When you have ADHD or other executive functioning challenges, you may feel restless, impulsive and have difficulty paying attention. That can make managing your time much harder. There are skills you can learn to help overcome these challenges and be more productive with your time. . .… 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 atwww.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 ese 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.
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.
Here at Edge we talk a lot about how an ADHD coach can help you learn the skills you need to succeed in school. But what about after you get out of school?
We like to say that coaching helps you hone your edge to climb higher in life. School is just the starting place for that journey. Working with an ADHD coach can be a highly effective method to help you bridge the journey from school to the workplace.
When you work with an ADHD coach to help you be successful in school, you build skills that will help you be successful in life. Skills like perseverance when the going gets tough, time management, organizational systems that work for YOU, prioritizing, and focus.
Your coach is interested in helping you achieve YOUR goals (not your parents goals for you.) School is usually a stepping stone to help you get there.
But which jobs are ADHD Friendly?
Search for ADHD –friendly jobs and you’ll find a ton of articles that talk about career planning, career traps and what qualities you should look for in a workplace. The best advice we’ve seen, comes from Ned Hallowell. Hallowell has written 18 books including one of the most recommended books about ADHD: Driven to Distraction.
In an ADDitude Magazine article, Hallowell gives some excellent advice to get started in figuring out what you want to do when you get out of school.
Two pieces of advice for the ADHD job searcher
If you were going to take just two pieces of advice away from Hallowell’s article it would be this:
- “The best jobs for adults with ADD are the ones that let them do what they do best and love most,” and
- “Maintaining a realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses are part of the job of planning for — and keeping — a job.”
Your ADHD coach helps you identify those strengths and weaknesses. And if you haven’t figured out what your passion is yet, she can also help you find your path to discovering it.
We’ve known writers, consultants, police officers, lawyers, advertising managers, baseball players, singers, computer geniuses … who have all been successful AND have ADHD.
What do you hope to do when you get out of school?
Have you figured out your strengths and weaknesses?
We’d love to hear from you in the comment section, below.