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The Care and Feeding of the ADHD Person in your Life

ADHD-brain

Congratulations! Your child/spouse/student/sibling/parent/dog  has just been diagnosed with ADHD. You are about to embark on an incredible adventure. Actually, you’ve probably been on the adventure for a while, now it just makes more sense. But what do you do now? What will be expected of you, the non ADHD person, in dealing with your loved one? I have thoughts on this. I myself have ADHD and so do my two kids, so I’ve seen this from multiple angles. Here are a few helpful things to remember.

  1. It’s not going to go away. Some people seem to think that kids will just “grow out of it.” And while its true hyperactivity will decrease over time, the ADHD person will be dealing with some form of it the rest of their lives. This will manifest in different ways. For some people it’s disorganization, for others it’s chronic lateness, For most people its an inability to focus on something for any length of time. It changes form, but it’s always with us. This is not necessarily a big deal.
  2. It’s not your fault.  No one can cause anyone else to develop ADHD. It’s genetic. You’re born with it, just like being left-handed of having blue eyes. It’s true that it can be exacerbated by certain circumstances,, but that’s something that can be dealt with.
  3. We need your help to keep track of things. Keys? Maybe they’re still in my pocket? Homework? It was in my backpack ten minutes ago. Cell pone? I called it but i must have forgotten to take it off silent when I got out of the movie. Remote control? I think I set it down … somewhere. The most terrifying thing I say on a daily basis is “I just had that a few minutes ago.” So you will need to watch what we’re doing and help us develop strategies so we don’t lose everything. I have to follow my son around and put his things away constantly so they don’t get lost. My wife does the same thing with my daughter. And it seems like no matter how hard I try and put them in the same place every time, I have to budget ten minutes before I leave the house to look for my keys. It’s just going to happen.
  4. Sometimes, we’re TOO focused.  Every ADHD person will have things they find particularly engaging, and will hyper-focus on those things. Because paying close attention is so rare, whenever we find we do have the capacity, we find it hard to stop and get severely grumpy when we’re interrupted and have a hard time turning our attention to anything else. This can be really frustrating when your kid is involved in an art project, but it’s time to go to soccer practice. For me, I hyper-focus on reading an writing. But even though we can be hyper-focused …
  5. No matter how engaging the activity, we will occasionally lose track of what we are doing. At least one point in the middle of every tv show we watch, I will have to turn to my wife and say something along the lines of “what is going on again?” Or “who is this guy and why is he shooting the other guy?” My son will look up from his video game, look around for his phone, and suddenly be cut down by those covenant bastards, at which point he’ll curse and throw his controller. And yes, this means that, if it’s your spouse we’re talking about, there will even be times they lose track of what they are doing during sex (not even kidding).
  6. We crave structure and organization, but at least at first, are unable to create and maintain it for ourselves. This can be one of the most frustrating things to deal with. We have a system, why can’t we follow it? The truth is that every ADHD person needs a different approach, and will need someone to come along and help them develop it and keep it going. Eventually, the training wheels will come off, but we still need frequent check-ins to make sure we’re not getting overwhelmed.
  7. Medication does a lot, but it’s not a cure-all. I am so thankful for my medication that I can’t even express it. Getting on adderal opened up my brain power in ways I’d never known before, enabling me to actually accomplish things. That said, I still struggle with motivation and organization and occasionally when doing something boring like cleaning the house, will end up standing in the middle of the living room, lost in constantly shifting thoughts. I find listening to audio-books and podcasts helps.
  8. We’re not closers. We have a tendency to start projects, get in the middle of them, then depart for greener, more interesting pastures. My son abandons lego projects, My daughter gets bored with games. I don’t know how many novels I’ve started and  not finished. My wife looks at all of us and just thinks WILL ONE OF YOU JUST FINISH SOMETHING? So we need help sticking with things.
  9. We have a tendency to over-commit. Sure, I’ll help you with the food drive, and help you organize the 5K, and get that review to you by Wednesday, and read the book you wrote, and get the house cleaned up so we can have people over … and … and… usually this is because we don’t remember what it is we’ve already committed to, and everything sounds interesting. So help us keep track of who we’ve promised what, and remind us to use strategies to manage it all.
  10. We’re usually pretty creative at problem solving, sometimes TOO creative. Because we’re thinking many different thoughts at once, we’re somethings good at making connections neuro-typicals miss. This also manifest as using improper tools to get things done, just because that’s what we had available, like the time my daughter and I were trimming Christmas tress branches with a steak knife. It can be frustrating to watch, but it’s actually a good thing.

So those are a few thoughts about dealing with your loved one with ADHD. The best advice … keep a sense of humor about everything. And realize you probably wouldn’t want them to be normal anyway … at least most of the time.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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I should probably warn you I wrote this before the meds kicked in.

I finished my rough draft of my major school project (incidentally, why can’t dreamweaver be as easy to use as powerpoint? Digression!) and managed to end up only three days behind on all my work from last week. This cannot continue, as there are hard deadlines this week so I will be caught up by this week if only by virtue of having failed on some projects spectacularly.

One thing about hitting your mid 30’s (yes, yes, I’m old, get over it) is that you kind of figure out who you are and how you operate and at a certain point must forgive yourself for being that way and start looking for work-arounds. I have had adhd all of my life, but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 30 (apparently, my brain is on speed, naturally, which explains why I talk and move and read so fast and probably also why I make so many typos) and have been on different meds which, until recently, were somewhat sedating. I finally went to an expert, who helped me find the right thing, something which could focus the energy without trying to dampen it. And voila … massively productive. Still not able to sit still, really, but that’s ok. You sit still, you get run over. Now I can actually direct the energy into getting things done!

So, I found Lifehacker. Most awesome website ever. And started using Todoist. I loves me a good to do list app. I’m still waiting for that perfect site to combine a calendar and to do list just the way I like them (no, neither google nor yahoo are it). There was a scary point in there last week where my search for the perfect productivity tools was making me much less productive than I needed to be, but I got over it and settled down.

So, why am I behind?  Sheer, blind ambition (no, I don’t know how it can be both sheer and blind, but trust me, it can).  Also, life hates me. So, today? I’m going to finish the rough draft of the Footprints story, which still lacks a title. And I’m going to do a chapter from my programming book (making php and mysql work play nicely) and clean several rooms in the house, all before having to go pick up my son from school and take him to Karate.

Which means I should probably get back to work.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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More whining about writer’s block …

I want to write it, I have the time (if I’m careful) to write it, I have a great idea for it, but I just can’t get started …

Yes, it’s another dreaded post about writer’s block. I thought I had it licked, but no, not happening. I gave myself a deadline of Nov. 1st to get this story done, which should have given me an entire month to write 4000 words. NO prob, right? I think it’s that first 100 words that’s killing me.

Part of me wonders if I should just give up on this one and move on, but I really want something to submit to this anthology. And I really like me idea.

Getting started? Maybe once I do, it will just flow and be done. That’s what happens sometimes. That’s what happened with the last story and that seemed to work out all right.

Ok. Enough whining. Any advice, my writer friends? Or even non-writer friends?

Maybe I just need an all-nighter with a notebook, a pot of coffee, and the kitchen table. Sometimes that works, even if it does freak out the dogs.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2008 in writing

 

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