April 13, 2010
April 2, 2010
I haven’t been writing recently. Why? Because my entire household is turned upside down by plasterers, painters, floor re-finishers, plumbers, and more. Last year, our house sustained a lot of damage due to back to back ice storms, with water draining down the walls, through windows and cabinets and landing on the floor. Not just in one room- in just about every room.
So it was time to call in the disaster team.
Which meant that I had to, for starters, pack up my entire home office and remove all the contents into another area. And that was just one room.
You know that when ADD is in the picture, dealing with moving, organizing, changing routines, etc. is nothing short of a semi emotional meltdown. Well, all of these things really threw me off.
There was one benefit from all of this- we had to vacate the house for 18 days in order for the floors to be repaired, so I went to Florida. Twice, in fact.
However, all the stress and physical efforts took its toll on me and I ended up with an injured back for most of my time in Florida.
So what does that have to do with Passover?
We returned two nights before the holiday. I was so swept up with the insanity of my life that I… forgot. For those of you who are not Jewish, imagine your life being so hectic that you forgot that Christmas was in two days. Yep.
Sometimes you just have to laugh. <wry grin>
March 24, 2010
March 22nd, 2010 in Medicine & Health / Psychology & Psychiatry
Many elementary-aged children with clinically elevated attention problems in one grade no longer demonstrate these problems the following year in their new classroom, according to a study led by researchers at Duke University.
The findings underscore the importance of annually reevaluating children diagnosed with attention disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to avoid treating them for problems at school that may no longer be evident, said David Rabiner, lead author of the study and a faculty member in Duke’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and Center for Child and Family Policy.
The research, published online March 17 in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, looked at three independent samples of elementary school children. Two samples – 27 first-graders and 24 fourth-graders, respectively — consisted of children rated as highly inattentive by their teacher but who did not have a formal ADHD diagnosis. The third sample consisted of 28 children in grades first through fourth who had been diagnosed with ADHD.
Read more HERE
March 20, 2010
Finally! I found a free program that allows you to send emails to yourself whenever you want! You can remind yourself of upcoming birthdays, appointments, you name it. And…you can set it so that you’re reminded every week, every year or just once.
Check it out here: http://www.memotome.com/
March 2, 2010
It’s no surprise that nearly everyone with ADHD seems to be affected by sleep problems. Typically, it’s difficulty in falling asleep or falling back to sleep in the middle of the night. Why is this no surprise?
Because I’ve yet to meet anyone with ADHD who does not have a….hyperactive BRAIN. We simply cannot stop the intrusive thoughts and worries when our head hits the pillow. In fact, it’s almost a signal to start thinking and worrying about yesterday, today and tomorrow. And the next day and the day after that. We simply have a miserable time trying to shut OFF our brain so that we can drift off into a blissful sleep.
In our house, both my daughter and I have major issues with falling asleep. She needs to take medication just to slow herself down in order to stay in bed, let alone fall asleep. Often, she doesn’t drift off until hours later.
I need to watch TV in order to unwind and have to work on emptying my brain of worries and ruminations (that is for another article!).
So I was curious about a product I discovered called the NightWave® Sleep Assistant.
Since I’m familiar with meditation and how certain types of breathing can be calming, I was attracted to how this particular device works. You simply turn on a little black box, and a blue light projects rhythmically onto your ceiling or wall. Then you match your breathing to the gentle ebb and flow of the light until you drift off to sleep. Simple as that.
My daughter, the sleepless one, has been using NightWave for a week now and this is what she says about it: “Mom, even if I try to fight the sleep, I can’t!” Now isn’t that music to my ears??
With those words, let me say that I’m now endorsing the NightWave. It works for her and it’s a great non-medication option for those who need help in falling asleep. And…it works for adults and children!
Next week is Sleep Awareness Week, so to raise awareness of sleep issues and how it relates to ADHD, I reached out to the company behind NightWave and they graciously agreed to offer a discounted rate to my readers- 20% off the regular price of $49.95– now through March 12, 2010. (Editor’s note: Special discount has expired)
In addition, they have generously offered to donate 5% of all sales that week to ADDA, the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (www.add.org). While the link for the discounted rate will only remain effective through March 12, the 5% donation will remain in place through 2010, so please help us spread the word.
Order your NightWave today and AND get a good night’s sleep! What could be better than that?
Check it out HERE .
February 24, 2010
There are a handful of professionals in the field of ADHD who have literally changed my life. Because of the impact they had on me and how their work influenced my own personal life, I decided to change the course of my professional work so that I, too, could help those challenged by ADHD.
One of those people who opened my eyes to understanding my own ADHD as well as my clients’, is Dr. Ned Hallowell. His first book on the topic, Driven to Distraction, which he co-wrote with Dr. John Ratey, was truly life-altering.
I’ve heard Ned present at local and national conferences many, many times over the last 15 years and I never left without a lump in my throat or another wise collection of “Ned-isms”- inspirational stories he shares about his own life- which I continue to bottle up and take home with me to share with my clients, readers and yes, my own family.
I’m proud to call Ned a friend and was thrilled when he and his wife, Sue Hallowell, LICSW, accepted my request to interview them about their new book, which they wrote with the help of their colleague, Melissa Orlov.
Married to Distraction, Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption “show(s) you how to make your relationship special, in the way that we all want our number one relationship to be special. We believe in romance, but we also believe in practical advice and dealing with reality.”
Married to Distraction recently received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, the major review publication of the industry. Each week, Publishers Weekly reviews around 25 books and usually only gives two or three of them starred reviews, so this is a major literary achievement. The people who review books for a living think Married to Distraction is excellent. So will you!
The book will be out March 16. Before then, it can be ordered on amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other online outlets. For more information, visit Dr. Hallowell’s website at www.DrHallowell.com or join his fans page for Married to Distraction on Facebook.
1. Can you briefly describe your new book, Married to Distraction, Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption, and what it can offer partners where one or both has ADHD?
This book grows out of our 21 year marriage, and our combined 50 years of clinical experience in working with couples. We look at how the issues of distraction, interruption, overbooked-ness, crazy busy-ness, pervasive clutter, and non-stop information–so common both in modern life and in life with ADHD–impact marriage and other close relationships.
We offer a host of practical solutions to the most common problems, such as, how to break “the big struggle;” how to reverse the parent-child dynamic that so often develops between spouses; how to make time for what matters most; how to develop genuine and useful understanding of the other person; and many other common issues that come up in marriages these days.
We close the book with a workbook called “30 Minutes, 30 Days” in which we give couples exercises to do together, 30 minutes a day over 30 days, to help develop better communication, closeness, and empathy. Many people have told us that the workbook itself is worth the price of the book.
2. Why did you decide to write this book? Aren’t there others out there that already cover this topic? What makes yours different?
We decided to write this book because we have learned so much about the topic through our own marriage (Ned has ADHD, Sue does not) and through our vast clinical experience. Ned has an M.D., is Board Certified in Psychiatry, taught at the Harvard Medical School for over 20 years and has been seeing patients regularly in private practice since he finished training in 1983. Sue has an LICSW, taught at Simmons School of Social Work for 12 years, and has been seeing patients in private practice for about 25 years. Both of us have been treating couples and families in which one or more people have ADHD for decades.
Since we have seen and learned so much over the years, we are uniquely equipped to write this book.
While there are some excellent, well-researched books out there that address couples and ADHD, there is no book on the topic we know of written by a couple in which one partner has ADHD, nor is there a book written by two experts who, for decades, have been actively engaged in treating couples where there is ADHD.
Because we have seen so much and worked with so many couples and families, not to mention lived our own years together, we have learned in the trenches of true life the importance of empathy, communication, and positive energy in couples. We also see a positive side to ADHD, not just an endless list of negatives, not because we “believe in” a positive side, but because our immense clinical experience has shown it to us, time and time and again. But we also have seen how frustrating and terribly destructive untreated ADHD can be in a marriage or a family. We know that getting the diagnosis and proper treatment can be utterly life-changing.
For those reasons, this is a unique book, one that can save a marriage or make it better.
3. What is the biggest challenge in an ADD marriage?
The biggest challenge is developing mutual empathy and understanding. Without that, couples slip into the blame game. They struggle and fight. The non-ADHD spouse comes to feel as if she is the parent, not the spouse, of her ADHD mate. The ADHD spouse feels as if he is the naughty child, always being reprimanded or scolded, always slipping up, always causing problems. What Sue and I call “The Big Struggle” quickly becomes the standard pattern of interaction.
4. Can you offer 2 tips from the book that will help improve marriages when ADHD is part of the picture?
We’ll offer three, because the first one, which may be the most important one, can be difficult to carry out due to the shortage of doctors who truly know how to treat adult ADHD.
1) Make sure both spouses understand what ADHD is, and make sure that it is properly treated in the ADHD spouse by a doctor who really knows what he or she is doing, i.e., someone who has extensive experience with adults who have ADHD.
2) Set aside time every day to discuss and plan. Build a boundary around this time. No interruptions! Make a rule that during this time there is to be no blaming, fighting, or leaving the room. The purpose of this time is to discuss–not argue–and to plan what has to be done that day, that week, that month. As you do this, you will gradually learn how to communicate rather than struggle, and solve problems rather than create more of them.
3) Try to understand conflicts from the other person’s point of view. This is often difficult! But doing it gradually leads to mutual understanding, better communication, and deepening of love and respect.
5. How can one differentiate enabling vs supporting an ADHD spouse?
Enabling is a concept that comes from the world of addictions. The classic example is the wife who covers for her alcoholic husband, thus allowing him to continue to drink and not deal with the negative consequences.
A similar pattern can develop if one spouse has ADHD and the other spouse covers for all the missed appointments, obligations, and other mishaps that commonly occur in life with ADHD.
Instead of covering–which means doing the work of two people–the non-ADHD spouse can show support by making sure the ADHD spouse gets the help he or she needs. If the spouse rebuffs such help, the non-ADHD spouse should allow the ADHD spouse to face the consequences of his mistakes. That is actually more supportive in the long run than covering is, because it forces the ADHD spouse to deal with the problems he or she is creating.
The non-ADHD spouse can say, “I love you so much I am not going to help you become an invalid. I am not going to help you disown responsibility. I am not going to help you become less of a person than you could become. I am going to risk your anger, even your rejection, because I love you so much. I am not going to collude with you in bringing you down.”
6. How does an ADHD partner, who most likely struggles with distractions, impulsivity and/or inattention, work on improving communication and connection with his/her partner?
Above all, get the ADHD treated! As I mentioned above, this is not always easy, as doctors who know how to treat adult ADHD can be hard to find. But, you can contact the nearest medical school’s department of psychiatry and ask for a referral. Usually, academic centers know of skilled professionals in this area. Search high and low. Your marriage may hang in the balance.
In addition, read about ADHD. As you understand the complexity of this trait, its many manifestations, both positive and negative, you will develop methods of dealing with it that work for you. In addition to our new book, Married to Distraction, which is aimed at marriages, I’d also suggest reading Delivered from Distraction, which gives an in-depth look at ADHD in adults and contains many suggestions on how to deal with it.
Finally, make sure the person with ADHD is working on making changes he really wants to make. If he is only doing what he’s told, with no real buy-in on his part, the efforts will soon fizzle.
7. How long have you been married and how do you make it work, given ½ of you has ADHD? What is the secret to your successful marriage?
We got married in 1988. We both agree that the secret to our marriage is the secret to most marriages that work. So it is no secret. It is that we respect each other a ton. We argue, we fight, we disagree, but there has never been any doubt in either of our minds but that we respect each other.
Of course, that’s not all it takes. We also like each other, and we have fun when we’re together.
And we share a common dream. This is particularly helpful. We both had difficult childhoods, so our common dream is to give our 3 kids the happy childhood neither of us had. We make many sacrifices of time and money for our children, but they do not feel like sacrifices because they are in the service of this dream we both cherish.
8. What makes an ADHD marriage different from a non ADHD marriage?
LOL. So much! But then again, so little. At some level, all marriages face the same problems: getting done what needs to get done; financial planning; deciding what temp to set the thermostat at, what TV show to watch, what allowance to give the kids, whose house to have Thanksgiving at, etc.; and most of all, understanding the person you’re married to.
ADHD can speed everything up, introduce more chaos than most couples contend with, make communication especially difficult, timeliness a struggle, and bill-paying a dilemma. But, if understood and managed well, ADHD can also make a marriage lively, passionate, full of energy and new ideas, adventuresome, full of humor and wit, and just full of exuberance and love.
We really believe that if people learn how to manage ADHD correctly, it can become an asset not only in the life of the person who has it, but in the life of the couple and family as well.
9. How does having children affect an ADHD marriage?
More LOL. With children come a ton more responsibilities than you ever had before. You give up your time, your money, your energy, your sleep, pretty much everything for these wonderful little ones. There is so much more to plan! And planning is not easy for someone who has ADHD. There is so much more to do. And prioritizing is not easy for someone who has ADHD. There is so much more to attend to, and attention is not consistent in someone who has ADHD.
BUT, if you learn how to manage all this, chaos need not reign. If you visited our home, you would not find perfection, but you would find that we are a very close and warm family. We argue, but we love each other to pieces. And our kids are growing up to be wonderful people—so far, knock on wood, thank God.
10. Ned, you often say in your presentations that one of the best ways to treat ADHD is to make sure you marry the right person. Given one’s impulsivity, inattention, etc., would you say that many adults with ADHD do NOT marry the right person?
Many adults with ADHD in fact do NOT marry the right person. Nor do they find the right job. They make the same mistake in mate selection that they make in job selection. They marry and/or work for a caricature of a controlling 5th-grade teacher. They marry and/or work for a demeaning, reprimanding, angry person. Why do they do that? Because they got the idea, back in about 5th. grade, that that’s what they needed! Of course, that is the last person they need. They need someone who loves them for who they are and who can help bring out the best in them.
11. Sue, how do you manage living with a house full of ADHD family members? If I remember correctly, at least two of your kids have ADHD. Life must be pretty interesting, if not downright hectic for you. Any advice?
All 3 of our kids have ADHD–and wouldn’t trade it for the world. But yes, my day starts off with me having to organize many people’s lives. This is actually a skill of mine. For example, I am Chair of the Board of Trustees at the private school all our kids attended pre-K through 8th grade. I’m a good organizer and the social worker in me likes to find each person’s strength and help that to grow.
If I had expected or demanded of myself–and my family–that we be House Beautiful with recipes color-coded and everyone marching to my orders, I would have been sorely disappointed with what I got.
But that’s not what I was looking for. I wanted an interesting man I loved, and I wanted kids who would become whoever they were meant to become. I have that, and I have a career that I love as well.
It’s also important that I have a life of my own outside the family. I am part of many groups outside the home. I do not feel that I have to ride herd on every member of the family every minute of every day.
12. What is the “30 Minutes, 30 Days” Workbook included in your book?
We end the book with a workbook that gives an exercise couples can do together each day for 30 days. They spend 30 minutes together, allow no interruptions, and do the exercise. Each one is aimed at improving empathy and communication. As we said above, many people have told us the workbook alone is worth the price of the book.
Order Married to Distraction at Amazon.
Copyright © 2010 Terry Matlen, ACSW
Contact Terry Matlen at terry@MomsWithADD.com
February 9, 2010
Oh dear. You’re waiting in the doctor’s office with your kiddo and the doc is running late. Real late…
You’re stuck in the airport, waiting for your flight to depart. The plane is nowhere to be seen. It’s going to be a long wait. And you ran out of Cheerios.
The kids are fighting- again– in the car and nothing you say stops the bickering and kicking. You want to jump out, even at 50 mph.
Like you, I’ve experienced all of these scenarios, and more: situations where you’re with your hyperactive-impulsive-irritable-wild child and you can’t do a thing to keep her happy and calm.
That’s why I thought you’d find this product fascinating and helpful. It’s an application called iKids Play that kids play with on an iPhone or iTouch.
What is it? iKids Play are interactive books for kids ages 2-10, but even my much older kiddo loved playing with it. Each storybook has a variety of playable options. You can read along with the narrator; rub the screen to reveal hidden images; color without crayons…they can even record their own voice as they read each story. And there’s much more.
What I love about this app is that it’s not only fun, it’s educational as well, and appeals to your child’s need for sensory input and activity.
Read more about it HERE. Then download a book or two- or more- via the iKids Play Library tab.
Now you can relax the next time there’s a 30 minute wait at your favorite restaurant. You’ll be armed with activities to keep your child happy, calm and entertained.
February 5, 2010
Many children (and adults) with ADHD have poor fine motor skills. That means, in my case at least, sewing, handwriting and other fine motor skills are quite a challenge.
For children, that often means struggling at school because handwriting is often very messy. So when I heard about the PenAgain Twist ‘n Write, I thought I’d share it with you.
The Twist ‘n Write’s primary focus is comfort, allowing your hand to relax and letting the weight of your hand hold the pen/pencil in place.
Check it out HERE
January 26, 2010
Not all that many years ago, when my kids were still young and didn’t care much about hurting my feelings while expressing their (strong) opinions about my culinary attempts, I took their words to heart. Probably way too much, too.
I can’t say that I am or was a horrible cook; I simply hated every aspect of it. The decision making, shopping (two hours-all those distractions!), preparing, cleaning…only to hear a united “UGH” when the filled plates hit the table, brimming with meatloaf, chicken or oh…the other 5 things I had mastered over the years.
Cooking was and still is a horrific chore for me. As a woman with ADHD, the cooking machinery just doesn’t work too well, because it expects one’s executive functioning to be running as smoothly as silk. And I don’t know a single woman with ADHD that doesn’t have problems with executive functioning.
For many of us with ADHD, there’s simply too many steps involved in cooking and at some point, it often becomes ridiculously too difficult to manage.
I was thinking about the guilt involved in my giving up cooking on a regular basis and it struck me that the guilt hits me on several levels:
1. Women/moms are *supposed* to know how to get healthy meals on the table.
2. Many women I know seem to love cooking. So what’s wrong with me?
3. Many women are also pretty creative in the kitchen. I’m not one of them!
But even more so, the UGH words cut me deeper than they should have. And now I realize why: the words opened an old, vulnerable wound. It wasn’t “just” that they didn’t like what I’d prepared for dinner. It was a daily reminder that I was, in my mind, incapable of doing what most other women could do without blinking an eye. In other words, it wasn’t about feeling hurt that my food was not to their liking. It was a direct blow to my shortcomings as a woman; a mom.
What I’ve learned over the years is that I am not defined by how great- or not great- I am in the kitchen. When these feelings of inadequacy wash over me, I remind myself that my lack of certain skills does not define whether or not I’m a good mother or wife. I’m more than that. I’m also a writer, speaker, musician, artist, good friend to many, animal lover, advocate and more.
Can you re-define who YOU are by focusing on your strengths and uniqueness instead of your Mac and Cheese recipe?
January 25, 2010
Are you and your family overwhelmed with the daily chaos, from getting kids off to school, to managing piles and piles of messes?
How does a parent who struggles with disorganization, time management, procrastination, sensory overload and more, effectively parent a child (or two or three) who also is challenged with the same ADHD symptoms?
I will explain the difficulties families with ADHD face and offer practical tools and strategies for improving your day to day life, as a parent with ADHD raising children with ADHD.
I’ll also be answering questions from the audience!
This course will also be helpful to any parent raising a child with ADHD.
Register now at ADD Classes.
January 20, 2010
Kids with ADHD often have trouble falling asleep. And mine is no different. She’s been on sleep meds for many years and though they sedate her, she fights the sensation and becomes even more hyperactive. At her last doctor’s visit, the psychiatrist suggested a trial of Intuniv, a new medication for ADHD. We’re on our second week and second dose increase, so I’ll let you know how things go.
How many of you have kids who just can’t seem to settle down at night? What tips can you offer?
PS Read more info on Intuniv from one of my favorite bloggers/writers, Dr. Charles Parker
And learn more about this new med from the manufacturer’s site HERE
January 12, 2010
Face it. We all have items on our To-Do lists that should have been done days ago. Weeks ago. Or in my case, 1 ½ years ago.
Sitting right this very minute, on my kitchen counter, is a plaque which reads, “My Beloved Pet.” That plaque doesn’t belong in the kitchen; it belongs in my backyard where our beloved dog, Annie, was buried a year ago in June, after struggling for months with a horrific heart tumor.
Every day when I come down into the kitchen, the plaque shoots me two reminders:
1. How much I miss my beloved pet and
2. How my ADD impacts me on a daily basis.
With the New Year, I made a list of resolutions. There’re here…somewhere in my blog. I need to add one more to it: to place the plaque in the backyard where it belongs as soon as the weather breaks.
What’s on your To-Do list that you’ve been staring at for weeks or months? What is your plan for tackling it?
January 5, 2010
Shell Shocked by the Holidays?
The back to back festivities, filled with food, family and long weekends, have thrown me for a loop. While my kids were out of school, we talked about movies, getaways, gatherings and all sorts of things. In between and following the holidays, I had two weeks of fairly unstructured time, too, where I had planned on organizing my workspace (a true work in progress), getting back into my art studio, and enjoying the free time with various other activities.
I don’t know about you, but all this free time pushed me into a hurricane of inertia. That’s the best way I can describe it! My mind was planning dozens of things, but my body buckled and said no.
Those of us with ADHD often find that unstructured time can be a disaster. Our brain ping pongs off the walls of the mental pin ball machine, hitting all the bright lights, but scattering in and out of tunnels and landing in the big black abyss.
Then there’s the holiday season overload that precedes this. It’s like going from the Mardi Gras to a Zen sitting.
Are you feeling out of sorts- lost and unmotivated? What are you doing to kick start back into your routine?
December 30, 2009
Last year, just at this time, I wrote an article listing my 2009 New Year’s Resolutions. It was the first year I’d ever made such a list because I’d always felt it was a silly thing to do. Especially for people like me who tend to forget such lofty goals within a week or two. Funny how ADHD can express itself, eh?
Here’s what I listed in my article last year:
1. Expand my social life by re-connecting with old friends and working on making new ones.
2. Return to my artwork and music
3. Work on my cooking phobia and return to the kitchen
4. Remember to take my ADD medications on a more regular basis and consult with my doctor about making possible changes
5. Tackle one SMALL de-cluttering project per week
6. Not come down hard on myself if I do not accomplish #5
7. Make an appointment with a financial planner
8. Spend more time with my elderly mother
9. Schedule overdue doctor/dental appointments
10. Be more patient and listen more intently to the people I love
Let me start off right now by saying…I did NOT accomplish many of the items on that list. But then again, I *did* check off some of them.
Now…I can choose to feel bad about the things I never got to. Or I can choose to feel good about the things I did accomplish. And…I can modify the list above to make it more doable for the coming year.
I did connect with a friend who, like me, is an amateur musician. We’d planned on getting together every Thursday night to “jam”, but life got in the way and we stopped. So instead of setting weekly goals in stone, only to cancel over and over until we stop altogether, I’ll see if we can commit to meeting once a month.
As for the financial planner meeting, well…that didn’t happen, either. But looking at this list a year later, I am again motivated to make that phone call.
What about you? What would YOU like to work on this year? Did you have a list last year that you’d like to modify? Feel free to post your resolutions in my Forums.
Happy New Year!
December 22, 2009
So we’re counting down the final days. Three days till Christmas and all is well.
Or is it?
If you’re still fretting over last minute gifts, I have good news for you. You can still get something special delivered for the holidays. No sweat, I promise!
Check out these *very* last minute items that will get there in time. Today, tomorrow, Thursday and even in some cases, Christmas day: Last Minute Gifts
December 21, 2009
Since we’re all super busy with the holidays and everything you read about IS about the holidays, I thought I’d pass on this interesting article about an artist who had a fascinating show in NYC documenting all the things that were contents in his mother’s house. She was a compulsive hoarder and this show gives one an idea of just how serious this problem is.
Kinda makes my clutter problems look like a piece of cake…