The ADHD Solutions Blog

Video coaching via Skype available worldwide

A lovely young woman from Austria just signed up for coaching with me.   I've also worked with people from Bermuda, Canada, China, England, and Spain.  I'm excited about adding another country to the list!

If you are interested in coaching, but don't live in North America, don't let geography stop you.  I offer video coaching through Skype for international clients who speak English.  It works well for Americans who aren't close enough to meet in person, too.

I offer a free initial consultation to discuss your needs and how ADHD coaching can help.  Contact me at   beth@adhdsolutions.net or (717) 441-4354 to schedule an appointment.

See you on Skype!

In-Service Presentation on ADHD was a success!

I got to live a dream today.   I've been wanting to educate teachers about ADHD since my ADHD journey began six years ago, with the diagnosis of my then-elementary school aged son.  I just finished giving an In-Service presentation to the teachers at a local private school.  I was thrilled at how well it was received!

The topics were:
•    What’s it like to have ADHD?  A simulation.
•    Were you paying attention?  A quiz.
•    How does ADHD manifest in real life?  More symptoms.
•    What else could be going on?  Common co-existing conditions.
•    What if you suspect a child has ADHD?  What to tell the parents – and what not to say.
•    What can you do to help?  Strategies for the classroom.
•    What do students with ADHD need most?  Some guiding principles.
The teachers asked lots of intelligent questions and provided their own insights on what works for them.  Thank you, Harrisburg Academy!

Please visit my web site, www.adhdsolutions.net, and send me an email if you'd like me to speak at your school.  I'd love to continue the dream.

Time Management presentation

Beth Main is the featured speaker at the August 3, 2010 meeting of Harrisburg Business Women.   The topic is Time Management:  How to Make Room in Your Life for What's Really Important.    All Harrisburg area business women are encouraged to attend.  For more information, visit ww.harrisburgareabusinesses.org/hbwgroup

What’s in your gear closet?

Ah, the first backpacking trip of the season.   The weather was perfect.  The trail was uncrowded.  Metaphors about gear and ADHD strategies floated through my mind like sparks from the campfire.

I was never really a tool person.  It used to be there wasn’t much I couldn’t repair with duct tape, a kitchen knife, and a high heeled shoe.  When I started hiking many years ago, part of the allure was that I didn’t need any special equipment.  I could just get up and go.    Now I’ve amassed several thousand dollars worth of backpacking gear that I have no idea how I ever lived without.

ADHD coping strategies are like gear.  At first, you think you don’t need anything special.  You can hike just fine in a pair of sneakers as long as you don’t go too far or over rocky terrain.  But then you try to go a little farther.  Rocks and roots press into the soles of your shoes.  Your feet start to hurt.  So you bite the bullet and buy a pair of hiking boots.  They’re a little uncomfortable at first, and you think, is this really any better?  But then you start to get used to them.  Oh my!  What an improvement.

Your new footwear enables you to hit steeper and more difficult trails.  Being the adventurous type, off you go.  You notice other hikers using fancy aluminum trekking poles.  You laugh at them - what the heck would anyone need all that for?  You begin to understand the value the first time you twist an ankle, or fall in a creek, or slide down an incline on your back.  So you try out a pair.  Like the boots, they’re a little hard to get used to.  But soon you don’t know how you ever lived without them.

You are now a gear junkie.

It’s the same with ADHD coping strategies.  A long, long time ago, I used to just get up and go, not worrying about how my day went.  The farther I got from home, the steeper the hills were, the more I realized how hard life with ADHD can be.  I got to thinking that there must be an easier way.  So I started with one little strategy that changed my life:  I bought a planner.  At first it seemed cumbersome.  I had to carry it around with me, and remember to write stuff in it, and look at it regularly.  It was kind of a hassle, to be honest.  But before long I was relying on it more than my left arm.  How do people live without these things?!

Over time, I added more strategies to my ADHD gear closet.  Now I am functioning quite well.  It’s been years since anyone called me a derogatory name like Ditzy.  But just like backpacking gear, there’s always some new tool I’d like to acquire.  I hear about a new technique, wonder how I could possibly use it, decide to do something similar, figure out how, and integrate it into my life.  Then it’s on to the next thing.

Where are you on your ADHD journey?  What’s on your gear wish list?  Leave me a comment.

ADHD kids don't disappear - they become ADHD adults

I wrote the following "As I See It" op-ed piece that appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot News on Sunday:

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder”? If you’re like most people, you probably associate it with out-of-control kids who are given medication so they can sit still long enough to learn something.

Maybe you think it’s overdiagnosed or can be cured with a little discipline. But have you ever thought about what happens to these kids when they grow up?

They don’t disappear. They become working members of society. They become ADHD adults.

Although it’s usually thought of as a childhood disorder, about half the kids with ADHD will continue to struggle with it when they grow up. That equates to more than 10 million adults in this country with ADHD — roughly the same as the adult population of Pennsylvania. Because ADHD was virtually unheard of 20 years ago, many adults don’t even realize they have it. Or want to accept that they do.

People with ADHD are easily distracted and can’t control their attention. They have an inordinate amount of difficulty with tasks that involve planning and organization. They lose anything that isn’t tied down. They procrastinate. They lack follow-through. They’re restless and impulsive. They’re extremely forgetful. They tend to overlook details, leading to mistakes. They interrupt. They’re chronically late. They’re easily bored, thriving on novelty and instant gratification.

You might scoff and point out that everyone has these problems from time to time. While it’s true that everyone has some of the symptoms some of the time, most do not exhibit as many, or to the same degree. An ADHD diagnosis is warranted only when the symptoms cause significant impairment in daily functioning. Traits that are a minor annoyance to someone without ADHD are amplified to disability level for someone with this unique brain wiring.

And unique brain wiring is exactly what it is. ADHD is a neurobiological disorder. It’s not caused by bad parenting, laziness or lack of moral character. It’s caused by a deficiency of neurotransmitters in the brain. It’s been called an invisible disability because we can’t see it, like a broken leg or detect it with a blood test. However, differences in brain structure and activity can be seen on a SPECT scan, which shows how well each region of the brain is functioning. Several genes associated with ADHD have been identified, providing strong evidence that it’s hereditary.

There are good things about having ADHD. Many ADHDers are highly talented and creative. They’re spontaneous and not afraid to take chances. They can manage many projects at once and see things from different angles. Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were all believed to have had it.

Actors Ty Pennington and Howie Mandel have it, as do actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Lindsay Wagner. Athletes Terry Bradshaw and Michael Phelps have been diagnosed with it. Tommy Hilfiger overcame his ADHD and built a fashion empire. Activist Erin Brockovich used it to her advantage. JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman appreciates the creativity that comes with having it. Charles Schwab considered it an asset.

I think it’s terrific that these public figures have acknowledged their ADHD. Their testimonies have gone a long way toward alleviating the stigma that ADHD holds for some.

Is there a cure for ADHD? No. But there are treatments. A lot of people think treatment means medication, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Other options include supplements, diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, neurofeedback, and behavioral interventions such as therapy and coaching. Although medication can certainly be part of a successful treatment plan, it can’t teach the planning and organizational skills that people with ADHD often lack. And it won’t make it go away.

The key to successfully living with ADHD is harnessing strengths and developing coping strategies for everything else. Like writing everything down. Using a planner, checklists and timers. Creating structure and routines. Wearing a watch that beeps, even if it’s ugly.

Accepting the need to do these things is a problem for some, because it means having to admit what they perceive to be a weakness. They self-stigmatize. Only by increasing public awareness will the myths and the stigma subside. Only then will people get the treatment they need and deserve.

About those out-of-control children? They’re good kids. They need our help and support. So do the 10 million ADHD adults who once were ADHD kids. They’re not lazy. They’re not stupid. It’s time to reveal the truth about ADHD and the people who live with it.

A writer's perspective: The challenges of ADD

This post was written by guest blogger and unpublished fiction novelist Matt Chiappino:

As both a budding fiction writer and a person with ADD I’ve noticed a few similarities between the career and the condition. ADD can actually be a boon or a hindrance depending on the situation. In some ways the condition can almost prove helpful, as the ADD mentality is certainly creative in nature. I’ve found myself rattling off idea after idea once I get those creative juices flowing. It’s when the actual work part comes along, focusing on a single chapter, organizing and editing my manuscript, where problems start to surface. So even though I’m not an officially published author yet I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts I had on writing and the condition based on personal experience.

FOCUS: The hallmark of ADD. One day I could be doing great. I’m focused on what I need to be, my thoughts and mind zeroed in on that critical chapter or paragraph. The next day I might not be there at all, instead thinking about how I’ve going to have a bad day at work because someone called off and we’re shorthanded blah blah blah. Outside of medication, which works for some like me but not all, the best way to focus one’s mind is during those spare moments of open mental acuity when one’s mind is unencumbered by distractions. When I want to work but can’t blot out the day’s events past or present I might try taking a quick shower. Not only do I feel physically clean, it gives my mind a chance to eject the clutter and junk clogging it and let me refocus with a fresh perspective. Or might try to lay down and take a nap. Even if I sleep just an hour or two, the sheer fact of disconnecting from the junk lets me wake up fresh and renewed, like starting over with a clean slate. The key here is to get that instance of hyper-focus that comes every so often when are minds are latched onto something for a significant time and latch onto a subject of our choice.

PATIENCE: Yes, I know, that dreaded word we’ve all come to hate hearing. I’m no different. A huge part of writing anything though, is patience and persistence. Especially with the longer projects like novels, one has to keep plugging away, writing, rewriting, revising, several times over. Writing is a lengthy process that’s difficult for most people to see through to the end. With ADD thrown in, it can be even more frustrating. But it’s not impossible if one wants it bad enough and is willing to put forth the effort. The best way I’ve found to be productive writing is in small pieces. Don’t sit down and tell yourself it’s time to write the next best-selling novel or short story, it could very well lead to excess pressure or perfectionism. Just write a little bit at a time, say one page a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but think about it. One page a day is 365 pages in a year, a full length novel. Granted, it still takes time for revision and editing, but the bulk of the work, and focus, is already done. Turn creativity into part of the daily routine. Even if you can’t write a full page for whatever reason, just dedicating time every day to creative work does wonders for productivity. And when you do accomplish your goal for the day, treat yourself somehow. Make sure to remind yourself you’re doing well when you are and that every page, every hour spent working is another step closer to the goal. It does wonders for keeping up with the next issue.

CONFIDENCE: From what I’ve seen and lived, the insidious nature of ADD isn’t the condition in itself but the real world implications it often has on the person dealing with it. Unable to budget priorities, unable to get or hold down a job, feeling like a complete failure at life itself as you see your friends and family succeed with apparent ease while you struggle with basic survival, all that tends to devastate one’s belief in their own ability. And nothing kills a writing session faster than self-doubt. This sucks…no one’s going to like it…I’m going to fail again, that’s the ADD talking, don’t listen to it. With focus, patience, and confidence you will succeed. Don’t hope you will, know you will. Imagine yourself standing on a podium, answering a bazillion questions about your best selling novel or short stories or whatever, while getting your picture taken by the media. Healthy fantasies like that help keep people going during times of difficulty so don’t be ashamed to use them.

PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE: For a lot of people this is the most difficult element, not just with writing but anything creative in nature. Let’s face it, words can hurt, and negative criticism of something you’ve spent months or even years on hurts so much more. But as much as we all love positive feedback, as writers we need the negative feedback. We need to know what we’re doing wrong to learn from it in future. Take in the criticisms, not to heart but examine them rationally. Are they right? Are their points valid about my work? Some will give you constructive feedback that you can use to good effect in future. And others will just spit fire with no constructive use to the writer. You have to be daring, willing to face any fears of hurtful criticism or slander to make a writing career.

Case in point, I have a confession to make. Even though I’ve written and used the internet extensively I’ve never actually had anything posted for the whole world to see. The fact is I’m terrified of the world at large, but it’s a fear I have to conquer if I’m going to be successful. This very blog post you’ve just read is my own way of facing that fear. I hope you found it interesting.

And thank you so much Beth, for giving me the opportunity.

- Matt Chiappino

100 Fans Contest: Win 100 minutes of coaching!

ADHD Solutions now has over 100 fans on Facebook!

We're celebrating by giving away 100 minutes of free ADHD coaching to one lucky Facebook fan.  Just tell us your favorite ADHD Solution (i.e. what works for YOU), and be eligible to win.

There are two ways to participate:

1.  Send an email to contest@adhdsolutions.net.   Describe in 150 words or less the ADHD coping strategy that works best for you.  Please include your Facebook profile name in your email (see Rule #3, below).

OR:

2.  Add to the discussion on the ADHD Solutions fan page.  Same thing - describe in 150 words or less the ADHD coping strategy that works best for you.  Log in to Facebook and click on the Discussions tab from the ADHD Solutions fan page.

Contest rules:

  1. One entry per person, please.
  2. Either email OR post to the discussion area, but don't do both.
  3. You must be a fan of ADHD Solutions on Facebook in order to participate, even if you choose to enter by email.
  4. A panel of judges will select the winner based on the perceived effectiveness and creativity of the entry.  If there are multiple entries with the same idea, a winner will be selected at random from those entries.
  5. The winner will be selected and notified on April 30, 2010.
  6. The winner is responsible for all long distance telephone charges incurred during the 100 minutes of free coaching.
  7. By entering this contest, you agree that your idea may be used by ADHD Solutions, with or without attribution.
  8. If, in her sole discretion, the ADHD Coach (Beth Main, CAC) determines that coaching is unsuitable for the selected winner, another winner will be chosen.  (Certain co-existing conditions, such as extreme depression, may make coaching inappropriate.)
  9. Employees of ADHD Solutions and their family members are not eligible to win.
  10. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to ADHD Solutions and not to Facebook.
  11. Any questions about this contest or these rules may be sent to contest@adhdsolutions.net.

How to make decisions

Back in January, I wrote about how difficult it is for people with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to make decisions. I suggested making choices based on who you want to be instead of who you’ve been in the past. That’s great advice for those big decisions like staying in college  vs. going pro, but what about the small stuff? Like which GPS to buy?

There are two extremes when it comes to making decisions: People who shoot from the hip, and people who spend way too much time analyzing and ruminating, stuck in indecision. Surprisingly, the solutions are nearly the same regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re on.

Here are some steps you can follow to make better decisions more easily:

  • Determine how much time to spend on the decision.  Set a deadline for yourself, or determine an appropriate amount of time to spend making a choice.  If you tend to make impulsive decisions, this will help you be more methodical.  If you usually spend too much time, this will help you rein things in.
  • Define your requirements.  What is your goal?  Spend a few minutes thinking through what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.  It doesn’t matter if you’re choosing a college or deciding whether to accept a party invitation, being crystal clear about what you want - and why - will ensure the best outcome.
  • Go on a fact finding mission.  Spend some time researching your options without evaluating them.  You're just gathering information at this point.  Trying to decide before you have all the facts complicates things immensely.
  • Consider the consequences of each choice.  What will it cost you?  What will you gain?  It’s okay to consider your emotions.  “I just want to” is perfectly valid, as long as you’ve considered the other factors as well.
  • Evaluate.  Does anything jump out as the answer?  If so, you’re done.  If not, eliminate the options that don’t make sense and consider those that remain.
  • Do the “yum-yuck” test.  Think about each option, and note how it makes you feel.   The one that is more “yum” than “yuck” is probably the winner.
  • Follow Occam’s Razor.  This is the principle that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”.  In other words,  when all things are equal, the simplest option tends to be the best one.
  • Last resort:  Flip a coin.  If the choice is still not clear after you’ve gone through all this, just pick something.  You may be fighting perfectionist tendencies, which include a fear of being wrong. It’s okay to be wrong sometimes!  If you’ve gone through this process, you’ve done everything you can to make an informed decision.  You’ve done your due diligence.  Make a choice and move on.  Even if it doesn’t work out, you can take pride in having made a well thought out decision in a timely manner.

What are you having for dinner?  What are you doing this weekend?  What career will you pursue?  Life is full of decisions.  Here’s hoping these tips help you make them wisely.

Workshop: Intro to meditation and yoga for people with ADHD

Are you looking for holistic options to help you manage your Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder?   Yoga and meditation are both excellent choices.  They can help you increase your attention span and self control, while decreasing restlessness and tension.

I've teamed up with Tina Stroh and Ron Blouch, co-owners of the Just Plain Yoga Studio here in Camp Hill, to offer a three hour workshop on meditation, yoga, and ADHD.  If you are even mildly affected by ADHD-like symptoms, including distractibility, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity (which usually manifests as restlessness in adults), you won’t want to miss this one.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How yoga and meditation can reduce ADHD symptoms
  • Meditation techniques designed specifically for people who have trouble concentrating
  • ADHD-friendly yoga techniques that can calm the mind and body to help improve your ability to focus
  • Success strategies for integrating yoga and meditation into your daily life

This introductory workshop is designed for adult beginners.  There are no prerequisites or advanced knowledge required.  You don’t even have to be able to sit still for very long.
Date:  Saturday February 27, 2009, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $60

Location:  Just Plain Yoga Studio, 1845 Market St. & 19th, Camp Hill, PA

Register online at www.justplainyoga.com  or call 717.975.YOGA

Give me a call if you have questions or would like more information.  I hope to see you there!

Free investment management seminar on February 9, 2010

Want to start investing but aren't sure how? You're not alone. Many people with ADHD struggle to reach their financial goals. Here is an opportunity to learn a little more about the financial markets that might be of interest:

"Kim Lutes, a financial advisor with Waddell and Reed, will hold a free investment management seminar at Funck’s Family Restaurant in Palmyra on Tuesday, February 9th. Doors open at 6:00, the seminar begins at 6:20 and will last approximately 30 minutes with a 10 minute question and answer afterwards. A dessert buffet including cakes, pies, and cookies will be served along with coffee and tea. This will be an educational workshop where we will discuss five myths and truths of investing. We’ll show you sound strategies that can help you succeed in the financial markets and pursue your investment goals. A workbook will be provided. Please RSVP by February 2nd by calling 541-9606 ext 112 or email at klutes@wradvisors.com. More information can be found at www.klutes.wradvisors.com.

Mutual funds and variable annuities are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest."

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