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News and Tips for Thriving with ADHD

Careers and ADHD: Common Jobs that Play to ADHD Strengths

November 25th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

If you’re in the process of figuring out “what you want to be when you grow up” – whether you’re a student in school, or just considering a career change – check out the article 10 Best Jobs for Adults with ADHD posted on the Healthline website.

ADHD careersAs a caveat, having an ADHD diagnosis does not and should not discount you from any profession you may be interested in. That being said, there are certain types of jobs that seem to play to the strengths of an ADHD-style brain that are worth considering.

Need more help figuring out next steps for your career?

First of all, JVS Toronto, particularly their Learning Disabilities Centre, is a great resource for job search help and general support with all things job-related.

Also, not everybody knows this, but at Springboard Clinic we have some really great professionals who specialize in executive and workplace coaching, which can also include career planning. So if you’re interested in meeting for even a one-off session contact us at the clinic or here!

Emotions and Motivation with ADHD

November 21st, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

This past weekend, the Springboard Clinic team had the opportunity to travel to the CHADD Annual International Conference on ADHD in Chicago. We heard many fascinating speakers, but the highlight was hearing Dr. Thomas Brown – a Clinical Psychologist currently practicing in Connecticut – speak on the topic of emotions and motivation.

CHADDIn the context of ADHD, motivation can be particularly elusive: “I know what I need to do, I know how I need to do it, but I just can’t get myself to do it.”

According to Dr. Brown, what’s important in helping with motivation is to explore how you actually feel about doing it. Emotions are incredibly important in choosing priorities within our minds!

Psychological research has traditionally held cognitions and emotions in two separate categories; research however, is starting to see how intricately connected the two are. As Dr. Brown put it, “emotions are how we assess priority.” When we perceive something, our brain instantly searches for relevant unconscious thoughts – if there is an emotional significance, it will determine what we end up prioritizing within the brain.

So, what does this mean for motivation and ADHD?

Essentially, this means that we need to take the time to explore the emotional context surrounding our priorities and intentions; we need to explore our perceptions, beliefs…The gateway to purposeful decision making, to understanding that slippery concept of motivation, is in becoming more mindful about our emotions.

This concept is one that we focus on consistently in our work at Springboard Clinic – we’ve always focused on exploring emotional context as a necessary step in treatment, in addition to understanding symptoms in the context of our own lives. We were so happy to see that the newest research is continuing to back us up – it’s always awesome when we go to a conference and leave feeling even more empowered to do the work that we do!

Want to learn more about emotions and motivation? Check out Dr. Brown’s book Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD!

Springboard Clinic will be hosting another Parent Group starting in January!

November 18th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

Parenting ADHD children can often feel exhausting, overwhelming and confusing. It can feel challenging to find a second to take a deep breath, much less use a “strategy” or read a parenting book.

Springboard Clinic’s most recent Parent Group, which ran for four evenings in September, combined psycho-educational learning with real-life case studies. The goals were to work with parents to explore their child’s strengths, the root of their difficulties, as well as define their parenting role. Parents collaborated together sharing individual experiences, personalized strategies and went through an important team journey.

The impact of the sense of community within this group was palpable. We can’t emphasize enough how powerful it was to see parents share what they’ve been through, their worries,  their frustrations, and to see their sense of relief when they find out they’re not alone. This sense of universality is very freeing, particularly if a parent is feeling a sense of shame, stigma, or self-blame around their child’s difficulties – a byproduct we often see in ADHD families.

The video below is a great illustration of the concept of universality: in it, husband and wife duo Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman – publishers of parenting website Babble.com – discuss four taboos that parents are never supposed to admit to. These are common, totally normal things to feel as parents, but because nobody talks about it, you feel guilty for even thinking it. On the other end, it’s so freeing to know you’re not the only one – other people are in the same boat, so you’re going to be okay!

Our next Parent Group will be running on Thursday evenings starting in January. Spaces are filling up quickly, so if you’re interested, please give us a call or click here for more information.

March of the ADHD Penguins

November 14th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

We stumbled across the video below while exploring TotallyADD and thought it would be worth sharing. A parody of March of the Penguins (soothingly voiced by Morgan Freeman), March of the ADHD Penguins offers a tongue-in-cheek glimpse into the restless ADHD mind that tends to jump all over the place. Enjoy!

Professional Development with the Springboard Clinic Team!

November 11th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

physiciansAn important goal for our Springboard team is to help dispel myths as well as engage educators, physicians, parents and community members in an active dialogue about attention issues.

We tend to share a few key messages: 1. Attention issues are across the spectrum 2. In order to understand ADHD, it’s important you learn about how the brain works- and relate it to developmental stages 3. By learning the root of the issues, we can develop sustainable strategies 4. Moving forward with attention issues is a collaborative journey.

This past week has been a busy one: our team members have hit the road around the GTA, and are heading this week to Quebec, and then to present at CHADD in Chicago. We are excited to be spreading Springboard’s message of advocacy and empowerment! A few highlights: Dr. Gray offered two clinical workshops for physicians in the GTA, and has a jam-packed house for her Main Pro C Accredited workshop in Quebec City later this week.

We also had the opportunity to be welcomed as guests in two wonderful schools who chose to use their Professional Development days to learn about ADHD and focusing challenges. Dr. Gray, Anne Bailey and Tara Boulden offered a half day workshop at  Kingsway College School, a private independent elementary school in Etobicoke with students from pre-kindergarten to grade eight. Anne Bailey also travelled to Willowglen School, a Montessori school in Oakville for children aged 18 months to five years old.

If there’s one thing that we learned from all these experiences, its that educators and professionals are willing and eager to learn what they can about our evolving understanding of ADHD, focusing challenges, and learning difficulties. We were so privileged to be invited to come speak to these groups, and hope to continue meeting with others so we can collaborate on helping support those who need it! Dr. Gray, Dr. Mandeleew, Laura MacNiven and Anne Bailey head to Chicago for CHADD later this week and we look forward to an update about that!

Click here to read more about Springboard Clinic’s ADHD Presentations & Professional Development

Do you know of any groups who may be interested in a professional development opportunity? Let us know!

ADHD Students: Tips for Writing Essays

November 7th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

ADHD StudentsStudents with ADHD often have difficulty with written assignments for a number of  reasons. For one, an ADHD-style brain tends to have difficulty engaging in bigger tasks and projects that have less concrete steps – it can be challenging to break things down.

Secondly, individuals with ADHD often have difficulty organizing and sequencing their thoughts, which makes it challenging to get their ideas down on paper. Lastly, individuals with ADHD often have difficulty shifting gears if and when they get stuck – they can easily end up trying to fix a single sentence or paragraph for an inordinate amount of time, which ends up feeling incredibly frustrating.

So, knowing these things, how can you, a student with ADHD, approach your essays in a way that fits with your brain-style a little bit better?

First of all, before you start writing:

  • ADHD StudentsPick a topic that interests you. This might seem obvious, but topic choice is often underestimated as an important factor in keeping motivation and momentum going for essays. The more interested you are in the topic, the easier it is to stick it out!
  • Clarify exactly what is expected of you.  If the essay instructions are vague, go talk to your professor or TA stat! The more clear and specific the directions are, the easier it will be to get started.
  • Break things down. When you’re thinking about how to tackle your essay, take some time before writing to break down the sections into small, manageable chunks. If a step is “research,” that’s too vague – break that down into as many concrete steps as possible. A white board can be great for this!
  • Set limits on your research. Before you even start the research process, narrow down what you’re looking for into the most specific terms possible – if you leave it too open it will be too difficult to sift through all the information. Set a timer for every 20 minutes. Am I still on track? Am I working on the question I want to be?

During the writing process:

  • ADHD studentReconsider your approach. Do you try to make your essay look perfect on the first go, only to get stuck for what seems like hours on one sentence? Maybe now is a chance to try something new! One idea: Free writing. Sit down and just write. Don’t worry about structure or organization – just get it out of your head. You can go back to fix it later!
  • Leave the introduction to the end. Starting with the introduction is often an express pass to getting stuck before you’ve even started. By the time you’ve written the body of the essay your thoughts will be much more organized and the introduction will be a (relative) breeze! Same thing with transitions – worry about the meat first, and then you can go back and make it flow better later.
  • If you’re stuck, move forward. Take note of where you’re stuck and move on to something else. When you go back to it later you’ll have a much fresher perspective on what you’re trying to say – sometimes you just need a little bit of distance!
  • Consider speech-to-text software. If your ideas flow more smoothly when you’re speaking rather than writing, something like the Dragon Dictation app might help you get some momentum on your essay. Speak into the app and it’ll transcribe your words into writing. This is a great first step to get your ideas out of your head!

ADHD as a Difference in Cognition, not just a Disorder

November 4th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

It is always great when you stumble upon a video that shares an important advocacy message about ADHD. This video was shot in 2013 and resonates with Springboard Clinic’s treatment philosophy in multiple ways.  Stephen Tonti, then a student at Carnegie Mellon University,  describes his personal experience sharing that ADHD is not something to “get rid” of, but simply a form of “cognitive diversity.” We believe strongly that the importance of choosing the right environment, embracing your strengths and having the right support can make all the difference.

We believe that coaching/counseling support is integral to individuals learning to understand the way their brain works and helps develop the skills they need to function within their environments. As he suggests, finding the right environment(s) can be a huge factor in what type of treatment is needed!

Unfortunately, it sounds like he had a pretty negative experience with medication.  At Springboard Clinic, we know that medication can play a very pivotal role in treatment. We work to try to use low doses, and we never do medication-only treatment. From our perspective, though,  it’s important to share that there can be a safe and effective place for medication in an overall treatment plan, and that it can really “kick start change”.

What do you think about Stephen’s perspective on ADHD?

OT Strategies for ADHD: Calming Jars

October 31st, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

In honour of Occupational Therapy (OT) month this month, we asked our resident OT expert Meghan Badun for a fun activity for children with ADHD who may need help calming down during stressful situations. Using her expertise with sensory issues and keeping in mind how many individuals with attention issues do well with ‘hands on’ activities. She recommended working with your child to make a personalized Calming Jar.

Calming JarA calming jar is a great tool to help a child calm down during upsetting or overwhelming situations, help with falling asleep at night, or can be used as a visual fidget when trying to focus on directions or new information! It gives a child something to focus on while  he or she works on slowing down and taking a gentle pause from their experience.

Making a calming jar is a fun activity for kids of all ages and only takes 15 minutes or less. It can be done in a group to help work on social skills and collaborative play or one-on-one for special connection time.


Springboard Clinic Calming Jar Recipe


  • Small jar (plastic or glass though glass sometimes works better as there is less separation of the glitter within the jar due to static from the plastic walls)
  • Fine glitter
  • Glycerin (found in the first aid aisle at the drug store)
  • Hot water
  • Dish soap


  1. Add glitter to the jar – the more you add, the longer it will take to settle; let your child experiment with different colours and talk about what might happen if you add a little bit or a lot
  2. Pour some glycerin into the jar – you can use any amount you like, the more glycerin you add, the more slowly the glitter will settle on the bottom
  3. Fill the container with hot water almost to the top of the bottle
  4. Add 2 (+) drops of dish soap to the container – this helps the glycerin and water mix together and prevents clumping
  5. Put the lid on and shake it up
  6. Watch the glitter settle and time how long it takes – if you would like it to take longer for the glitter to settle, add a bit more glycerin (*it’s great to aim for the glitter to settle in 1-2 minutes)
  7. Crazy glue the lid in place once you have the proportions (and timing!) that you want
  8. Enjoy!

Think you have ADHD?

October 28th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

To wrap up ADHD Awareness Month this October, please watch the video below if you think you or a loved one has ADHD and needs support. Rick Green says it so well: “If you are suffering, it could be needless suffering”.

Not sure what the next step is? Check out I think I have ADHD – now what?

What we learned at CADDRA 2014: Treat the Impairment, not the Symptom

October 24th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

This past weekend, the 10th annual Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance (CADDRA) conference was held in Toronto – a conference intended for health professionals to learn about new developments in ADHD research, assessment, and treatment best practices.

Canadian ADD Resource Alliance Conference 2014The Springboard Clinic team had the opportunity to not only attend, but to present our own research (stay tuned for more information on that in the coming weeks!), and, as usual, we learned a great deal.

It was  also nice to confirm that Springboard Clinic’s model of care continues to be on the right track.

We’ve spoken about this before from past CADDRA conferences, how for example we know that multi-modal care is incredibly important. This year, a common theme was the importance of moving beyond just treating symptoms. Instead, clinicians need to focus on managing the impacts and impairments that arise from ADHD. Research has been finding that treatment that focuses on just ‘normalizing’ symptoms will often only lead to short-term changes. What leads to long-term, sustainable changes, are things like helping individuals build the tools to manage impairments, and building self-awareness.

Springboard will continue to embrace this in our philosophy and care moving forward. And if you would like to hear from the experts directly, we remind you that the CADDAC conference is coming up on November 1st and 2nd in Vancouver.

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