Unfortunately the idea that people with ADHD are lazy is pretty common. But, actually, we are usually remarkably productive... just not always in the areas that we need to be.
I wish I could say that last week's post, I'm a Slacker!, was posted intentionally to make a point. Nope. Actually, I was trying to motivate myself with a deadline. (Here is the post's entire content: "If this post went live, it means I either died or I'm a slacker. This. Is. Embarassing."
So, what can you do to help yourself? Read on, my friend, you are not lazy, stupid, or crazy. I promise.
Why Can't I Get Things Done On Time?
Dr. William Dodson, MD, has described the problem in a way that makes more sense to me than anything I've else ever read. Here is a short summary. (Check out this link on the ADHD Brain for article.)
First, neurotypical people (those without ADHD) make decisions based on three factors: Importance, Rewards, and Consequences. (e.g. I think it's important. Someone I [love, like, fear or respect] thinks it's important. Or, there are consequences and rewards involved.)
People with ADHD, rarely, if ever, make decisions based on these things. Dodson says (and I agree wholeheartedly), that people with ADHD make decisions based on different criteria: Interest, Challenge, Novelty, Urgency (ICNU).
If it isn't any of these ICNU things, we don't do it. Period. (At least not without much pushing and nagging from others... which then makes it urgent, because we want you to stop poking us!)
Why Rewards and Consequence Don't work
Consequences are trickier. Consequences usually need to be so urgent they cannot be ignored. Procrastination creates a crisis, which creates urgency and then finally, you can write that final paper that you've been trying to do for weeks.
Stop Trying to Make Yourself Neurotypical
The harder I try to make myself get things done like other people, the more frustrated and unmotivated I become. Take exercise for instance. I hate (as in loathe and despise) the gym. So, deciding to exercise at the gym would (and has been) an exercise in futility.
But, some form of non-exercise has always been a great way for me to stay fit. I like physical activity that doesn't feel like "exercise". Making it novel makes it motivating and fun. Here is a post I wrote on how to not hate exercise if you have ADHD.
How To Start?
Dodson suggests making a list of things that already work, he calls it "writing your own Owner's Manual". Several times a day, people with ADHD are focused and very productive. What circumstances make that happen? Dodson says finding out what helps you "get in the zone" is the first step.
Dodson encourages you to focus on strategies that work now, not things that worked when you were younger. Since novelty always wears off, your list will change over time.
When you are able to get in the zone look for ways that the activity got your attention and motivation. It will nearly always fall under one of the ICNU criteria.
Off to Focus
I have known intuitively what Dr. Dodson wrote about for many years, but had never seen it put quite so plainly. I think that harnessing our natural ability to be productive is key to succeeding in a non-ADHD world.
As a parent with a child with ADHD, does it ever feel like it's you against six storm troopers? Those are tough odds. Here are five books to help you be a better parent to a child, who, while having great potential, also can't find his socks right now... that are on his feet. (Face palm.)
DISCLAIMER: First, just so we're clear, you're already a great parent, just by reading books like these. It isn't necessarily the books, but that you are the type of parent who clicks on a post like this and reads books like these, that makes the difference. Second, nothing to disclose, no affiliation with any of the authors or Amazon. No affiliate links.
And this is a picture, for visual effect, of you against six storm troopers... yeah, not pretty. So, onto the amazing parent that you are, who reads all the books. (If you're missing the reference, go back and read the disclaimer.) CONTINUE READING
Adult ADHD: Waking Up Early
Having Adult ADHD, I vote to shortening the title to Waking Up Period. Show of hands, who has been late (multiple times) to an office meeting, doctor's appointment, dinner party, their own wedding? Yup, me, too.
So, what do you do? Can't you just "do it"? Just get up? Well if you could... you probably wouldn't be reading this. CONTINUE READING
Adult ADHD: Conquering Distraction
by Nikki Schwartz, MA, NCC
Bottom Line: Unstuck is a great free app that can help you through frustrating moments when you are plagued by doubt, indecision, anxiety, distraction or lack of information. The user interface is brilliant, easy to use and the graphics are fun and well done. Excellent app. A must download. CONTINUE READING
I'm always looking for realistic parenting tips for families who have children with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD. I recently discovered a great series of short parenting videos from @AskDocG, Dr. Deborah Gilboa regularly posts tips on parenting.
I've already used this suggestion several times to teach children on the spectrum how to interrupt their parents politely. I couldn't believe I had never thought of something this simple before, definitely worth watching. Dr. G posts weekly with great tips for parents, you can find those on her YouTube Channel.
Now, that you've watched it... I recently tried this with a child that I know outside of the office, who is rather impatient. I couldn't believe how quickly she picked it up and didn't interrupt once the rest of the afternoon. I was shocked. Try it out, I would love to hear how it works out for your kiddo.
Guest Post by R. Andrew Bindewald III
This post on ADHD subtypes and Winnie-The-Pooh comes from Andrew Bindewald, a Master's student from Regent University. He found the idea intriguing that different characters from The Hundred Acre Woods offered great metaphors for different aspects of ADHD.
So, without further delay... The wonderful thing about Tiggers... is hyperactivity. Which is sometimes... not so wonderful... :-/
Over-Focused and Anxious
Overly Anxious and Shy
A child like Piglet may or may not have ADHD. Piglet does has trouble shifting attention, but also has excessive worry, is hypervigilant, and easily startled. These are signs of Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder, which can co-occur with ADHD.
Help Piglets by following their lead and letting them set the pace. Encourage new opportunities for social interaction and praise small successes.
Or Does Your Child Look More like Eeyore?
Eeyore is a sad fellow who has little energy, chronic low-grade depression, and feelings of hopelessness. These can be signs of childhood depression, difficulties at school or trouble adjusting to changes in family life, such as moving, divorce, etc.
Help Eeyores by asking them to talk about problems in bite-sized chunks. Let them act out the struggles in play, be involved in what is going on at school and with their friends.
The Most Wonderful Thing About ADHD...
There is strength in knowledge and awareness. By realizing there are many different kinds of ADHD, and by identifying and understanding different symptoms, you can help your child live a fuller, happier life!
Check out other posts for more tips for hyperactive children with ADHD. As a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD and exhibits anxiety, hyperactivity or inattention, you are not alone! Reach out to other parents who know what you're going through. Seek the help of a supportive and understanding counselor who can help you and your child develop practical strategies that build on his strengths, instead of focusing on his deficits.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please tell us about your experiences with ADHD, and do not hesitate to share a story of your own! (P.S. We showed you a picture of Roo and Kanga in the picture collage at the top... Roo doesn't have ADHD, :) he's just a fun kiddo.)
by Nikki Schwartz
Photo Credit (Bottom Right, Clockwise): Kids Giving Your Problems? Hire an Elephant by peasap, Blowing Bubbles by Nicki Varkevisser, Tapping a Pencil by Rennett Stowe, Running by Ian Carroll. All photos used with permission via Flickr, with Creative Commons Licenses.