My Blog: ADHD Since 1978-

when to not be flexible with your ADHD kids?

so, I recently wrote a post about flexibility in the morning with my youngest in terms of him brushing his teeth after breakfast. You can refer to that if you’d like. But, there is another side. Not everything can be flexed to make it optimal for him. I use it glib and hyperbolic term to refer to the stuff we really need to focus on as “the hill we die on.” so the morning routine, in large part, doesn’t have to go in a certain order. As I discussed, there is a logical order. There is an order that makes at least likely that we will forget stuff. But ultimately, when you go to the bathroom, when you brush your teeth, when you eat breakfast, as long as all those things happen, doesn’t really matter. of course, my 8-year-old wanted to change the one thing that is sequentially important. He wanted to start taking his pills after breakfast. That’s a no-go, for several reasons. One, we want those pills in him as quickly as possible so that he’s medicated for camp / summer school, and maybe even getting out of the house if he takes them early enough. Two, if he takes them too late it may mean more overlap in the midday with his afternoon pills. Actually, that’s not the end of the world. You take such a small dose that it doesn’t really affect his appetite. If anything he eats better cuz you can focus. But I’d still like to avoid that overlap if it all possible. Third, unlike brushing teeth, taking the pills is 100% essential. If he doesn’t brush his teeth, no small children will die and to no empires will fall. Not taking his pills would not be great. He could survive a morning without…

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What is your time worth as an ADHD adult?

Decision making can often be a difficult thing for those of us with adhd. And sometimes that means that we keep doing the thing that we’re doing because it’s the thing we’ve always done. Of course, I think that’s a human being thing too. But it’s important for us to reassess our methods, are values, and our priorities somewhat regularly. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before. But I’m also sure it’s been quite a while. When we decide how to spend our time, there are many competing forces. There is how much time we have. There is how much attention we have consistently were able to utilize it priority is important. Often money is part of the equation. And I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting. The point is that how we choose to spend our time is a relatively complicated system. I am suggesting that examining that system and possibly making changes could improve your quality of life. Specifically, I like to discuss outsourcing today. Deciding what to outsource is a financial decision. But, it is also a personal decision. People often talk about what they would do for an extra hour in the day or something in that vein. Well, it’s possible. Everything that you outsource will buy you time. You just have to decide whether it’s worth it. Here’s the example that came up for me in the last few weeks that engaged me in this topic enough to write a post. I used to go through my filing cabinet and filing system every year in January to finish up the year, get ready for taxes, and generally clean out the junk. Well, as less and less of my life is involved paperwork, and more and more of my life is involved parenting, I haven’t…

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structure and flexibility in parenting

this is my first attempt to post a new blog entry on my new and improved website 3.0. still dictating into my phone. Apparently the combination of the two doesn’t like to capitalize at the beginning of sentences… Sometimes. Anyway… so I wanted to share a situation it’s been happening with my youngest. He struggles with certain activities of daily life due to his emotional dysregulation. One of those things is brushing his teeth. I generally come from a place where I want to set up my routine to have fewer weak points as possible even if that means some compromises. So, I brush my teeth when I’m doing the rest of my stuff in the bathroom in the morning before I come downstairs. Even though that means I brush my teeth before I eat, which is less than ideal. the idea being that, once I eat, I don’t have that gross taste in my mouth anymore and I’m on to the next thing and it’s easy to forget to brush my teeth. Also the toothbrush is in the bathroom upstairs so that creates a linked behavior of brushing my teeth and doing the rest of my morning routine. Plus, I have ADHD so I’m lazy. And I am likely to avoid going back upstairs if I can help it. so how does this relate to my 8-year-old? Well, for some reason, inside his dysregulated and still developing brain, he does not like brushing his teeth before breakfast. It is completely inefficient. It drives me crazy. And on the rare mornings that I’m in charge of taking him to school or camp, it is an opportunity for us to forget to brush his teeth all together. I think I would have resisted this change. As a matter of fact, I…

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Is it a relief to get a diagnosis?

So I noticed, now that I’m dictating my entries, they seem much longer. I would appreciate some feedback from my fuel oil readers as to whether or not these entries are too long. If they are, I can break them into pieces or make an effort to be more concise. I will say, generally their topics that I feel need a little time and energy. But I want to make sure that I’m satisfying the needs of those who actually read. So let me know if you feel like it, what your jam is. I tend to try to balance some short and some long. And I’m also going to try to get a video blog / YouTube channel off the ground this summer as I finally finished the redesign and relocation of my website. Anyway, now that I’ve made this a gigantic paragraph longer than it needs to be, here we go. I honestly can’t remember if I’ve written about this yet. I know I say that a lot. But I’ve been writing this blog for about 8 years maybe 10. Almost every week. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what I’ve said here and what I’ve just been telling clients and friends. But this is come up recently, as a friend of mine has had her oldest diagnosed with a slew of conditions that are quite reminiscent of the package of situations that my youngest deals with. I was texting with her the other day, as we haven’t had a chance to really connect in person yet, about how she felt finally getting these diagnosis. I won’t share her thoughts. Those are hers. But it reminded me very much of when my youngest was diagnosed with pediatric bipolar the age of four. My dad’s not a guy…

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Do we really need more hours in the day?

So, dictating these entries into my phone seems to be going well. And it’s definitely faster than typing. I don’t know why the voice recognition works better on my phone than it does in Google docs. I have an android. You would think it’s the same stuff running behind the scenes. Anyway, it appears that my typo rate is about the same so I’m going to stop apologizing for any potential voice recognition snafus. And I will just get on with it. I think I have not met an ADHDer who didn’t want more hours in the day. But I think it’s really important to recognize that time is not the only resource that we lack. In fact, we often mistake our lack of focus, bandwidth, emotional energy, or whatever you want to call it for a lack of time. Yes, it would be helpful to have an extra hour in the day. But, would that actually lead to more productivity? If you spent that hour screwing around on Instagram or wasting time hyper focus on something else unimportant, what would that extra hour do for you? I think it’s important to realize that we do have a limitation in terms of how many hours there are in the day. However, I find as a person with ADHD, that the more important limiting factor is my number of attention hours in the day. I kind of think of myself, or my brain at least, as a analog to a cell phone battery. It doesn’t drain at a constant rate. It depends on what you’re doing. If you’re streaming Netflix or gaming it’s going to burn faster than if you’re just talking or texting or the phone is mostly on standby. I think our brains are much the same way. The…

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Success Journal: Consolidating successes & building real confidence

I’m pretty sure this is a human thing. But it is also a decidedly ADHD thing. The thing being, not being so good at remembering when we did well, overcame obstacles, tackled our anxiety, and generally succeded in an unexpected (to ourselves) way. Again, having only been an ADHD person and having mostly coached and studied ADHD people for the last decade plus, I come from the ADHD perspective. If my thoughts are more broadly applicable, great. Over the years I’ve done a lot of thinking about why ADHDers are not so good at consolidating positive experiences and using them as templates for future challenges. I have some thoughts on that. I’m not sure that the post mortem on the “why” is the most important part of this. So, if you aren’t interested in the “inside baseball” analysis of this, feel free to skip ahead to possible strategies while I nerd out on the causes. There are well known studies that show ADHD kids get something like 20:1 negative:positive feedback. Yet we are often pretty darn smart. My client base certainly is. But we tend to learn at an early age that what we are bad at is valued by society AND generally considered easy by our neurotypical peers. All that EF stuff like planning, being on time, handing things in, paperwork, showing our work, etc. Simultaneously, the things that we are good at tend to come so easily that we almost take them for granted. And, sometimes they aren’t things that are valued, at least tangibly, by our society. For example, people skills are something that can be a great predictor of success in many career paths. But they are a thing that is almost never emphasized or rewarded at any level of schooling. So, what often happens is…

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Slowing down in the moment

This is my second attempt to post a blog entry only using voice recognition on my phone. Hopefully it will also be successful. Last time seemed to go well. I will ask you to bear with me if there are any weird typos related to autofill. There are so many moments in our day when something small and useful, perhaps even vital, definitely efficient, seems like a big deal. Ultimately, we don’t have an accurate understanding of what attention is. The ability to do the unpreferred thing that feels tedious boring or overwhelming. That is attention. Just as much as sitting down and paying attention to a lecture in college is attention. But those little things happen all day everyday. When you get change at the convenience store do you take time to put it in your wallet or just jam it into your purse for the pocket of whatever jacket you’re wearing? When you bring the mail in, do weed out the junk mail and put it right in the recycling? Do you have a convenient place near the door to put the mail? Or do you just throw it on the dining room table with all the other mail until it becomes a pile that’s so overwhelming you don’t want to deal with it? After you make dinner, if you don’t feel like doing the dishes, do you leave the leftovers so that they’re gross and unusable the next morning when you get around to the dishes? Or do you take 2 minutes to put them in a tupperware so you can have them for lunch the next day? I’m not looking to shame anyone here if you’re doing the non-optimal behavior. And you’ll note that I’m not even framing it as a choice. We have years of…

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Why I don’t believe in procrastination

First of all, I’m using voice recognition on my phone to write this sitting in a parking lot while my youngest is in OT. I hope it works. And I hope it comes out legible and linear. Hooray technology! Hooray multitasking! So I don’t believe in procrastination. I believe it is a label we put on a behavior that we don’t understand. Nobody gets up in the morning and says to themselves, I’ve got something really important to do and it’s going to negatively affect me if I don’t do it but, damn it, I’m just not going to do it anyway. It might look like that from the outside. But nobody makes that conscious choice to fail. Many wise people have said to me, people succeed when they can. I’ve been talking about this not believing in procrastination with my clients for years. I do that because almost everyone I work with lists procrastination is one of the top three things they want to fix in coaching. But that’s like saying I want to fix my grades. Are you going to break into this school computer and fix your grades? Because grades are not a thing that exists in and of themselves in a vacuum. They’re the result of weeks and months worth of accumulated behaviors. Coaching, at its core, is behavioral intervention. So it’s my job to figure out what’s the underlying situation when a client tells me they have a problem with procrastination. The reason I am writing this particular entry now after talking about procrastination for so many years with so many clients is that I think I finally have a good way to articulate what’s going on underneath the surface. Imagine an old school balance scale like the one that the statue of Justice holds.…

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Don’t Reinvent the Wheel Systematize And Things Won’t Fall Through The Cracks

One of the biggest problems that my clients and ADHDers in general have is that when they run into a problem, they are so stressed, overwhelmed, pressed for time, or perceive themselves to be rushed that they slap a proverbial band-aid on the problem but don’t take the time to really fix the underlying problem. (Side note: did I just start a post with a three line long sentence? FYI: I’m not fixing it!) Suggestion: Take a deep breath. Realize that you have a moment to at least capture said problem and potential solution on something like a To Do List. Then it won’t leave your mind for good and you have some hope of coming back to it later and really fixing the underlying problem. ‘Cause when we aren’t in the heat of the moment, we’re actually pretty good at fixing stuff… most of the time, if we’re not super anxious. Real answer: systematize the s*** out of everything. Don’t go reinventing the wheel. We’ve got lots of wheels. Wheels are cool. No doubt. Invent something different. Example: When I book a new client I do five’ish things RELIGIOUSLY: I send the new client a welcome email with permanent scheduling options based on my “master schedule,” which is an excel spreadsheet. No double bookings or confusion. Contained in the welcome email is my welcome packet: Coaching agreement, Client contact info sheet, two forms of the coaching schedule for the rest of the year (different learning styles like the calendar and the text version, so I give both,) & My Rates Sheet. All of these live in a single folder on my desktop. Easy peasy… you know the rest. I add the client to my google address book under the client group with email and cell phone. Because there is…

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ADHD friendly professional themes

I recognize that I and my practice is a small sample size. However, there is a body of research backing up what I’m about to write. So bear with me. I just don’t happen to have all the citations I should probably have. Picking your partner is probably the single most important decision that contributes to your happiness in life. Pick the right career(s) is a close second. Somewhere in there is making sure you are sleeping enough and well enough. Because between those three things, work, sleep, spouse, you’re looking at about 95% of your life. If any of them are out of whack… good luck. I really want to emphasize that there are really strong trends with us ADHDers but that we are still all our own unique snowflakes. Even “the vast majority” does not mean “all.” But here are some things to think about when considering a career and/or a career change. I’ll start by breaking down my current clients by profession. This is just a moment in time. A snapshot. And, it is inherently biased, influenced by me and my style. But… 3 Doctors, Pedi ER, Family Doc, Dev. Pedi 3 Computer Programmers / Tech People 2 Nurses 2 Therapist/Social Workers 2 Artist 1 Teacher, Elementary PE 1 Artist/Teacher/Entrepreneur 1 UPS driver 4 College Students (Med school, PreVet, Entertainment/Media, Anthro) 1 High School Student I would say that this is actually pretty representative of my practice over the ten years I’ve been coaching. Except I usually have more teachers. Here’s what you see. Start with the most obvious, the UPS driver, but go deeper. Of the 15 adult clients, there are 5 people who move for a living. There are 9 people who are in helping professions. 2 more who are training to be. 3 Artists.…

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Own our own oddness

I will preface this by saying that I know that this is easier said than done. But I think the secret to life is not giving a shit what the world thinks about you. Of course, I believe myself to be a moral, ethical, good person. And, there are definitely people out there who need the restraints of what people think to keep them in line. But in our ADHD tribe, at least amongst the folks with whom I deal, there is a profound lack of confidence, a sense that everyone is judging us. And, I am not worried about us running amok when freed from this anxiety. We should not fear the proverbial scarlet letter. On the contrary. We should wear our “A” proudly. I think I’ll write a longer post about how to really build self esteem in the near future. That’s complicated. It could be a lengthy and meditative piece. But, I’ll be pithy and to the point today. Three things prompted me to write this post. I saw a woman in a black hoodie at Wegmans last week that had a very simple message on it in white letters: “I’m not for everyone.” I loved it. I was talking with a client yesterday who referred to herself back in med school as “the barefoot girl.” She was remembering a time when she didn’t care what anyone thought. I suggested that she get back in touch with the “barefoot girl” and stop caring again. My favorite palm tree on vacation. See picture. All the other palm trees are reaching for the sky. But one seems to be going for the ocean. And it seems to be doing fine! Personally, I’m much more skeptical of the millions of people doing the exact same thing than I am of…

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As I return from a two week vacation, the first I’ve taken since my honeymoon almost 17 years ago, I have a new perspective on some things. I was reminded on the rainy day that we spend in Punta Cana that a rainy day in paradise is still a day in paradise. I think this is a lesson that I can translate into my everyday life. As bad as some things have gotten there is still much to be grateful for. Hopefully this resonates with y’all. “

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