As they grow and develop, children depend on all of their senses to learn. However, researchers have long understood that a child learns better with one sense over the others. This is the child’s preferred learning style. The VAK learning model identifies 3 primary learning styles – auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Understanding a child’s learning style can help parents and teachers create more effective and engaging learning experiences, especially for students with ADHD . … READ MORE
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.
ADHD and Depression is Serious Business
It’s important to start this post by saying that depression can be a serious, life-threatening condition. If you are feeling hopeless, worthless, irritated, chronically exhausted or have lost interest in things you once loved, you shouldstart by talking to your physician or a therapist. Look for someone who has experience in diagnosing ADHD and working with the co-occurring conditions that can come along with ADHD. (The last thing you need to do is see someone who doesn’t understand or even believe in ADHD!)
A professional can help you determine what the appropriate course of action to help you break free of your depression. You don’t have to suffer depression alone. Get some help for yourself, right away. Talk to your parents, friends or even a crisis hotline. Don’t suffer alone!
What to Do About ADHD and Depression Starting NOW!
Sure calling a doctor or therapist is a great idea, but you may be wondering what you can do for depression right now. After all, depression is something that can be hard to overcome. (And it doesn’t take holidays!) You can use all the help you can get to breaking through to the other side of depression! Why not try what Gayle Wilson, ADHD coach, shares with her clients. She calls it her “Depression Busting Toolkit” or “12 Mental Lifesavers.”
ADHD Depression Busting Toolkit: 12 Mental Lifesavers
- Talk about it. Pour out your soul to a sympathetic ear.
- Go to the dogs (play with your pets).
- Run away (literally). Do something physical. (Yes, we keep saying this over and over. Exercise is critical to healthy living with ADHD!)
- Laugh your head off. Watch a funny TV show, ask someone to tickle you, Google “funny” or “hilarious,” check out the comedy channel on hulu.com, or watch an old Road Runner cartoon, etc.
- Get to work. Lose yourself in work.
- Compartmentalize. Focus on what you can do right now. The old adage, one day at a time, has stood the test of time because it works! Sometimes getting off the couch and doing something, anything, can make a big difference to feeling better.
- Write. Right now. Paying attention to what you are thinking. Write it down. Be sure to turn off the critical inner voice and just let your thoughts go.
- Identify something you care about more than yourself. Is that a friend? A charity? Your grandparents? Now do something, anything about it.
- Bring beauty into your life. Buy some flowers, take some pictures, make a painting, clean your room.
- Learn the lesson. Explore what there is to learn in what you are experiencing.
- Be well read. Let fiction carry you away.
- Have faith. Turn to your spiritual practice
- Curb self-defeating and negative thoughts with an ANT.
Daniel G. Amen, M.D., author of Healing ADD and Change Your Brain, Change Your life, coined the acronym A.N.T.’s — or automatic negative thoughts. Turns out there is a connection between what we say to ourselves and how we feel. If we control what we think, we can control how we feel.
Gayle Wilson gives each of her clients a little plastic ant and a poem. Print out the poem and put it on your desk. Read it when you need to turn your thoughts away from the dark side. Sure it’s a little dorky, and Gayle’s no poet, but these simple words have helped many other people. So there’s no harm in trying it, huh? You can control what you think and change how you feel about yourself.
Gayla Wilson 12/07
Place this little Ant on your desk, in your pocket or your purse.
Let it remind you, your thoughts can be adverse.
Listen to what your brain tells you
The next time you get into a jam
and you hear “I’m stupid”; “I always mess up”
“Why can’t I ever just push through?”
Write it down, tell it to scram.
Is this thought a fact?
Or, is it the same old you?
If it’s true…change it.
If it’s a lie, answer back.
These are your thoughts
You write the script
Be they pleasant and pleasing
They’re your thoughts,
You can answer back
The damage CAN be reversed.
It is up to you
Their weight and importance
Are set by you. You take control.
Kill the ANT!
Do you have tricks that help you beat the blues? Please share them!
Robert Tudisco Former Executive Director of the Edge Foundation Speaks about Living with ADHD.
The DSM-IV Defined Anxiety Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association defines 12 anxiety disorders:
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder – with and without agoraphobia
- Agoraphobia – without history of Panic Disorder
- Social Phobia – exaggerated fear of embarrassment or humiliation
- Specific Phobia – e.g. of spiders, elevators, flying, etc.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Acute Stress Disorder – symptoms< 30 days
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Anxiety Disorder due to a General Medical Condition
- Substance-induced Anxiety Disorder
- Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
The 4 most common anxiety disorders associated with ADHD
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The remainder of this article will talk in more depth about the unique characteristics of each of these anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
General Anxiety Disorder is a serious issue for the ADHD community. It is far more likely to occur during the lifetimes of children with ADHD than in the general population (25% ADHD versus 2.9 – 4.6% general population). Half (52%) of adults with ADHD will experience GAD in their lifetimes – opposed to only 5% of adults in the general population.
General Anxiety Disorder is the big anxiety disorder that people tend to miss. With the others – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, separation anxiety, and social phobia – it’s more obvious when you have it. And, since GAD often comes along for the ride with depression, substance abuse, and other anxiety disorders, it may be relegated to a back seat in terms of recognition and treatment.
General Anxiety Disorder is characterized by 6 months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience. People with GAD usually expect the worst. They worry excessively about money, health, family, or work, even when there are no signs of trouble. They are unable to relax and often suffer from insomnia. Sometimes the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day can provoke anxiety. General Anxiety Disorder may also grow worse with stress. In addition to excessive anxiety and worry, people with GAD have at least 3 of the following symptoms:
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty sleeping
Separation Anxiety Disorder
About 10 times as many children with ADHD will have separation anxiety compared with the rate in the general population of 2.4%
Separation Anxiety Disorder develops in childhood and can persist into adulthood. Basically this means a child is fearful of being separated from his or her safety net (familiar place or person). The child may develop excessive worrying to the point of being reluctant or refusing to go to school, being alone, or sleeping alone. The child may also experience repeated nightmares and complaints of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting.
Social Phobia (a.k.a. Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD)
18% of people with ADHD will have a lifetime occurrence of Social Anxiety Disorder – half again as common as in the general population.
Social Anxiety Disorder is an intense fear of becoming humiliated in social situations, specifically of embarrassing yourself in front of other people. It includes performance anxiety issues. It often runs in families and may be accompanied by depression or alcoholism. Social phobia often begins in early adolescence or even younger. The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. About 13% of the general population will experience social anxiety at some point in their lives. Social Phobia is actually the third most common psychiatric disorder in the United States after depression and substance abuse.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
Although there isn’t a lot of information on PTSD and ADHD specifically, there is some evidence that people with ADHD are more vulnerable to developing PTSD. For more information consult Adler LA, Kunz M, Chua HC, Rotrosen J, Resnick SG. (2004). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adult patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): is ADHD a vulnerability factor? Journal of Attention Disorders. Aug; 8(1):11-6.
How to manage your anxiety
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, but you have to recognize first that they exist. If you think this might be you, seek the advice of a professional and find out what your options are.
An ADHD coach can also help you learn to identify your anxiety triggers and things you can do to keep your anxiety under control.
Watch for part 3 of our ADHD and Anxiety series where we will talk about some steps you can take to help you manage your anxiety.
Do you have ADHD and anxiety? What have you done to keep it under control? We invite you to share your story here and help others learn what you have to keep your edge! You don’t have to live with anxiety, sign up for an Edge Coachand start taking charge of your life today.
The Edge Foundation has recruited and trained some of the best coaches in the business. If you choose an Edge Coach you know you are getting a seasoned life coach who is specially trained in working with young people with ADD/ADHD, someone who has not only been trained, but also mentored in this specialty.
How To Get an Edge Coach
To get an Edge Coach, all you do is apply. For students under 18 years of age, parents will participate in all phases of the application process. For students 18 years and older, it is expected that the student take the initiative for selecting his or her own coach and that the parents take a supportive but secondary role.
To apply, just go to the top of the page and click on the “Get a Coach!” button. Once you’ve filled in and submitted the form, you’ll hear back from us by the end of the next working day.
Based on what you tell us about yourself or your child, we’ll match you with one of our coaches. If you already have one in mind, just let us know your preference.
You and the coach will then get each other’s contact information. You will talk with each other (if the student is under 18, both the parents and student will talk with the coach), and during the conversation it will become clear:
- whether a comfortable connection can be made,
- whether coaching would be beneficial given the student’s particular situation, and
- whether the student wants to be coached and is “coachable” by that coach.
If you then wish to speak with additional coaches, you need only contact us and ask.
Once a coach has been selected, the parent or the student (if 18 years or older) and coach will sign a contract and commence coaching. Payment for services will be made directly to the coach.
It’s that easy!