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Archive for June, 2017

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Help Your ADHD Child: Change Your Perspective

I have ADHD. My daughter and one of my sons have ADHD. I think that people with ADHD represent some of the most fascinating, fun, and fulfilling of all the people I meet. However, words such as structure, supervision, reminders, and persistence don’t even begin to describe the magnitude of the task people with ADHD have to tackle every day, especially kids.

Children need their parents to understand their difficulties, and teach them to overcome those challenges. As parents, the best way to help your child is to start by changing your own thinking about ADHD.

Barriers Parents Face: By far, the biggest barriers for parents are denial, ignorance, and a refusal to learn. Dads and moms can dig in and simply refuse to listen to facts or reason. If this goes on too long, children can suffer severe damage, and families can be destroyed. The stakes are high, not only for the child, but the whole family.

It is usually the mother who seeks help. Often, the dad denies there is a problem or says, “He’ll grow out of it.” Sometimes the dads are even harsher, saying all the child needs is more discipline. When these dads have ADHD themselves, they tend to believe their struggles made them strong. Parents should help a child avoid unnecessary suffering, as that breaks kids rather than builds them up. It takes time, and effort, but it’s worth it.

Steps for Parents to Change Your Perspective

1. Look for that special spark: In my daily practice, I see and treat kids with ADHD. Just being with them usually makes me smile. They invariably have a special something, a spark, a delightful quirk – which they sometimes try to hide, but which I usually can find. Then they relax, brighten up, and make me laugh and learn.

Look for that special something and help your child feel good about who s/he is. Identify his/her talents, strengths, interests and dreams. Teach him/her to see and believe in what s/he can do, and avoid the tendency to focus on what s/he can’t do. When you believe in your child, it makes it easier for him/her to believe, too.

2. Unconditional Love: Let your love for your child carry the day. Tune out the diagnosticians and labelers and simply notice and nourish the spirit of your child for who s/he is. Providing this unshakable base of support will set the tone for all interactions to come. This is what builds self-esteem, confidence, and motivation, which in turn create joy and success in life.

Several studies suggest that loving acceptance by parents is the most important thing teens with ADHD need in dealing with symptoms. Make sure that your child knows, every day, how much you love her. Showing your love and affection will buoy your child’s sense of hope and help the family weather criticism from outside sources. This is what these kids need more than anything else: love that never gives up.

3. Reframe Challenges in terms of Mirror Traits: Remind yourself and your child of the positive sides of the negative symptoms associated with ADD. By recognizing the mirror traits, you avoid the ravages of shame and fear.

Negative Trait                                  Positive Trait
Associated with ADD                        Associated with ADD

Hyperactive, restless           →            Energetic
Intrusive                                →             Eager
Can’t stay on point              →             Sees connections others don’t
Forgetful                               →             Gets totally into what s/he is doing
Disorganized                        →             Spontaneous
Stubborn                              →              Persistent, won’t give up
Inconsistent                        →              Shows flashes of brilliance
Moody                                  →              Sensitive
Impulsive                            →              Creative

4. Avoid Toxic Worry: Worry gets extremely toxic when you worry alone. Talk to someone. Join support groups. Tell trusted others about what you’re up against. Build a team. You cannot do it alone, nor should you try.

Worry is usually based on wrong information or lack of information. Get the facts. Make a plan. If you have a plan, you automatically feel more in control and less worried. It doesn’t matter if the plan fails, just make a new plan. Life is all about revising plans. Just always have a plan to deal with the problem. Stay out of the passive position. Toxic worry feasts on people in passive mode.

5. Surround yourself with Laughter: Laughter is the best medicine. Surround yourself with people who can laugh. It is important to be able to regain a perspective that allows you to see the humor in all of the messes and fixes these kids can get into. Why wait to look back on something and laugh at it – go ahead and enjoy the ridiculousness of the situation in the moment.

When our kids begin to laugh at themselves, and not take themselves quite so seriously, it allows them to learn humility without shame, and adds to their moral character and their enjoyment of life.

Conclusion: As a parent, how you approach your child’s ADHD will set the tone for how your child manages it his or herself. When you show them compassion and understanding, you teach them to love themselves and see their strengths. That will help them find the motivation they need to take control of their ADHD, one strategy at a time.

Adapted from Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and Peter S. Jensen, M.D., Ballantine, 2008.

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Sunday, June 25th, 2017

What’s It Like to Have ADHD?

We who have ADHD need your help and understanding. We may make mess-piles wherever we go, but with your help, those mess-piles can be turned into realms of reason and art. So, if you know someone like me who’s acting up and daydreaming and forgetting this or that and just not getting with the program, consider ADHD before he starts believing all the bad things people are saying about him and it’s too late.

Read more in Huffington Post

What’s it Like to Have ADHD?

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Changing Your Perspective on ADHD

How easily the gifts of ADHD are lost on a child amid negative comments from doctors, teachers, and even loving but frustrated parents. I believe that ADHD is too often misunderstood and mistreated because it is mislabeled as only a “disability.” In truth, practical strength-based techniques can put the talents, charms, and positive essence of children with ADHD ahead of any presumed shortcomings. 

My best advice for parents, teachers or anyone who knows a child or adult with ADHD is to take action now by finding new and different ways to support them. So if you know a child or adult with ADHD, I invite you to learn how to change your perspective on ADHD by joining my Twitter chat with understood.org on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 12-12:30 PM EST.

This is completely free. Learn more and RSVP for a reminder HERE!

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Can Fidget Toys Help Adults with ADHD?

“Stop fiddling around and get to work”! Folks of all ages with ADHD find that their brains “spill over” frequently. This is due to a neurological condition. Don’t try to force your attention “back into a box”; instead embrace the fidget toy, pencil or whatever it is that can keep your focus on the task at hand.
Dr. Hallowell explains more in this ADDitude Magazine article:  https://www.additudemag.com/fidget-toys-for-adhd-focus-at-work/?platform=hootsuite
Monday, June 5th, 2017

It’s the Season for Graduations

A couple of weeks ago, my son Jack graduated from Elon College in North Carolina.  My wife, Sue, as well as our daughter, Lucy, and youngest child, Tucker, all made the trip to be with Jack for that triumphant day.

The night before graduation day, the five of us went out for dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.  I can honestly say that the four hours we spent together there that night were maybe the happiest four hours we’ve ever spent together.  We are a tightly knit family, and we generally have fun together, but that night was extraordinary.  Something about the moment, the graduation, the five of us all being together, our kids all being over 21 and into adulthood just made us all feel good, and proud, not only proud of Jack, but of each other, of our family.  We laughed and ate and drank the night away, until we were almost the last people left in the place.

It’s the season for graduations.  I imagine that most of you celebrated some kind of transition recently or will soon.  These moments can be tedious–we had to watch some 1500 graduates walk across the stage at Elon–but even in their tedium, they matter.  They lift ordinary life out of its ordinariness for a moment, and for graduate # 1174, our son Jack, that moment will live forever.

I didn’t attend my own college graduation.  I’d taken a year off from college to go to Europe and try my hand at being a writer, so my class graduated a year before I completed college.  I was in the Class of ’72, but I got my diploma in ’73.  During the graduation ceremony I was working in Widener Library.  I could have marched with the other graduates that day, but they weren’t the people I thought of as my classmates, so I showed up for work instead.

I didn’t get the dose of connection–that other vitamin C–that Jack and the rest of our family got at Elon.  It’s no big deal that I didn’t get it, and taking that year off from college was good for me.  But what Jack and the rest of us did get was indeed a very big deal.  The image of Jack walking off the stage with his arms raised in a victory salute will always shine in my mind.

Nothing lasts forever.  That’s why it matters so much to relish and savor all that we can.  I will never be able to look back on my college graduation the way Jack will be able to look back on his.  That’s fine; I have many other moments I can look back on.

What I am saying is that it matters a lot–like the whole enchilada–to make as much of life fire up and glow with significance as you possibly can.  Graduations provide one forum for doing exactly that.  The dinner at Ruth’s Chris, with the five of us, all strong-willed and spirited, ready to engage in debate or conflict at the drop of a hat, talking and laughing, eating and drinking together, well, this was life at its very best, all of us, as different and independent as we are, in synch, each playing our own instrument but this time in complete harmony with nary a discordant note to be heard.

When you find yourself in such a moment, as we all do once in a while, when it is over, savor it, because while it is going on you are so immersed in it you can’t step back and see it for the magnificence that it is.  But savor it for the rest of your life, bring it out of your memory, dust it off, and play it again, and again.  It’s the personal anthem of your life.

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