Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Novel, Now on Kindle

One of my novels, Yeller, is now available on Kindle. It's also available free to Amazon Prime members through the Amazon Lending Library.  Yeller tells the story of Ben Lawson, a boy who's voice can bring down buildings. Imprisoned at Dr. Miller's Academy for Heroes, he must build a team of allies and escape before he gets sucked into a mad scientist's plans for world domination.

It's about 45,000 words long, and best for ages 10-14. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Could ADHD be a Benefit in the New Economy?

On Saturday, Erika Andersen published an article about the death of the MBA in Forbes online. She outlined a few skills that she sees as important for entrepreneurs and business leaders and explained why a 150K MBA might not be the best way to get these skills.  As I read her list, I was surprised at how many of the skills seemed to overlap with some of the more positive ADHD traits.  With a little bit of discipline, the new economy may prove to be a great place for your child with ADHD to explore her talents.

Andersen describes a set of traits that make someone a “Master of Mastery,” that is a person who learns quickly and adapts to changing situations. While some of the traits come naturally to ADHD people, others can be learned with practice. According to Andersen, people with the whole group of traits will be unstoppable in the new economy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ADHD and Field Trips: 5 Tips for Teachers and other Adults

As an ADHD mom with a (mostly) ADHD brood, I’ve had a lot of experience with taking ADHD kids on field trips.  Since we homeschool, we do a lot of learning on the road at historical sites, nature areas, zoos, and museums.  

 Over the years, I’ve learned that a few tactics can make or break a field trip with an ADHD group. Teachers of ADHD children may find these especially helpful.  ADHD kids can really blossom and grow when you take them out into the field for a learning experience.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Parenting with ADHD: Avoiding Meltdowns on Outings

All kids meltdown from time to time, but it seems like my ADHD children melt down more often and more dramatically than normal children do. Over the years, I’ve developed a few tricks to prevent meltdowns and deal with disappointed kids when we’re out and about.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

5 Coping Strategies for Unmedicated ADHD Kids

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, ADHD medication does not improve academic performance over the long term. Since all of the popular ADHD drugs come with unpleasant side effects, this news may persuade some parents to hold off on the medications. It’s possible for a young child with ADHD to succeed in a classroom environment.  Here are some ADHD coping strategies that worked for me and my siblings, and that have worked for the children of close friends. (My children are currently home-schooled, so we face a different set of issues. But more on that in a different post.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? A Glimpse Inside the ADHD Mind and Life

The ADHD Brain

“What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anyway?” a friend asks. Her son has just received a diagnosis of ADHD from his doctor, and she’s struggling to understand what’s going on in his head. I pause for a moment before I answer her. Then I launch into an explanation of what’s going on in her kid’s head, channeling my elementary-school self.

I sit at my desk, jiggling my knees. I’m trying not to jiggle too much because the kids whose desks touch mine hate it when my desk starts shaking and their neatly lined up crayons start rolling off onto the floor. The teacher is reading aloud from the book, the same thing she made us read for homework last night. I already read that. Why does she want me to sit through a rerun? I start to rummage in my desk looking for a pencil or some paper or anything interesting, but she yells at me and tells me to keep my hand on the desk and stop moving so I try really, really hard to stay still but that one light in the corner is buzzing in a different tone than the others and out the window there’s a butterfly and I wonder if it’s the kind that migrates or not, and how do they know that butterflies migrate? Do they put tracking collars on them like polar bears? They’d have to be awfully small and you could use them to track bugs then, too. Maybe you could attach them to worms and put cameras on them and use them to find buried treasure or hidden ruins. Some kid in England found a golden Roman coin in his yard. I wish I lived in England. All I ever find are old nails and stuff. Well, I found that china cup once……When the teacher calls on me, I have no idea what’s happened in the last fifteen minutes of class, and when I ask about why china is called china, she gets mad and I miss recess again.

Monday, July 1, 2013

And.... It's Up!

The ADHD Guide to Literature: Antigone by Sophocles is now available in the Kindle Store! This is the first in a series aimed at people who find most study guides too boring to read.

If you've been sitting in class, trying to pay attention, and then suddenly realize you daydreamed the unit away, you need this book.

If you're teaching Antigone for the first time, and never really fell in love with the play, you need this book.

If your fiance's family discusses Greek literature and dinner and you want to be able to participate in the conversation, you need this book. And also a wedding date, because a guy like that is a keeper.

I'm currently at work on the ADHD Guide to the Odyssey, and will post updates on its progress at this blog.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I've Gone and Done It! Muhahahahaha...

I've just uploaded the first in my series of literature guides, The ADHD Guide to Antigone, to Kindle Direct Publishing.

We'll see how this goes. Next up? Homer's Odyssey. Soon, the world, or at least a tiny corner of the world, will be mine....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Maybe Adderall Would Help.

She's so impulsive! And she can't sit still!

I was watching The Sound of Music last night with some other homeschooling families, and I realized that, in today's world, Julie Andrew's character would probably be on medication.

Look at her behavior! She has no time sense, she's very impulsive, she daydreams constantly, she's always singing and moving, and she's fairly disorganized. She'd never last in a modern American school setting. 

Yet, if she had been on Adderall, she wouldn't have stuck out at the abbey. She'd never have met the von Trapp children or touched their lives.  And the same traits that made her such a disruption to the highly ordered and structured life of the abbey made her the ideal governess for a troop of depressed, lonely children.  Taking an impulsive picnic in the Alps is a bad thing when you're a postulant. It's an awesome idea when you're a governess.  And would someone on medication have made play clothes from drapes?

Are there other ADHD traits that we're medicating out of existence, but that really just need to find their proper home? The modern elementary school is as structured as Maria's Abbey, and most kids go on to daycare or activities.  But maybe that compulsive doodler just needs a chance to draw graphic novels, and the day dreamer who acts out her fantasies would excel if you stuck her on stage. The kid who takes everything apart? Maybe some engineering classes would help. And for the child who talks nonstop, an activity like debate might give her an outlet for her energies.

I know that some ADHD kids need medicine to function on any level, but for some kids, the answer might simply be to find a new environment, one where their disability becomes a super-power. Maria was a problem in the Abbey, but she was a Godsend in the von Trapp family.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quick Tips For ADHD #1: Don't Make Excuses

I can't help the mess! I'm ADHD!

One of the biggest problems with having an identifiable disorder is that it can tempt you to make excuses for your bad behavior. Missed an appointment or lost a paper? It's just ADHD. Threw a tantrum when you had low blood sugar? Well, ADHD really hurts your impulse control. Interrupted the Best Man's speech at your sister's wedding? Gotta love that quirky ADHD!

Using ADHD as an excuse for your mistakes is a 100% fool-proof way to ensure that ADHD ruins your life. ADHD may predispose us to certain behaviors, but everyone has some sort of urge or temptation that they fight on a daily basis. The key is to keep fighting, and to apologize when you screw up.

The key to improving is practice and supports.  My office used to look like the one above. It's still a mess, but I've used David Allen's book Getting Things Done to help me get the clutter down to more manageable and socially acceptable levels.  I have a problem remembering deadlines and appointments, so I let my iPod warn me multiple times about upcoming events. I know that low blood sugar can make me cranky, so I incorporate regular, high protein snacks into my day. And, I stop from doing impulsive things that hurt others by keeping up an internal monologue to reinforce good behavior.  A key element of that monologue is: It's NOT about ME. 

When, in spite of your coping mechanisms, you make a mistake, apologize. Don't bring ADHD into your apology. Keep it simple. "I'm sorry I did X. What can I do to make it better for you?" When you decide upon a course of reparation, do it immediately so that you don't forget.

ADHD doesn't have to ruin you life and your relationships, but using ADHD as an excuse will destroy everything you care about.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Interesting Post on Emotion and ADHD

There's an interesting article up on ADHD and emotion at ADDitude Magazine. I do think the author makes a mistake in his rant about 'people pleasers,' however.  In my experience, most children start out as 'people pleasers,' in the sense that they crave praise and melt down at criticism. However, the kids without ADHD seem to learn to handle criticism at a younger age. Meanwhile, a nine-year-old with ADHD still responds to criticism much as a five-year-old without it.

I just want you to be happy with me!

Friday, June 21, 2013

ADHD Combined Type or Plain Old Lazy?

Parents, teachers, and coworkers often mistake ADHD combined type for a lack of ambition or general laziness. ADHD combined type differs from what we traditionally consider laziness in several important ways, and it’s important for people with ADHD to understand that they are not lazy or failures, but reacting to very real brain differences.

My sixth grade teacher was sure that I was toying with her. I couldn’t do the 100 page color-by-number packet that she sent home, even though it was ‘fun’ work and should only take a few hours. I took a zero instead. Then a few weeks later, I turned around and finished an entire pre-algebra book that she’d given me for enrichment in a few days of non-stop math immersion. 

When she assigned a simple poster project, I put mine off until bedtime the night before and threw it together in 15 minutes without using a straightedge or bothering to make sure my letters were neat and uniform. Then, when we had to write poems on Ancient Egypt, I turned in two times the minimum number, lovingly crafted and revised, and went on to win a prestigious county-wide literary prize. 

 I was clearly lazy, obstinate, and refused to work up to my potential, except when I exceeded expectations. Obviously, I was out to make her crazy.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One of My Favorite Articles that Touches on ADHD

I'm a delicate flower!

One of my favorite articles about kids with ADHD is this classic from the Atlantic Monthly. The article talks about orchid children and dandelion children. Dandelion children can survive anywhere. You can beat them up, lock them in a closet, and feed them a non-stop diet of Twinkies and Coca-Cola, and they'll still come out OK.

Orchid kids, on the other hand, tend to wobble between the extremes. In a supportive environment that encourages their strengths and teaches them to overcome their weaknesses, these kids become innovators, artists, entrepreneurs, and just generally amazing.  On the other hand, if their early environment is too chaotic, they can become washed up losers.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ADHD in the News: Are Stimulants the Answer?

An article published in the Wall Street Journal asks if American doctors may be repeating a mistake they made in the late 1960s.  In the 50's and 60's, it was common for doctors to prescribe 'uppers,' or amphetamines to mothers after childbirth to 'keep them from feeling tired.'  In fact, when I introduced my Grandmother to the song "Mothers Little Helper" by the Rolling Stones, she told me that that was precisely her experience with doctors after childbirth. They gave the mothers 'pep pills,' the way some doctors today prescribe iron supplements.
Eventually, new regulations on amphetamines helped reduce demand for the drugs. Then, the ADHD crisis hit.  According to the authors, 20% of boys currenlty attending school will be diagnosed with, and medicated for, ADHD. In a sense, we're conducting a huge experiment on the effects of long-term amphetamine use on the male population. While some percentage of the boys may need medication, when prescriptions hit 1/5 of the population, we've probably crossed the line into medicating 'normal' rather than 'ill.'

Friday, June 14, 2013


Welcome to the ADHD Guide to Life and Literature. I've lived my whole life with ADHD, and have built a successful career as a freelance writer and educator. This site exists to introduce readers to my ADHD Literature Guides and to share useful research, tips, and advice about living with ADHD.

In addition to ruthlessly flogging my entertaining literature guides (because, lets face it, most study guides are harder to slog through than the books they claim to represent), this site will also feature articles on succeeding at academics and life with ADHD.

Expect upcoming articles on homeschooling with ADHD, overcoming procrastination, parenting your ADHD kids, and various updates on the latest ADHD research.  I hope that you'll find this site and my literature guides indispensable tools for living with ADHD.