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ADHD and Relationships: The Dos and Don’t of Communicating with your ADHD Partner

February 27th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

ADHD and relationshipsIf you’re reading this and you’re the “non-ADHD” partner in a relationship impacted by ADHD, you might be familiar with a feeling we like to call “frustration.” Yes, ADHD is totally manageable and there are some amazing strengths that come with it, but the fact is, sometimes ADHD symptoms are not appropriately managed. Or, maybe they’re being “managed,” but in a way that isn’t really in line with your own expectations.

So, if you’re feeling a bit frustrated, here are some things to keep in mind as you try to figure out how to communicate your expectations to your ADHD partner:

DO: Remind yourself of the things you value in your partner. As a first step, move away from the negatives and look at the reasons why you appreciate and love your partner. No, this won’t fix everything. But, it can take a bit of the edge off when you remind yourself what they bring to the table.

DON’T: Assume you know your partner’s intentions. This is a dangerous road to go down – even if you know your partner well, you don’t really know for sure why they’re doing what they’re doing. Assuming the worst and not addressing an issue directly can quickly build up an unhealthy dose of resentment in a relationship!

DO: Consider the root of your partner’s difficulties. An ADHD-style brain is very different from a non-ADHD one. For that reason, the more you understand why it can be difficult for your partner to follow-through on seemingly simple tasks, the easier it will be to come from a more empathetic perspective (and come up with more creative solutions together!)

DON’T: Over-communicate or hover over your partner. Good intentioned or not, hovering, reminders, or follow-up comments can feel like “nagging” and can trigger negative emotions really quickly – nobody wins with this. If you and your partner are falling into this communication trap, maybe it’s time to brainstorm a new way of making sure you’re both being heard.

DO: Evaluate your expectations on what’s “good enough.” With or without ADHD, it’s inevitable that people will have different expectations for the same task. Yes, there will be some totally reasonable expectations that you don’t want to budge on. But, maybe there’s some wiggle room you didn’t consider.

DON’T: View your partner as the enemy. When things aren’t going well, it can be easy to fall into a trap where you see your partner as “against” you rather than on your team. But, whether it feels like it or not, your partner is not the enemy. It’s important to remember that it’s highly unlikely that your partner is doing things to intentionally make you upset or frustrated.

DO: Take the time to connect with your partner outside of your shared to-do list or daily responsibilities. Even if you have to steal the time from something else, it’s important to get back to the basics of your relationship and enjoy each other’s company. There was a reason why you got together in the first place – revisit that reason!

The idea with all this isn’t for you to “give in” or feel like you’re not being heard in the interest of keeping the peace at home. But, if something isn’t working for you, maybe it’s time to change tactics! You have the power to decide how you can help change the communication patterns and practice communicating in a different way. Changes don’t happen overnight but they do happen!

Need a third party to help negotiate the communication with your partner? It might be worth giving couples coaching a shot. Click here for more information about our services at Springboard Clinic, or contact us at info@springboardclinic.com or 416-901-3077

Interesting ways ADHD can impact your life

February 24th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic
Most of us are aware of the the “cardinal” symptoms of ADHD, like inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Many of us, however, aren’t as aware of how these and other ADHD symptoms can actually impact a person’s life. In fact, we often come across individuals with ADHD themselves who are surprised when we show them a potential connection between something going on in their life and ADHD.
Below are a couple of those connections – some of them you might be aware of, some of them might be surprising. Either way, we hope that they will be interesting tidbits that at least give you something to think about:
  • Trouble falling asleep (and staying asleep). A strength of an ADHD-style brain is how “Ferrari-like” it can be. This can translate into difficulty, however, when a racing mind makes it tough to fall asleep at night. Interestingly, we’ve also come across a lot of clients who fall asleep easily when they’re physically exhausted, but their mind seems to wake them up in the middle of the night.
  • Motivation for self-care tasks (like exercise). Getting started on something like exercise does not easily engage an ADHD-style brain. Despite motivation and/or interest in the grand scheme of things, it can be hard to remember in the moment how much you love doing it, or how good it feels afterwards. That first step can feel overwhelming. On top of that, ADHD individuals do well with a sense of urgency – something that isn’t necessarily there if you’re only accountable to yourself.
  • ADHD symptomsDoing “simple” things like sending emails. Something like sending an email or making a phone call can often feel too “big” or tedious to deal with in the moment – even if “intellectually” you know it isn’t a big deal and won’t necessarily take a long time. Frustratingly, an ADHD-style brain can get stuck on stuff that feels bigger than it actually is.
  • “Hyper-sensitivity” to emotions.  Many people with ADHD are highly empathetic and in-tune with the emotions of others, which can be a huge strength. This sensitivity can be so sharp, however, that it can be overwhelming at times. A random example? When watching something awkward on TV, many people with ADHD end up changing the channel because they feel that awkwardness so deeply.
  • Emotional “flooding”. Emotional regulation can be significantly impacted with ADHD. Because of that, individuals with ADHD are often easily “flooded” – they can seemingly go from 1 to 10 in 2 seconds flat. This can be tough to deal with in the moment, and often requires the person to step away from the situation briefly to stop themselves from drowning.
  • Trouble shifting gears. Having ADHD doesn’t mean that you can’t focus. As we talked about here, individuals with ADHD can often “hyper-focus” on tasks (e.g. become absorbed in them). This can be a strength and can lead to innovative outputs. On the other end, however, this can make it tough to pull out of what you’re doing and focus on a new task (like going to bed, starting a more “boring” task, or even remembering to eat lunch!).
This list was by-no-means comprehensive – it was just a little teaser to give you an idea of some of the ways symptoms of ADHD can impact a person. If you want to add to the list, let us know your own experiences and surprises in the comments below – we’d love to hear about it!

Problems only people with ADHD understand

February 20th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

For a lighter spin on how ADHD plays out in your day-to-day life, we recommend checking out the Buzzfeed article 25 Problems only People with ADHD Understand.

We find that the post helps put some humor into some otherwise frustrating symptoms. As a bonus, when you start recognizing even some of the items on the list, it can be a huge relief knowing you’re not the only one – other people understand your plight!

Be warned, there is a little bit of swearing peppered throughout the list. Nothing too inappropriate, but just be wary of your location when you open the link, and who you’re letting read it!

I think my child might have ADHD – now what?

February 17th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

If you think your child (or any loved one for that matter) might have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, better known as ADHD, it can be daunting. You may be thinking: What do I do now? How do I support my child? How can the school help?

Our own Tara Boulden recently addressed this issue on the Help! We’ve Got Kids website, a comprehensive online directory for parents and caregivers. Check out I think my child might have ADHD – now what? for some important things to know about ADHD in terms of identifying the disorder and responding to an ADHD diagnosis.

I think my child has ADHD

The battle between your present and future self

February 13th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

The TED talk below, presented by Daniel Goldstein, a behavioural economist, talks about a phenomenon those with an ADHD diagnosis will be particularly familiar with: The battle between your present and future self. The present self tends to think about the here-and-now – what’s right in front of you, the immediate gratification…The present self is strong, and well, in the present. The future self, on the other hand, is off somewhere in the future. It’s much less salient. It is weak.

Essentially, there tends to be an unequal battle between the present and the future self, and we need to figure out how to level the playing field. In this video, Goldstein presents his thoughts on changing people’s relationship to their future selves. We want to figure out ways to make our future selves more concrete and more salient. We’ve talked before about Emotions and Motivation with ADHD, and his argument seems to be in line with this thinking – making the future self stronger will inevitably play at our emotions, and thus impact our motivations.

Interesting stuff. Check it out!

Springboard Clinic’s “TED-style” talk was a success!

February 10th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

We’re thrilled to report that Springboard Clinic’s “TED-style” talk on February 5th, 2015 was a huge success (and a full house!)

In honour of our fifth anniversary, we held this event for anybody who was interested in learning more about ADHD, what we’ve learned as a clinic, and thoughts on future directions for research and treatment.

Each of our five amazing speakers gave talks based on their unique experiences and expertise as coaches, educators, researchers, and even individuals going through the journey of learning how to thrive with ADHD. We also had a chance to hear opening remarks from our own Dr. Gray, who has put her heart and soul into Springboard Clinic since opening our doors.

Here are some takeaways from each of the talks:

  1. Laura MacNiven, our Director of Health Education/Coaching, spoke about how individuals with attention issues can thrive by first and foremost understanding the way their brain works. She taught us that by gaining knowledge about the root of our difficulties, we can strategically focus on strengths, and ultimately find some version of peace.
  2. Noah Jonsson, our youngest speaker at 11-years-old, started off his talk by encouraging us to run on the spot for 30 seconds so we could focus better on what he wanted us to hear! Using personal anecdotes, Noah inspired us all to use exercise as a way to help manage focus and mental health challenges.
  3. Roberta Longpre, the Head of Student Support and Wellness at Branksome Hall, shared her thoughts on a new model of “wellness”- one that focuses on finding satisfaction, happiness, and well-being now, instead of focusing on wellness as a consequence of “working hard” and achieving success. She also reminded us of the importance of both sleep and play as part of our well-being, no matter what age!
  4. Barbara Csenge, the Director of the Learning Enrichment Centre at St. Michael’s College School, shared her innovative work in the area of concussion management. As part of her talk, she helped us understand the link between brain injury, attention issues, and well-being, and made us think even more about the importance of making healthy decisions in all aspects of life.
  5. Anne Bailey, a coach/therapist/assessment consultant at Springboard, helped simplify the complex field of neuroscience and neuroplasticity, and how it can impact opportunities for behavioural change. She also challenged us to “outsmart our brains” in three ways: 1) By building habits that can lead to changes in the brain. 2) By knowing what your brain usually does in situations (and changing the outcome). 3) By questioning what your brain tells you every once and awhile!

We’re going to be posting video of this evening in due time, so look out for it in the coming weeks! We look forward to continuing the dialogue of ADHD, innovation in the brain, while working to support individuals in our care.

When having ADHD feels like you’re living in your own Groundhog Day

February 6th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

groundhog day adhdIn case you missed it, Monday February 2nd was Groundhog Day; a day where it is a groundhog’s job – in Ontario, Wiarton Willie – to tell us whether we’re in for another six weeks of winter (spoiler: Mr. Willie predicted an early spring for us this year).

Now, this might speak to the generation of the current writer, but when I hear “groundhog day” I rarely think of this tradition. More often than not, my mind immediately goes to the classic movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray’s character finds himself reliving the same day over and over again (which happens to be Groundhog Day).

The concept behind this movie is one you may be familiar with if you have ADHD – it can often feel like you’re caught in an endless cycle of the same thing over and over again. If you have ADHD, when something doesn’t go according to expectations, or you don’t follow-through with a goal or intention, it’s a common phenomenon to to tell yourself “next time I will do things differently” or “I’m going to remember this for next time.” But, “next time” comes around, and you seemingly do the exact same thing – whether it’s starting a project at the last minute, forgetting to call your friend back, or saying something in the moment you totally regret. For many reasons, individuals with ADHD often have a tough time connecting really good intentions to action. Because of this, it can often feel like you’re reliving the same day over and over again, doomed to repeat the same “mistakes” day in and day out.

So, if you’re caught up in your own Groundhog Day, now is the time for a change. It’s not just about “knowing better” or “trying harder” – this does not always translate into something positive. It’s important to recognize that with ADHD, there are real reasons why things may be difficult for you that need to be explored.

There’s a quote floating around that’s often attributed to Albert Einstein (but the source actually seems to be unknown): “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” So, let’s break the cycle of insanity and do something different.

Not sure what that next step might be? Maybe coaching can help guide you. Click here for more information about treatment services at Springboard Clinic or contact us for more information (416-901-3077 or info@springboardclinic.com)

Search and You Will Find: Springboard Clinic’s ADHD Treatment Research Results

February 2nd, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

Springboard Clinic performed a research study this past year looking at ADHD treatment and what our clients have found most helpful in their journey. We surveyed 150 clients asking them “what is the most important part of your ADHD treatment?” We had a variety of questions: was it the medical and psychological services all under one roof? Or the fact that we are based with a philosophy of empowerment? Or was it that multiple of their family members were receiving care? What element of their treatment was most important to them?

The surprising/not-so-surprising results? The biggest indicator of successful treatment across all demographics was improving their self-understanding of ADHD. The most consistent message was that learning about what ADHD is, going through the process of what that means to the individual, and then facing the world with that new understanding, was the most important part of sustained treatment.

Click here to read more about the results in Laura MacNiven’s article “Search and You Will Find” posted on the TotallyADD blog.

To learn more about attention issues, the brain, hear success stories and our most pertinent learnings working in this area, attend Springboard Clinic’s TED-Style talk at the Central YMCA this Thursday (February 5th, 2015) – it’s not too late to register!

For more information, call 416 901 3077 or register online here

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5 Tips to help you Concentrate during Conversations

January 30th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

Individuals with ADHD often have difficulty concentrating during conversations, largely due to inconsistencies in their ability to filter out both internal and external distractions. The consequence of this is that it can lead to (unintentionally) tuning people out, or interrupting and jumping-in at inappropriate times, leading to that cringe-worthy moment where you sit back and wonder “why did I just do that?!”

ConversationSo, if you get pulled away from a conversation when you see something exciting happening across the room, or you get distracted when your friend tells you something that triggers a completely unrelated stream of consciousness, or when you suddenly think of something random and have to say it out loud RIGHT NOW, you may benefit from some ideas to help manage conversations a little bit more gracefully.

Here are 5 tips to help you better manage those social interactions and help you concentrate during conversations:

  1. Choose a strategic location. If you can, choose a place to socialize that has minimal distractions (e.g. a small, intimate restaurant vs. a large, chaotic sports bar). Taking it a step further, consider a “walking date.” We’ve talked before about the benefits of walking and talking in a work context, but many people with ADHD find it helpful in a social context as well!
  2. If choosing a location is not possible, be strategic about where you sit. If, for example, you know that you’ll get distracted by the TVs in a bar, position yourself so that you can’t see them. Or, make sure you’re away from the door, where you’re more likely to get distracted by the stream of people coming in.
  3. Put your phone away.
  4. Take energy breaks. If you’re losing focus, take a minute to stand up and walk around to re-energize your brain. Use the pretense of going to the washroom if you need an excuse – tell people you drank too much *water* and get up and move around!
  5. Be open and honest with others. When you zone out, people tend to appreciate when you’re honest about missing something vs. trying to pretend like you’re following. Similarly, they appreciate when you stop yourself and say “Oh, I’m sorry I interrupted you there.” Big picture, it can also be quite helpful to communicate your conversation “quirks” as a heads up to those who are important to you. This can be something as simple as “I have a tendency to interrupt people sometimes, I’m working on it, but I want you to know that it’s totally unintentional and doesn’t mean I don’t care.”

Testing for ADHD: Is it Bipolar Disorder or ADHD?

January 27th, 2015 by Springboard Clinic

Symptoms of ADHD can sometimes look like Bipolar Disorder – there is a huge overlap in symptoms, such as physical restlessness, distractibility, irritability, rapid or impulsive speech, and so on…and unfortunately, because of this, we’ve often seen individuals misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (often by professionals with little or no experience with ADHD) and vice-versa.

We’ve talked before about overlap in symptoms, such as with Is it Anxiety or ADHD? and Is it Depression or ADHD?, and each time we’ve gone back to the same conclusion – knowing that ADHD can look like a lot of different things, it is absolutely essential to seek out an experienced medical professional – someone who knows ADHD – for a comprehensive assessment. This is key to differentiating what’s what – is it ADHD, is it potentially something else…what’s the root of your difficulties?

A few things a professional needs to thoroughly explore to help differentiate between ADHD and Bipolar Disorder:

  • Age of onset. A comprehensive assessment needs to look closely at when the symptoms began occurring. For an ADHD diagnosis, age of onset is quite early (we need to see evidence for signs and symptoms before the age of 12), while the age of onset for Bipolar Disorder tends to be later in life (generally in an individual’s twenties).
  • Specific symptoms. Many of the symptoms that overlap between ADHD and Bipolar Disorder tend to be what we call “nonspecific symptoms,” or symptoms that can generalize to a number of different potential mental health concerns. To help differentiate what could be Bipolar Disorder, for example, a professional will need to look primarily at the “cardinal symptoms” of that diagnosis, such as elation, grandiosity, flights of ideas/racing thoughts, and so on.
  • Consistency of symptoms. ADHD symptoms tend to be fairly consistent and pervasive across different domains of an individual’s life. Bipolar symptoms on the other hand tend to be more episodic. So, a comprehensive assessment will need to look at the consistency of the symptoms.

So, if you think you or a loved one might have ADHD, but there is some question that Bipolar Disorder might be in the picture, a thorough ADHD assessment will help you start teasing out what is ADHD and what it is not. Once we either rule it in or rule it out, it can make things a lot more clear in terms of next steps.

Click here for more information about assessments at Springboard Clinic, or contact us at 416-901-3077 or info@springboardclinic.com.

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