Archives for January 2011

Is ADHD A Gift?

gift of adhdIn the ADHD world, there is a big divide between people who think ADHD is a gift, and those who don’t. Saying ADHD is a gift seems to evoke very strong reactions in people. Those who don’t believe in the gift of ADHD, say things like, “If ADHD is a gift, can I return it?” and think that experts who believe it is, are giving false hope. However, the people that do think ADHD is a gift, have been working with ADHDers for years and are very familiar with its characteristics and how it shows up in peoples’ lives.

Dr. Hallowell, author of many highly regarded ADHD books, including ‘Delivered from Distraction’, considers ADHD a gift. He admits it’s “a gift that is hard to unwrap”. But it is possible (to unwrap those gifts) and Dr. Hallowell’s positive views about ADHD, helps millions of people.

Clinical psychologist and author of ‘The Gift of ADHD’, Lara Honos-Webb believes by focusing on your positive traits, you develop motivation and confidence to overcome the more challenging aspects of ADHD. When you shift from having a ‘deficit disorder’ to having ‘gifts’, straight away, you feel better about yourself. You have a sense of control and more inclined to spend time developing your strengths; not struggling with your weakness.

When Marcia Hoeck and I were giving our ‘Focus Control and Balance’ Retreat for ADHD Entrepreneurs, light bulbs went off all around the room when we said having ‘ADHD forces you to be authentic’. There is no tricking ADHD! You can’t put your head down and work in a boring job for 40 years. You need to be stimulated and fulfilled. If you aren’t, your ADHD symptoms shoot through the roof and you will be (quoting Mr.Trump,) fired. Having ADHD forces you to find a job that makes you excited and motivated every day.

ADHD also forces you to take care of yourself physically, by exercising and eating right. It leaves you no choice but to spend time with good people who love you, just the way you are. ADHD also pushes you to be self-reflective and get to know yourself really well.

Having a job you love, keeping healthy, being with supportive, kind people and knowing yourself really well, is the recipe to a happy, successful and healthy life. Yet, many people without ADHD seem to settle for a lot less. So if it’s ADHD that gets you to that place, then it’s a gift.

If you are living with unmanaged ADHD as you read this, I understand it might be hard to think of it as a gift. I am severely dyslexic and wasn’t diagnosed until I was 28. Up until that time, my life was completely centered round studying. I shed many tears for each paper I wrote and exam I studied for. My self-esteem was in my boots because of all the negative effects dyslexia had on my life and nothing about that situation seemed like a gift. 12 years later though, I have created a life I love based on my strengths and gifts and if a fairy godmother offered to make my dyslexia disappear, I would politely decline. The same is true for all my ADHD clients, now that they are getting to know themselves and understanding how ADHD shows up for them. They are making lifestyle changes and seeing positive results… they don’t want to remove the ‘ADHD’ part of themselves!

As you are reading this, what were your thoughts about ADHD being a gift? Write them in the comments section below.


Every New Year my office phone rings and rings. New people are contacting me wanting to work together to make positive changes in their life. What I noticed this New Year was that almost every new person had been referred by a former client  OR a reader of this newsletter. This is really touched me, as it means I am doing a good job and people want to spread the word!

I was so touched and happy when I made this connection that I decided to show my thanks rather than just saying thanks. So, if you refer someone for coaching (now or in the future) and they book one or more sessions with me, I will give YOU a coaching session. To say a HUGE thanks!


adhd medicationsThere is no magic pill that cures ADHD. Rather there are prongs of treatment that when combined can help manage the unwanted aspects of ADHD. I talk a lot about the non-pharmaceutical treatments on this blog however this article is about prescribed medication.

There are 3 types of medication that can be prescribed to help ADHD: Stimulants, non-stimulants and antidepressants. When thinking about ADHD Meds, stimulants are the ones that automatically spring to mind. However, if they aren’t effective or they can’t be prescribed because of another medical condition, then non-stimulants and antidepressants can be prescribed.

Stimulant medication

Stimulant medications are the most effective medication for treating ADHD. About 75% of adults find them to ‘work’. As a result, they are the most prescribed medication and the most studied.

It might sound counter intuitive for a person who has ADHD to take a stimulant. However, if we remember that ADHD is a neurological condition, it makes more sense. ADHD problems stem from the deficiency of neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain.

Neurotransmitters are like postmen or women who deliver messages between neurons. The brain has hundreds of different neurotransmitters and they help with everything from sleep, heart rate to fear and anxiety, to mood and temperature. The important neurotransmitters for ADHD are norepinephrine and dopamine because they are responsible for attention and activity.

ADHD medication stimulate (hence their name!) certain brain cells to make more of the neurotransmitters they were missing for optimum brain function. In addition, they act by blocking dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake, so there is more of the neurotransmitter in the synapse.

The two main types of stimulant medications are:

  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextro-amphetamine

All brand name ADHD drugs available derive from them. For example:

  • Adderall and Dexedrine come from Dextro-amphetamine
  • Ritalin and Concerta come from Methylphenidate

One of the reasons why ADHD medication gets confusing is that whenever a drug company makes a drug using a different format, either the way it’s consumed (capsule, tablet, etc.) or how its released (short or long acting, etc.), they are required to give it a different name. For example:

  • Ritalin is short acting
  • Ritaline SR is intermediate acting
  • Concerta is long acting
  • Daytrana Patch comes as a skin patch

However, they are all stimulants from the Methylphenidate family.

If you would like to have a visual of the different ADHD drugs, WebMD created a useful table.

Is the medication working?

Some people wonder how they will know if the medication is working for them. You will notice that it your focus is improved and it’s easier to attend to just one thing. If you are hyperactive, then you will notice that has been reduced. Everyone’s experiences are slightly different. One person reported that she realized the medication was working when she went shopping and only bought exactly what she had written on her list. She couldn’t believe how fast the trip was because the products that weren’t on the list didn’t catch her attention or distracted her from her mission.

Side effects

Medications can have side effects; and for some people, they dislike the side effects so much that they stop taking the ADHD meds. Though, the side effects often wear off after about 2 weeks, as your body gets use to them.

Some of the side effects are: loss of appetite, insomnia, and an increase in heart rate or blood pressure, dry mouth, etc. If you are experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor. Often, they can be reduced by changing the dose, release length or stimulant family.


Finding the right therapeutic dose for you requires working closely with your doctor. Usually, you start with a lower dose and gradually increase it until you feel the medication is helping you, without causing a racing heart or feeling jittery.

Having a close relationship with a knowledgeable doctor is very helpful. Pharmacists are also a wealth of information. You can also empower yourself with information by doing some reading on the topic of ADHD medication.

Info on ADHD

Welcome to the Untapped Brilliance Blog! I am Jacqueline Sinfield the ADHD coach for Adults. On this blog you will find tons of info on ADHD. One the most common sentence I hear from clients is ‘I have so much potential but I just can’t seem to reach it’.  I wrote the ADHD book Untapped Brilliance: How to Reach Your Full Potential as an Adult with ADHD to answer that very question. Untapped Brilliance outlines simple yet highly effective, alternative ways to minimize your unwanted ADHD symptoms so that your wonderful gifts can shine brightly. When that happens, not only are you able to reach your potential, but your life also becomes way less stressful and lots more fun.

The articles here on the blog are all a reflection of my ADHD Coaching philosophy. I am really excited to share with you loads of info on ADHD, and proven strategies that are super effective in minimizing your negative aspects of ADHD so that your magnificent gifts can shine brightly and you too can reach your potential!

Don’t forget to leave questions or comments as I love hearing from you