July 3, 2010
June 23, 2010
I read an interesting article in the Detroit Free Press that quoted a psychologist friend/colleague of mine, Dr. Arthur Robin. Dr. Robin is a respected expert on ADHD. Though the article is not specific to ADHD, I thought you might find it helpful.
Read it HERE
June 17, 2010
Do you put dinner in the oven only to forget it’s in there, thus burning your chicken, roast, turkey, etc?
I found this totally cool and helpful device. It’s a Digital Oven Thermometer with Remote Pager. Here are some of the features:
- Wireless remote alerts you to when food is almost done and done
- Functions as a baking/roasting thermometer and a timer
- Temperature range 32 to 450 degrees F or 0 to 232 degrees C
- Backlit for easy reading
- Programmable thermometer
Check it out HERE
June 2, 2010
Recently, I was interviewed by Laurie Sanchez from LifeScript.com about how to manage your ADHD child. My pal Rory Stern was also quoted in the piece, offering many helpful tips as well.
Read the article HERE then come back and share some of your own tips!
May 20, 2010
I’ve been working for months on re-designing and setting up my new home office- a space where I can work but also where I can retreat to in order to get away from the madness of everyday life. My objective was to create a practical work space while retaining a sense of tranquility and calm. In addition, the space had to double as a guest room for the occasional out-of-towner.
The work tables and cabinets have been purchased and assembled. The painters are long gone. There’s even a new sofa bed and recliner as well. I’ve spent days unpacking boxes and putting things away. Even the supply closet is looking pretty fine. But I’m stuck!
Getting stuck is nothing new, but I do find that analyzing WHY I’m stuck, often unlocks the key, allowing me to move forward. Often times, it’s simply the ADD “overwhelm”- a feeling you all are more than familiar with.
But in this case, the hardest work is now complete. So why is it nearly impossible to unpack those last few boxes?
I think I’ve figured it out. Because it’s happened to me many times before:
I’m afraid of finishing a project because then I’m faced with that sense of emptiness and the gnawing, anxiety-laden question of: WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
It’s facing that dark abyss– the not knowing what to tackle next. Not knowing which project at hand to work on next. Or worse, having TOO many projects and not knowing which one to choose.
Could procrastinating, then, serve a different function sometimes? Could it be a way to avoid making the NEXT decision? Not just the “where does it go?” decision, but, “now that I’m done, what do I do? Is it, in part, anxiety in disguise?
Does this ring true for you at times? Share your thoughts in the Comment section below.
May 10, 2010
1. Brainstorm new ideas for decorating the living room.
2. Ruminate over what a co-worker said the day before and wondering why the words still sting.
3. Reminisce being a little girl, hunting for 4 leaf clovers, with no other care in the world.
4. Mentally prepare dinner
5. Suddenly become incredibly creative: planning a new painting, writing a new song, screenplay, poem <fill in the blank>
6. Worry about the kids
7. Remember all the bills that have yet to be paid
8. Simply daydream
…which of course, causes us to lose sight of the time and find ourselves yet again late for work, getting the kids off to school, etc.
May 3, 2010
1. 15 Minute Turkey and Rice Dinner
Ready In: 15 minutes
Ingredients: 1 can cream of chicken soup 1 1/2 cups water 1/4 tsp. each paprika and pepper 2 cups uncooked Minute White Rice 2 cups cooked turkey or chicken 2 cups cooked vegetables (carrots, green beans, peas)
Directions: Mix soup, water, paprika and pepper in skillet. Heat to a boil. Stir in rice, turkey and vegetables. Cook over low heat 5 min. or until done.
2. 5 Minute Burrito Wraps
Ready In: 15 minutes Servings: 6
Ingredients: 1 can (11 1/4 ounces) Campbell’s Condensed Fiesta Chili Beef Soup 6 flour tortillas (8-inch) Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Directions: Spoon 2 tablespoons soup down center of each tortilla. Top with cheese. Fold tortilla around filling. Place seam-side down on microwave-saft plate and microwave on High 2 minutes or until hot.
3. Easy Tuna Dinner
Ready In: 15 minutes
Ingredients: 1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas 1-1/4 cups water 1 can condensed Cheddar cheese soup 1 can tuna (drained and flaked) 1 chicken bouillon cube 1/4 tsp. pepper 1-1/2 cup Minute rice
Directions: Bring peas, water, soup, tuna, bouillon cube and pepper to full boil in a large saucepan. Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.
4. Easy Fettucine Alfredo
Ready In: 30 minutes
Ingredients: 8 ounces fettucine 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup evaporated skim milk 1/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded 1/2 teaspoon dried basil juice from 1/2 of a lemon dash ground black pepper additional fresh parmesan cheese, shredded fresh basil
Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; immediately return to pan. Add olive oil; toss to coat. Add evaporated milk, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, dried basil, lemon juice, and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Top with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Do you have some ADD Friendly recipes you’d like to share? Post them in the ADD Friendly Recipe thread, here, in the Forums.
April 30, 2010
7 Easy Steps to Dressing a Table for Dinner (How can I decorate a table if I can’t decide on a menu?)
Every weekend, our newspaper delivers a special supplement that is chock full of interesting tidbits that focus on home living: recipes, decorating, home repair, etc.
Last week, an article ran titled “7 Easy Steps to Dressing a Table for Dinner” and I just had to laugh. The piece was chock full of great ideas for displaying a beautiful dinner table, but how does that help me if I can’t figure out WHAT to cook, let alone how to display it like an artist’s masterpiece?
Here are the seven steps:
1.Pick your theme
2. Start with a great base
3. Pick powerful plates
4. Add flatware
5. Select gorgeous glassware
6. Tuck in a napkin
7. Add layers of fun
So…I came up with the Matlen version:
1. Theme: Circus. That’s pretty much how you’d describe mealtime at my house.
2. Base: Vinyl table mats. Easy to clean up.
3. Plates: Paper. Ok, kill me for not going green. But for me, it’s all about survival.
4. Flatware: Plastic. Kill me again.
5. Glassware. Hmm..they suggest gorgeous. Do plastic cups come in patterns?
6. Napkin: why is this one singular? With my crew, it’s a stack in the middle of the table. I can’t tuck in 10 napkins under one (plastic) plate.
7. Fun: How about playing The Guessing Game? All members of my family have to guess what’s on their plate. Losers get to wash, er…throw away the dishes, while mom retreats to the hammock to recover from the train wreck of a dinner preparation.
So, do you think I should submit my ideas to the newspaper?
April 14, 2010
I had it written on my calendar as a reminder. The script has been sitting on my desk since December. But in true ADD fashion, I kept putting off the appointment.
A good friend had hers done recently and emailed me that there were some concerns. That kicked me into gear, so I called up to make my appointment. They had an opening that day.
The lady who greeted me was easy going, with a face softened by a sweet smile. I got the orders and froze:
Now I have a problem. You see, I am not an audio learner. When people talk too fast or throw too many directions at me, I get lost. It’s like swimming in a pool of words that I can’t make out.
Normally, in the old days when I was still very insecure about my challenges, not knowing there was a name to them, I would have nodded, and then blundered my way through the whole thing.
But yesterday was different. I simply said, “Do you mind repeating that? That was a whole lot for me to take in!”
And she did.
Now…if YOU are procrastinating about getting your mammogram done:
1. Stop what you are doing.
2. Call your OB/GYN or family doc.
3. Ask for a prescription to get your annual mammogram.
4. Write it on your calendar/planner…whatever you use to keep track of your day. I’ll wait. Ok, good. More than good- good for you!
5. Post here to let us know when your appointment is. Let’s see how many posts we can get. Because I’m officially calling today:
ADD Mammogram Day!
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