Money management can be particularly difficult when you have ADHD; menial tasks like filing taxes and paying bills on time can often feel like torture. Buying fun new toys becomes even more spontaneous (and creative). Sure, impulsivity can be a lot of fun, but it can also be tough on your partner and your pocket book.
In the wake of this holiday season, your finances might be looking a little rough for wear. If so, Money Management and ADHD: 7 Tips for Handling Family Finances is a great starting point for you. Originally posted in 2010, we highly recommend checking it out to help you get in the mindset to get a better handle on your money!
Are you feeling a bit stressed right now? Or maybe a lot?
If so, check out Stressed? Try these 3 quick and easy relaxation strategies. We posted this article around the same time last year, and because we thought the ideas were so important we wanted to help refresh your memory! As mentioned in the post, these strategies will help you manage stress in the moment, and the more you practice them, they may even help you prevent stress (or at least minimize its impact on your sanity!)
Springboard Clinic will be closed for our winter holiday from December 22nd to January 2nd. We’ll be back in full swing on January 5th, so be sure to book in some time now to come see us then!
While we’re away, look out for some “greatest hits” posted on our blog – we’re linking back to some of our old articles that we love and are still oh-so-relevant to you today. As a teaser, how about some tips to help manage this holiday season? Check out: Surviving the Winter Holidays with ADHD
As always, in our absence be sure to track your significant moments – the good, the bad, and everything in between. We’ll be more than ready to help you work through them in the new year!
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?'”
The story above is how the late David Foster Wallace, an American writer, opened his commencement speech at Kenyon College in May 2005. As he puts it, the point of the story is to illustrate how “the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.”
How does this relate to a commencement speech? The point that Wallace was trying to make was that it can be so easy to fall into a “natural default setting” when we’re living our lives – when faced with “petty frustrating crap” like getting stuck in a line at the grocery store, we often fall into the trap of thinking that the world is against us. This is where “the act of choosing comes in” – we have a choice in those situations of what to think and what to pay attention to. Maybe everybody else in that line is as bored and frustrated as you are. Considering other possibilities can be difficult some days, but “most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself the choice, you can choose to think differently.”
As Wallace, states, “this is the freedom of real education; you get to decide what has meaning and what doesn’t…the alternative is unconsciousness…”
“We have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: this is water, this is water.”
Early intervention in the context of ADHD and focusing challenges is pretty much what it sounds like – providing behavioural support and strategies early on in development (e.g. before the age of six), in anticipation of potential difficulties down the line.
We’re not talking about a diagnosis or label here – we’re just talking about helping families identify strengths and challenges in their children early, and taking steps to avoid potential secondary effects. We’ve talked before about early interventions with respect to assessments in our post At what age should I have an ADHD assessment for my child?, where we talked about psycho-educational testing for children as young as two-and-a-half.
What we’re talking about here is more than that. At Springboard Clinic, we’ve been putting more and more emphasis on early interventions with respect to the treatment side of things, such as working directly with parents, both in individual and group settings, and a type of “play therapy” called Watch, Wait, and Wonder.
Check out the video below, part of a documentary series Raising of America, that highlights the importance of early childhood education.
The more we understand about brain development, the more we will truly understand the importance of working with our children and investing in them early, rather than wait until problems pop up as they get older.
Many individuals with ADHD have a tough time falling asleep. Many of those very same people use screens at night before bed.
Now, some of those people may not be aware that there is a link between screens (especially the blue screens of TVs and computers) and reduced production of melatonin, a hormone which regulates sleep patterns. On the other hand, some of them *know* they shouldn’t be using screens before bed, but they stay glued to their TV or computer regardless.
Whatever category you might fall in, if you want to use screens at night without sacrificing sleep quality, let us introduce you to f.lux: An app for your computer that helps regulate your production of melatonin by automatically adjusting the colour temperature of your screen depending on the time of the day. As per the description: “f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again.” The benefit of this is that it mimics the daily light patterns that are *supposed* to be triggering sleep and wakefulness.
Check out a review of the f.lux app here.
Download f.lux here. *Available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, and iPad
Children and adults with ADHD often have difficulties with sleep – whether it’s falling asleep (and staying asleep) at night, getting to bed at a decent time, or waking up and getting up in the mornings.
Mornings are a particularly tough time for many of us, let alone those with ADHD – our morning selves are often a lot less motivated when that alarm goes off than we plan for the night before. On a day-to-day basis, we’re all bombarded with little tricks that our brain tries to play on us – a little voice in our head that tells us to do ultimately quite unhelpful things, like say, pressing snooze that fifth time. Some people liken this to the “devil” on our shoulder. In the context of ADHD, we often use the visual of an “ADHD bird” that chirps in our ear.
The thing is, even on a good day, that ADHD bird can take some real effort to fight back against. It can be quite loud and annoying. So, how easy do you think it will be to fight the bird if you’re half asleep in the morning? Not-so-easy as you can imagine.
Knowing this, whatever you do to try to get yourself up in the morning will ideally lessen the chance of that ADHD bird even getting their opinion in there in the first place. The second that voice shoves its way into your consciousness you’ll be ambushed with very reasonable sounding (at the time) arguments that are tough to deny. Yes, my bed is quite warm right now. Yes, I would like to keep sleeping, thank you.
So, what can you do? Check out these 5 tips to help you wake up and get up:
Be strategic with your alarm clock. If you tend to turn your alarm off/press snooze without even being fully conscious of doing so, try setting your alarm across the room so you have to get up to turn it off. Once you’re up, it’s a lot easier to convince yourself to stay up. Other strategic alarm clock ideas: Use multiple alarms, play around with annoying sounds vs. gentle wake-ups, use the “world’s most annoying app“
Take the work out of your mornings. Knowing that morning you will not be happy with a ton of prep-work when you wake up, do whatever you can to set yourself up the night before. Set your clothes out, make your lunch, take a shower – whatever you can to make getting up feel way less daunting.
Make a plan the night before. Take the guesswork out of your mornings by mapping out exactly what you’re going to do when you get up. This might mean writing out your morning routine, or making a plan for something specific to get up for (handy for those who don’t have somewhere specific to be in the mornings).
If you’re taking medication: Put your medication and a nice glass of water on your bedside table, and then set an extra alarm 30 minutes before you have to wake up. When the alarm goes off, take the medication and go back to sleep. By the time your real alarm goes off your medication will be in your system, which will help you feel a little bit more alert.
Get a good sleep the night before. Inevitably, getting a good sleep the night before will help you wake up a little bit easier in the morning. Check out some tips here and here to help you actually get to sleep in the first place.
Have you discovered any other strategies that help you wake up and get up in the mornings? Let us know!
If you think a student in your class has ADHD, it can be difficult to know what your role is in mentioning your concerns to parents.
Teachers and educators are privy to details about a student’s performance and behaviour on a near-daily basis. Because of this, its not uncommon to notice concerns that parents don’t even necessarily have on their radar at home. But, particularly since ADHD can be an emotionally charged subject for some families, how do you approach this?
For one, teachers cannot diagnose ADHD any more than they can diagnose a problem with eyesight; however, they can suspect a problem based on symptoms. Ideally, a teacher who suspects a child has ADHD would let the parents know that there are some concerns and provide some specific examples of how it is impacting their school work and/or peer interactions. Some other tips:
Maintain neutrality. When you’re giving examples, focus on observable behaviours, not emotional content or opinions, like how disruptive they’re being, or how they don’t seem to care about school.
Catch the student being good. Take note of specific examples when the student is doing something positive – the more we can focus on strengths as we’re reporting concerns, the better. Remember their symptoms aren’t their fault, and they are frustrated too!
Consider the parent’s perspective. Coming in to a meeting with their child’s teacher will be understandably anxiety-provoking. There’s also a possibility that one or both parents will have ADHD symptoms themselves, and they might not have the most positive memories of school growing up because of this. Sometimes it helps to have this perspective when going into meetings – it helps us empathize and approach the topic more tentatively.
If the parents then ask what to do next, you could suggest that they discuss the concerns with their child’s doctor. Remember mental health symptoms can happen for many reasons, so it’s important that support be put in place as soon as possible.
In the meantime, teachers could take the following steps to help their student:
Find optimal seating for the student. Place the student in the classroom for carpet time and seat work where they appear to attend best. For many children, that would be as close to the teacher as possible. For some, however, it may be at the very back of the class. Observe and adjust accordingly.
Encourage the student to take breaks. A quick trip to the water fountain can work wonders. All students, but particularly those with focusing challenges, benefit from bursts of physical activity. Support short exercise breaks, especially before subjects that require greater focus.
Support the students through transitions. Many children with ADHD have difficulty with transitions. A good place to start would be spending a few minutes at the start of each day to go over the schedule for the day. Let the child know a few minutes before a transition is about to take place.
When organizing group work, be sure to offer leadership opportunities. Choose children who will work well with the child and provide positive peer modelling. Students with ADHD are often great leaders and do well when they are challenged with an exciting and thought provoking project!
Most importantly, actively ask questions and listen to their answers. Trust the child to be an expert about him/herself. They often have a perfect solution, and just need the chance to figure it out and the safe space to explain it.
Being in a relationship with somebody with an ADHD diagnosis can come with many benefits – your partner may be funny, charming, empathetic…but there are times when it can be tough, particularly if your partner’s symptoms are not adequately managed. As Melissa Orlov, a leading expert on relationships and ADHD, puts it: “some days you just don’t have the energy to cope with your partner’s ADHD symptoms anymore.”
Remember: Just because your partner has ADHD, this does NOT mean that the relationship is doomed. Many of the frustrations and difficulties that come up in relationships where one or both partners have ADHD are symptomatic of patterns and behaviours that can be managed with adequate treatment – whether it’s individual or couples coaching, medication, or both.
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.
As 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?
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!