Surefire Strategies That Don’t Work for ADHD – And Some That Do

By   of

Note: I’m quoted throughout this article

Knowing what works for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is just as important as knowing whatdoesn’t. In fact, some of the tactics you’re using might even exacerbate your symptoms.

Whether it’s techniques that you’ve tried yourself or others have employed, below are seven surefire ways to unsuccessfully cope with ADHD. Plus, at the bottom you’ll find techniques that actually do work.

1. Unsuccessful strategy: Criticizing. Individuals with ADHD usually already have a sinking self-esteem and hold negative beliefs about themselves. So when loved ones or others criticize them, it chips away at their self-worth even more.

How to Stop Losing Things

Not too long ago, I was searching high and low for my reading glasses. I was beyond frustrated, and spending way too much time looking in piles, baskets, cubbies and everywhere else. I finally asked my daughter if she’d seen them. She took one look at me and burst out laughing. Of course she did, because the darn thing was sitting on top of my head. Just add that to our long list of ADHD family foibles.

But all laughing aside, it’s a real problem that frustrates most if not all of us with ADHD.

One of the things I stress frequently in my ADD Action Team sessions is that it is imperative to have a home for everything. I know it sounds simple and maybe even silly, but it works. If you know that you are apt to lose…er…misplace your keys, then it’s time to have a designated place to put your keys every time they leave your fingers. It’s best to keep such things in logical places, i.e. hanging on a key ring near the door you typically use to get in and out of your house. Or in a small container near your entry/exit way.

There are lots of suggestions and tips for how to stop losing things. Below are my favorites and some just might be new to you.

Terry’s Top 12 Tips on How to Stop Losing Things

  1. Take a Mental Snapshot. This takes practice, but the idea is to force yourself into the habit of slowing down long enough to SEE where you put things down so you can later find them. We are a distracted, harried bunch, so it’s tough, but it can be done. Slow down and watch yourself put down your watch, remote, etc. and take a mental snapshot of yourself doing this.
  2. Wear a fanny pack and keep easily lost items on your body: keys, wallet, cell phone, etc.
  3. Label your stuff. Lots of us don’t bother buying a labeler because we’re afraid we’ll never use it or…we buy one with the intention of organizing our life but never get around to doing it. If you buy a labeler with the intent of using it specifically to put labels on your and your family’s easily misplaced or lost items, you’re likely to use it for other things too. Here’s one I like.
  4. There is an incredibly cool and helpful new service that sends you tags and labels to put on your items you can’t afford to lose. offers a *very* reasonably priced subscription – based service that will give you an ID number for your tags and labels so that when someone finds your lost wallet, cell phone, etc., they can simply text or call to let you know they’ve found it. Check out (PS: FoundIt is offering a 10% discount to my readers. Just type in ADHD when you order).
  5. Lanyards are a great way to keep your stuff on you so you don’t lose important things. There’s even one for your cellphone, iTouch, etc. We use this at our house: Check it out HERE.
  6. Have a routine. When you leave the house, make sure everything you need is at hand. When you return, put your things away before doing anything else.
  7. Buy items that are brightly colored. I always buy a red wallet so I can find it quickly in my purse. This is the one I have. Do the same with your phone cases, key lobs, notebooks, purses, briefcases, etc. I even used to dress my kids in bright colored tops so I could find them easier if they got lost at the beach, mall, etc. I called them my Crayola Kids.
  8. If you tend to lose things at home or at work, I really love the Click ‘n Dig Item Locater. You simply attach a little receiver onto your phone, remote, key ring..even your cat..and then push a button on the color coded base unit so that the item will beep.
  9. Sing. Yes, as you’re putting an item down, sing or talk to yourself: “I’m putting my keys on the bank ledge, I’m putting my keys on the bank ledge.” Of course, you might want to be a bit discreet when using this little trick. Once you get the hang of this, you can start reciting it mentally.
  10. Buy duplicates. Of course, unless your last name is Trump or Rockefeller, this works best for inexpensive items like pens, reading glasses, keys, etc. Ideally, we’d all have multiple electronics that we often lose, but…
  11. Do you lose your car in the parking lot? I do and it’s a morbid fear I have. There are apps you can use now to help find your car, but some are a little hard to figure out. Instead, use your Smart Phone to take a picture of the aisle sign or if there is none, take a photo of identifying landmarks. You can also use your Notes app on your phone to jot down this info. Or go low tech and use a pen to mark it on your hand.
  12. PortaPocket! This very cool product lets you attach mini pockets onto your arm, wrist, ankle, etc. via Velcro. You can see them HERE.

    Do you have some tips that work for you? Please share them in my FORUM .

You’ve Just Been Diagnosed with ADHD: Now What?

“I am always losing my keys, cell phone, (fill in the blank).”

“My boss is about to fire me- I can’t get to work on time and never seem to finish what I start.”

“My marriage is a mess. I can’t seem to give him the attention he needs or keep up with my share of the responsibilities at home.”

“Dinner? How can I figure out what to make for dinner seven days a week? I can’t even keep it together at the supermarket; I get so overwhelmed.”

Finally, you’ve had enough! You’ve taken action by finding the answer to your chronic problems with procrastination; not paying attention; not finishing projects; not living up to your potential. After years of wondering about these lifelong challenges, you went for an ADD evaluation and you now have the answer. You have adult ADHD. Mystery solved! But…now what?

Years back, when I was diagnosed, that information alone helped me immensely- knowing that I wasn’t stupid, lazy or crazy. I simply had an ADHD brain. But it also opened up the door to many other questions and concerns tormenting me; the main one being, “what next”? It’s like the teen that is dying to get his first car, being handed a set of keys but not having had driver’s training, yet. What do you do first? How do you drive the car? Now what?

Many of you who have recently been diagnosed, might find yourself surprised that you find yourself grieving over the so called “lost years”- the lifelong years lost to your ADHD- the years of underachievement; the missed opportunities. Or your history of getting stuck in bad relationships and other less than healthy choices made due to impulsive decisions. The list goes on.

What should you do when you first hear those words, “you have adult ADHD?

First, it’s absolutely normal to go through a period of grieving. In fact, those sad and often angry feelings might just reappear now and then, as you learn new skills and move forward with your life, only to find the inevitable bumps in the road that throw you for a loop. I find this grieving process, though painful, to be the first step in the healing process. Allow yourself to experience this.

I typically suggest to newly diagnosed adults that the best things they can do for themselves are the following:

  • Learn everything you can about ADHD. Read, then read some more. With education comes power and with power comes the strength to move forward.
  • Consider talking to a therapist. After years of frustration, and perhaps even numerous failures, ADHD often takes its toll on self-esteem and confidence. Find a therapist who truly understands ADHD in adults and begin chipping away at these issues.
  • If the person evaluating you suggests a consultation with a physician to explore medications to help with the ADHD symptoms, do find someone, again, who understands adult ADHD.
  • Find a support group where you can share your story and learn from the experiences of others. This will help to normalize your own behaviors once you see you are not alone.
  • Go to ADD conferences and workshops. You will be amazed at how helpful these are to not only gaining a better understanding of ADHD, but also to learn new strategies for living with it.
  • Many adults find that working with a coach specializing in ADHD is extremely helpful. Coaches help with the pragmatics of every day living and point out not only the roadblocks, but ways to get around them. For a cost-effective coaching program, check out

You will find that there are many layers of learning about and living with ADHD and each stage often requires interventions. I hope this will give you a jump start in helping you get through that first stage of your own ADHD discovery.

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ADHD Barbeques: Hotdogs, Hamburgers and… Mango Mint Sauce?


I have no shame, sometimes. You see, I’m trying to lose a bit of weight (again) and one of my time- honored tricks is to eat a small breakfast and then a Lean Cuisine for lunch. There, I’ve said it: the LC word. Not only does it seem to work for me, but it’s also very ADD friendly. Basically, I don’t have to cook at least two meals a day and sometimes even the third, when we often pick up a salad or other ready-made low calorie, low fat dinner during the summer months. So, this plan accomplishes two things: avoiding cooking and losing weight.

The other day, I chose a Lean Cuisine lunch favorite; Chicken Fried Rice. Partly because it feels like a bit of indulgence to eat “Chinese Food” for lunch and also because the microwave time is about 2 minutes shorter than their other meals. Spending 4 minutes preparing lunch is about my max.

You, my dear readers, already know how much I hate to cook and how my lack of basic executive functioning skills prevents me from shining in this area. Yet, I *can* multi-task during meals. In this case, it’s needing to read something while eating (any Freudian types know why?), so imagine my surprise when I picked up the Food Section of my local paper and read this headline, while enjoying my pseudo Chinese feast:

“Be the Boss of your Sauce

Curious to know what that meant, I read further:

Don’t thoughtlessly dump store-bought condiments on top of your burger. Try Mango Mint Dipping Sauce, Apricot-Bourbon Mustard or LB Steak Sauce.

I nearly choked on my thawed, barely warmed chicken, rice and peas. (note to self: add an extra 30 seconds when heating).

You mean, people actually make marinades and rubs from scratch? Isn’t it hard enough to: remember to buy beef, breadcrumbs (or whatever else one throws into raw hamburger to make it tasty), prepare it for the grill, remember to turn ON the grill, figure out side dishes, remember to BUY (and) make them, and time the whole thing so it comes out somewhere around dinnertime? And now I am supposed to whip up some fancy sauce to show Rachel Ray and Paula Dean that I am also a super chef?

I read on:

Eden Israel of Scotts Valley, Calif., began making mustard a couple of years ago to give as gifts, and her apricot bourbon mustard became an instant hit with family and friends. 

Excuse me. Mustard from scratch? Doesn’t that involve mustard seeds and a mortal and pestle? I have neither in my well poorly stocked kitchen.

Here’s another:

Ketchup-making requires more time and effort, but the payoff is that you can make a sauce with more intense, complex flavors than store-bought without using highly processed ingredients.

Since the editor of that piece was obviously asleep at the grill, I add my own correction:

Ketchup-making requires more time and effort, and who in their right mind has time for that when you are obsessively checking the grill to make sure the hamburgers haven’t turned into ½” pieces of black checker board game pieces and the corn on the cob isn’t morphing into Jiffy Pop? If you want more intense flavored sauce, for goodness sake-  add a teaspoon of chili sauce to the mix. That is, if the expiration date on the bottle isn’t 2005, like it is on mine.

Finally, the piece ends with:

Whether for dipping or drizzling, seasoning or slathering, making your own condiments can turn something as simple as burgers on the grill into a memorable and personal meal. No squeeze bottles required.

Ok, I’m sure it would be a memorable meal at my house because no one would ever believe that I could possibly pull off making a hamburger sauce from scratch.

Pass the squeeze bottles, please!

And Happy 4th of July and Canada Day!

12 Best Tips for Coping with ADHD

I’ve noticed that my newsletters/blogs lately have been chock- full of personal stories of my daily life, and how living with ADHD, can throw me one heck of a curve ball at times. I hope that by sharing some personal moments, you too can see that with the right mental framework, resources, good friends and family, we all have a better shot at recovering from our ADD “moments.”

But today I’d like to offer up something a bit more practical. I was recently interviewed by for an article on coping with ADHD. Some of my colleagues are quoted as well and I think you’ll find their tips helpful. So with no further ado, I offer you:

12 Best Tips for Coping with ADHD
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms can easily disrupt your daily life. Fortunately, there are many ways you can successfully manage your symptoms.

Below, experts — some of whom have ADHD — share their best strategies.

  1. Accept your diagnosis. ADHD is not a death sentence, said Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “It is simply a way the brain is wired.”

    Accepting your diagnosis is key because it paves the way to positive action, such as learning about ADHD and finding strategies that work for you. As he said, “Acceptance does not mean that you love every aspect of something. It means that you recognize that it is what it is.”

  2. Practice good self-care. “People with ADHD tend to become hyper-focused on tasks they really enjoy, and can forget to eat, rest and even go to the bathroom, according to Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, a psychotherapist and author of 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD.

Read more HERE.

ADHD and Clothes Shopping: Nightmare at Chico’s

My older daughter is getting married this summer. I couldn’t be happier. Until I realized that it meant buying not one, not two, but three outfits for three main wedding related events: the wedding itself, a bridal shower and the rehearsal dinner.

Now let me ask you: if you were to talk to a non ADD woman about her daughter’s upcoming wedding celebrations, would she be sweating and fussing about what she should wear to the shower and rehearsal dinner? Maybe there would be some concerns about finding just the right dress for the wedding. But would she be ruminating obsessively? I doubt it.

I actually lucked out and found a dress for the wedding a few months ago. I thought that it would be clear sailing after that. But oh…was I wrong.

I absolutely could not find an outfit for the other events. I searched high and low at all the usual stores and nothing worked. Even after losing the required MOB (mother of the bride) pounds, I felt like I could be a walking billboard for the MOB Muffin Top. But weight gain, aging, ADD and hormones are for another article.

After my freak-out, I decided to go to the store that has saved my butt many many times over the years: Chico’s. I should be a paid spokesperson for that company, since I always sing its praises when I present and write about women with ADHD and the difficulties many of us have when it comes to figuring out WHAT TO WEAR. WHAT TO WEAR is right up there with WHAT TO COOK as two of my main phobias. But Chico’s has coordinating outfits that make it (somewhat) easy to pull outfits together. And usually a large clutch of helpful staff.

Bear with me as I share the details of what has become one of the worst shopping disasters of my life. And you know there have been many.

I have ADD, right? Thus, I didn’t think about the fact that I chose to go to Chico’s on a Friday, two days before Mother’s Day. When I entered the store, I should have turned right around and run out screaming just for the sheer number of human beings clumped together zipping through the racks in sheer delight, ecstatic drool dripping from the corners of their mouths (Mother’s Day! Time for a treat!). But I had my courage badge on, determined to get two outfits THAT day so I could be done with it and tuck away my ruminating and obsessing about the whole thing.

I started browsing the racks and began to feel my pulse quicken. Not out of excitement like most women who see beautiful colors, fabrics and patterns, but out of panic. What top would work with that skirt? Is that too casual for a shower? Will that look right on me? What to choose? What to choose? Numerous clerks approached me to offer help, but I wasn’t ready- I needed to scope things out a bit, first. Then my strategy was to find a gal who dressed similar to my own tastes and who could then help me get “the look” I wanted.

My plan lasted all of 5 minutes before I knew I needed professional help. Not a therapist’s- but a fashion maven who could save me from this clothes purgatory. And I needed the kind of clerk who wouldn’t judge me by the ill fitted, faded jeans and tennis shoes that were currently decorating my body.

I found her. She was just a bit older than me, so I knew she’d understand my body limitations. She had a flair. And she didn’t do the “looking me up and down and faintly scowling” that I’ve come to be so sensitive about.

Her name was Natalie. No, Madeline. Heck, I can’t remember. But she was nice. She also got 10 points when I told her of my upcoming wedding dilemma. “Oh, don’t you worry about a thing- I have three daughters and my youngest just got married. I know exactly how you feel! We’ll get this figured out!”

I wanted to drop to the floor and kiss her perfectly manicured tangerine painted toes. Don’t worry- I didn’t.

She grabbed the three things I had chosen from my hands, placed them in the dressing room, then told me to just hang tight- she’d find pieces to go along with those items.

30 seconds later, she arrived, with her arms covered in skirts, tops, sweaters and all the rest. At first, I was deliriously happy! She had figured it out- what goes with what- what would work- the colors, style, lengths- everything. All I had to do was the Barbie Doll: try everything on that was in the room and scrutinize myself in the mirror. She disappeared to let me do just that. I’m in my 50s. I have ADD. So I’m good at scrutinizing myself and obsessing over my flaws.

But then I froze. Wait- did she say to try THAT top on with THIS skirt? Or THAT one?

This is where my executive functioning (or lack of) kicked in. I went into overwhelm. And overwhelm causes anxiety. And anxiety causes sweating and a burning stomach and the adrenalin flow that makes you want to run away as fast as possible to the closest candy store. But I forced myself to stay and to talk myself down from the panic.

I figured that with all these pieces to choose from, surely something would work. So, I started putting things on. Randomly but as best I could. Then I stepped out to look at myself in the mirror and was horrified. Sure, I need to lose a bit more weight, but what reflected back at me was outfit after outfit that simply looked awful on me. I knew exactly why and gave Madeline/Natalie a laundry list of all the things I know that won’t work on my frame: no short tops, no tight skirts, no cropped slacks, etc. etc.

M/N insisted I keep trying things on and brushed off my concerns about how these styles have never looked right on my particular frame. “Oh”, I added,” and please…no bright purple or zebra stripes. Or owls or anything that reminds me of 1965”.

She encouraged me to try on outfits #5-8 and again, more cropped tops, tight this or that- bright, wild graphics- ALL the things I told her that won’t work for me. More animal patterns found their way into my room. Now I was wondering who needed a therapist more- her or me.

She began to get exasperated and brought in another clerk for her opinion, which not surprisingly, matched hers: “Honey, I don’t know what you’re talking about: that outfit makes you look slender and youthful.”

I could see it was a Chico’s “make her think she looks skinny” conspiracy and I felt helpless and angry with them for not listening to me.

Outfit #9 is now on and I walk out to (not) admire it in the mirror. By this time, M/N had grabbed at least five other clerks to stare at me in these goofy outfits and get their unanimous opinion that they all looked awfully swell on me. My heart dropped and I knew that my last shot at getting outfits wasn’t going to pan out; I’d have to dig up something old from my closet and hope it would work.

Until a little voice called out to me. “Hey, come here for a second.”

Was I hallucinating? Was I in that bad of shape that I had to retreat into a semi psychotic state? Was I having a religious experience? I looked at where I thought the voice was coming from and thank GOODNESS it wasn’t from inside my head. Just to the left of my dressing room, was a little lady, about 70, standing 5’1 or so, who obviously had been watching the entire scene unfold. She had a pile of clothes in her arms and was apparently waiting for me to get the hell out of that dressing room so she could try her outfits on.

“Look”, she said. “Those gals don’t know what they are talking about. Listen to yourself and choose what YOU want. You can do it!”

I thought I had walked into that old Michael Landon TV show where he talks to angels but no…this was real and this perfect stranger gave me the courage to go back into that room and pull out all the crap I hated and hand them back to the saleslady whose name was now Miranda. I think.

“No- sorry- these won’t work, but I do like this top I picked out earlier.  Could you find something that would work with this THAT IS NOT CROPPED, or looks like it was shot and killed in Africa? Thank you so much!”

The three women with Miranda scurried out and raced back in with yet more outfits that looked horrific. Still, I tried them on, hoping that maybe they knew something I didn’t. Wrong!

By this time, instead of falling into a pit of MOB depression, I began to watch it as a comedy scene unfolding, as if it were someone else having this little dilemma instead of me. That’s a trick I’ve often used to get myself out of ADD hell. Therapists call it depersonalization. I call it shopping survival.

Outfit #10 did not disappoint, for it, too, was a disaster. I start to laugh at the insanity of it all, when I heard the 70 year old angel call out to me again:

“Listen- they are wrong. You are right. Those outfits don’t suit you. They don’t know what they are doing- look at how THEY are dressed; they look simply awful!”

I turned around and saw through her eyes- sales ladies wearing outfits that accentuated their worst features. And they were trying to do that to me, too. I didn’t know that some people in retail could be so…sadistic!

The angel’s words gave me more courage and I really snapped to. I had two pieces that I liked and I quietly but firmly told the clerks that I wanted a “flowing top that has a soft look, neutral colors and is long to the lower hip.”

One woman scowled, saying that I should strut my stuff instead of hiding it, but I held firm and finally…finally…one gal threw a few tops at me. I tried them on and…they worked perfectly.

They got all excited that the Barbie Doll was looking pulled together and that she was (finally) smiling. The frenzy continued as they accessorized me with jewelry, belts and who knows what else. I only knew I wanted to pay the bill and run out of there to find a chocolate éclair to calm my nerves.

So you’ve come this far wondering what is the moral of the story, right? The obvious is within the story itself- hold your ground and don’t get intimidated. Listen to your inner Barbie. Listen to the kind angels who are watching over you, whether they are real like my little Chico’s lady, or the angel within yourself that knows and protects you…the “you” that can take care of herself. Even while clothes shopping for your daughter’s wedding.

ADHD: The Good, Bad or Ugly?

Yesterday was my Birthday. I’m 59 years old. There, I’ve said it. I rarely disclose my age because, well…because part me can’t believe I’m no longer the 18-year-old idealistic hippy that wore bright yellow bell bottoms and marched against the Vietnam War all those years ago.

Today, I am looking at leaving middle age soon and entering what they call the “autumn of life”, which I think is the (Norman) Rockwellian way of saying I’ll soon be old as dirt. According to Wikipedia,“Most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of ‘elderly’ or older person.” Ok, so I’m not *quite* there. Yet.

I tend to think of Birthdays the way others see New Year’s- a time to reflect on my life and to think about where I’ve been and where I’m going. Now, before I get too sappy for all of you, let me share that I am generally a happy person. I’ve worked on my ADHD for well over 15 years and have come to that place where I’m comfortable with it. That’s not to say that I don’t get de-railed from it; I do. But I no longer define myself as a person with deficits; rather, I’m a woman who happens to have ADD. I have ADD; I am not an ADDer.

Every day brings its own ADD related challenges:

  1. What should I make for dinner tonight? Or these days, what should I pick UP for dinner tonight?
  2. When will I get to that annoying pile of papers?
  3. How long will it take to fall asleep tonight?
  4. Why can’t I just pick up the phone and call my childhood friend and make a lunch date?
  5. Will I ever be able to wear high heels?
  6. What IS her name? She’s my next-door neighbor, for goodness sakes!
    …and the list goes on.

If you read my last newsletter, you would have learned some things about me you probably never knew. I shared my private foibles along with my talents and strengths, hoping that you, too, would focus on what you do well, instead of hyper focusing on your challenges. Yes, I trip over words and memory lapses. I can’t organize things too easily. I procrastinate better than most. But…I also do other things quite well. And so do you.

That idealistic 18 year old is still alive and kicking- the dark haired Bohemian who believed that everyone could make this a better world by doing their little bit in whatever way that works best for them.

So today, in honor of my birthday, I’d like to ask that all of you post one thing you are proud of- one thing you do well, whether it’s creating something, making people laugh, baking, being a good friend- something that makes you feel good about yourself- and post it in my FORUM. Let’s remember that we are people, first: people who just happen to have an ADD brain.

A Mother’s Day Lament: Parenting a Child with ADHD and Other Differences

(Reprint 2006)

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of families will celebrate Mothers Day. Some of us moms will be treated to breakfast in bed, special brunches out, or perhaps delicious hugs and heartfelt cards from our children, both young and old. Perhaps many of us will be unintentionally hurt by our kids with AD/HD, triggering yet another sense of loss and disappointment, because they’ve…..yes….forgotten to pick up a card, or flowers. Or in some situations- sadly- even the phone.

At 8pm last night, my flight from NYC landed at Detroit Metro airport. I’d been gone nearly a week- longer than I’d ever been from my family before- and I returned with mixed feelings. My travels took me to the ADDA conference in Orlando, where I’d presented on “Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD”, then on to NYC, where I’d been part of a media event to discuss the FDA approval of a new AD/HD med- a patch called Daytrana.

Those of you who are mothers of children with AD/HD, might understand this mixed bag of guilt and relief I was struggling with. Though I knew my AD/HHHHD daughter was in good hands during my travels, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times she’d forgotten her lunch money. Or if she’d remembered to shower and brush her teeth. I worried about what papers from school got lost.

In the back of my mind during this time away, I knew that Mothers Day was inching up and I couldn’t help but think- am I glad to be away from home? Away from the daily stresses of raising a child with AD/HD (and in my case, other significant special needs?). The combination of guilt and relief nearly consumed me. So I decided to take the opportunity- Mother’s Day- to reflect on this and share them with you. Perhaps you will relate.

I personally don’t believe that mothers get enough positive feedback or support for the challenges they face on a daily basis in raising their kids with AD/HD. Or even without AD/HD, for that matter! Here’s a sample of a typical day of parenting my daughter, Mackenzie. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

It’s 7am. My daughter, a poor sleeper, has already been awake for 1 ½ hours. Luckily, my husband, also an early riser, has made sure she’s taken her meds and has gotten some breakfast into her. The bus is here. My daughter races through the house looking for her shoes, runs out without her jacket, runs back in to find her backpack, but still forgets her jacket. Mind you, we already have systems in place for all of her things to be in ONE spot so this doesn’t happen on a daily basis. Yet, it still does.

7:30am I have her IEP sitting on my desk to sign. It took 6 months to get it right, yet I still haven’t signed it because I forgot to add a goal/objective that I think is important for her school success. Do I sign it anyway? Or make the teachers crazy with my new concerns?

1:00pm I email her teachers, to check in to see how things are going. This is a weekly ritual. Without it, I wouldn’t have much of a clue as to how she’s doing. Why? Mackenzie also has a language impairment on top of her memory issues and AD/HD, which makes it hard for her to relate to me what her day was like, or what work she is doing. Or what materials she may need to bring to school.

1:30 I find out from one teacher that she’s having significant difficulties remembering to bring her papers and book to class. That triggers me to check and see how many pills she has left in the medicine cabinet. I’m horrified- we’re down to two doses. I call her doc to get refills and pray she’s in the office.

3:00pm School lets out. Where are the papers for me to sign? They are already lost. I ask how her day went and already physically and emotionally spent from “keeping it together” for seven hours, she stomps out of the kitchen, and promptly attaches herself to her computer to unwind from the stresses of her day. Study after study suggests that kids spend too much time hooked up to gadgets; they need to be outside playing and getting exercise. Guilt hits. Yet…as a severely hyperactive child, she moves more in one hour than most do in 3 days.

5pm. Time to figure out dinner. Wait, did I mention that I, too have AD/HD and find planning daily dinners almost impossible? Add to the mix an AD/HD child (or two or three), and your meal choices are extremely limited. Some kids could eat cold cereal every night and be perfectly happy. As mothers, we feel compelled to fit the perfect mom mold, and try to conjure up ways to give our picky eaters foods that are healthy. Mackenzie, like most kids with AD/HD, is exceptionally picky. My guilt buttons are pushed again as I serve yet another dinner of macaroni and cheese for her, with a side of peas. She refuses the peas- again- but fortunately, agrees to a piece of fresh fruit. I’ve been given a small emotional reprieve for this one bit of healthy food I’ve been able to get her to consume.

7pm. I go through her schoolbag, searching for the VIPs (very important papers) from school. My hands get slimed from the half eaten snacks floating around in that canvas sack. Papers are fist- crumbled, laying on the bottom. I pull them out and find that two are already overdue for my signatures. The good news is…no homework! I’d insisted at her recent IEP that all homework be completed in school. Getting my child to do homework after spending her whole day working so hard, became impossible. Hovering over her every day only created tension and anger between us. Unlike most children, she does not typically or consistently learn from the consequences of her behaviors. So, getting Es from incomplete homework does not motivate her to do it at home. The school staff told me that I was enabling her by not enforcing homework. But they don’t live with this child. She simply cannot DO it at home. To me, having a healthy and positive relationship with her was far more important than World War Homework on a daily basis. My IEP team was furious with me, but I didn’t budge.

9pm Bedtime routine begins. We use reminders. We use schedules. We rarely ever change routines, knowing how difficult it is for her to get back on schedule once it’s been changed. Even for a day. Yet, as every night before, there is the complaining, dawdling, “just one more TV show, mom”, and worse….the mood swings. Transitions from free time to bedtime are horrific, even with gentle transitions INTO transitions.
Tonight is Shower Night. Now most girls her age no longer need reminders to watch their hygiene. Mine needs cajoling. We are both already completely spent by the stresses of the day. Yet they still aren’t over. Again, she does not always learn from the consequences of her behavior and could care less if she goes a week without showering.

10:30pm Her bedtime meds have long ago kicked in (insomnia is seen frequently with AD/HD kids and they aren’t always due to the stimulants taken much earlier in the day). She’s hobbling around in a stupor, so exhausted, yet her body and mind still can’t shut down. I ignore her, knowing that when she’s tired enough, she WILL go to bed. But I’m wrong. Again. She gets distracted, impulsive and can’t force herself to call it a night. I need to intervene yet again.

11pm She is asleep. For the first time since 3pm, I am off duty. But MY mind doesn’t shut down for a few more hours yet, because *I* need some down time that is not interrupted by the chaos of raising a child with AD/HD.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. We’ll go out for brunch and I’ll observe the elated moms, with their brood showering them with attention and gifts. Some have stories much more complicated and difficult than mine, but I’ll still wrestle with the mixture of guilt and happiness, thinking- am I a good enough mother for this very needy and challenging child?

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me (and my ADD)


When I present on ADHD throughout the country, I always feel an intimacy between my attendees and myself. I think part of that is due to my being pretty open about my own ADD related challenges. My goal has always been to normalize as much as possible, the ADD symptoms many of us share. When I explain that I can’t keep track of papers or that my upstairs is, well…at times a mighty mess…it helps others to feel they aren’t alone!

So today, I’d like to share with you a few facts about me that you might not have known. Enjoy!

  1. I most probably have a math disability. I still count on my fingers. You too?
  2. I cannot remember the names of people I’ve met even if I turn around 20 seconds later and see them- SMILING at me, of course. So if you say hi to me and my face is blank, please don’t be upset with me.
  3. I have never made a turkey. Timing it properly escapes me. I’d rather not attempt it than accidently poison my family.
  4. I am a HUGE dog lover and have a Portuguese Water Dog (Harper) and a Cockapoo (Elliott).
  5. I have written hundreds of songs but only completed maybe…5. My ADD prevents me from completing them. Wanna hear one? It’s at
  6. I cannot iron. I put in more creases than I take out.
  7. I cannot watch TV. I fall asleep within 10 minutes. That’s why TV works great for my insomnia. Oh, the only channels I watch are HGTV (House Hunters International!) and oddly enough, the Cooking Channel (which to me is more like watching a magic show).
  8. I get over the top angry if someone starts talking to me while I’m on the phone. I simply cannot hear two things at once and trying to screen out one voice is impossible.
  9. My sense of smell is so acute; I once woke up in the middle of the night certain a skunk sprayed our dog (not sure how- she was sleeping on our bed). Later that morning, I found out there was a dead skunk a mile from the house.
  10. I am addicted to chocolate. That’s nothing surprising since so many of us are, so here are a few more bonus facts to make up for it:
    1. I refuse to wear high heels. I can’t afford to break any more bones. Heels are evil.
    2. My sensory issues are pretty significant. Normal talking to my ears often sounds like yelling.
    3. I hate talking on the phone. I have to see your mouth in order to stay connected. Otherwise, I’m off mentally hiking in Switzerland, inventing a new gadget or playing Bejeweled on the computer.
    4. I’ve been married over 33 years. The secret to our successful marriage? Humor. I’m married to the funniest man alive.
    5. I hate clothes shopping.
    6. I’m completely obsessed with The Beatles and almost met Paul McCartney last summer. Long story.
    7. I DID meet another idol: Joni Mitchell. See my shocked expression at photo from top)
    8. I once screwed up my banking account so badly from not balancing it correctly; I closed it to open up a new one.
    9. I cannot watch movies with any blood, gore or frightening scenes. They’re simply too intense.
    10. I typically wear clothes a size larger (when I’m home and can get away with it) and it all must be cotton or I go out of my mind. Usually, there’s a cotton Tshirt separating my skin from my clothes. I’m happiest wearing baggy jeans or shorts and an oversized cotton T. And tennies, of course.
    11. I’m an established artist and have had my paintings shown throughout the country. Many of us with ADD seem to have had many avocations, careers, jobs, etc.

I think the “take home” message here is that we all have our challenges, but it’s important to remember our strengths, too. What do you want to share about yourself? What are you great at? What stumps you? Share them in myFORUM , at The Hangout board.

Attention Alert: A Study on Distraction Reveals Some Surprises

by Larry Rosen, Ph.D. in Rewired: The Psychology of Technology

Recently my research team observed nearly 300 middle school, high school and university students studying something important for a mere 15 minutes in their natural environments. We were interested in whether they could maintain focus and, if not, what might be distracting them. Every minute we noted exactly what they were doing, whether they were studying, if they were texting or listening to music or watching television in the background, and if they had a computer screen in front of them and what websites were being visited.

The results were startling. First, these students were only able to focus and stay on task for an average of three minutes at a time and nearly all of their distractions came from technology.

[By the way, other researchers have found similar attention spans with computer programmers and medical students.] The major culprit: their smartphone and their laptop were providing constant interruptions. We also looked at whether these distractors might predict who was a better student. Not surprisingly those who stayed on task longer and had study strategies were better students. The worst students were those who consumed more media each day and had a preference for working on several tasks at the same time and switching back and forth between them. One additional result stunned us: If they checked Facebook just once during the 15-minute study period they were worse students. It didn’t matter how many times they looked at Facebook; once was enough.

Read more here:

ADHD and Spring Cleaning: 10 Survival Tips

Here it is, almost the beginning of May, and every magazine you open contains articles about spring cleaning. With the weather improving, the urge hits to get outside more and enjoy the break in weather. It’s hard to imagine spending more time indoors to do what many of us hate to do: cleaning and organizing. Not only do we hate it, we’re often paralyzed, not knowing *how* to do it: which cleaner do you use for the floor?

What’s the best way to clear out the garage, when there are so many steps to consider? As adults with ADHD, breaking down large projects into smaller ones can seem almost impossible when even deciding on where to start can be overwhelming.

Further, we get distracted, we procrastinate and before we know it, spring has morphed into summer, then fall and winter and the cob webs from last year are still hanging in the closet. As you read the richly detailed magazine articles, you feel a pang of anxiety, depression, guilt and even a drop in self esteem, as you wonder why it seems so easy for others to do this, but for you, it’s an obstacle bigger than life.

Read more HERE

Don’t do it because you have to; do it because you can

Last summer, I attended a retreat for women artists and musicians. I met some great people and had a wonderful time, listening to musicians and learning more about songwriting. I even played a few songs myself, which is no small feat, given my horrible stage fright.

But besides coming away with a few Brownie points for bravery and connecting with kindred souls, I learned something else that I think about nearly every day.

My friend, the gifted musician Jan Krist, was one of the leaders of the retreat and led a workshop on creativity and fear. As a group, we were commiserating about the difficulty in writing songs, when she quipped:

“Don’t do it because you have to; do it because you can.”

In the context of creativity, that made a lot of sense. But I carry that phrase in my back pocket 24/7. When I don’t feel like exercising, I remember those words, get off my butt, and grab my running shoes.

When I don’t feel like doing laundry, the words scream at me and I get to work.

Same with managing bill paying, washing dishes, and just about everything else I avoid doing (someday, cooking will fall in that category, I hope).

Write this down. Put it in your pocket or tape it to the wall. Think of all the things you keep putting off because you don’t have the time or motivation, or because you’re glued to the computer playing games or checking out Facebook (don’t even get me started with Pinterest!).

Don’t do it because you have to; do it because you can.

My Interview with Marcia Hoeck on Challenges Women with ADHD Have

Marcia Hoeck of interviews me this past fall at the 23rd Annual International Conference on ADHD.

In this interview, I talk about the challenge women with ADD often have juggling all the things on their plates, especially if they’re also running a business, and the self esteem issues that can come along with these struggles.

Take home point:  considering all the things you do well will go a long way in bolstering your self esteem and giving you the strength you need to move forward.

Meal Planning in 3 Minutes

Check out my POS Plan (Plan or Starve)! All you need are a handful of index cards and three minutes of your time to watch my video.  Just click on my face : )  Send me YOUR questions at

When Your Partner Has ADHD

By Susan Lasky and Harold Meyer

You fell in love with his boyish enthusiasm, adventuresome spirit and easy-going charm.  Now you are frustrated that he decides to go skiing instead of shoveling the snow off the walkway, or forgets to take the children to the dentist.
You were fascinated by her many interests, creativity and “enjoy the moment” approach to life.  Now you are fed up with the clutter of her incomplete projects, and annoyed by her indifference to planning meals and shopping.
It is easier to love someone with ADHD than it is to live with them.

Equal Partners or Parent/Child?

You began your relationship as lovers, partners and equals.  But, over time, if the non-ADHD partner feels the ADHD partner fails to carry their fair share of daily responsibility, the balance shifts.  The non-ADHD partner may become frustrated, disappointed, angry or detached.   It is ironic that those character traits that initially attracted you are often those that create the most conflict as a relationship matures.

Read more HERE

Breaking the Silence of ADHD Stigma wrote a fantastic article on the continued stigma of ADHD and what we can do about it. They interviewed me and my colleagues Drs. Ari Tuckman and Stephanie Sarkis for the piece,”Breaking the Silence of ADHD Stigma.”

You can read it here:

What do you think? Has it gotten better since you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ADHD? Or…not?

12 Words to Tame Procrastination

Last summer, I attended a retreat for women artists and musicians. I met some great people and had a wonderful time, listening to musicians and learning more about songwriting. I even played a few songs myself, which is no small feat, given my horrible stage fright.

But besides coming away with a few Brownie points for bravery and connecting with kindred souls, I learned something else that I think about nearly every day.

My friend, the gifted musician Jan Krist, was one of the leaders of the retreat and led a workshop on creativity and fear. As a group, we were commiserating about the difficulty in writing songs, when she quipped:

“Don’t do it because you have to; do it because you can.”

In the context of creativity, that made a lot of sense. But I carry that phrase in my back pocket 24/7. When I don’t feel like exercising, I remember those words, get off my butt, and grab my running shoes.

When I don’t feel like doing laundry, the words scream at me and I get to work.

Same with managing bill paying, washing dishes, and just about everything else I avoid doing (someday, cooking will fall in that category, I hope).

Write this down. Put it in your pocket or tape it to the wall. Think of all the things you keep putting off because you don’t have the time or motivation, or because you’re glued to the computer playing games or checking out Facebook (don’t even get me started with Pinterest!).

Don’t do it because you have to; do it because you can. 

Join Me This Wednesday: “Survival Tips for Women with ADHD” Webinar

I’m presenting an ADDA webinar on Wednesday night and you’re invited! I’ll be covering all kinds of tips and strategies for women with ADHD.

Although the session is open only to ADDA members, because you are part of my “Inner Circle,” ADDA has agreed to allow you to join me at no charge!

Topic: “Survival Tips for Women with ADHD”

Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Time:  9:00pm – 10:00 pm EDT

Register at:

We’ll have a blast! There will be a Q and A, too PLUS a book giveaway. Yes- one lucky attendee will receive an autographed copy of my book, “Survival Tips for Women with ADHD.”

Read more about this fun-filled evening at

….and register today at

Can’t wait to “see” you!

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