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By Candace Taylor, B.Sc. B.Ed. ACG www.addmirablewoman.com
“Why does our house look like this?” That was the question tossed at me one day by my then eight year old son, upon returning from a play date at a friend’s immaculate and organized home. He walked into the kitchen, looked around as if he smelled something funny (which may have been the truth), fixed me with a suspicious and accusatory glare, and asked the same question I had been asking myself for years.
Why indeed did my house look like this? “This”, being precarious piles on every flat surface, calendars from 5 years earlier still on the walls, and endless projects of every description with no end in sight. Cleaning house was an archeological dig. and my desk had become the Bermuda Triangle of important papers – the more important the paper, the quicker it sank from sight, never to be found again. The best response I could come up with was, “Honey, I honestly don’t know.”
I was tormented by other burning questions that also seemed to have no obvious answers. Why did it take me three times longer than everyone else to do something? Why were things that seemed so easy for others, so hard for me? Why was it almost impossible for me to follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant? Why could I never remember where I parked the car, hid the Christmas presents, or even what I went upstairs for? And of course the grandmother of them all, the question that roared through my head several times a day,
“What is wrong with me!?”
A near death brush with Red Measles at age five left me with significant hearing loss in some frequency ranges. This seemed sufficient explanation for why I couldn’t follow a teacher unless I was sitting in the front row, or why I needed verbal instructions repeated despite a reading level 5 grades ahead. It also seemed an adequate explanation for why I would pass out cold during a boring history class, why I hit an academic wall in grade 10, and perhaps even for why my grades continued to slide downward from that point on. Talk about a red herring. This one even had spots!
But it didn’t explain why a bright, academically committed student needed to do 6 hours of homework every night to maintain a solid C average. I secretly suspected I was a brilliant but misunderstood genius, probably from a far more advanced planet. I prayed the mothership would come soon and explain me to the rest of the world. In the end it did come, but not for many years, and many tears, later.
Fast forward through two hard won degrees that took forever to complete, a stimulating and rewarding career as a high school Math and Physics teacher that nearly brought me to my knees, and three gorgeous baby boys in 4 years. As time rolled on, the unanswered questions piled up with the laundry and clutter. The day my son asked me that question I felt deeply shamed. The gig was up, it was time for some answers.
I enlisted the help of a wonderful counselor who told me about another client she had with similar “symptoms” to mine. This client had just finished reading a book that “explained everything” and changed her life. Sounded good to me. The book, written by Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey, was called Driven To Distraction, Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder, whatever that was.
Within days I had bought and read, no, make that devoured, the book. Next came Sari Solden’s, Women With Attention Deficit Disorder. Every page sprung an “aha” moment of self recognition. That was ME they were talking about! The ship had come, I had found my people.
About this time I re-entered the classroom as a grade one/two teacher. It was easy to notice the 7 year old boys doing cartwheels across their school desks. I could even feel a grudging admiration for the sheer energy and athletic agility it took to go from one end of the room to the other without touching the floor. But it was another type of student that really caught my attention – the little girl staring out the window, not causing any trouble, not being disruptive – and not getting anything done. With a clutch to the heart, I realized I was looking at myself 40 years earlier. So this is where it all began.
My determination to help girls, and the women they grew up to be, with ADD gave me a glimpse of my next career.
Three years later I left the classroom as a teacher and re-entered it as a student, studying first to be a life coach at the ICF (International Coaching Federation) accredited Adler School Of Professional Coaching, then ADDCA (ADD Coach Training Academy), also ICF accredited, and graduated as a trained ADD coach.
According to the World Health Organization, over 5 million women in North America alone have ADD, but only a small percentage of them have any form of diagnosis, treatment, or support. As an ADD coach to women, I am working hard to change that – and loving every minute of it!
Epilogue: Mother: (to college student son who unexpectedly brought friends home)
“Sorry the house looks like this.”
Son: (look of genuine confusion on his face):
“What do you mean? The house looks awesome.”
And so it did!
By Dr. John Fleming, C.Psych.
“Dr. Fleming is a psychologist in private practice with more than 30 years of experience in the treatment of eating issues, including obesity.
John has been providing assessment and treatment for individuals with ADHD for 19 years, and one of those adults was me. He’s been my ADHD specialist ever since.
>During the past 15 years, he has co-directed a research program investigating the connection between ADHD, overeating and obesity. He has also developed a powerful eight-week program, teaching mindfulness skills to individuals with ADHD. First published in 2011, this remains one of our most read guest blogs”
For more information visit: www.drjohnfleming.com
Starved Stuffed and Restless:
The relation between ADHD and the disregulation of eating.
How ADHD contributes to imbalanced eating is fundamentally unknown. Still, I will take a stab at outlining what I believe to be the primary contributing elements. This is based largely on over twelve years of working with clients with ADHD, obesity and binge eating.
At one level this relationship is a result of the fact that ADHD represents a problem with a central cognitive capacity which creates a distinct disadvantage in a great many situations. This is why such a high percentage of individuals with ADHD struggle with a variety of comorbid conditions including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, as well as increased difficulties with things like underemployment and marital discord.
A second key piece is understanding the experience of restlessness, which is tied to the problem of regulating emotions and arousal.
Want to be part of changing the way the world looks at women with ADHD? You can! My colleagues, Linda Roggli and Terry Matlen, have developed a ground-breaking online event and you are invited!
The Second Annual ADHD Women’s Palooza begins February 6th, and runs through February 11, 2017. It will be an extraordinary week of insight and answers exclusively for women with ADHD, presented by 36 ADHD Legends and Luminaries including: Dr. Ned Hallowell, Sari Solden, Dr. Russell Barkley, Dr. Thomas E. Brown, Free Registration Here
Being a woman with ADHD, I trusted her opinion.
Zoë first told us about Tim three or four years ago. A couple of years back, I finally met Dr. Bilkey as we were waiting at the airport, each heading home after an ADHD conference.
Dr. Bilkey and coauthor Dr. Craig Surman cleverly subtitled their book, How to Thrive If You Have ADHD (Or Think You Might) because what works for those of us who have the disorder will certainly benefit people who may struggle with some of the issues. What the doctors call ‘sub-clinical.’
And what are those issues? Well, F A S T M I N D S is an acronym, and it’s a condensed, concise catalog of the key issues we face:
- Achieving below potential
- Stuck in a rut
- Time challenged
- Motivationally challenged
- Novelty seeking
Enjoy! – Rick Green
Excerpt from FAST MINDS: How to Thrive if You Have ADHD (Or Think You Might), by Dr. Tim Bilkey and Dr. Craig Surman
Chapter 8: Feel Well; Function Well
ADHD colors every minute of her life when she’s awake, and even possibly when she’s asleep. Some people bound out of bed in the morning restored and full of energy. Not Rachel. She struggles to get to work by 9, despite three cups of coffee. The sinking feeling in her stomach that comes with realizing she slept through her second alarm clock – again – is all too familiar for her. The realization that she forgot to bring her lunch in with her is all too familiar also, as are the selections at the vending machine downstairs.
On a good day, she gets home in time to watch a show at 7 p.m. On a bad day, she doesn’t eat her microwave dinner until 9. She eventually gravitates from the TV to the computer – and somehow, she ends up going to bed too late again. The next morning, bleary-eyed, she has to drag herself through the first two hours of her day, until the third cup of coffee kicks in.
There is an unhealthy rhythm to the life of many people with FAST MINDS traits – a pattern where the needs of the person themselves are neglected. We see so many people managing to hold together one domain of their life, often work or school, and lacking dedicated time or energy for much else.
Additional information regarding Dr. Bilkey:
FAST MINDS: How to Thrive if you Have ADHD (Or Think You Might), by Dr. Tim Bilkey and Dr. Craig Surman, Harvard Health Publications, 2013
Her FAST MIND: An In Depth Look at ADHD as it Affects Women (DVD) 2012
ADHD Across the Lifespan (DVD) 2005
(DVDs available through Caversham Booksellers, Toronto, Canada)
Facebook: Bilkey ADHD Clinics
YouTube: DrBilkey’s Channel
By Elaine Taylor-Klaus (Parenting Coach, Co-Founder, ImpactADHD)
As parents, we tend to rely on the support of our “village” to help us raise our kids. We appreciate the give and take of a local support network. “Can I drop that off for you on my way home?” “Can you pick up this child for me?” It’s a kind of a dance. We learn to ask for help, and depend on each other.
But sometimes – all too often – your village doesn’t quite know what to do with your ADHD child, or with you. You find yourself bouncing from village to village, or sitting on the outside, looking for a way to fit in. Looking for a place for your child to feel understood, empowered or cherished. Sound familiar?
I WAS A VILLAGE HOPPER
For the first 10 years of my life as a parent, I tried one support network after another. I wanted other parents and schools to understand my children and their ADHD; but, truth be told, I didn’t really understand them that well, myself.
I mean, sure, I thought I did. But I didn’t fully grasp what I really needed to do, as a parent, to effectively support my children. It turns out, setting them up for a lifetime of success with ADHD requires a very different set of skills than just “regular-old-parenting.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I was doing my best to “treat” my children’s challenges with therapies and special programs. I was trying everything I could think of to help them. But I just didn’t know HOW to help them learn to MANAGE their ADHD.
And then, frankly, I lucked out. I accidentally learned the greatest secret of effective parenting for ADHD: THE CHANGES MY KIDS NEEDED MOST, STARTED WITH ME!
IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM. AT FIRST, ANYWAY.
When I started to learn the skills that would really help me manage MY fascinating, interesting and most-definitely ADHD children, a monumental change happened for my family. I learned to really understand the challenges my children were facing, and get strategies for coping and communicating more effectively – with everyone!
The results were pretty immediate. Less than a year into my journey, my then-9 year old child, with Dyslexia, anxiety & ADHD, actually said: “Thank you, mommy. Things are so much better around here.” I kid you not! I had become a much better parent to my ADHD children. And, truth be told, it wasn’t rocket science. I shifted my parenting to a coach-approach, including a solid diet of education & communication, and it made a world of difference!
I wish I could tell you that my husband immediately saw the wisdom of all that I was bringing to the family, and jumped right on the back of my band-wagon. Not so much – not right away. He eventually began to see what a difference the coach-approach was making in our kids’ lives, but he had been quite comfortable denying that ADHD (including his own) was largely responsible for the challenges we were facing, so he wasn’t in a hurry.
During that time, I learned another valuable lesson in family life with ADHD: all it takes is one parent to begin to turn the ship! Sure, it’s much easier when you’re both on board the same ship – or even in the same harbor. But it’s actually not critical. One parent can change the life of a child with ADHD. One parent can turn the tides.
THE GOOD NEWS? TAG, YOU’RE IT!
That one parent who makes the difference can be you.
But you will probably need support in order to do it.
In other words, you can be the one, but you’re not alone. Steven Jobs was the one. He didn’t do it alone.
Whatever else you believe about your “reality” right now – you might think it’s too late, or you need your spouse on board, or there’s just not enough money, or you’re not sure what to do or try – you can make a difference in how ADHD is managed in your family.
The choice is up to you!
You are part of a unique system of support here at TotallyADD.com. It’s like a “cyber-village” to get the education you need. So you’ve already taken the first step. But I want to encourage you to take the next step, to get training, along with coaching or therapy, to help you make real change for your family! Things will improve, dramatically, when you invest in yourself for the good of your child.
THAT’S WHAT I LEARNED. NOW IT’S WHAT I DO.
After searching for villages, I decided to create one. But like parenting, I couldn’t do it alone. With Diane Dempster, we created ImpactADHD.com, a parenting cyber-village, specifically for parents like ourselves, who want our kids with ADHD to thrive.
We support each other, and show parents how to take a coach-approach with their kids. We teach you strategies to help you manage in any challenging situation, and we encourage you to focus on the things that matter most of all, for you and your children. We help you really focus in on what you need to know to help your kids learn to master their ADHD. As Rick Green has said before, there’s lots you could learn about ADHD, the question is, what do you NEED to know?
Your child’s future is a wondrous world of opportunity. What village do you need – does your child need for you to have – to set her up for success? There is no need for you to wander, lost and alone. USE the village that understands and will support you and your family. And take advantage of that incredible give-and-take that happens when we parents lean on each other.