Please stop teaching the creativity out of students with ADHD

Linear thinking is not a friend of many people living with ADHD. They are circuitous thinkers who approach problem solving as an adventure versus a task.

Many teachers recognize this aptitude but are limited in their ability to support it’s growth as a matter of course. It’s because they’re mandated by the ivory tower administration to stick to linear approaches to learning.

It’s understandable these students come to believe creative thinking is a bother and a waste of time because it isn’t rewarded or encouraged.

My sons are very visually artistic (I am not). They draw and paint beautifully and I encourage them to do it for themselves. It stimulates that part of their spirit that loves to play, explore and make things that don’t require following a linear set of rules.

Our brains need creative outlets in order to stay engaged with the spontaneity and wonder of life. The opposite extreme is a numbness stemming from the boredom of a monotonous life.

Disruptive kids could be your best teachers as they’re often agitated by boredom. Finding out what will help them be more engaged can often improve the experience for everyone, including the teacher.

Yes I know some schools are working to change this and I give them credit and extend my utmost gratitude for them doing so.

May their example pave the way to a new normal, even if the path isn’t a straight one.

Earning the trust you want others to have in you

I’ll be giving a presentation to a group of teachers in another state this morning.

My goal is to equip them to work more effectively with their students struggling with ADHD and ASD.

While going through my morning routine I listened to a podcast that featured an audio clip from a presentation by Brene Brown. Her work has had a huge impact on mine.

The subject Brene discussed was trust, and how trust is formed in small moments where you felt seen and cared for by another person.

I want to add another important feature for building trust, consistency. When someone shows caring, respect or valuing you, it’s easier to trust that this person is who they show up as.

How’s the trust in your relationships?

Many years ago I sat in on an IEP meeting during which I tried to explain to staff that the young boy I was working with didn’t trust the teachers because of inconsistency in promises made versus promises kept.

His own case manager said, “Well people are inconsistent.” Needless to say things got worse at school and he was eventually sent to another school where thank goodness there was more consistency and he thrived.

It’s hard enough going through life with ADHD, or anything else that makes you have to work 10x harder for the same results.

But then to have to worry about whether you’ll be left hanging during your most vulnerable moments. That can be terrifying.

But to have someone in your life you can trust to be there when you need them, that can make the difference between giving up and staying at it.

Time to make ME time a larger priority

Do you regularly drive your car until the gas tank is empty then wonder why the heck it won’t go?

Then why do you do that with your body?

I’ve had this conversation twice this morning. Self-care MUST be made a priority and not treated as an afterthought.

I know it’s difficult when you’re up to your neck with obligations yet the fact remains that a burned out you is a pretty useless you.

For people with chronic pain or other energy sapping conditions self-care (e.g. rest, exercise, massage, etc) needs to be treated as equal to the importance of pain medication.

You know very well what happens when you skip your self-care and how many days it takes to get your groove back.

A sick body doesn’t have the resilience of an otherwise healthy one so you simply can’t slack off when it comes to taking care of yourself.

Don’t have the time to do all the self-care you’d like? Then start with something. Make it a regular habit then add a second thing.

This may require learning to say NO more often to create the time you need. I can help you if this is an issue for you.

Bottom line, take care of you as a priority because a car without gas is like a pizza without pineapple, it’s just no good.

I’m not differently abled

It isn’t healthy to go through life believing you only have strengths. You must acknowledge your areas of challenge as well. If you don’t, two things end up happening.

1. You avoid activities where you may need help.
2. You stick to activities within your skill set at the expense of learning something new.

We do a great disservice to those with challenges like ADHD and ASD when we use RAH RAH language like, “Autism isn’t a disability its a different ability.”

NEWSFLASH! It’s both, and that’s okay.

It isn’t an either or proposition when talking about disabilities. It’s an “and” conversation.

I have ADHD and Asperger’s, I have many strengths I attribute to these conditions AND there are aspects of both that are quite disabling, such as difficulty reading nonverbal cues.

You aren’t propping up the negative side of these conditions by acknowledging they exist. It isn’t automatically disempowering unless you believe the downside of disability shuts you out from life.

It doesn’t have to. In fact, the more intimately aware you are of your challenges the more precisely you can accommodate them.

Accommodate them so you have greater access to opportunities to use your strengths. That’s a more mindful and confident way to approach living with any kind of chronic challenge.

When the words for emotion elude those with ADHD

We refer to the collection of unique quirks and qualities in another human as their “personality.”

In our vast egocentrism as a species I can’t seem to find a word for the equivalent in pets.

Each of our 11 (yes 11) pets has a distinct way about them that differentiates them from others. Yet! The only word I have to describe it is their “personality”!

For one species to project its sense of identity upon another is so devaluing to the relationship. It misses a lot in favor of the world view of the person. Ya with me?

Now imagine someone with ADHD or ASD who is having an intense experience but doesn’t have the word to describe what they’re thinking or feeling.

If you can’t name it how can you describe it? How can you see it clearly, understand it or appreciate it?

If tears could only be described in reference to sadness because we lacked a word for happiness, so much of the human experience would be muddied and go unshared.

Our experience of life is shaped as much by the words we have as the words we don’t.

Thoughts?

How do you start to trust yourself again?

 
TRUST! Is the foundation of all relationships, yes?
 
But when you experience either a single or cumulative traumatic events in which trust is broken, you can struggle to find it again.
 
Though you may be focused on the actions of others as the reason it’s difficult for you to trust. The most important person you must learn to trust again is yourself.
 
Have you lost trust in your ability to judge who is safe and who isn’t?
 
Do you lack trust in your ability to keep yourself safe?
 
Whatever the reason it’s paramount that you begin with yourself.
 
The fact that you are still here, especially if the trauma was long ago says a great deal about you. It says there’s a part of you that knows it can get better.
 
If you didn’t believe that on some level you would’ve given up long ago.
 
If the trauma occurred due to years of being bullied, there are enough people to blame to fill a classroom.
 
Their role in the trauma is clear and forgiving them is an important step.
 
Forgiving yourself for what you “should’ve been” or what you “should’ve done” can be harder.
 
Unless, you show yourself a level of compassion that allows you to accept that at the moment(s) of trauma, you didn’t have the knowledge or skills to know what to do with what happened to you.
 
If you did, it wouldn’t have hurt you so deeply for so long.
 
What can you do now?
 
Allow the adult you to have a talk with the younger you.
 
The adult you can teach the younger you everything you know now about what the future holds for you. How you’ve managed to keep going, what you’ve been able to accomplish, the new people you’ve met.
 
All of the ways it’s gotten better.
 
It doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot of work to do.
 
But it’s hard to step into the unknown of healing hurt if you don’t trust in your ability to do the work, go the distance and emerge stronger and wiser on the other side.
 

Want to make the world better?

 
Want to make the world a better place?
 
The best way is to refine yourself.
 
Remove from your thinking the beliefs and habits that trip you up everytime you’re presented with an opportunity to move forward.
 
The forward path is the path of a leader.
 
Not a leader in that you will be required to live an extroverted existence and rally your following to your cause.
 
You’re a leader in that improving yourself requires you to discover and implement strategies for getting through the hard stuff that stops most people in their tracks.
 
Once you find your way through you unlock a noticeable confidence and resilience others will see in you simply by how you conduct yourself.
 
They will watch you, learn from you and find the courage in themselves in part because of you.
 
Imagine how many lives could be changed simply by doing the work of getting out of your own way.
 
Start by learning to manage your ADHD or anything else that could use a makeover. We got this, let’s get to it.

Bless and Release

 
“Bless and Release,” a phrase I learned from my client Becky Jane Stephenson.
 
It’s a mantra to help you achieve a level of forgiveness toward those who were merchants of hurt in your life.
 
I often swap childhood stories of being bullied with other adults who grew up during a time before ADHD even had a label let alone school supports.
 
Some still carry that pain. It can weight you down in ways you can’t imagine when you carry that “not good enough” feeling into adulthood.
 
You blind yourself to opportunities for new, valuable relationships, job opportunities and more, simply because you deem yourself unworthy.
 
“Bless and Release,” has the power of time travel.
 
Imagine yourself, as an adult, looking upon the person who bullied you.
 
Tell them the story of their behavior or words and the impact it’s had on you. The next line is key.
 
Tell them, “I accept the blessing of the lesson you gave me and I release the pain to make room for gratitude.”
 
How do you imagine your life would change if you did this for everyone you ever felt hurt by?

A diagnosis of ADHD doesn’t give you license to be stuck

A diagnosis is NOT a license to remain stuck in life. Especially in the area of mental health.

Many look to the deficit laden criteria of their diagnosis (e.g. ADHD) and use it as evidence they CAN’T do something.

This is a very disempowered way of viewing the diagnosis.

A more empowered way to see it is as a map of your skill gaps. Gaps that can be reduced in size with the right strategies.

A diagnosis shows you where your unique struggles are and where you need to focus your personal growth efforts.

You CAN increase your competence in areas where you now struggle. It may be harder than for most but so what?

Do the work because that process, that journey will provide opportunities beyond improving your abilities in say, focus, impulse control or organization.

You can also increase your capacity for self-compassion, patience, resilience and more.

You don’t get big biceps in a day, nor do you build the emotional muscle of resilience without walking the path to get you there.

Want to learn how to do this?

Swallowing pride is essential for you

Swallowing your pride is something you must be prepared to do if you’re committed to personal growth.

I spent most of yesterday at a hospital complex for a few medical tests.

​Use of my walker was required for the first test and thank goodness for that. The distance between appts was further than I anticipated.


​I felt how unsteady I was as I navigated the distance. A walk I likely couldn’t have made with a cane because of how much more difficult it is to balance.

​Why had I been resisting the walker? Others have remarked to me what an easier time I appeared to have walking with it.

​The villain was the negative conversation I had between my ears. “Walkers are for old people.”

​That limiting belief (among others) has held me back.

​Today, as I roamed the complex I saw plenty of people walking, using canes, wheelchairs etc.

​Including people who looked my age.

​It occurred to me in that moment that one reason I’ve resisted using the walker is because (in my mind), I couldn’t be invisible when I wanted to.

​I’m part introvert and largely want to be left alone in public. When I do stand out I want it on my terms. Sound familiar?

​Hard to do that with a walker.

​In the complex I felt like I fit in more, like people weren’t watching me and judging me because there were so many more like me.

​Right! Don’t care so much about what others think. I can do that, but only in the areas of my life I’ve made peace with.

​Still working on the disabilities that often move faster than the speed of acceptance.

​There’s a problem. I don’t want to live in a hospital complex. So how do I change my inner conversation to make me more at home with the walker?

​I remember the others my age I saw throughout the day. The ones refuting the limiting belief that walkers are for old people.

​The truth is, walkers are also for people like me. I can work with that.

How does this resonate with you? ​​