ADHD May be Helpful

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hunter, adhd, hunter-farmer

I just read this morning an article that described a study about the effect of ADHD in nomadic tribes in Kenya compared to Kenyans who are settled. One of the genes thought to be responsbile for ADHD, the DRD4, was found to have a positive effect in nomadic tribes such as the ability to find nourishment compared to farmers with the DRD4 gene. This suggests as I’ve always thought that ADHD creates problems in certain contexts but not in others. Our current work environment though resembles the “farmer model”, which is very sedentary and linear.

In nomadic herders, ADHD may be a strength because of ADHDers’ tendency to be easily distracted and notice stimuli in their environment, making them more likely to notice preditors and their impulsivity allows them to act quickly to protect the herd. In his book, Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception (published in 1997), Thom Hartman wrote, he advanced the hypothesis that ADHD may be the product of evolution where the ability to hunt was necessary for the survival of the tribe. The ability to notice everything in your environment allowed people to find their prey while avoiding becoming prey themselves.

We saw first hand the validity of this hypothesis when a few years ago my husband, Duane, and a group of guys went into the forest in Banff to take pictures. Duane who has ADHD noticed all the animals in the forest, which lead one of the guys to ask Duane if he hunts. He doesn’t.

The effects of ADHD seem to be based on the context. In some situations it can be an asset like for herders and hunters while in others can be negative like in farming and in most of today’s work environment. The career you choose can have an impact on whether or not you succeed. Entrepreneurship is a career choice that resembles the hunter setting the most. This may explain why so many ADHDers tend to choose to become entrepreneurs.

Of course, other factors are also important in choosing a career such as level of interest, and many work conditions have to be taken into considerations. Each person is different and these differences mean you don’t have to become a Kenyan sheep herder to have success. You need to understand your ADHD and yourself enough and put in place strategies at work that will allow you to succeed, like improving your self-management, and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

How to Tell Someone They May Have ADHD

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adhd,adult adhd,overwhelm,procrastination

Recently I received an email from a woman who heard me speak at a business conference and who felt that her sister had all the symptoms of ADHD. Given the struggle her sister was dealing with at work, she felt that investigating the possibility of her sister’s ADHD might explain her sister’s difficulty and help her provide a solution. The problem was how do you tell someone you think they have ADHD in a way that she won’t feel attacked.

Here’s what I answered:

Telling someone they have ADHD, which may have very negative connotations, requires love and empathy. Your sister likely already knows that something is going on. She may suffer deeply, thinking that it’s her fault or that there’s something wrong with her. Her self-esteem is likely affected by her inability to manage it.

Remind her that you love her and that you want what’s best for her. Tell her without judgment about the “symptoms” you see her exhibiting and that it must be painful for her to struggle with these. Explain that you’ve heard something that could explain her difficulties. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) is a difference in brain wiring that requires a differing approach to doing things and that learning specific strategies can not only allow her to minimize or eliminate her struggle but also reap the upside of ADHD.

The important thing is to ensure that it be done with compassion and without judgment and that she know that she doesn’t have to struggle anymore. Most ADHDers are relieved upon hearing that it’s ADHD and that they are not lazy, crazy, or stupid. Once she gets a formal diagnosis, it’s imperative that she gets the help she needs to manage it. ADHD is an explanation but can become an excuse if you don’t do anything to improve your situation.

Lost Productivity with ADHD? It Doesn’t Have to be That Way

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A new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) lose approximately 22 work days a year! Imagine! That’s more than a month of productive time less than other people get to do their work, build their businesses, achieve their goals.

Of course, the study only focused on 8-hour work days. ADHDers lose productivity on their off hours as well, missing out on time for themselves and time to spend with their families. Entrepreneurs who typically work longer hours (because they have more to do AND because they love it) are probably losing far more of their time and energy into the productivity black hole.

Poor productivity and lost hours is one of the biggest complaints my ADHD clients come to me about. They often feel that time just slips through their fingers despite their best intentions, often leading to feelings that they aren’t living up to their full potential. Of course, it’s pretty hard to live up to your potential when you only have 11 months to do a full year’s work! The good news is that for adults with ADHD, with help to implement ADHD-friendly tools and strategies, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Once my clients learn to work with their ADHD instead of against it, they are amazed at the dramatic difference it makes in their lives, both at home and at work. It also often astounds me just what adults who have learned to work with their ADHD are capable of achieving. My clients frequently report productivity leaps using these special strategies and tools that let them deliver 8 hours worth of productivity in 5 hours.

Of course, as this WHO study proves, results like these are impossible to achieve without ADHD-friendly strategies. My clients learn to:

·        match tasks to their energy flows,

·        create systems to reduce or eliminate lost productivity,

·        eliminate procrastination

·        better prioritize so they work smarter instead of harder,

·        reduce or eliminate distractions,

·        master self-control and self-management, and to

·        take advantage of productivity tools and systems that protect your productivity like Fort Knox.

If you, like many of my clients, face ADHD or “entrepreneurial ADD” every day, and you’d like to learn more about how these ADHD-friendly productivity enhancing strategies can change your life, please enroll in this easy to follow email course (ecourse) at http://www.productivitymythsbusted.com

 

Defining Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

 

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When my prospects, who are adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD), call me they usually know about one or two symptoms that affect them. They think that ADHD is about being inattentive, impulsive or hyperactive. While I learned a lot from my ADHD coach training, the lights went on when I read the following definition:

“ADHD is a genetic, neurological difficulty of engagement with life activities on demand in which an individual’s performance, mood, and energy level are solely determined by that individual’s momentary sense of interest, challenge, novelty, and sometimes, urgency.”

Understanding this can help relieve a lot of the blame and shame. ADHD is a genetic neurological difficulty, which means it can’t be “cured” and is not a moral failing.

The difficulty of engagement with life activities on demand explains why at times you can’t concentrate while at other times you’re able to pay such attention that you can’t “disengage yourself”. You may not be able to concentrate on paperwork but when it comes to doing something that you have a lot of interest in, you’re able to “hyperfocus”, that is focus on this interest in such a way that you do at the exclusion of everything else.

Finally, the last section: your “performance, mood, and energy level are solely determined by [your]momentary sense of interest, challenge, novelty, and sometimes, urgency” gives you clues as to how you can manage your ADHD. When a task is boring, you can create interest or challenge or novelty to make it more likely for you to accomplish it. For example, you could improve your chances of completing a boring task by listening to music or changing where you complete it.

Unfortunately most ADHD adults use urgency by waiting until the last minute to complete these tasks. This may have worked in individual programs when you were 16 or 17 but when you work with teams (most work environments work with teams) and as you get older, using urgency is not a healthy way to work.

Tell me what have you done to make a boring task more interesting? With your amazing create out-of-the box thinking, I’m sure the suggestions can be very interesting

Adult ADHD: Beyond ADHD Medication and Diagnosis

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When adults suspect that adult ADHD has been holding them back some will get diagnosed if they can find the resources, financial and clinical, to do so. Many ask me what the diagnosis can accomplish. There are many other problems that resemble ADHD symptoms and require a different way to manage them. I caution those who call me to make sure that they seek help from someone who is trained in assessing ADHD. Once it’s official some will feel relief and realize that they’re not crazy or “bad”. Eventually a certain number decide to turn to ADHD medications with the hope that this will cure them. While medications do make a difference by improving your ability to pay attention, and thus reducing the barriers to learning, it doesn’t solve your adult ADHD problem.

I believe that all adults with ADHD can achieve their full potential by empowering themselves with effective self-management and supportive systems and habits. Do achieve this you need to learn life skills that allow you to identify and develop your strengths and overcome your weaknesses well enough to function. For the next few posts I will be providing you with the steps to help you better manage your adult ADHD.

Fewer Than 10% of ADHD Adults Diagnosed and Treated

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 Dr. Annick Vincent, psychiatrist and ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) expert in adults, presented on the portrait of ADHD from childhood to adult life during the LDAQ’s conference. I attended her 2 conferences on April 4th, one was for health professional and the other to the public.

An interesting statistic she mentioned was that 3 to 4% of adults have ADHD (some experts think the figure is closer to 10%). What was the most surprising what the fewer than 10% of adults with ADHD are diagnosed and treated! Imagine! 90% of ADHD adults are not diagnosted nor treated.

ADHD adults suffer many problems at work, in their interpersonal relationships, in their home lives, and their finances. They’re more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, cigarette and drug addictions, car accidents, bankrupcies, etc. Without knowing why they have so many problems, they tend to think that it’s their fault and that despite strong efforts, donc seem to be able to overcome them. Treatment with medications help 70% of ADHD adults; however, these adults alos need to learn about ADHD and create, often with the help of an ADHD Coach, strategies that will allow them to improve their life. At times, psychotherapy is necessary. Dr. Vincent also mentioned that it is one of the easiest disorders to treat.

What do you think? Why are so few adults with ADHD treated? What could be done to improve on this?

No Doubt About It! ADHD is Real!

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I attended the LDAQ conference last week that took place in Montreal and also participated as a speaker on ADHD for this event. There were few sessions on adult ADHD as the conference was more geared to teachers and school personnel.

One thing that I really enjoyed was that there was no dispute about whether ADHD exists. By contrast, you can’t surf the Web or open a newspaper without someone disputing ADHD or sensationalizing and calling into question what they call “doping” of kids with ADHD. One thing that was highlighted was that to date no other treatment alone has as much positive impact on ADHD than medications for improving ADHDer’s lives.

Dr. Annick Vincent, a Quebec city psychiatrist who has devoted a large part of her practice to ADHD in adults likens the use of medications to wearing a pair of glasses when you’re nearsighted. While it won’t show you how to read, it will improve your chances of being able to learn to. She also mentioned that along with medications, learning new strategies through coaching for managing your life goes a long way to improving a person’s life.

Managing Communication at Work with ADHD

Here’s what one ADHD adult wrote about managing her communication skills at work: 

I have a hard time communicating at work.  Most people don’t understand me.  I process information differently than most people do, I get bored with repetition.  I have trouble communicating even though I know what I want to say but when I begin speaking I get tongue tied and nothing comes out right.  I think it’s because I am so concerned about loosing focus and getting off subject…something I do all the time. How do you manage your ADHD at work?

My answer:

Many of my clients have this type of issue. The ADHD brain continues to process what is being said and so misinterpretations happen. You’ve actually mentioned one of the best ways to avoid that:

1) summarizing what you’ve heard. You might say: “so the decision is…, do I understand this correctly?” and you may want to check if it’s ok to discuss outside of the meeting.

2) don’t be shy to ask questions. A lot of my ADHD clients are afraid to ask any questions because they think it’s not normal to do that or that they’ll embarrass themselves or look stupid. Reality check! we all need to ask questions sometimes.

3) ask them to summarize what they understood of what you said: “I just want to make sure that I communicated effectively to you what I was trying to say. Could you recap what I just said, please”. Communication breakdowns don’t just happen to ADHDers, in fact, with the crazy busy life we lead today, many people find communication difficult. So it doesn’t sound “abnormal” to ask to summarize.

Finally, if you don’t put yourself under stress to capture absolutely everything that is being said, you’ll be able to better relax when you speak to people and a relaxed brain is able to absorb information much better than when it’s under stress.

Tell me what you think? Are there other issues you have that you’d like addressed in this blog?

Managing Your Mood When You Have ADHD

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One of my clients told me about an interesting video game she found out about that helps manage your moods every day. While it is not specifically for ADHD, ADHD adults can definitely benefit from it. Many of my clients have difficulty with managing their mood. They can get down on themselves and have to deal with so much more crap than most people.

It was developed by a social psychologist and tested at McGill University on telemarketers to see if it improved their outlook on life and their sales by improving what they paid attention to. And it did, not only that, but just by playing the video game 5 mintes a day, it also improved their self-esteem and their sales.

Basically the video game shows you different types of faces, you have to click on the ones who smile. Eventually, you get to the point where they are the only ones you see, that is, you filter out the grumpy or threatening faces and pay more attention to smiling faces.

Here are the conclusion:  “…whereas people with lower self-esteem tended to show a pronounced attentional bias toward threat, this tendency was essentially removed if they first played the find-the-smile game. This suggests that attentional habits can indeed be trained by practicing the ability to orient toward positive and away from negative social feedback.”

They offer free trials and you can purchase with unlimited use at $19.95 Canadian.

I tried it and found that I was smiling more at the end of the session, but then again, I tend to be a pretty happy person. Managing your mood whether you’re an ADHD adult or not, is a choice. I can tell you that deciding to stay positive and happy leads to success.

I’d love for those of you who try it out to let me know how it went. Click here to try it

Don’t worry, be happy.

Linda

ADHD Adults Shouldn’t Be Entrepreneurs?

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Opening the brand new premier issue of Success Magazine and reading up on Richard Branson, the poster child for ADHD entrepreneurs, I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with a client of mine. She’s an entrepreneur with ADHD whose psychologist told her that becoming an entrepreneur is one of the worse careers you get into if you’re an adult with ADHD because it lacks structure.

I was flabbergasted to be honest! I work with many incredibly successful entrepreneurs with ADHD. In fact, I feel that many ADHDers are perfectly suited for entrepreneurship. After all, they tend to be “Big Picture” thinkers who are great visionaries, very important qualities in leadership. Details tend to bore the large majority of ADHDers. They’re also adventurous risk seekers, and who crave high stimulation.

The biggest complaint my ADHD entrepreneurial clients mention is a difficulty with focusing on one idea at a time because they just have so many brilliant ideas. Their creativity allows them to be excellent problem solvers, often finding “out-of-the-box” solutions to seemingly impossible problems. They are easily distracted by their environment and are more likely than “neurotypicals” (adults without ADHD) to spot opportunities. They have unlimited amounts of energy and focus when working on projects they’re interested in.

Lack of structure can cause ADHD entrepreneurs to fail but it is far from insurmountable. It’s actually where I often come in for my clients. They’ve often been in business a while and now that it’s getting big they need help to create structures. They often struggle with projects because of it.

If you’re an ambitious adult with ADHD and you decide to start a business you’re passionate about and find people who can help you to manage your areas of weakness, you’ve got a better chance to succeed and be unstoppable despite the odds.

Richard Branson (Virgin Industries), David Neeleman (Jet Blue Airlines), and Paul Orfalea (Kinkos) are living proof that when you work on your strengths, channel your energy in passionate endeavors, you can be wildly successful ADHD Entrepreneurs.

What are thoughts on this?