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.