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.

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.

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”

Are your goals SMART?

14989472410_a1aa0d8773_m copyStephen Hawking famously said “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all”

Goals can mean many things to many people. Goals can be very small or very large, short term or long term. Interestingly, Stephen Hawking stated his goal as being “simple” and yet it regarded the very largest thing that has ever been.  What perhaps made it simple is that he was able to focus on it.

This was from a man who faced many challenges, every minute of every day.

ADHD or Executive function issues often get in the way of us focusing on our plans, which get in the way of us completing tasks and in turn reaching our goals. Sometimes we don’t even get started, let alone finish.

Planning and goal setting gives us structure. It helps us to be organised. It is important for everyone to have structure, but it is crucial for ADHD/EF affected people to have it.

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Forgetfulness, disorganization, (no one really likes to admit to this one) distractions and largely blaming others or external factors are often the main reasons we don’t achieve what we set out to.

This is where good basic planning and goal setting can help. While usually routine for most, it can be an immense barrier for people experiencing ADHD/Executive Function (EF) challenges.  ADHD/EF coaching can provided the scaffolding of this process.

Whether it is studying for an exam, getting the kids out the door in the morning madness or being successful at work, planning and goal setting with Executive Function (EF) in mind can be key to success.

Challenges in EF can reduce or block our success.  Think of executive function as self management or self regulation. For example, when we feel highly stressed combined with feeling disorganized, we can easily feel overwhelmed and believe we are not able to think straight.

When our executive functions are working well, they can look like this:

  • We have good time management
  • We are not easily distracted
  • We have control over our emotions
  • We are organized
  • We are flexible
  • We remember to do tasks
  • We are able to start tasks and finish them
  • We prioritize well
  • We think clearly.

When our EF is not performing consistently, we may come across as:

  • Distractible
  • Emotional
  • Disorganized
  • Inflexible
  • Forgetful
  • Lazy
  • Vague
  • Scatty
  • Having poor judgment

It only takes one of these elements to be a disservice to who you are.

The EF affected person is not broken; they are just experiencing inconsistent levels of EF performance often due to a variety of influences including an underlying condition such as ADHD.

SMART Goals

Heard of SMART Goals?  It is an acronym for a method of breaking down the attributes of something you desire to achieve.

If your goal or task can be broken down to meet these criteria, your plan will be well informed. Motivation and your goals work hand in hand to present the opportunity for you to become the person you want to be.

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Timely

At Connect ADHD we use SMART Goals within the structure of specific goal setting. We connect with the client and their  goals to understand what their goal is, why it is important, what supports are needed, and help the client uncover the resources needed and the steps to take to get it done.

We gain clarity, insight, design strategies, move towards activation and change.

The Coaching relationship also provides the “checking-in” structure to encourage accountability and help meet the client’s goals. While goal setting is a great habit to get into, it is not always enough.

Coaching has the benefit of looking at other factors at play, such as the environment, old habits and learned behaviour and the way we think.  Our coaching model incorporates these factors.  We also work to a process that works towards providing clarity for the client’s perspective, to gain insight into the potential to design strategies with the client’s strengths in mind, to motivate and activate towards real change.

How to Defeat Trouble

How to Defeat TroubleHow to Defeat Trouble!

On our Facebook page, we included in our inaugural post a quote by Ann Landers when asked what she considered the most useful advice for all humanity, she responded:

“Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high.  Look it squarely in the eye, and say, “I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me”

Living with ADHD or executive function issues (whether you have it yourself, or living with a spouse, child, teen with it) can produce many more challenges on a daily basis, and be like a constant unwelcome entity in a relationship or home environment. The experience has been described as running on a spectrum from mildly problematic to unmanageable. (Melissa Orlov, 2010. ADHD Effect on Marriage).

This is where Coaching and Psycho education can help.

ADHD is not well understood, largely due to misinformation based on limited understanding of the current science and clinical practice associated with its treatment.  It is not just the domain of primary school boys climbing the walls, or hyperactive children eating too much sugar or “naughty” children who don’t receive discipline.

It is often, the little girl trapped  in space and time in a book, that guy that is life of the party (but the party doesn’t always end or end well), the Mum that can’t have friends or their children’s friends over because the home looks like an unholy mess and is silently ashamed.  Maybe it’s the work colleague with the motor mouth and giant ideas, the ideas that never get finished. The “I’m sorry I’m late friend, who couldn’t (a) find my keys, (b) charge my phone, (c) find my wallet. This is the friend who has all the worst luck in the world, regularly manages to get caught in bad traffic, or be driving behind slow trucks, old drivers. The friend who left the headlights on again and has a flat car  battery (again) . Sound familiar?

Clients and their Executive Function (EF) Coaches look these challenges squarely in the eye. EF Coaching works with them to disentangle and disempower these challenges while empowering the client. The coach and the client (and their families) work together to engage motivation and identify strengths. This focus leads to moving through avoidance, addressing the fear of defeat and towards activation to positive change.

Together the client and coach build on the client’s abilities and potential for positive change to defeat trouble, one step at a time.

 

until next time

Monica