine who you could have talked to that told you…

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Life balance & playing poker

Lest you all think I don’t go through the same stuff you do, I have to work pretty hard to maintain the balance in my life that I need. It is not easy as a parent who works full time to find the time to have the social life that I need to maintain the balance I need in my life. I, like most ADHDers need a level of social stimulation that doesn’t magically appear in adult life. One of the other things that I need as an semi-ex athlete is competition. And, playing risk on the computer by myself and angry birds doesn’t count. (Even though I dominate at Star Wars Angry Birds!) But, I get it. It is not easy to fight our own inertia and get out there socially. And, it hasn’t been easy for me to find competition in the times of year that I’m not able or healthy to play ultimate. (That’s ultimate Frisbee, for the uninitiated.) So, I’ve gone out on a limb to start a Dad’s Poker Night with some neighbors, Dad’s from E’s school, and other friends and family. Tonight was month two. (Out of three, because we missed last month…) It was so much fun. I can honestly tell you that it was worth the effort to organize. It was worth the first semi-awkward poker night in Sept. It was worth the month that didn’t actually happen in October. I had so much fun tonight with a bunch of guys that I know in a couples context, but not in a guys hanging out context. I also got my competition on… and happened to win. ($100) But here’s the important thing. I know from personal experience that this fun-ness will sustain me for days, maybe even a week. It will bring…

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I had a great session with my coach last week. I was feeling some guilt about a situation in my life. (Specifically, about not wanting to spend every possible waking moment with my son.) His answer to guilt blew me away and I wanted to share it with y’all. Jerry observed that guilt is usually a result of our breaking our own rules. We all have core beliefs, standards, values, whatever you want to call them. It is less common that we trample those. But we often make up/ assume rules that may or may not truly serve those core values. Then adopt these rules as fact. I’m sure some rules are great, but the more I’ve explored this, the more I realize how many of them get us in to trouble. For example, the issue I was discussing with my coach: I felt guilty about not picking up my little man (4.5 yrs old) from preschool the minute I could. Even if I don’t have a client my last slot of the day, I often do office work or take the opportunity to wind down with a few minute of and old Star Trek TNG. (They play like 3 a day on BBC America! I love my DVR!) So, the value there is that I take being a dad very seriously. I am an active, loving, affectionate, supportive 1/2 of my son’s parenting team. I have my strengths and weaknesses and make my mistakes, but on balance, I’m the dad that I want to be. That’s who I am and what is important to me. Incidentally, I had a very good role model in my own father. Unfortunately, I had unwittingly attached “rules” to how I fulfill my core value of being a great dad. I had decided that…

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