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  • Writer's pictureMelisa De Seguirant

Working with ADHD



Spotlight on the ADHD neurospicies this week! Recently diagnosed and at a loss as to where to begin? Supporting someone with ADHD? Read on!


Scroll for some basic concepts and strategies to get you started...


 


Ahhh the dreaded ADHD to-do lists! 


In truth, to-do lists can sometimes be useful, alleviating the brain from the task of tracking and remembering so many things. But what happens when that is the extent of their usefulness? 


Many people with ADHD get stuck in the listing process. Some engage in procrastination via listing whereby the very task of making to-do lists becomes the barrier to action. Some find their lists grow to an unmanageable size frustratingly quickly. Others get through the listing process somewhat successfully, but get tripped up once it comes time to prioritize their to-dos and take action. Many lose their lists altogether or simply can’t get started with making them. 


It can be very frustrating when the strategies we think “should” work for us do not.


REMEMBER ~ It’s OKAY (important, even) to be critical of the neurotypical strategies that don’t suit you!



Instead of (or perhaps in addition to) to-do lists, consider setting phone and/or calendar reminders. Having things marked down on a calendar begins to make them a bit more concrete, and introduces the time-limited/ time-sensitive component that can be critical to overcoming inertia and any ADHD-related time blindness. Automated reminders support our executive functioning while protecting us from the overwhelm of looking at a long list of chores.


If you simply can’t part with your to-do lists, figure out how to make them actually work for you. Maybe a daily list would make more sense than a general list of everything that needs to be done in every part of your life at a given moment. Or, try organizing your to-dos by type (ex: work-related, home-related, financial-related, etc.). It will also be useful to figure out your preferred method for prioritizing those to-dos … every item ought not to be “urgent” or the top priority.


If all of this feels overwhelming, pause for a breath. It’s OKAY to start small … new habits take time to develop!


 


Executive functioning is one of the areas people with ADHD struggle the most. But what is it? What are the executive functions? Let’s unpack!


In business, an executive is in a leadership position, responsible for overseeing and running the company. They may be tasked with creating a mission statement and constructing related goals, and charged with the responsibility for higher-level decision making, delegating tasks and disseminating information to other team members and maintaining the organizational structures/ procedures in the company as a whole.


In our brains, the executive functions are the higher-level cognitive skills that help our internal systems work effectively. Examples of executive functions are as follows:


  • Planning & Prioritizing

  • Flexible Thinking

  • Time Management

  • Self-Monitoring

  • Attention / Focus

  • Organization

  • Impulse Control

  • Task Initiation

  • Working Memory

  • Emotional Regulation


Hitting close to home? The good news is, these skills can be strengthened with specific intervention, and supported with external tools and systems. 


REFLECT~ Which of the above areas has been the toughest for you? What has helped?



 



Many people underestimate the emotional toll of a late diagnosis of neurodivergence. This can be experienced regardless of what the diagnosis is, but in keeping with this week’s theme we’ll explore specifically what can come up with a late diagnosis of ADHD.


Although diagnosis can sometimes offer relief, clarity and access to resources, it can also come with frustration and an intense wave of grief. Often, these feelings are tied to the realization about all of the years spent struggling without an accurate understanding as to why. This lack of context often leads to the internalization of negative self-beliefs such as, “I’m just lazy”, or “I’m not good enough”. Even after diagnosis, there can be shame and resistance to accepting one’s limits and needs linked to ADHD. 


For some, diagnosis comes with confusion … “But I did great in school, and I’m pretty organized!”. Sometimes the structure of a school or working environment supports executive functioning in a way that covers for any weaknesses in those areas. People with this experience may witness a breakdown in their functioning when removed from those structures.


Others who were able to successfully accommodate themselves and compensate for their weaknesses over time, may experience burnout and skill-regression as adults. It takes a tremendous amount of effort for people with ADHD to “keep up” with a neurotypical standard, and as such it is natural that at some point burnout ensues.


If you are currently navigating these experiences, just know that it is completely natural, and you are not alone. In addition to whatever coaching you may engage with to strengthen your skills, it may be beneficial to seek out therapy or support groups, to give you a space to grieve in community and work through all of the emotions bubbling up.


Thoughts? Ideas? What has been YOUR experience with ADHD? 


💡 Let’s share ideas!


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