Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some things I'm learning...

My ADD has been un-medicated for nearly 8 years. I did well with meds when I was teaching full-time but during our infertility struggles, pregnancy losses, subsequent deliveries of Flicka and Pojke, and nursing both until nearly 24 months each, I spent from 2003 - 2008 either pregnant or nursing someone so I was unable to take any stimulants.

I'm a big advocate of metacognition and behavior mod - knowing *how* I learn and finding ways (and repeating them) to work around the difficulties my ADD contributes to my life. I've discovered many strategies that help me through any given day or any given challenge from potty training one of the Vikings to taking a college class.

So, I've been reading a new-to-me book called "Odd One Out: The Maverick's Guide to Adult ADD" by Jennifer Koretsky and she has some more ideas I might be trying soon...

ADD-ers often have trouble falling and staying asleep. So, they don't always sleep well and, as a result, often have difficulty getting up in the morning. Koretsky suggests using a multi-sensory idea that I really like.
"Instead of relying on your alarm clock alone, try engaging your senses. Leave the curtains open before bed so the sun comes in during the morning. Set a stereo in another room to go off when you need to get up. Set up an air freshener or aromatherapy diffuser to turn on around the same time. Don't just try to wake up your body, wake up your mind by activating your senses." (pg 67)
Another thing I struggle with is sitting still through meetings and classes. I went to a seminar recently where the speakers provided all sorts of pipe cleaners, stress balls, and the like to play with and manipulate during the day. I LOVED it! For some ADD-ers, if their bodies are engaged with something, it's easier for their minds to pay attention. The author had some other ideas as well.

Not only "get physical" for better focus, but also get visual. "Some ADDers find that visual stimulation allowed them to pay better attention. This may mean focusing on visual cues, like colors or written words." Koretsky went on to describe a client who was having trouble staying awake in a lecture class. By bringing colorful pictures and drawing with her to class, she found that simple being able to stae at the colors while listening tot he lecture activated her brain enough not to get bored and doze off.

And, don't forget the auditory. For me, I explain to people that ADD has "broken" the filters in my ears. It seems I can hear everything exactly the same volume from what's going in front of me to the person three rows back to the sounds coming from a distance hallway. And, it's hard to stay intent on just what's going on in front of me.

As a result, I'm often completely overwhelmed by crowd noise. This is my most frequent challenge on a regular basis - especially with small children. Repetitive, high pitched noise are *completely* my kryptonite! LOL After a long, busy day with the Vikings, silence is my best friend!
However, for other ADD-ers who are auditory learners, they find that adding music or other background noise helps them concentrate.

Finally, many ADD-ers deal with impulsiveness as a symptom and/or they are also hyperactive and have trouble sitting still. Koretsky suggests several ways for an ADD-er to express themselves.

1. Move it: for example, use a vigorous workout to relieve your stress or take a leisurely walk to clear your head.

2. Write it: Koretsky highly recommends journaling for ADD management. It's a great way to process your thoughts, feelings, and frustrations.

3. Speak it: This one is my favorite. You ask any of my friends (particularly DaHubby LOL) how I best process things and it's through talking it out. Verbal processing helps me "clear the air" between my ears, organize my thoughts, and often reach a decision or solution on my own.

Finally, I love what the author says about communicating your differences to others. Her suggestion? Frame it with "I work best when...."

I may get feedback or criticism from people who don't "get" how my ADD affects me but Kortesky says "...don't apologize, don't justify, and don't try to change simply because someone else doesn't understand you." ADD-ers just need to say things like "I pay attention best when I can fidget" or "I actually read better when I have some background noise."

This book has given me some really solid strategies that will help me deal as well as help me to help others better understand what it is like to live inside my brain for a day! LOL

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