I’m following up to a challenge I made to one of our page followers. After several posts fidget toys for autism liked the post and commented with a link to his or her page. I asked that this be avoided unless some research of the benefit of fidget toys as a benefit to people with ADHD could be known. I am not in to fad therapy for ADHD. Fidget toys for Autism never responded so I looked on my own. As I suspected the only news is anecdotal and based on theory with no actual evidence regarding fidget toys. The upside is according to webmd a couple of small studies have shown that people with ADHD perform better on tasks when tapping with a pen. Therefore theoretically it can’t hurt to try. However, buyer beware. Attitude magazine reminds readers that fidget toys should be quiet, teacher friendly, unobtrusive, and very inexpensive.
As I was studying for my dissertation I came across a recent study which was a great reminder regarding ADHD treatment. There is no treatment which eliminates ADHD. Symptoms are moderated by various treatments. ADHD treatment is not based on symptoms disappearing but rather on the individual improvement of quality of life (QOL). The question becomes how one rates quality of life. The scale used in the study breaks QOL in to eight categories which are self-measured through a questionnaire. During treatment a client and health professional can use the questionnaire to gauge QOL improvement. An important part of treatment is understanding how you are affected. One reason a multi-modal approach is important is the various realms of life quality are affected by different modes. Just like ADHD is not a singularly described experience, treatment types of ADHD are not a one size fits all.
School and life help 1) People with ADHD generally repeat their mistakes. If you think about the school journey there are so many times where we are repeatedly reprimanded for making the same mistake over and over. Sometimes we don’t make the mistake and a well-meaning person will suggest we are finally learning from our mistakes. Time goes by and we make the same mistake again only to disappoint ourselves or the teacher, spouse, or friend.
In school one example might be remembering to write an assignment due date in to a calendar that is used. Two items there one is writing in the calendar and the second is looking at the calendar. The point is getting in trouble for not turning in homework on time because it was not entered in the calendar. After being yelled at a few times one remembers to write in the calendar for a week or two and homework is on time. After a month or two and an assignment or two is dropped, bam here comes the “haven’t you learned your lesson speech.”
Of course if you have ADHD you have experienced this scenario. Don’t beat yourself up, we don’t easily grasp the bigger picture so the idea of saving a penny today for a dollar tomorrow or saving oneself from future hardship by writing the assignment in a calendar just does not have any permanent resonance. Actually it’s even worse because we remember that we wanted to do better but we don’t have control over that part of our brain. When it’s on and firing we are great but when it’s not we don’t usually realize it until later. We end up living with the mantra of I should do this or should have done that.
An additional example is checkbook maintenance. Those pesky
fees from banks were made to get rich off of those with ADHD, I’m convinced of it. Each time the bank is paid up and I remind myself I’m going to enter every single item as it occurs I get along great for a while and then once again something overdraws the account. As an adult you may have experienced this scenario. Unfortunately coaching experience tells me the cost goes far beyond bank fees. The point is simply you are not alone and mostly remember if you have a particular weak spot understanding it allows you to ask for help when working on it. If you make a mistake that’s because of how your ADHD brain works you are likely to make it again.
There is no one cure fits all for ADHD. Accurate diagnosis is the place to start. A doctor should be asking for full family input when diagnosing ADHD. An important factor is that the abnormal behavior is seen in more than one setting. Children may have behavior expectations at school that are unrealistic and the same is true of behavior at home therefore behavior needs to examined in both settings. Additionally there are generally some co-morbid issues like dyslexia, oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), or OCD. Even when a diagnosis is made and accurate the treatment regime is somewhat experimental in that it requires input to determine if the treatment is showing results without side effect. If diagnosed I recommend following your primary doctor’s treatment along with complimentary and alternative practices including coaching, prayer, and exercise.
Moms and Dads please read my post on Stimulus chasing and now apply it to your adolescent children. If you can remember The A Team when it was first run then you are old enough to remember life without the cell phone, selfies, or the internet. All of the stim. issues I discuss apply even more when adding a dose of out of control hormone spikes to the mixture. Everyday there are new articles about phone abuse being carried out by our youth. I know when a child with ADHD hyper-focus’ that saying no is a battle and I know as parent we have to pick the important battles. Most 6th graders I know (I have an elementary aged child) already carry cell phones. As a parent it is nice to be able to reach our kids and it’s good for them to be able to reach us. What’s important to consider is if the child has ADHD they chase stimulus, lack self control filters, and can get so completely focused on one issue that reasoning no longer exists. That combination could be a recipe for disaster. Some states actively pursue criminal prosecution against minors that exchange inappropriate photos. As innocent as “my” child is one “it’s ok if I do it” can ruin a child’s life. Please monitor cell activity and remember if your child has ADHD he or she is more likely than not to experiment with this stimulating device.
It’s all just mundane and boring. Do you ever feel that way? It’s how the “norms” live. We have to remember that our drive to be excited all of the time is abnormal. We thrive on adrenalin to compensate for the insufficient or abnormal use of dopamine, and serotonin by our neuro-system. The result is a need to chase stimulus all of the time. How do you stim chase? Some stim chase can be positive however we must be aware of those times where we complicate our lives by feeding the beast. The effect of wrong stim chasing is the failure of whatever the issue. Job changes, affairs, addiction and picking fights with loved ones are all places that stim chasing fails us. The outcome is a blow to our self-esteem. People with ADHD that has been un-managed for any length of time tend to have lower self-esteem than others. Self confidence is not the same as self-esteem instead it’s the general positive feeling of self. Maybe routine and stability are good things just ask a norm. For the rest of us stick to safely executing extreme sports to catch all the stim. you need.
Continuing on the idea regarding executive function; Dr. Barkley stated the proper way to think about EF is as items that one does for oneself. The EF items are self awareness, self restraint, seeing yourself, internal speech, the use of the preceding items for emotional regulation, motivation when no consequences exist in the environment, and self play. Imagine full development of the mind as occurring by 30 years of age. Therefore, self awareness at 2 years old is quite limited to the point that almost none of us can remember ourselves whereas by age 30 we are certainly aware of the space we occupy and the space around us. Stay tuned more to come.
I read a blog today from a spouse of a person with ADHD. She had the normal complaints regarding her husband and his lack of personal responsibility regarding his “tantrums” as well as his refusal to apologize for outbursts. She says “he says apologizing is like apologizing for who he is.” Her initial response was due to an article she read about not punishing behavior of children with ADHD. As the Catholic ADHD Coach I tend to avoid the idea that we need to choose the right spouse. Some ADHD books start with the idea that people with ADHD need to pick a spouse correctly because we are likely to choose a spouse for the wrong reason in the first place. I prefer to accept that what God created can’t be undone by man. It’s my belief and yet Catholic numbers for divorce are just slightly lower than society on a whole.
What I prefer to concentrate on is actual treatment of the person with ADHD. Most of us know something about ADHD and we then dismiss or accept but rarely do we actively treat. Less than 1% of people diagnosed seek treatment. I don’t mean adjusting the diet and discovering that certain stars and business personalities have ADHD and so I’m fine. I’m talking about treatment like the multi-modal approach I have talked about before.
If we look at the wife above, she is right. And it gets really difficult, no matter how patient, for the spouse to continually accept behavior. As adults with ADHD we have adapted and created management tools to get us to where we need to be. Sometimes those tools only help us and don’t present a huge amount of care for others. If her husband were coached he could bring this issue to the table. Having ADHD is not a hall pass. With proper treatment we can learn new ways to cope using medication, exercise, coaching and psychological support, when needed, to identify when we are just wrong and then accept that. Easter is approaching and forgiveness should be on our hearts. We are forgiven by our Savior and we are expected to forgive ourselves so we can then forgive the ones who love us.
If you have survived a life of untreated ADHD, you know what I mean so take the time to apologize. We often are not aware of our actions or there affect on others so accept it if they say they are hurt or disappointed. Then accept that ADHD is a mental disorder which requires specific treatment which will allow you to identify abnormal behavior and change it.
I had the conversation with my 9 year old that we all dread for the entirety of our ADHD lives. It goes something like this. “I understand that you have ADHD and I understand the behavior that goes along with the symptoms, however…..” That’s where even I had to catch myself. The never ending battle is to determine normal behavior, that needs to be corrected, and what behavior is disorder oriented and can’t be controlled. Remember if it could be controlled then it would not be a disorder. This is challenging to every parent out there. When do I discipline and when do I recognize that those smart sarcastic off the cuff remarks are literally stated due to a lack of ability to filter them out. In my case I recognized the behavior and explained that this would be lifelong challenge that would occasionally cause him grief. I suggested that he always take a deep breath before saying anything and that perhaps that would be enough to grab it before it comes out.
>To start ADHD awareness month, we need to remind ourselves that in fact ADHD is a real mental disorder that inhibits a normal productive life. The diagnostic criteria for ADHD now include guidelines to recognize ADHD in adults. Thus far, ADHD is not known to suddenly appear in adult hood. To be diagnosed with ADHD you must have demonstrated symptoms before the age of six and they must have been present in more than one life setting. It’s not enough to just have been inattentive at school and say oh I have ADHD. The symptoms are chronic and persistent. They don’t just go away however some days are better than others. If this is not you then you may not have ADHD. If this is you it may be that you have ADHD. Go to a doctor that knows ADHD to get a competent diagnosis. It will change your life. God made us all the way he wants us and when we accept who we are he can best use us.