Archives for November 2016

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

You know the saying, ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel?’ Well it is a good motto to remember as you are going through the steps of getting

an ADHD evaluation.   It can feel like a lot of leg work and emotionally overwhelming at times. However, at the end you will be rewarded with huge clarity.

You will know the following:

*What type of ADHD you have

*Recommendations for the best treatment

*If you have any co-existing conditions with ADHD  (this is very important)

*Or if you don’t have ADHD, you will learn what condition(s)  are causing the ADHD like symptoms.

Since  putting the wheels in motion to get an official diagnosis can seem daunting, you might be tempted to try and self-diagnose with an online quiz. However, there are downsides to this. ADHD can look like many other conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, learning disabilities and much more. It would be easy to misdiagnose yourself with ADHD and not get help for the condition you do have.

In addition, if you self-diagnose, you would not be eligible for accommodations at work or school and neither would you be able to get a prescription for ADHD medication – all of which can be very helpful in managing ADHD symptoms.

Online quizzes can be helpful as a screening process though! Sometimes,  taking an online quiz can give you the confidence you need to speak to your doctor about getting an ADHD evaluation.

A well-recognized tool is the Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD Questionnaire. If you google it, it is available on many websites.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” published in May 2013 (DSM-5) provides the criteria that all clinicians use when assessing a patient for ADHD.

The criteria differs from previous DSMs as it takes into account that ADHD presents itself differently in adulthood compared to childhood.

The DSM lists 9 inattentive ADHD symptoms  and 9 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. If, a person who is 17 years or older  experiences 5 or more symptoms from one of the lists, and they meet the following points below, they can be diagnosed with ADHD.

  • The characteristics have been present for 6 months or more
  • The symptoms were present before you were 12 years old
  • The traits affect your life in 2 or more settings (e.g. home and work)
  • The symptoms impact performance so that you are not able to perform to your full potential
  • The symptoms aren’t due to another condition, such as bipolar disorder, sleep disorder or anxiety.

If you meet all of these requirements, you will be diagnosed with one of the 3 presentations of ADHD.

  •  ADHD Predominantly Inattentive presentation
  • ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive presentation
  • ADHD Combined presentation

Also, the severity level of your ADHD will have been identified.

  1.  Mild (while still meeting the diagnosis criteria)
  2. Moderate
  3. Severe

How Does the Clinician Reach Their Diagnosis?

They become a detective!  With your help, they gather information about you and your life. This information primarily comes from speaking with you. However, with your permission they might speak with your spouse or a family member or ask them to fill out a questionnaire.

The clinician also  needs to discover how you perform in different areas of life, for example, at work and school, both now and in the past. School report cards from childhood and work evaluations are helpful.

Your medical history including information about your birth or problems that your mom experienced during pregnancy are all relevant. Your family’s medical history is also of interest because the biggest ‘cause’ of ADHD is genetic.

Sometimes a physical condition needs to be ruled out, so you might be asked to have tests to check your thyroid, liver or kidney functions or have a test for epilepsy. Eyesight and hearing tests could be requested too.

The clinician might perform tests in their office to measure your memory, attention and disability levels too.

The diagnosis is often done over a couple of visits so that you are fresh and alert for the appointments and to give you time to get questionnaires completed. In total it approximately 3 hours.

Who Can Evaluate you for ADHD?

Psychiatrists, psychologists and some family doctors can all carry out evaluations.  Finding a professional who has experience testing for adult ADHD  is properly the hardest step in the evaluation process. Once you have found someone that you trust, they will be able to guide you through the rest of the process.

 

How to Read Books When You Have ADHD.

book-1760993_640“I have a lot of books on my bookcase, the problem is I stop halfway through and never finish them”

Does this sound familiar?

Don’t worry, it is not just you!  I have been hearing those words every week for the last 12 years since I became an ADHD coach.

ADHDers have an enthusiasm for learning, which gives you a passion for life, makes you fascinating company and one of the reasons why you seem much younger than your biological years.

There are many ways to gather information including,watching TV, attending lectures, listening to podcasts and surfing websites. However, there is something compelling about books. They are affordable, allow you to do dive deep into any topic and learn from the greatest minds in the world today and throughout history.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. Seuss

Not everyone with ADHD enjoys reading, and that is totally ok. This article isn’t trying to convince you to start reading.  Instead, this is for ADHDers who genuinely love reading books but feel guilty when they keep starting books and not finishing them.

Reading can be logistically hard when you have ADHD. Some people stop to daydream and others find their eyes moving from word to word but haven’t understood what they have read. Yet even with these challenges you find ways around this and are compelled to read books.

Like many things with ADHD, your reading style might not be consistent.

You might be able devour some books at a record breaking speed.

Yet rather than celebrate finishing those books, it makes you feel worse because you wonder why you can’t always do that.

There was probably something innately interesting to you about those books that captured your attention. Whether it was Harry Potter, War and Peace (one of my clients recently read this 587,287 word novel) or Keith Richard’s autobiography ‘Life,’ it was able to grab and maintain your interest.

That type of interest is different to the logical interest of ‘I have ADHD and so it would make sense for me to read this book about it.’

Your interest level will vary from book to book.

The Traditional Way to Read a Book

The traditional way to read a book is to pick it up and read it from start to finish. Then, when you reach the end, start a new one.

For ADHD readers this method doesn’t work and ends up making your feel bad about yourself. You might think to yourself, ‘Just something else I have started but couldn’t finish.’

Your mind doesn’t work in a linear, methodical way.

Some people’s minds do, and that is why they can read books cover to cover and can also follow instruction manuals  step by step.

ADHDers’ strength is gathering information from lots of different sources (books) and linking the information up in unique and novel ways.

Neither way is right or wrong. It’s just very different. It’s our differences that make the world interesting.

Game Changer!

You don’t have to read books cover to cover!

An ADHD Way to Approach Reading Books

There is a profound little book called ‘The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results’ by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The concept is if you focus on ONE thing and take action on it,  rather than scattering your focus and attention, you will experience  exceptional results.

The ONE thing can be applied to all concepts, big and small.  From your life’s mission, to what action to take at work this week. Throughout the day you can ask yourself ‘what is my one thing?’ For example, what is the ONE thing I am going to take action on after attending the meeting?

We are going to use the ONE thing principle and apply it to reading books.

For each book you started to read (you don’t need to finish it), ask yourself “What is the ONE thing I learned and am going to take action on?’

Implementation is how lives are changed. It is much more powerful to read part of book and apply a change in your life, than read the whole book and carry on with life as usual.

My guess is, when you lose interest in a book, it’s because you have discovered your ONE thing. You got the information that inspired you to pick up the book and now are moving on to your next thing.

Recently I started to read “Deep Work. Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport. After reading 28% of the book I changed my morning routine. Rather than checking my email at 6am (while still in bed), I get up, drink my glass of water (see below!) and start writing. Since I have been doing this, I have become much more productive.  I am sure the other 72% of the book is fascinating; however, I don’t feel bad for not reading it.  I have my one life changing thing.

Back in January 2014, I bought Cameron Diaz’s book ‘The Body Book’. It is a beautiful hardback book full of inspiration and solid facts. Cameron describes how she starts her morning with a liter of water. That sounded like a good idea, so I began to start my mornings like that too. Fast forward to today, nearly 3 years later, it is hardwired in my morning routine.

This habit started before I discovered The ONE thing concept.  I did feel guilty for not implementing more of her suggestions. Now that guilt has been removed! I am happy that as a result of reading that book, I have one new healthy habit.

Systematize your ONE Thing

There is a certain satisfaction that comes from finishing a book. When you started reading a new book, you have subconsciously set yourself a goal… to finish it. Even though you are using the ONE thing method, you might feel a little incomplete.

This is why systematizing your ONE thing is important.

This idea came from Megan, a guest on Hal Elrod’s podcast. Megan explained she keeps track of all the books she reads in a spreadsheet. Each time she finishes a book she adds it to her spreadsheet, along with the ONE thing she is going to implement. With each new entry she reviews the list. If she isn’t implementing her ONE thing, she goes back and rereads the book.

What an awesome idea!

Let’s tweak Megan’s system to make it ADHD friendly.

  1. Create a Word or Google document to track your books if spreadsheets fill you with fear.
  2. You don’t need to read the whole book. Write down your ONE thing from the part of the book you did read.
  3. Review the document weekly, to keep the ideas fresh in your mind.
  4. If you find that you stopped implementing your ONE thing, go back to the book and either continue reading where you had left off or  reread the part that you already read.

Volia! 

You have a whole new way to approach reading. It is very liberating.

Are you going to try the ONE thing approach to reading? Let me know in the comments below.

p.s. If you would like to listen to Megan Lyons on Hal’s podcast, here is the link

ADHD and Letting People Down

origami-827901_640Here are 5 common reasons why people with ADHD ‘let people down’, even though you don’t mean to.

  1. Forgetfulness
    ADHD affects memory. This means you forget things including: important meetings, birthdays, events, errands you were going to run. When you realize you forgot something, you probably feel awful and try to make it up to the people involved.

2) Miss Deadlines
When you have you have ADHD, a deadline can make you hustle. As the deadline approaches, you are able to work with laser-like focus and clarity. You might pull an all-nighter, and clear your schedule to meet this deadline. But not always.Sometimes a deadline will be approaching, and you just can’t make yourself take action. The deadline comes and goes and you feel really bad.It’s not that you forgot; it’s been consuming your mind for days. When you miss deadlines and other people are involved, they feel let down, annoyed or angry.

3) Cancel at the Last Minute
You have a plan to go to an event and then you have to cancel last minute.This might be because you have a deadline to meet for work, or your car ran out of gas and you are stranded. Maybe it’s because you planned it a long time ago and your excitement and motivation to go isn’t there anymore. When you cancel repeatedly (even when there is a good reason), it upsets people and they feel like you don’t care.

4) Over-Committing
Over-committing often happens because your intentions are good. You get multiple invites for one evening and rather than letting people down, you say ‘yes’ to everyone. However, this can cause the very thing you were trying to avoid. People do feel let down, because you didn’t stay long, or you were stressed and distracted while you were with them (perhaps checking your phone to reassure the next person you will be there soon).

5) Motivation
Dr. Russell Barkley says ADHD is less about attention and more about motivation. This means unless you are motivated to do something, it’s very hard to take action. In the morning, you might tell your spouse, that you will take the trash out, cook supper, or do the laundry. But when you get home from work, you aren’t motivated to do anything. They feel let down or that ‘you never do anything you say you will’. You feel bad about the situation and that you hurt someone you love.

Negative Consequences

When you feel you are constantly disappointing people, it affects your self-esteem and puts you at a mental disadvantage. You feel you owe the other person for these repeated ‘let downs’, so you tolerate behaviour from them that isn’t usually acceptable. They might put you down, or say mean things, or have an affair, etc. Because you feel you are to blame, you tolerate it.

You might agree to things you wouldn’t usually agree to, to ‘make up’ for your behaviour. For example, you agree to help them move, when you hate moving, or go on holiday to a location you know you dislike. When you do this, your ADHD symptoms get worse, which can create more problems.

It’s time to make a change!

Actions speak louder than words. Don’t try to convince people you are going to change. You don’t need their belief or support. You just need to believe in yourself AND a plan of action. Taking consistent action is how you will see different results.

Here are 6 suggestions for you to stop letting people down and start feeling great about yourself!

  1. Use External Memory Aids
    For example: a daytime planner, online calendar, reminders on your phone. They all support your memory.
  2. Become an Excellent Planner
    You might not be a natural born planner, but it is a skill you can develop. When you plan your day, week and month, you get a realistic idea of what is possible. It also helps you to be prepared. For example, you can plan a time to stop to buy gas if you have a long trip.
  3. Create Systems and Habits
    Habits are great way to override memory and motivation problems. When something becomes a habit, you do it automatically. For example, checking your calendar on Fridays to see who has a birthday next week.
  4. It’s Ok to Say No
    People would rather hear a no, than a yes followed by a cancellation. The first time you say no, it might feel scary, but after a few times, you will become a pro.
  5. Yes Means Yes
    If you get an invitation, check with your calendar. If you have time and want to go, say yes. Then do whatever it takes to be there. That might mean saying no to more exciting offers, leaving work early or going even if you don’t feel like it. However, this is how you will get a reputation of being reliable.
  6. Motivation
    When you start to upgrade your life using these suggestions, you will get a clearer idea of what you genuinely enjoy doing (the things you are motivated to do) and what you are doing out of guilt. Now, stop doing activities out of guilt! There will still be tasks you don’t feel motivated to do that need to be done. E.g. housework. For these, set up a reward system, use your timer to create a sense of urgency and turn it into a game.

 

What do you do so you don’t let people down?

How Are You Feeling?

Did you know that people with ADHD tend to be more sensitive and pick up on the moods and emotions of others? It can make you feel exhausted, unsettled and generally throw you off your game.

It can help to know this because then you don’t blame yourself. Whether it is election news, a family function or a stressful work meeting, you might notice  afterward that you aren’t as productive or as focused as usual.

Practicing extreme self-care, not watching the news or going for a long walk in the fresh air, are all great ways to shake away the negative vibes and get you back on track.

Sending Hugs

Jacqui

PS..If you want to watch something fun and heartwarming for a few minutes I have the perfect thing. Buster the dog!

 

 

 

ADHD and Famous People

hollywood-sign-1598473_640A few summers ago, I had a conversation with a 9-year-old little boy. He had been diagnosed with ADHD because he was struggling in school. He hated having ADHD. It made him feel different from everyone else, and he didn’t think it was fair that he had to struggle so much with things that all his friends found easy. He was so hurt—I really wanted to help, so I asked him a few questions. He loved sports, and the Summer Olympics was fresh in everyone’s mind, so I told him about Michael Phelps having ADHD.

I had never seen such a rapid change in someone’s mood. This little boy was thrilled. He knew he would be OK. In fact, he knew he was going to be more than OK, because ‘clearly’, having ADHD gave Michael Phelps the winning edge!

We aren’t that much different from that 9-year-old little boy. Even though as adults we try to be cool and pretend that celebrities don’t influence us, they do (we live in a celebrity-centric world)! Famous ADHDers can inspire us with their victories as well as their stories of struggle; Michael Phelps was bullied as a child, and Tarma Mellon went to rehab..

Celebrities can show us that using their gifts (often the ones that non-ADHDers want you to get rid of!) is how they became successful, and their success paves the way so that you know success is possible for you, too.

6 Reasons Why Knowing Famous People Have ADHD is Helpful

1) It normalizes the condition – anyone can have ADHD.

2) It shows that it’s possible to have ADHD and still be successful.

3) Their stories can act as an inspiration for us.

4) It validates us. We realize we aren’t alone with quirks and ‘annoyances’.

5) It gives us confidence to use our ADHD strengths.

6) It gives us HOPE!

Here are 15 Famous People Who Have ADHD.

1) Tom Hanks

Movie star. Tom Hanks has won 2 Oscars for ‘Best Actor’. He credits his success to having ADHD (not in spite of it). He has starred in many brilliant movies including Philadelphia, Bridge of Spies, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, The Da Vinci Code and Toy Story.

2) Richard Branson

Billionaire and founder of all things Virgin. Richard has achieved success in many areas of life, including business, relationships and humanitarian work. Learn more about the secrets of his success here.

3) Michael Phelps

Swimmer and most decorated Olympian ever! He has a total of 28 Olympic medals – 23 of which are gold medals and has competed in 5 Olympics. Learn about the lessons we can learn from him here.

4) Justin Timberlake

Singer-songwriter, actor, record producer. JT is an all around performer. He can sing, dance and has incredible stage presence. He is funny, genuine and can fill a huge stadium in 6 minutes.

5) Robin Williams

Everyone loved Robin Williams. When he passed away, the sad news affected people all over the world on a deep level. We know he was a talented actor and comedian and after his death, many people shared personal stories of how he touched their lives. He had empathy and sweetness that resonated with us all.

6) Tamara Mellon

Founder of Jimmy Choo’s, the luxury shoe brand. Tamara thought of the idea of creating a shoe brand while she was in rehab. When she shared her idea, people suggested perhaps she could work in a shoe store first. However, like many ADHDers Tamara was a big thinker and created the Jimmy Choo empire. You can read all about her life and adventures in her memoir called ‘In my shoes.’

7) Seth Godin

Author of 18 best selling books including, Tribes, Purple Cow and What to do When It’s Your Turn. He is a thought leader, entrepreneur and writes on his blog every day.

8) John. F. Kennedy

The 35th President of the United States. One of the qualities that people who met him use to  describe him was his vibrant energy.

9) Simone Biles

At just 19 years old, Simone Biles holds the title of being the most decorated American gymnast.

10) Albert Einstein

Theoretical physicist. There are no words needed to describe this legend.

11) Michael Jordan

Professional super-star basketball player. Considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, MJ is known for his skill, talent and burning desire to win.

12) Will Smith

Singer and actor. Will has won 4 Grammy awards. He is also a 2 time Oscar nominated actor for his role in ‘Ali,’ a movie about Muhammad Ali, and ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’

13) Salma Hayek

Oscar nominated actress. Salma is also a director and producer and brought Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, to life in the movie Frida.

14) Britney Spears

Pop Icon. Britney is a Grammy award winning singer. She has sold 100 million albums and over 100 million singles, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

15) Ryan Gosling

Oscar nominated Actor, writer, director. Ryan began his career starring in Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club. He has starred in movies  such as The Notebook,  Lars and the Real Girl and The Big Short.

Who is your favorite famous ADHDer?