Halloween!

On October 1, I challenged myself to do three things every day of October: write a blog entry, walk two miles (or do equivalent exercise), and practice 45 minutes of yoga.

The last day of October is here, and this is my 31st blog entry! Quantity is undoubtedly not quality, but I hope that most of the posts have conveyed something useful. If you’ve been following along, I hope you have been introduced to some people and web sites in the ADHD world that will make your life more understandable and enjoyable.

Up until yesterday I also had an umblemished record as far as my commitment to exercise and yoga, but yesterday when the time came I couldn’t bring myself to get moving. Last evening, we attended two very interesting presentations in Fairfax, Virginia, at Bridges Therapy and Wellness Center, about an hour’s drive from our home. If you are in our area, go here to see a calendar of their upcoming presentations, some of which may be related to ADHD.

We didn’t return until after 10 last night, and I couldn’t make myself do the exercise and yoga. I felt OK about that decision, since it had been a stressful day and that was the best choice for me last night. Sometimes we need to be kind to ourselves.

So now I’m pondering what happens next.

As far as this blog is concerned, my plan is to move to weekly posting, most often on Wednesdays. If you are interested in keeping up with my world of ADHD and the larger world of ADHD as well, sign up and you’ll hear from me with a short post once a week.

I also plan to stick with the yoga and walk/exercise as a daily regimen. Exercise is clearly essential for general health, but it is also vital for ADHD health. And I just love yoga. The DVD I discovered this fall is perfect for relaxation and stretching, but some strength and balance are elements I’ll be looking to introduce soon.

If you are reading, consider commenting and subscribing. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Learning Styles

Do you know your learning style? This is not something that I was aware of way back when I was in the early grades of school, but it seems like something useful to know about oneself. I just wish I knew a good way to determine mine.

There are learning style screeners online, just like there are for ADHD. In my experience, the ADHD screeners are more accurate and reliable.

Recently I took two different online screening tests, each promising to let me know my learning style. The first one told me that without a doubt (of course based on what I entered into the test) I was an auditory learner. That made sense to me. I majored in music in undergrad school.

But then I took a different test, and this time the results were presented in percentages. That test showed that I am 45% tactile, 35% visual, and only 20% auditory. It also makes sense to me that I might be a tactile learner, since I do learn better through hands-on methods, but the lack of consistence between the two screeners was a bit confusing.

I guess the main thing about learning styles is the fundamental fact that not everybody learns the same way. If you don’t “get” something when it is presented in one way, that doesn’t mean you won’t pick it up quickly if it’s presented in another way. Experiment. Try different ways of taking in information. Be patient with yourself if it takes you two or three tries to figure out how to approach something in a way that works well for you. And be patient with others when they don’t pick up something easily that seems like kindergarten material to you. I really have to work on that last point!

Linda Williams Swanson is a partner in Free To Be Coaching, LLC, in Warrenton, VA. Her website is freetobecoaching.com; visit the site and contact her or her husband, Neil, for a complimentary exploratory session. They are presently accepting new clients from age 13-90. (Linda and Neil do most of their coaching either in person, or by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. High school students are usually coached in person.)

 

Dr. Dodson

If you ever see Dr. William Dodson’s name, whether as author of an article (or his upcoming book) or as speaker on a webinar, my recommendation is that you take advantage of whatever is being offered. I find him to be extremely clear and knowledgeable in many aspects of ADHD. He can tell the history of what we’ve known about the condition, how it has been treated for various ages of children and adults, what medications can do, how to handle co-morbid conditions, and much more.

This afternoon I listened to him speaking on an ADDitude webinar. If you can track it down (or an earlier one), I recommend that you do. Click here for ADDitude’s webinar page.

As can happen with many speakers one hears multiple times, there can be material that is repeated. But in the case of Dr. Dodson, I find that (so far at least) I can’t hear the information he shares too many times.

Today he repeated the “formula” that I refer to several times a week for myself or for clients: neurotypicals can become engaged by something because it is important or rewarding or because there will be consequences for not engaging; ADHDers are not engaged by any of those three, but rather are drawn to things that are interesting, challenging, novel, or urgent. Today he said that this is 100 percent sure. He said you won’t find an ADHDer who has been motivated by importance. It just doesn’t happen. Has that been your experience? I wonder if that, in itself, is diagnostic of ADHD.

Today some of the new things I learned were these:

  • the average age of diagnosis for adult ADHD is 36
  • ADHDers have an average IQ of 120+ which is sufficient for PhD work
  • 8.4 percent of adults meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD
  • there are several times when ADHD is especially likely to be picked up across a lifetime: when a young child is hyperactive; when a child with high but unmet potential is being screened for a learning difficulty; at the start of middle school when there is a heightened need for organizational abilities; at the start of college or independence if internal structures have not been built; and when something good happens, such as a promotion or the birth of a child, when the ADHDer runs out of steam
  • the average family goes through eleven clinicians before finding someone competent to help with their ADHD
  • American physicians diagnose what they know which is depression and anxiety, not ADHD
  • for 43 percent of American physicians, ADHD doesn’t even exist because there is no training about it.

I could go on, but you get the point. There is a lot of richness in what Dr. Dodson has to share with us, so check out his web site here and search out his writings online. You will be richly rewarded!

Linda Williams Swanson is a partner in Free To Be Coaching, LLC, in Warrenton, VA. Her website is freetobecoaching.com; visit the site and contact her or her husband, Neil, for a complimentary exploratory session. They are presently accepting new clients from age 13-90. (Linda and Neil do most of their coaching either in person, or by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. High school students are usually coached in person.)

Fall

It’s my absolute favorite time of year. Even though today here in Virginia the temperature is decidedly un-fall-like (82 degrees), the trees are brilliant gold and orange. The sound of the wind is unique to the season, as it urges more and more leaves to surrender and drop with every new gust.

The trees are shedding their old habits (their 2014 garments) to enter a season of rest in preparation for receiving their new garb. We human beings often think of changing habits when the new year rolls around, but this is at least as appropriate a time for contemplating rest and renewal.

With all that we have been offered this month of ADHD Awareness, we might also enter the season of Thanksgiving a few weeks early. But Thanksgiving is a movable feast anyway, given the importance of gratitude in our daily, not just annual, lives.

ADHDers like variety, so I’m enjoying taking a new look at seasons and holidays for their meanings, not just where the live on my calendar. My guess is that will mix things up a little, stimulate my interest and creativity, and bring more joy into my life.

Linda Williams Swanson is a partner in Free To Be Coaching, LLC, in Warrenton, VA. Her website is freetobecoaching.com; visit the site and contact her or her husband, Neil, for a complimentary exploratory session. They are presently accepting new clients from age 13-90. (Linda and Neil do most of their coaching either in person, or by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. High school students are usually coached in person.)

 

Christmas?

It was a bit of a surprise to find the DECEMBER issue of “mindful” magazine in my mail box Saturday. I know magazines always arrive before their designated date, but this seemed a little extreme.

It is always fun to receive “mindful,” however, so I was glad to begin dipping into it early this morning. Not only is the issue dated “December;” it is also focused on the December holidays, something I’m trying to postpone this year since there are so many events between now and early December! We have seven family birthday between now and December 16 (Neil’s birthday), and we will have the whole family at our home for Thanksgiving. That can be a challenge since Neil and I are vegan and others run the gamut of eating choices.

Because of my tendency to have an elevated anxiety level as the holidays approach, I began to rejoice in the early arrival of this edition of “mindful.” You might also find it valuable. Not only are there gift ideas related to yoga and mindfulness (both very useful practices for ADHDers!), but also there are articles such as

“Your Guide to Enjoying the Holidays” – five ways to be more mindful during the holiday season

“High Anxiety” – an extensive article about anxiety disorders, something that affects a high percentage of ADHDers throughout the year, not only over the holidays

“Top of Mind” – a collection of very brief comments on various topics, many of which are likely to be of interest to ADHDers. For example, one is about a phone app called “Moment” that helps you keep track of how much time you spend using your smartphone each day.

There are a lot of wonderful print/online magazines out there, but I think “mindful” is one of the top ones for ADHDers.

If you have favorite publications, write in and let us know!

Linda Williams Swanson is a partner in Free To Be Coaching, LLC, in Warrenton, VA. Her website is freetobecoaching.com; visit the site and contact her or her husband, Neil, for a complimentary exploratory session. They are presently accepting new clients from age 13-90. (Linda and Neil do most of their coaching either in person, or by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. High school students are usually coached in person.)

Strengths

I have been taught a strengths-based approach to coaching. One of the tools that has proved helpful to me, as well as to many clients and fellow coaches, is the VIA Character Strengths survey.

If you are interested, this online survey requires only about twenty minutes, since for each of 120 statements you simply check off one of five levels of applicability to you. No one sees your answers and the resulting computer-generated profile is expressed entirely in terms of positive strengths. Knowing this may make it easier for you to answer frankly and thus to obtain for yourself more accurate feedback regarding your strengths.

Once you have completed the survey questions, you will be asked to provide a little demographic information to help this nonprofit organization continue its statistical analysis. You will then be offered three profile options. Options 1 and 2 (which provide considerably more information) each requires a small fee; but option 3 will provide you with your free basic profile, including a brief description of each character strength.

This profile will rank order twenty-four universal human strengths, with your strongest at the top. All of these strengths are ones that you have as a human being, but identifying your top five – your “signature strengths” – can be especially useful. Print out your profile, and save the password you create on the VIA site. This password will facilitate your returning to the site later to review your profile and possibly purchase additional helpful information such as options 1 or 2.

So often we think of ourselves in terms of the things we do, the things we accomplish. The results of this survey remind us of who we are and what are our greatest strengths of character. They are worth twenty minutes!

Linda Williams Swanson is a partner in Free To Be Coaching, LLC, in Warrenton, VA. Her website is freetobecoaching.com; visit the site and contact her or her husband, Neil, for a complimentary exploratory session. They are presently accepting new clients from age 13-90. (Linda and Neil do most of their coaching either in person, or by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. High school students are usually coached in person.)

Focus

I’ve been working on a project that has taken an enormous amount of time over the past year. It is a project that I have chosen to do–a labor of love.

Some of the work has been extremely tedious, monotonous, and time consuming, but it had to be done to achieve the results I’ve envisioned. My project has a deadline, and as the deadline has neared I have ramped up the amount of time I’m investing in it. I spent most of last week-end working on it and am doing the same this week-end.

The end of the project is now in sight, and I expect to be delighted with the results about a month from now. The final steps are much more creative and interesting than were the early steps.  I am finding it easy to lose myself as I work.

While I have never been diagnosed with ADHD as has my husband, Neil, I do find that I have quite a few ADHD characteristics. Hyperfocus is not usually something I experience, however.

Hyperfocus is the term used for the phenomenon experienced by many ADHDers when they become so intensely engaged in something that they lose complete awareness of anything happening around them, including all sense of the passing of time. Today I had some periods of time similar to that, but despite my intense focus I maintained some contact with what was going on around me. This is not possible at times for some people with ADHD. This aspect of ADHD can causes confusion among people who assume that someone who can focus that intensely can’t possibly have an “attention deficit.”

This is a big topic and much has been written about it. If you are interested, you might look at the work of Dr. Edward Hallowell, Dr. John Ratey, Dr. William Dodson, and others. There is also a series of articles on hyperfocus in ADDitude magazine that might get you started learning more about the phenomenon.

Linda Williams Swanson is a partner in Free To Be Coaching, LLC, in Warrenton, VA. Her website is freetobecoaching.com; visit the site and contact her or her husband, Neil, for a complimentary exploratory session. They are presently accepting new clients from age 13-90. (Linda and Neil do most of their coaching either in person, or by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. High school students are usually coached in person.)