Understanding ADHD

ADD/ADHD THOUGHTS 11/15/2018. Warning, this is long and thought stimulating. 😁👀❤️

I am getting to that point of finding my strengths instead of beating myself up for my “faults”. The negatives get more attention typically, because those are the things that bother other people most such as chronic lateness, distractibility, difficulty following through on tasks, daydreaming, etc. However in spite of those traits, I discover there are many people who treasure my strengths enough to overlook the weak areas. This has helped me so much in my process! For example, I am blessed with a boss at my part time work who treasures my strengths, enough to overlook things that would have gotten me fired (again) by most bosses (chronic lateness!).

At this point I would expect some family or friend to pop in and say “you just have to make it happen, you just need to set alarms earlier” etc.. You would laugh to see the system of repeating alarms I use to trip myself up and keep on some semblance of schedule. Not that they work often! And then there was the time I rushed late to another appointment only to discover I was a week early. Or recently, an hour early… wow! So I took pics of the lovely sunrise and went back to my usual 10 min late 😂🤪. Time and me do NOT have an understanding of each other. Mother called me her “Just a minute Kid” because I said that so often, and it meant anything from a second to an hour.

My dad was chronically late, so am I. Drove mom nuts at times 😂😂 I was daddy’s little girl, and she was hoping for a pinafore and curls kinda girl. Instead I got grease on my Sunday dress helping Dad check the oil about the time we were supposed to leave for church. We were both also super sensitive/empathic, and spent most all summers camping. I am sure Dad’s mind was more at peace out on the river fishing. Mine sure was. I suspect he also had ADHD or something similar. Some have suggested he was bi-polar, but my studies and experience lead me to think otherwise.

The ADHD was diagnosed maybe 3-4 years ago, as part of the breakdown I had. I also had strong PTSD, depression and anxiety. I now believe that the latter 3 diagnosis stem from the ADD. Since then I have had some great counseling and found some really good books on audible.

“The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer is not a book about ADD, but it certainly helped tremendously. I think this book should be required reading in schools!

The book “Driven to Distraction” by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D helped me to come to grips with what it is and that I certainly have it. So does the author!

“ADD-Friendly Ways to organize your life” by Judith Kolberg, Ph.D. Has been helpful.

My new favorite is “Focused Forward: Navigating the storms of Adult ADHD” by James M. Ochoa LPC. He narrates his own book, also has ADHD, and has a theory about the emotional distress it can cause. He calls it Emotional Distress Syndrome, or EDS. He has some great ideas, helpful tips like creating your emotionally safe place for when things get too stressful.

Another incredibly helpful therapy is EMDR.

“EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.” Find their website at emdr (dot) com, to learn more.

EMDR did amazing things for my brain! James M. Ochoa (book above) says this practice has been extremely helpful for the ADHD individuals.

Many of the worlds famous inventors, geniuses, musicians, artists etc have had (or do have) ADHD and/ or Autism (Asperger’s Syndrome)

Maybe it is time that the rest of humans who tend to be impatient and judgmental of those of us who are “different” try to educate themselves as well. Books like those above can give you a good insight into 5-10% of the population who have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADD (without the hyperactive component.. these are more often but not entirely women, they are the dreamers staring out the window, in their own world). They often have high intelligence, but have difficulty channeling their thoughts.

Many in this category slip thru the cracks in schools. Homework is not finished on time, or lost, and teachers give up since they have so many other kids to teach. With the correct meds, and genuinely helpful therapy, along more understanding and knowledge of the disorder among teachers, these students could possibly go on to bring about good things for the world.

I have long thought that basic life skills taught at an early age in school should include basic therapy such as cognitive behavior therapy. This would give students life skills for coping under stress. Also a better understanding of different brain processing types… what IS ADHD and Autism, for example. Perhaps children, with help, could learn more tolerance in this way.

Yes, I am a dreamer… but I am not the only one. Being a minority does not make us wrong by default. And yes, that song reference crept in there and became intentional 😁❤️.

Share your thoughts with me!

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It’s an Autism Thing – I’ll help you understand

This remarkable and extremely helpful book is written by an Autistic woman who also has Autistic children. I downloaded the sample from iBooks, and was totally impressed at the clear concise writing on the example of Christmas with Autistic children. For example, did you know that receiving presents wrapped up can be extremely stressful and cause panic? One suggestion was giving the presents in open topped bags, and possibly giving the person some private time to examine their present.

Another suggestion for any event when you have autistic guests; provide a quiet space separate from the party for dinner, where they can “retune” and calm themselves down if needed.

(heck, I am not autistic myself and I sometimes need a place to hide for a few minutes and chill out in a gathering)

(The iBook link is provided in this Book description from the publisher)

“It’s an Autism Thing – I’ll help you understand”
— Read on stass.worldsecuresystems.com/publications/whats-new/its-an-autism-thing-ill-help-you-understand

What is an Autistic Meltdown?

This woman presents an audio clip  giving a very factual description of what an #ActuallyAutistic meltdown can be like and what can cause them to occur

Last week I posted a very short video explaining what autistic meltdowns and shutdowns are in just over two minutes. Since posting I’ve had some questions so this week I took the time to answer a few reader questions in this audio clip.

via All About Autistic Meltdowns & Shutdowns (Audio Only) — Neurodivergent Rebel

More than Meets the Eye: the tip of the Autism Iceburg.

The study of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has brought to light there are many things I can relate to, and some that do not strike my internal bell. Although I do not have a diagnosis of ASD, I am also definitely Neurodivergent (ND) rather than Neurotypical (NT). [see end of post for definitions of these two words]. For years it has been obvious that I just don’t process things the same way as most people. I do have an Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) diagnosis and have been learning that the two (ASD & ADD or ADHD) are closely interrelated, possibly with the same roots. Someone described it as what appears to be two icebergs above the water, but they’re joined under the water into one. Perhaps then it’s not surprising I have been very intrigued by studying autism and finding the similarities and differences in myself.

One thing I’ve learned is that there is a worldwide autistic community that often writes eloquently as they describe autistic life from the inside. For example, on Twitter look up the hashtags

#ActuallyAutistic , #AskingAutistics , and #autistic .

These are just a few of the hashtags that can help you learn more. Many of these people are highly intelligent, incredibly brilliant, and capable. Some of them were considered low functioning and nonverbal when younger, but eventually grew out of that and became able to function in the world around them. Several diagnosed autistic people have become advocates and activists for better understanding of ASD. That functioning does take a lot of effort however. These people are giving us a new insight on autism that should be an inspiration for parents of autistic children as well as for newly diagnosed adults.

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On WordPress you can find Yinin’s Thoughts:

Aspergreatness- Liberty of Thinking:

 Neurodivergent Rebel

And “Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism” which actually has several contributing authors.

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Reading some of the blogs above, I was fascinated by a discussion on autistic actors in TV series and movies. Specifically mentioned by Yinin was “Gray’s Anatomy”.

I really wish they would start using actually autistic people in TV series and in movies. Or at least seriously consult with the artistic community. For example, in Gray’s Anatomy; Dr. Dixon, an autistic surgeon, makes an appearance in season 5. As i read in a blogpost by “Yinin’s Thoughts” :

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“So I was already starting lose the rose-coloured nostalgia glasses when Dr Dixon showed up. She’s every bad autistic stereotype rolled into one, and characters like this are a huge part of why it took so long for me to even self-diagnose, let alone consider an official diagnosis.” ~Yinin 🙏

https://yininsthoughts.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/greys-anatomy-autistic-headcanon/

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Yinin’s blogpost led me to

Lynne Soraya on Psychology Today:

1. “People with Asperger’s are individuals.   The profile of skills and deficits vary with each person’s personality and makeup. Some may effect the person only slightly, others very strongly – and the same diagnostic criteria may manifest is a completely different way in two different individuals.

2. “Adults are different than kids.  While Asperger’s is classed as a pervasive development disorder, meaning it doesn’t go away, that doesn’t mean it remains exactly the same throughout the lifespan.  We learn and adapt. An adult, the age of Dr. Dixon, in this type of occupation, would have had to develop coping mechanisms to deal with her symptoms.   She would have learned, at least to some degree, to put a veneer of “normalcy” over her more off-putting traits in order to get along in the world.

3. “Gender makes a big difference in how Asperger’s manifests.   As Newsweek magazine notes, “…some specialists predict that as we diagnose more girls, our profile of the disorder as a whole will change. Anecdotally, they report that girls with Asperger’s seem to have less motor impairment, a broader range of obsessive interests, and a stronger desire to connect with others, despite their social impairment.”  Further, girls with Asperger’s “…are more adept at copying the behaviors, mannerisms and dress codes of those around them, than Aspie boys tend to be.” Dr. Dixon does not reflect any of this.

4. “People with Asperger’s are as capable to have a brilliant career as anyone else.   The Asperger’s “islets of talent” can actually give certain gifts that may make that person better at the job than a person without Asperger’s (think engineers, scientists, computer programmers, musicians, artists).   Wouldn’t doctors know this?  Isn’t this why they’d be courting her in the first place?

~Lynne Soraya

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One thing that has confused me in diagnosing, is the theory that most people who are autistic, on the spectrum somewhere, are very resistant to (or uncomfortable with) touch and contact. However Dr. Dixon from Gray’s Anatomy above wants her coworkers to hug her to calm her down. And yet it was a hug from the parents of her patient that freaked her out. Somehow this doesn’t match up in my mind. I myself am a hugger extraordinaire. In fact I’ve had to teach myself that it’s not always appropriate to just hug people; that some people are not comfortable with that especially in a spontaneous way. It is just something I grew up with, I would hug and kiss everyone in the house before going to bed at night.

Many people have the idea that autistic people do not feel emotions or understand them. From everything I understand this is absolutely not true in most cases. Many ND people are actually hyper empathic, and are so overwhelmed by the emotions they don’t know how to sort them all out; which is why they might appear to freeze up on the outside.

I myself am hyper empathic, but I suspect sometimes I’m picking up things so far below the surface that the person is not even aware of that emotion or thinks they’re hiding it. With someone very close to me, and their words and attitude are opposite from the emotion I’m sensing, it creates within me a conflict that might lead to fight, flight, or freeze. The situation and their words are not making sense to me at that point.

It usually ends up with me melting down into cathartic sort of ball on the floor, in convulsions.

This cathartic reaction, ( is that even the right word?) This convulsive fetal position reaction, renders me inable to speak for a while. When someone speaks to me, maybe trying to get me to come out of it, I hear it but it doesn’t register. At this point I would usually be sobbing in an uncontrollable panic.

This generally takes a day or two to recover from, in terms of energy. It could be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before I can speak coherently. Since I started taking an antidepressant about three years ago, I’ve only had a handful of these episodes. I’m able to take a hard look at myself, my reactions and emotions, without falling into the abyss. On the other hand, I often feel somewhat numb at times when I’m used to being extremely emotionally sensitive. I seldom even cry anymore when uncontrollable sobbing used to be a common reaction. It was all worst during menopause, so much worse. That is when I started having a long slow break down. At the same time I was living with my sister and being a caregiver for her as well as trying to run a photography business. Needless to say my sister was the most important at that point, and so I gave up my business and went to a doctor for the first time about my mental emotional problems. Since then I have been blessed to regularly see a counselor, actually a series of counselors. One thing that has come out of all of this is the thought that these life skills for coping should be taught in elementary school as a standard, for all children whether Neurodivergent (ND)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity

Or Neurotypical (NT)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotypical

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All of this long post barely scratches the tip of the iceberg (whether the ASD iceberg or the ADHD tip). If you have family, friends, or acquaintances that are autistic (including Asperger’s syndrome), I encourage you to check out some of these links and learn more to help yourself better understand. If you wonder if maybe you are autistic, reading some of these blog posts and asking questions on Twitter are excellent ways to learn more.

Thank you to those who take time to actually read, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. If I am inaccurate in something I said, feel free to let me know.

~Darlisa