Archives for June 2011

ADHD and Learning differences

About 40 percent of people with ADHD also have a learning disability or the term I prefer is ‘learning differences’. Approximately 20 percent have Dyslexia and some ADHD adults have more than one learning disability.

Learning differences cause difficulties when reading, writing, performing calculations, as well as, visual or auditory perception. Learning disabilities have an effect on how the brain receives, processes, analyzes and stores information. Some learning disabilities affect concentration and focus (which of course is already a problem when you have ADHD).

These difficulties are present for the person when they are using their native language and there are no physical problems receiving information, such as, hearing and visual problems.

People with a learning disability tend to learn at a slower speed than their peers. This, in turn, can have effect on university grades and job performance. The result being a direct knock to one’s self-esteem.

Treating ADHD doesn’t help the learning disability directly, but it does indirectly. For example, if a person’s attention increases then they will be able to focus.

If you have ADHD and a learning disability here is what to do:

1. Get a diagnosis:

a. When you have an official diagnosis you will know exactly what you are dealing with.

b. If you are still in school you will get special accommodations to allow for your learning differences. For example, extra time in exams (you will also get accommodation for your ADHD).

c. After a diagnosis, you will be given a report outlining how you best learn. For example, when I was diagnosed with severe dyslexia (but don’t have ADHD), I found out I learnt best when listening to information. As I am writing this it sounds like common sense, but that was new information at the time.

2. Hire a tutor:

a. Find a tutor that specializes in your learning difference. Make sure they are both good at their job and have a personality that suits yours. My tutor was practical, kind and encouraging which, was the perfect combination for me.

3. Treat your ADHD:

a. Either with medication, or the non pharmaceutical steps I talk about or both. They will definitely help you cope and excel with your learning differences.

4. Do activities that you are good at:

Your self esteem takes a beating in learning situations so balance that out with activities that you excel at. It could be sports or creative activities, but make time every week for these activities. It is a vital to your emotional well being.

Shock and Memory

Almost exactly 6 years ago, I left my husband. It was the hardest decision of my life and took a year of agony to make it. We had been together for 13 years and he was my first boyfriend. All my hopes, dreams, and plans for the future were entwined with him.

I placed a high value marriage and it wasn’t conceivable to me that I would ever get divorced. My grandparents celebrated 50 happy years of marriage, my parents 40 and counting. I thought I would be like them too.

But I needed to leave and 6 years after the hardest decision proved to be the best decision I ever made. I have a beautiful happy life now, one that I couldn’t possibly envisioned for myself 6 years ago.

There are MANY topics I could write in relation to this life event. However, as the 6 year anniversary approaches one of the scariest things about that time was that my short-term memory vanished, completely! I have been blessed with a great memory, so when mine vanished I thought I was losing my mind. I understood where the saying ‘brain like a sieve’ came from. I had to carry a note book with me at all times. That became my memory. It was full of lists (actions, shopping lists etc) and notes I had made during all my conversations. It didn’t matter who I was talking to, a lawyer or my family or friends, it all went in the notebook. Otherwise, I had no recollection of what was said. Also, the memory loss made me feel disorientated and activities that I had been doing for years like driving or taking a shower would take me longer. I had to talk myself gently through the action steps otherwise the ‘next step’ didn’t automatically happen.

As the emotional shock wore off, and my life settled into its new normal, my memory returned. But the memory of me losing my memory didn’t. Now, when I notice even a slight slip in its standard and I ask myself what is going on in my life? There is usually a form of stress in my life that I hadn’t given much thought to. Yet, the fact that my memory is reduced means it’s more upsetting than I had realised and I need to practice some TLC.

How does this apply to you? When someone picks up the phone to schedule their first coaching session with me, it’s usually because
they are under stress, their ADHD has become worse and they need help.

The ‘worsening’ of ADHD during stress differs for everyone, but it could be, memory becoming worse, disorganization, being overwhelmed, problems making decisions, problems with relationships, job performances, time management issues, procrastination, or a little bit of everything.

When you are under stress, whatever the cause, the negative ADHD symptoms do get worse. So here are 5 tips about what to do when it happens to you:

1) Develop coping strategies. Mine was to carry a note book and talk to myself (I realize that sounds strange). Do what works for you.

2) Know that you aren’t ‘losing it’. While it might feel scary at the time, this is only temporary. When the stress passes you will back to your usual self again.

3) Practice Advanced TLC. When you are going through a stressful time your body is being pushed to the max, and needs extra
special treatment to work the best it can. This means, eating tasty healthy food, getting extra sleep, getting emotional support from family and friends, doing gentle exercise and doing 1 simple fun activity a day, like reading a book or watching a movie.

4) Pay attention to your own body and what it’s telling you. My barometer is my memory.  But yours might be something else. Perhaps increased anger, or anxiety, or letting things that wouldn’t usually, upset you. When you notice that that is happening you can take action to avoid the cause and practice TLC.

5) Get some ‘Rescue Remedy’. This is natural remedy that calms and soothes and makes you feel less stressed
and anxious. Because it’s natural it can be taken by anyone.

12 Tips to Manage your Email

Emails can be a total pleasure and a total pain. It’s wonderful to be able to keep in touch and communicate with people all over the world. Yet, at times the barrage of messages can feel overwhelming and writing emails can become a full time job.
Here are my 12 top tips so that emails work for and not against you:

1) Have a set time or times in your day when you check your email. Don’t have your email account open all day; this is how emails eat up your day. Perhaps, two 30 minute chunks of time.

2) If you have to send an email with multiple topics, create a heading for each topic. It’s easier for you to write and easier for the recipient to read.

3) Keep emails short and to the point. ADHD adults are chatty and knowledgeable, but emails don’t need to be written as you would talk. By keeping them to the point, it will be will be much quicker for you to write and easier for the recipient to

4) If you spend lots of time on your computer and are a slow typist, take typing lessons. Learning to type is one of the most useful skills I have ever learned. It saves so much time.

5) Unsubscribe to email newsletters that are now longer interesting to you. They clog up your inbox, and become a ‘useful’ distraction when you have important things to do.

6) Be very careful what you write in an email. Any lawyer will tell you this. If it’s of a sensitive matter and you wouldn’t want other people reading it, pick up the phone and talk instead. Emails can accidentally get sent to the wrong people very easily.

7) Get comfortable with the delete button. As a polite person, I am sure when someone send you an email you want to reply. However, it’s not necessary to reply to all emails.

8) Don’t spend time reading those ‘funny’ emails that friends send out in mass.
They are a huge time waster.

9) If you find yourself answering the same or similar questions, create a ‘stock email’ for that question.You can personalize it, but, it saves you having to reinvent the wheel every time.

10) Email isn’t always quicker. Sometimes it’s easier to pick up the phone to communicate a point than spending time writing everything in an email.

11) Turn writing emails into a game. Set your timer for 30 minutes and have a goal of “X” number of emails to write in that time. You become more productive and enjoy a sense of fun.

12) If you have an email to write, but it is causing you anxiety. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Most emails can be written in that time. Knowing that any pain you are experiencing will be over in 15 minutes or less helps get the job done. Then give yourself a reward afterwards.

ADHD and Mindful Meditation

Ever since I became an ADHD coach, I have been on a constant quest to find ways to make meditation easier for ADHD adults.

Why? Because  although meditation for adults with ADHD sounds like a contradition in terms, it can be beneficial. Meditation does wonders to minimize the negative effects of ADHD.

It increases concentration:

  • It decreases impulsivity.
  • It increases cognitive functioning.
  • It decreases mood swings.
  • It decreases stress and anxiety.
  • It promotes healthy sleep and self confidence.
When that happens, you feel happier, and more in control of your life. Plus the gifts of ADHD can shine brightly.So I want to share this great audio with you.

Yesterday my collegue Marcia Hoeck and I interviewed fellow Montrealer, Dr. Joe Flanders who specializes in Mindfulness Meditation. He explained how to use Mindful Meditation to your advantage when you are an adult with ADHD.

What Marcia and I learned, along with our hundreds of listeners:

1) How easy it is.

2) The best time of day to practise it.

3) Why Mindful Meditation is so powerful, and the science behind it.

4) You don’t have to sit still.
5) How it helps stress and anxiety, confidence, and much much more. Perhaps the most powerful message of all was that you haven’t failed if your busy  mind jumps around.

Dr. Joe uses the analogy of working out at a gym. Every time your brain jumps to another thought and you bring
it back, it is as though you have done a rep with your weights. This is a good thing.  He also walks us through a 5-minute meditation so you can practise all the new tips straight away. So if you struggled with meditation in the past,  with these simple yet powerful strategies you won’t anymore!!!

Here is the link again

ADHD Decision Making


ADHD Adults usually fall into two camps. Those who make decisions very quickly and those who can’t make a decision without lots of  stress and mental anguish. If you fall into the latter group, here are five tips to help make decisions easily and with confidence.

1) Build up your decision-making muscle. Having a hard time making decisions can be due to low self esteem. However the more you make decisions, the easier it will be for you to make them. Start with the small things (chicken or fish for dinner?) and then medium sized decisions (where to go on vacation) and before you know it the big decisions won’t be hard anymore. You will be decisive and confident in the decisions you make.

2) You can only make a decision based on the knowledge that you have at this time. It is not helpful to say two months or two years later, “Well, if I had known X then I wouldn’t have done Y.” That is the power of hindsight. If you have a tendency to second guess yourself, then write down in a safe place (journal, computer document) all the reasons why you reached your decision, and the decision making process.

3) For bigger decisions, like moving homes, use this technique. Project yourself a year from now and picture yourself in either scenario. Picture yourself in your new home or in exactly the same place as you are now. Which feels better? That is your answer!

4) Listen to your gut. Before you start to analyze every option in your head, using your traditional mind, listen to what your body is saying. Some people call this their intuition. Others a message from their gut, but that little voice or feeling is very accurate and the more you listen to it, the stronger the feelings or voice will get.

5) Whatever decision you do make, it is not “wrong.” Don’t beat yourself up and put yourself through mental torture if you made a decision and wish you had made a making much easier. So what if you think the fish looks better than the chicken you ordered? It might look nicer but it could taste horrible, and you can always order the fish next time.