ADHD in Adults – 10.5 things you should know. – 10.5 things that can help you move forward

 

Is ADHD the same as ADHD in kids? If so, then why are some adults not diagnosed until after they leave school?

If this is the case, then here are 10.5 things you can learn about ADHD.  Now, notice I changed my terminology from “should “to “what you can”.  In the first instance, I violated a personal rule when talking about ADHD in my capacity as an ADHD and EF coach.  To me, “Should “is a dirty word. The “S” word in fact.  “Can” is far more enlightening and much less associated with guilt. So, from now on, no more “shoulding”.

 

  1. ADHD is not just in kids, not just in boys- many adults are quite shocked when they are finally diagnosed, particularly women.( See our website for our thoughts on this http://www.connectadhd.com/uncategorized/adhd-is-just-in-kidsright/)
  2. Find a practitioner who actually knows about ADHD, sees ADHD clients and actively keeps up to date with the condition. If you practitioner says “it’s not ADHD, your too old” head out the door and don’t look back, move forward. Refer them to our website.
  3. Be heard, it is your experience. Talk to someone who knows and understands the condition. If those around you don’t understand, know that your experience and feelings are real, not just an “ADHD moment”. Once we understand the reason, we can do something about it. Once they understand, they can hopefully understand  you better.
  4. Be proud of your strengths, people with ADHD are frequently highly creative, fun to be with, often stand out from the crowd (think Will.I.am,  Brittney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Emma Watson ,Michael Phelps, Lisa Ling (U.S. reporter)  well known to be ADHD and public about it.
  5. Use supports systems and strategies that address what challenges you (notice I didn’t say “weakness” – another dirty word in my ADHD dictionary). If you had poor vision, you would get glasses…if you have ADHD there are accommodations that can help.
  6. ADHD Coaching can change your current habits and be a turning point to move forwards. If there is ADHD or executive function (EF) challenges, ensure you get help from a coach that has been trained specifically in ADHD coaching. Ask for where your ADHD coach has trained. It should be an academy/institution associated with the ICF (International Coach Federation) or PAAC (Professional ADHD Coach) association.  Find someone you like and trust. Someone that not only hears what you say, but listens also.
  7. Mindfulness– too much to say, contact us and we can explain!
  8. Stay positive- you may have had your fair share of negative feedback in the past. It might still be happening. People with ADHD are often “people-pleasers” for this very reason. They may crave positive feedback. Finding your strengths (and dusting them off, and giving them a polish if they have been buried for a while) will give you the very tools you need to move forward in a positive way. As I tell my clients, “whatever has happened in the past is just good information” …it’s true.
  9. Be advised by your doctor if medication is right for you. Dopamine availability is a key factor in the treatment of ADHD. Do not be afraid. Be careful. Be informed. Be open. Don’t be scared by misinformation.  If you were diabetic, you might need insulin.  If you are ADHD, you may well need medications.  There are stimulants AND non-stimulant treatment available. It’s all about balance.
  10. And 10.5- This one is so big, it’s the 1.5. You are the most important person in your life. Without you, you have nothing. If you are newly diagnosed or an adult with a history of ADHD (and told you had grown out of it) then heed this message.  The world of ADHD is a different world now.  You don’t have to hide, be ashamed or be shy about it.  There is help there, but better than that, understanding now. There are “Nay- sayers “about ADHD, their problem is their ignorance.Find your community. Coming soon in 2017 we are starting a Facebook community called Connect  ADHD .

We have relaunched our website! Leave a comment on this post.  What do you think? What is your experience with ADHD? Did you like this post and was it helpful? Do you have anything to ADD (!)   Let me know.

Do you have a personal “Bill of Rights”

A common experience of people with ADHD is feeling reactive to those around them. This can feel like you are being pushed into decisions or worse – having them taken from you. It also means that when you resist, it can result in an argument that gets out of hand. At this point the question should not be who did what, when, where – instead, ask: what was the part that hurt?

The part that hurt, whether it was when the decision was taken away, or the time to decide was removed, or when the talk became abusive, demeaning, or overbearing, is worth paying attention to. As the overload of input stresses you and increases the effort to keep everything straight in your head, having a simple set of boundaries or “Bill of Rights” can help to simplify and manage the issues.

Build your Bill of Rights. 

  1. Ask yourself what things you choose to accept. This could be: only to be spoken to with respect (not accepting demeaning or sarcastic comments etc); being given time to think when needed; assuming good intent; the right to decline etc.
  2. Write them down!
  3. When you have your list, then consider what you will do to support them. Eg. I will state my right and excuse myself from the situation by leaving the room or I will only continue the discussion if my needs are respected. I will be comfortable with silence (it can give me time to think!)

This means that you not only have a preprepared standard but also a strategy to support it, which will make it easier to enact when you are experiencing overload.

Having clarity and access to your core values has the benefit of reducing feelings of being “run over” by others and giving yourself the time and space to feel greater clarity in your decisions and actions. This is the foundation of respect and consistency.

So, what is your Bill of Rights?

The Four Letter “F” Word

Living with ADHD or executive function challenges can lead to a lot of frustration. Sometimes, you even feel like saying the dreaded “F” word. You know the one, the one that slips into your mind and makes you feel bad that you’ve thought and then worst of all, more so than saying it, you’re living it. Fail!  It’s the worst “f” word I know.

How can we avoid that word when we are stuck in habits that aren’t serving us? And added to that, amongst a landscape of ADHD, it’s hard to get the mindspace (some may say headspace but I think of it as mindspace) to break away from those habits.

The answer to that is setting realistic goals.  Goals that we can achieve and help us feel like a winner and not a loser. Sounds like simple solution, but then why aren’t we already doing it? The ADHD brain behaves differently regarding messaging and reactions. Impulsive actions and poor working memory are at play in the cycle of history repeating itself and getting stuck in unhelpful cycles of behaviour.

Simple strategies, such as learning to pause, or taking time out to figure out an action plan that will work for oneself are great ways to start implementing significant change. Change works best when it comes from within. What does this mean?  It means figuring it out for yourself, rather being told what to do in a way that is meaningful for someone else.  Coaching isn’t “telling people what to do” but rather uncovering a client’s motivation and strengths and assisting the client work out what is best for them.

This is where there is strength and strategy in coaching.  The ADHD coach is trained in specific techniques to help those with ADHD work on tactical and not psychological issues. By that, I mean, coaching encourages us to look at our learnt behaviours and what has happened in the past, and use that as information. We only have the minute we are in now so, time to use that information and use it logically to move ahead. Coaching with Connect ADHD coaching uses the philosophy of SMART goals to break the task down into logical steps that take into account how our client’s work best, and find out exactly what is getting in the way.

Is your relationship with time fractured?

 

Is your relationship with time fractured?

 

An inconsistent relationship with time can invade many areas of an individual’s day to day experience. The effects can be disastrous in the workplace, in relationships and can play a significant part in one’s self-efficacy (a belief in their ability to perform and succeed)   It can affect an individual’s sense of self-worth and foster negative thoughts such as guilt and shame.

Frequently my clients share with me that they are tired of apologizing for being late, adding to the already stressful feeling of running late.  They intend to get there in time, but got stuck behind a truck, an old driver, or having a bad run of traffic lights (…yet again). When an individual feels shame, they feel disconnected from others, not worthy of belonging.

It can also shape or even taint other people’s opinions also of the individual as well,

“My friends don’t even expect me to be on time anymore, and you know, they are right…”

“I was passed over again at work, time management again seen as on ongoing weakness”

 

Being consistently late can send the following messages that you’re

  • disrespectful of other people by not valuing their time commitments
  • Lazy or  being “flakey”
  • Disorganized
  • Unreliable
  • Not committed or interested

 

These labels can further reduce an individual’s feelings of self-worth. Little wonder anxiety creeps in. Is that what we really want? How is it that history tends to repeat itself and you are running the same 20 minutes time and time again?

Here are a few reasons how Executive Function challenges (often seen in ADHD) can impact one’s relationship or sense or time. Inconsistencies if the following areas of

  • Inhibition
  • Attention management
  • Emotional regulation
  • Working Memory

 

Inhibition can play a role. By this I mean that there is often a temptation to “just do one more thing before I leave the house”. So by not inhibiting that urge precious time is lost, and one is running late, yet again.

 

Attention management can be seen in literally not noticing the time.  Perhaps the individual is intensely interested in reading a book, looking at something on the computer, or watching TV.  Suddenly you’re supposed to be somewhere in 15 minutes but it will take 30 minutes to drive there…because you’re late, there are no parking spaces left, and the clock is still ticking by….

 

Emotional regulation can also effect performance and the management of time. Often reported to me is the fact that someone hates getting somewhere early as they are really afraid of being bored when they get to their destination and there is time to spare. Motivation also might be at play here.  It is often easier to arrive at a place you are genuinely interested in going to compared with somewhere that is of limited interest or attending something that can be interpreted as a chore (even if it is important). It is interesting to observe that Uni students will often unintentionally run late to get to lectures, but are never late to get into an exam for example. Lectures can feel like a chore and there is no significant consequence if it is missed at that exact time. Motivation to attend can be inconsistent. “I can always catch up later”…but sometimes that later doesn’t happen.  The stakes are just too high (and the consequences very scary) to miss an exam so motivation is high.

 

Working memory can effect time management also.  Common examples of this are “I forgot I had an appointment”, “couldn’t remember the time for the job interview or forgot it altogether”, “Couldn’t find my car keys, or my wallet or my work ID badge”, “forgot to set my alarm clock and slept in …again”

 

We specialise in helping people discover their executive function strengths and challenges. We can share some easy strategies and reminder systems that really work. This may help our clients move forward with a positive perspective and greater self-awareness.

To find out more about how Connect ADHD Coaching can help you address your relationship with time, click here www.connectadhd.com and head for the “referrals “tab if you want to hear more about what we do.

 

Today is always the best way to start a new way to moving forward to the life you deserve to live. Connect ADHD Coaching may help as we focus on the underlying neuroscience combined with our expert coaching skills and Psychoeducation, using our unique models, tools and also current aps to support people who are ready to move forward.

Intent & ADHD – Tasks

In this final of the three posts regarding INTENT and ADHD, we’ll look at the tasks that fulfil the actions of your intent.

The TASKS should be set to achieve your CRITERIA and in turn your INTENT. Choosing tasks to meet the CRITERIA ensures that you stay on track. They should be small concise steps with clear timeframes and required resources. Also, they should be attended in the manner of your INTENT (WHO/HOW)

In terms of addressing the challenges with attention and working memory, keeping concise written notes are useful as a “analog” working memory to avoid moving off INTENT and going down rabbit holes of interest. Having a specific list of TASKS and the CRITERIA also aid in finding easier on ramps to motivation (“I just need to do the next small task”) and more opportunities for reward via reinforced perception of achievement (meeting CRITERIA).

Other areas of support for maintaining INTENT are time monitoring & perception, future self empathy, and overall motivation management. There are strategies that work well with our INTENT model to address these areas and I will start looking at these in future blogs. See you then!

INTENT & ADHD – CRITERIA

INTENT & ADHD – Part 2 of 3: CRITERIA!Criteria - the proof of Intent

In the last post I discussed the critical role of INTENT in enabling us to shape our present and future to our chosen outcome. As a form of mission statement, the intent is great for capturing a multi-dimensional image of what we would like to be and how we would like to be in achieving/living it. (The WHY/WHAT & WHO/HOW components discussed in the last post).

However, this detailed and overarching INTENT concept can be challenging to maintain (or monitor) in real time and assess (or know) when it has been achieved. A more compact and efficient version is needed for day to day use! The CRITERIA fulfil this more efficient role and can be used to shape the INTENT delivery.

The CRITERIA are 3 or 4 (max) specific, measurable points that can be used as a checklist in real time to assess whether you are meeting your INTENT in progress and to decide when you have met your intent to allow you to conclude it. Another way of describing it is the evidence that you are meeting or have met your intent. It’s efficient form (a few specific checkpoints) allows you to easily retain and quickly confirm whether you are on track with your INTENT or not. Having a specific end measure also helps avoid being stuck in “perfecting” or feeling incomplete at the end of your intent or goal. Both the interim checks and end review also then allow greater access the necessary rewards.

So if INTENT is our multi-dimensional, overacting mission, and the CRITERIA are the checkpoints along the way and at the end that prove that we are meeting our INTENT – what of the jobs or tasks that are usually considered earlier in this process? – we’ll cover those in the final of this trio of post!

INTENT & ADHD

INTENT & ADHD – Part 1 of 3

Shaping intent (including goals), is a critical function for humans. It affords us the ability to select a future outcome from a range of possible outcomes, and then work towards and maintain focus on them. Within this process, we repeatedly challenge and reward ourselves while maintaining a sense of direction from our own unique values.  This internal compass also assists in resisting the buffeting of external triggers or influences that may try to shape or effect our intent for us. intent

A recurring issue I see presenting in my coaching practice is one related to creating and maintaining Intent. To the extent that this issue appears to be one of the more consistent and impactful challenges for people with ADHD.

It is important to note that this doesn’t imply that people with ADHD cannot form and maintain meaningful intentions, rather that they don’t happen as consistently as they should. More often it presents as a poorly practiced creation and maintenance of intent that translates to not achieving potential. This can also include moving to a reactive approach to life, having their intent shaped by others either through direct suggestion or as a result of being triggered by external influences.

This experience appears to be consistent with the described executive function challenges with particular reference to attention management (including self monitoring), working memory challenges with time and information retrieval and organisation, and motivation management via emotional regulation. In keeping with a neurodevelopmental disorder, it is possible that the inconsistent performance of the executive function creates limited opportunity to establish a resilient internal intent process.

To look at the components of INTENT, it is useful to consider three aspects; creating well defined intent; establishing the criteria that can measure success; and the task approach that meets the intent while balancing the need for reward. I will discuss these three aspects over the following post in this series of three posts starting with creating well defined INTENT.

Adults with ADHD – Answers!

Adults with ADHD – AnswersADULT ADHD FREE
a free information presentation – Tuesday 730pm, July 12th.
Adult ADHD has been increasingly recognised in treatment and the media in recent months. With symptoms such as problems managing attention, impulsive behaviour, and trouble with relationships and feelings, ADHD impacts adults across their lives in ways that are often misunderstood. This misunderstanding commonly including the belief that these people choose to behave in this manner which can leave the adult with ADHD feeli
ng rejected, frustrated and at a loss for how to move forward.

To meet the knowledge gap regarding ADHD in Adults, Jonathan Hassall BN ACG & Monica Hassall BN ACG from Connect ADHD Coaching are providing a free, 90 minute presentation entitled, “Adults with ADHD Answers” on Tuesday, July 12th at 730pm in Taylor Range Country Club, 28 Greenlanes Rd. Ashgrove. The presentation is open to anyone interested in ADHD in adults whether you believe you have ADHD or not and for any family or friends that are also interested.

The aim of the presentation is to provide you with the current knowledge regarding how this neurodevelopmental condition has been identified and understood. With this information we hope to provide better insight as to whether you feel this is relevant to you or not and can move forward with resolving your current challenges.

This includes:

  • ADULT ADHD FREE Backwhere did it come from and what it is
  • the experience of ADHD through the lifespan;
  • how it can impact the lives of those with ADHD
  • what can be done (diagnosis, treatment options, and expected outcomes)
  • where to find out more (links to other expert information in the field)

To find out more and/or register for this free evening presentation, please visit Connect ADHD Coaching’s website and complete the registration form at www.connectadhd.com/register 

Mindfulness and ADHD in adults- it’s not rocket science, it’s neuroscience!

So what is it about mindfulness that it has exploded in popularity so much in recent months? Is Mindfulness simply taking some time out, shutting down from the outside world, or taking the time to focus on something? We now have in every bookstore and department store Mindfulness colouring books, for adults and children alike.

Is it meditation? I ask my clients if they have tried it before and many say they “just can’t do it it…It’s too hard. “There is so much more to Mindfulness than “colouring in” or doing a 45 minute meditation sessions in the lotus position. So let’s clarify what it is and how and who it can help.

With so many competing distractions, and the explosion of variants of social media, online games and apps all vying for   and seducing our attention, and often succeeding, it is fascinating to watch the emerging counterbalance of this, being Mindfulness. Many of my ADHD clients are extremely and strongly drawn to anything with an electronic screen, and Mindfulness seems to be a way out of this alluring habit.

A common misconception about the attentional component of ADHD is that it is just “not paying attention”. More so it is the inability to regulate ones’ attention that is the downfall to successfully moving forward in a positive way. The ADHD mind can be challenged by both distractibility (attention easily being moved away) and the ability to hyper focus (not being able to shift one’s attention from the task at hand). Being more mindful encourages the concept of greater self-awareness and self-monitoring that were simply nonexistent without it.

Mindfulness as we know (and is used in practice) today can be understood as a blend of a 2500 year old Buddhist traditions and techniques and influences from findings in Neuroscience. Jon Kabat-Zinn was, by Western medicine standards, the early adopter of this practice in the 1970’s. Over time is has been successfully utilized in the treatment in a variety of medical and psychological conditions. Some of these include anxiety, depression, pain management, and more recently ADHD. It can be simply described as “remembering to be aware or attentive”. It can be more broadly a practical habit that develops better focused attention, emotional awareness, social awareness and more objective, non-judgmental observations in every aspect of our daily experience.

Mindfulness, once understood, is truly life changing and not to be forgotten. It doesn’t have to be hard or boring. It can be, just one breath. Over time, you stop “doing it “ and become “being it”

ADHD- When others don’t see your full potential, hang in there!

“It would be nice if you would leave Albert. Your behaviour at school, so distracted and absentminded, and your poor interest in all I teach, set a bad example for the whole class”- A teacher’s comment to young Albert Einstein.
Would anyone ever have guessed (see Facebook post) this would be the report card of the genius Albert Einstein? My guess is that many of you with ADHD might just find it believable. Without even realising it, Albert’s teacher scribed perfectly a description of 3 out of the 6 executive function challenges faced commonly by those diagnosed with ADHD. I am not suggesting that Albert Einstein had ADHD, I do not diagnose and there is no way to prove it. It does prove that academic success is only part of the picture in the lives of successful people. As described- “so distracted, absent minded and poor interest” relate precisely to the executive function challenges as described by Dr Thomas E Brown (PhD).
Distracted -Focus- focusing and sustaining and shifting attention to task:
Absent minded– Memory- utilising working memory and accessing recall
Poor Interest– Effort- sustaining effort, regulating alertness.

Dr Ned Hallowell has a brilliant approach regarding the role of the parent/support person / mentor in the life of a person with ADHD- “manage the challenges and celebrate the strengths”. This seems like a better approach than being frustrated and yelling at them constantly. The beauty of Dr Hallowell’s approach is that it works.

Another successful (and well documented) person with ADHD is the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. By successful I do mean the most awarded athlete in Olympic history . His mother noted that he was unable to sit still and concentrate frequently. She encouraged that he divert his energy into sport, namely swimming, and similarly to Dr Hallowell, her mantra was “continuous praise and positive reinforcement”

So when your child or loved one, through their challenging differences doesn’t fit in with community expectations, be patient, and take a step back. Look at things from their perspective. Help them find their place and their alternate way of being may end up being the guiding path towards their strengths and successful future.