Becoming a Better Listener When You Have ADHD

 

Listening Problems for Adults with ADHD

For adults with ADHD, listening can be a challenge. Inattention and being easily distracted are two of the symptoms of ADHD that make focusing on a conversation or a lecture doubly difficult. This can often manifest in several ways. For example, Michele Novotni PhD at ADDitude.com identifies these common listening problems:

  • Non-stop talk where you voice every though in your (overactive) mind and no one else can speak
  • Not participating so the other person feels you are not interested
  • Making conversation a monologue about you
  • Frequently interrupting someone while they are speaking
  • Tuning in and out of conversations as your attention wanders

Tips for Being a Better Listener When You Have ADHD

There are a number of straightforward strategies you can use to help you become a better listener. Below are several recommended by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. at Psych Central.

Paraphrase – Repeating back to your conversation partner what you heard them say reinforces the conversation in your mind, shows the other party you are interested, and keeps you engaged in the overall flow of the conversation.

Take notes – Writing down key points and questions you have is a great aid when you are receiving instructions or listening to a lecture. Alternatively, you can ask someone giving instructions to write them down or send them in email to avoid any potential confusion.

Avoid focusing on your next sentence – Avoid thinking about what you are going to say next when you are in a conversation. This can actually help you be better informed about what the other person is saying and you will be more likely to make an appropriate response when it is your turn to speak.

Ask for key points – It is easy to become distracted if someone is rambling or getting mired down in details that are not of interest to you. If that happens, ask them for the key points they are trying to make to get the conversation back on track.

Put the conversation in context – Try to connect what the other person is saying with something you already know. Making this kind of connection will help keep you anchored in the dialogue. If you are having trouble making such a connection, ask the person you are talking with to help you make one.

Visualize the story – Many who have ADHD are visual thinkers. Try imaging what the other person is saying like a movie playing. Let your mind create images of all the colorful details associated with the conversation.

Listening Sills Can be Improved with Practice

The good news is that listening skills can be learned. Two things you can do to help accelerate your listening learning curve, suggested by Laura Rolands, an ADHD Coach, include:

Practice listening with a friend or co-worker whom you know and trust – Take turns telling each other something about a recent event.  Make it short, but long enough to tax your listening skills, say 2-4 four minutes. When your friend is done talking, reflect the story back to him or her and ask for feedback.  Discuss what got in the way of your listening and brainstorm ways you can listen more actively in the future.  Then reverse roles and tell your friend something of interest.  Practice this a few times each week and keep track to see if your listening skills have improved.

Become aware of when you are listening or not – Often the first step to becoming a better listener is to notice when you listen well and actively.  By noticing when you listen, you can focus on recreating the positives of those situations in the future.  What is the environment?  How is the speaker speaking?  What did you eat for breakfast?  How much sleep did you get last night?  By noticing the positive listening experiences that you have, you can be more mindful of creating those experiences again in the future.  After you notice the positive of when you listen well, you might also want to take notice of when you do not listen so well.  How can you use the strengths you identified above to make the situations where you don’t listen well better?

Together, practice and awareness can help you hone your active listening skills.

Achieving Academic Success With ADHD & Executive Function Challenges

Are You Ready For College?

ready-for-college

ADHD 
and
 college: a
 challenge
 you
 can
 handle

Do 
you
 get
 an
 anxious 
feeling
 when
 you
 think
 about 
school? Going
 to
 college is
 an
adjustment
 for 
anyone,
 but
 when
 you
 have 
ADHD,
 the
 challenges 
are
 that
 much
 greater.
However, 
college
 is
 a
 challenge
 you
 can 
handle
 if
 you
 go
 armed 
with
 the
 knowledge 
of 
a 
few 
extra 
things you 
can
 do to 
make 
sure
 your
 college
 experience 
is
 everything
 you
 hope
 it
will
 be.

Do
 you
 have
 the
 4
 student
 qualities
 for
 success?

Successful
 students
 usually
 have
 four
 qualities
 that 
help
 them
 achieve
 their
 goals:

1. Sticking 
with
 things even
 when
 the
 going 
gets
 tough
 ( a.k.a.
 perseverance),

2. Ability
 to
 delay 
gratification
 and
 focus 
on
 the
 big 
picture,

3. Time 
management 
and
 organizational
 skills,
 and

4. Striking
 the
 right
 balance
 between
 fun 
and
 work.

Are
 you
 feeling
 discouraged
 already? No
 surprise. These
 particular skills
 don’t
 come
 easily
to
 students with 
ADHD. Organizational
 problems, 
impulsivity
 and
 time
 management
 issues 
are
 actually
 the
 hallmarks 
of 
living 
with 
ADHD. You
 think,
 “If 
I 
just
 get
 this
 special
 planner,
 I’ll 
never 
forget 
anything
 again.” Or 
you 
promise
 yourself,
 “Next 
time
 I’m
 going
to
 start 
working
 on
 my
 class
 reading
 at
 the
 beginning
 of
 the 
term
 instead
 of 
cramming
right
 before
 finals.” It’s
so
 easy
 to
 think,
“If
 I 
just 
make
 myself
 do
 this…
it’ll
 be
 fine.” 
But
what 
if
  we 
told
 you
 that 
making
 yourself 
do
 it 
is 
the 
totally  wrong 
approach?

Read more at: Your guide for college success

Scholarships for college students with ADHD

iStock_45005750_XXXLARGE v3Financial scholarships for college students are wonderful, but they don’t ensure successful completion and graduation. That’s why we provide Edge Coaches to support scholarship recipients as a form of scholarship insurance.

The Shire Scholarship Program

Since 2011, the Edge Foundation has partnered with Shire PLC who provides scholarships for college students with ADHD. Shire U.S., Inc. funds the Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship program, which is for residents of the United States who are under the care of a licensed health care professional for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and have been accepted to or enrolled in undergraduate programs at accredited colleges, universities, trade schools, technical schools, or vocational schools located in the US.

The Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship awards recipients in the U.S. $2,000 in tuition assistance and one year of ADHD coaching services provided by the Edge Foundation to assist in meeting the challenges of higher education. A similar program, operated by Shire Canada offers Canadian students $1,500 in tuition assistance and one year of ADHD coaching services provided by the Edge Foundation. In May 2016, fifty-five scholarships were awarded in the U.S. and six scholarships were awarded in Canada..

The scholarship application process for 2017 opens in December, 2016, and the application process closes in March, 2017. To learn more about the Shire Scholarship program or for help with the application process, contact:

Denise von Pressentin
888.718.8886
206.632.9497
dvonpressentin@edgefoundation.org

 

Sign Up for Scholarship Support

If you are an organization, institution or individual who provides financial  scholarships to college students, and are interested in providing funds for Edge Coaches to support those students, please contact:

Neil Peterson
Founder, Chairman, and CEO
206.910.7515
npeterson@edgefoundation.org

What If? – I have ADHD but I don’t let it stand in my way

adobestock_97094319-v3life-skills-2-edge

1

That phrase, spoken more than fifteen years ago by my then-ten-year-old son, still brings tears to my eyes. He wrote this to his teacher on the first day of fifth grade. She had given him a “get to know you questionnaire.” This was his answer to her final question, which asked the students if there was anything else she should know about them.

If only we could freeze those moments. I would love to say that he continues to feel that way all the time but that is not our reality. Having children with ADHD and other executive function-challenges can be compared to life on a roller coaster. As a retired teacher, guidance counselor, and now an ADHD/EF coach, I feel that my experiences have prepared me for the next stage of parenting. But it is not easy. I have come to realize that it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Most parents, after their child is diagnosed, feel that they need to solve the problem. They want to help their children overcome their disability and protect them from the world.   Frequently, we feel that we did something wrong, that we must fix the situation or find a magical answer. I was no exception. After researching this topic for many years and filling several rooms with books on ADHD, EF and positive psychology, I have come to the realization that the best gift we can give is to accept them for who they are.

We do not need to give up future plans for our children but we do need to accept them as they exist. We can be aware of their weaknesses and help them develop their strengths. As parents, we need to help them recognize that as they approach life differently, they can achieve their goals.

Those diagnosed with ADHD and EF challenges must learn to adapt to our competitive society and to appreciate themselves. We also must help professionals, family members and others to refrain from squeezing our square pegs into round holes. What if, instead, we delighted in their differences? As their parents and coaches, we have the power to concentrate on their strengths, provide support when needed, and most importantly, not allow them to use their diagnosis as a crutch.

If these children are brought up to recognize their gifts, just imagine what they could accomplish. If we help them recognize their situation as an opportunity to develop strategies that will allow them succeed, they will become stronger and more adaptable.

I can only imagine the number of negative verbal and non-verbal messages that these individuals receive on a daily basis. What if they could depend on their families to be supportive and their homes to be an oasis of positive reinforcement? What if they could trust our verbal and non-verbal communication would instill a sense of well being, rather than a source of shame and inadequacy?

What if we were able to accept the fact that we, as parents, do not have the power to fix our children or find a magic answer?

What if we concentrated on what we can control, and helped our children realize that they are creative, resourceful and whole? What if we helped them recognize that life is not black or white? What if we helped our children realize that because of their differences, not in spite of them, they have much to offer?

What if every individual diagnosed with ADHD and executive-functioning challenges could say: “I have ADHD but I don’t let it stand in my way.”

Written by: Cheryl Breining, LMSW, M.Ed, MS, ACC, CPCC, Edge Coach, Certified Life and Parenting Coach, The Life Coaching Corner Inc., Contact her at www.thelifecoachingcorner.com.

 

Is your Student Lacking Emotional Intelligence?

You’ve witnessed the scenario, the semester starts off smoothly and the student is doing pretty well. The assignments are not too difficult and the academic year is flowing with relative ease. As the semester continues, usually shortly before mid-terms, turbulence takes over. The student suddenly becomes overwhelmed and overloaded, assignment due dates are rapidly approaching and time is running out. The student is not properly prepared and encounters difficulty finding the help needed to succeed. This may describe your ADHD student, but it can also define someone low in emotional intelligence. Those with ADHD may likely be low in emotional intelligence skills as well.

 

ADHD AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
When dealing with ADHD, we tend to focus on proficiencies related to time management, procrastination, organization, and memory. These skills are important, but we do not spend as much time discussing critical areas that relate to persistence, self-advocacy, flexibility, emotional control and stress management. These areas of personal development, called emotional intelligence, can be learned to help avoid academic disruption. Self-advocacy can help a student to politely and confidently say no to excessive campus activities; emotional control can help one properly confront a problem roommate; persistence can help a student to bounce back from a bad grade on a test to try again with new determination.

 

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Daniel Goldman, the father of emotional intelligence, states that life success involves only 20% intellect and 80% the ability to connect and build strong relationships with others. Those that are skilled at building strong relationships possess emotional control, self-advocacy, stress management, persistence and other such skills.  Emotional intelligence is defined as using emotions well to guide thinking and behavior. Studies show students with high emotional intelligence do better academically. High emotional intelligence also improves a person’s social interactions and helps one develop friendships and lasting relationships.

Low emotional intelligence stifles healthy social interactions. Low self-awareness and low self-confidence disrupts positive relationship building. The student may lack a healthy network of friendships and relationships with others, which can be crucial in social problem solving and motivation while in college. A student with low emotional intelligence is not comfortable approaching a teacher for clarity on an assignment or feel weird going to the disabilities office and asking for the necessary accommodations needed for academic success. This is because they have not built the relationships and comfort with those persons that would make interacting with them relatively easy. In some instances, the student is not even aware that an intervention is needed. Too often, instructors assume that the student is unwilling to try or not interested in learning.

 

DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Believe it or not, for some people, emotional intelligence comes naturally. This means that it is easier for them to create the bonds and obtain the information they need to achieve their goals. These are the people that can connect with everyone in the room. They may have been the class clown or the teacher’s pet in school. They were probably a part of the popular crowd. The good news is, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be practiced and developed.  Research suggests that by making a person aware of the skills that they are lacking and practicing the proper responses, one can develop the skills needed to improve their emotional intelligence. For a student, this can mean better friendships, better relationships with professors or improved interactions. For students with ADHD, developing emotional intelligence can ease the mid-semester rush and equip students with the tools needed to finish the semester as smoothly as they began.

 

Steven McDaniels is an Edge Foundation coach. He serves as the Director of Fitness and Athletics at Beacon College, where he previously served as the Director of Life Coaching.