Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Was Looking for a Job When I Found This One

Time was, when we were younger and had more energy, people who wanted a job would easily get one.

The key word here is wanted.

People who really wanted to work and make money could find jobs that paid anywhere from $1.25 to $3.00 per hour. I’m talking about most of my friends from college, but if a head of household made $10,000 per year, he or the occasional she, made a fantastic salary.

I even had a friend who got a job at a local bank in the evenings working for the new Master Card system. She made the enviable salary of $500.00 per month. To me, it seemed a fortune.

Scott never seemed to be without a job in those days, either, and he wasn’t afraid to work difficult hours such as third shift. If it paid his bills and gave him spending money, he was willing to work.
He tells of the years when he was a teen and worked at the neighborhood drive-in movie. One of his jobs was to pick up trash throughout the parking area: beer cans, candy wrappers, used diapers, and used condoms. Yes, it was work that suited his ADHD because he could move around a lot and get snacks from the snack bar.

It didn’t pay much, about $.75 per hour, but that salary and free cokes made up for the humiliation of trashing the condoms and dirty diapers.

In the early 1970’s we knew nothing about ADHD or disclosure or other Human Resource protections. A person applied for a job, seldom, if ever, negotiated salary or benefits, and worked at it until the employee or employer got tired of the relationship.

After working at a metal-treat company for a few months, Scott got a job at a local aircraft company two weeks before we married. It was an increase in pay and had good benefits. Two weeks really cut it close to our wedding, but that is how he did things in those days.

Actually I can’t guarantee that he wouldn’t do things the same way these days, if he could.
That first aircraft job proved a good fit for him; he worked in shipping and receiving from 3:30 pm to midnight. The hours gave him time for college courses during the day, where he took classes in whatever appealed to him such as French.

 His mother worried that his hours would put a strain on our young marriage, but we made it through that first year when he transferred to Parts Catalog and used his people skills obtaining parts for broken airplanes.

Again it fit his need for variety and flexibility, and allowed him to walk around his work area. But when the opportunity came for him to apply for a job in Technical Publications, he did so. He said, “This is an OK job, but now I need more. I was looking for a job when I found this one.” He got the Tech Pub job two weeks before our second child was born. He stayed there until retirement for the simple reason he had a family to support.

Again it often provided the fit he needed for ADHD.

You might ask, “So what can I learn from this?”
1. Persons with ADHD want to work. They are not lazy, but they may find it difficult to hold a job for long periods of time. They also are the same people with creativity and talents that benefit many companies.
2. Employment is a highly important goal for persons with ADHD, and jobs can provide the structure needed to progress in life. Work limitations provide needed boundaries.
3. A good fit might mean a variety of tasks the worker can flow back and forth between when bored. It can mean customer relations skills and a keen, quick ability to learn new tasks.
4. Persons with ADHD should always look for work that best fits their interests and ADHD needs. These will vary and be highly individualized.

I encourage the person with ADHD to look closely at his or her own strengths when choosing a job. Talents and successes form an inside-out relationship which can make employment a win-win accomplishment.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pineapple Pie and Getting Past the Past

It seems to be an adage in the field of psychology that we are a combination of all our yesterdays. At least I think that’s what my friends in that field say.
For me then, I am a combination of Aunt Margret’s way of organizing, Aunt Ruth’s humor, and Mother’s skill at cooking. Not that I cook, mind you, I merely remember her skill and her delight in cooking and baking for our family.
I thought of that this morning when I saw a recipe for Pineapple Pie. It’s one of my favorites, and the recipe calls for making a residue of stickiness when thickening the crushed pineapple for the crust.

Residue is what brings to mind the reason for this blog: residue as it pertains to hanging on to pain and other emotional negatives of the past.
For the person with ADHD, living with past regrets or getting stuck in a sense of past failures often becomes a constant source of sediment and way of thinking.
It’s hard for them to let go of it: I should have finished that degree; I should have been more sensitive to the other person’s feelings; I should have tried harder.
Persons with ADHD may be a combination of all those yesterdays when they felt like flawed failures. Persons with ADHD may not realize that people without ADHD often think similar thoughts.
OK, then, what is one thing you can do that will wash away some of the residue stickiness from your thoughts and memories? Which of these suggestions might you choose?
1. Make a positive goal for your tomorrows. Put your energy into making a new friend, taking a new class, or even plan toward a better job. It might take inner fight to move forward, but your friends will support your emotional efforts.
2. Discard the clutter in your life. It might be as literal as throwing away old papers, or cleaning a closet filled with ill-fitting clothes. This time of the year, you hear much about trashing and donating. Start in small areas such as your desk top or a drawer in the bathroom. Conquering that amount of space can boost your sense of energy and accomplishment. Take that energy to a new level. Think about how you can declutter your memories. Learn to let go, which in most cases is a matter of learning to forgive yourself or others.
3. Reframe. What do you think about yourself? If it is negative ( I’m unattractive, I’m not as smart, I always mess up), it’s time for you to  put a new frame around your mental picture. Remind yourself of what draws people to you. They like your smile or your creative wit. They like your tenderness or beautiful hair. You may not be smart in math or reading, but your intelligence shines in art or music. Howard Garner taught us years ago that it is not how smart we are; it is how we are smart. Think of what you learn when you make a mistake. Learn to say, “I’m glad that happened because now I know what not to do last time.” My friend Deb taught me that more than 20 years ago, and the wisdom has carried me through many situations.
Mainly, though, you can concentrate on the moment. Don’t judge your thoughts and feelings right now; merely be aware of them. Meditate on the goodness of God and what He has done for you today. Mindfulness and concentrating on the present is one of the most beneficial strategies you can use to lose the sticky residue of the past.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Night Home

“Do you want me to stay the night with you guys?” I asked one last time,

Thanksgiving Evening, we prepared to leave Anna and Ben’s house after a huge meal. Baby Amelia came home on her third day of being born, and we were overjoyed with the prospects of her addition to our family.

“No, we will be OK,” new momma Anna told me. “But I want her to sleep in the bassinet in our room. I’m not ready for her to be in her crib.”

New father Ben and Uncle Kyle assembled it with a certain amount of frustration, but they got it all prepared for the baby.

Anna cried as she lamented that she had not gotten certain preparations completed before the baby was born.

She blamed it on her ADHD way of thinking.

Then she cried that something might happen to the baby as they slept. I assured her that would not happen. I knew the pain from her C-section and fatigue were talking.

So when Anna phoned me crying loudly at 2:17 AM, I immediately asked if the baby was OK.

“Yes, she’s fine. She won’t stop crying. I’ve tried nursing her twice, but it doesn’t help. This is the worst night of my life.”

My own baby and her baby were learning to adjust amid the newness of being home without nurses and with the discomfort of Anna’s stitches.

“This was a stressful day, and she can feel your stress. Let’s get you both relaxed a bit. First of all, stop trying to nurse her. It might upset her stomach.

“Now go sit in that huge comfy rocker you bought for the nursery. Put her against your chest, skin-to-skin. Wrap both of you in blankets and begin rocking. Ask Ben to sit facing you in case you fall asleep. He can help protect both of you.”

In a few minutes Anna texted to say the baby was quiet and resting. Ben was reading from the Bible to them.

Within thirty minutes, Anna phoned again.

“He’s gotten to the part where King Herod had all the babies killed, “she wailed.

I covered the phone, so she wouldn’t hear me laugh. Poor new daddy. He was doing his best to comfort his girls.

“What is the purpose of having a child if there is all this trouble in the world?”

“That is not yours to answer,”  I reminded her. “It is God’s business. Your job is to get quiet and take care of Amelia.”

I didn’t hear from Anna until four hours later.

“She let us sleep 2 ½ hours since I last nursed her. It felt wonderful,” she gushed.

I quickly dressed and woke Grandfather Scott, so we could make the 30 minute-drive to their house.

Amelia and I spent the morning together while Anna got more sleep, and Ben went for her pain medication. He said his mother would spend the rest of the weekend with them.

“Thank heavens!” I said. I had to work the next day, and Grandma Barb is a nurse. I knew all would be better.

ADHD or not, being a new mother presents all type of challenges, especially the first night home alone as a family. I know they will successfully adjust, just as I know grandparents will support in any way feasible.

However, personally, I’m glad that first night is in the past.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Pregnant Daughter with ADHD

The months have flown by quickly. It seems just weeks ago when Anna phoned with the news she is pregnant with her first baby, our first grandchild. Now it is a matter of days until delivery.

I love the excitement on Anna’s face and the glow that seems to accompany pregnancy. I believe she and Ben will make terrific parents.

But in the meantime, Anna endures the state of being pregnant while still being a woman with ADHD.

Last week she walked through the door announcing that she was cranky and grumpy. Fatique? Too many things swirling through her mind?

Probably it’s because they painted the baby’s room yet another time. This makes three, and I hope she is satisfied with this color. I thought the other two were lovely, but the second had just a tinge too much lavender in it.

Who paints a baby’s room that color of purple?” she asked.

“You did,’’ I replied. “And it looks perfect for a little girl.”

No, I have to get this changed now. The doctor thinks she can come in two weeks instead of four. I have to get it done. This second color looks like purple slushie with cream thrown in it.”

“Just don’t paint it yourself,” I warned.

Her gallant husband said he wasn’t going to paint again, but he did. And she painted a bit while wearing a face mask.

What does the new color look like? Purple. With some of the edge off it.

But that’s only part of the ADHD issue, which of course is the procrastination. She should have been getting the room ready months earlier.

The entire thought of being a mother simply overwhelms Anna. Even though she longed for this child, endured two miscarriages, and vacillated back and forth as to whether they should try for another pregnancy, she worries.

Three weeks ago she was overwhelmed with the thought of washing all the new baby clothes.

Should I wash the blankets and burp cloths?”

“Well, they are going to be close to her sweet little mouth,” I gushed.

“Good, then that means I don’t have to worry about washing the socks.”

Mom, I wish she could stay inside,” Anna announced one evening. She meant that Amelia will be better off where she’s at.

“No you don’t, and no she won’t.”

“I’m afraid I won’t be a good mother,” she complained referring to her impulsiveness and temper.

Let’s set the record straight. ADHD behaviors do not mean a woman won’t be a good mother. Anna will be creative, funny, and a bit quirky. As well, I predict she will be highly sensitive to her daughter’s emotional needs.

Amelia will grow up where her mother is strict about being tidy because she has to work hard at it. She will make certain Amelia has spiritual values, educational opportunities, and much love. Ben will do the same, and he will help keep Anna on track with her impulsiveness.

It’s such an exciting time in our house, and I expect Ben’s mom and dad are equally excited. Being born into a loving family all the way around will be the greatest blessing for Amelia – even if her mommy gets overwhelmed and off-track much of the time.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

The IEP Meeting

My oldest daughter, Sarah, was in the third grade when the school counselor approached me about her academic giftedness.

Did I know she was academically gifted? Oh, come on. Of course I did. 

After all, as her mother I was the expert on my child. We always knew she was a quick and precocious learner.

I gave my permission for testing and other placement processes. I talked with the teacher of gifted students. I talked with the counselor again, a twenty-something woman who appeared to be twelve.

She informed me that they no-longer used the term gifted, talented, and creative, GTC.

I said that the change in terminology seemed fickle. She giggled and asked me my level of education, and cringed when she found out I was more educated and experienced that she. In spite of my normal uniform of jeans, flip-flops, and a flannel shirt, I was a mom in the know, so to speak.

The teacher of gifted students talked with me again about how much he looked forward to working with Sarah. It wouldn’t be all day. He would serve as a resource interventionist, and she would be assigned to his class for a select period of time each week.

Sarah wasn’t certain about the changes, but if meant privileges, she was all for it.
Of course with the changes came the obligatory annual IEP meeting, which was cool for Sarah because as the student, she was invited to it. The significance of that came when she was a middle-school student, and could meet with her teachers, me, and a school administrator. To make it even better, the purpose of the meeting was all about her.

One of those meetings took place when Sarah was in the 8th grade. In her own words, Sarah was a little snit throughout the entire conference because she totally disliked the IEP resource teacher, Mrs. Moore, who was also her English teacher.

I was never so embarrassed with her behavior in school. Mrs. Moore appeared gracious, honest, and interested in Sarah.

Possibly I was easily taken-in and naïve.

Sarah acted angry, rebellious, and totally tuned-out. It was obvious that she was not going to be polite or kind or even compliant.

Sarah thought Mrs. Moore was arrogant, two-faced, and Sarah hated her speech impediment. “Really, Mom, she lisps and spits all the time. It’s gross.”

Sarah also pointed out that for two years in a row, Mrs. Moore presented the same information. For bright and clever Sarah, it was torture to sit through it again. So, Sarah thought she could make it much more stimulating if she taught her friend sign language, so they could talk during class.

Mrs. Moore did not care for that solution at all. Imagine that. Mrs. Moore stopped the class and waited until Sarah realized that everyone was watching her. “She really got mad and made a comment. She was so mad, she was spitting faster than she could talk. I told her that we had learned it all the year before, and I was bored.”

On the infamous IEP day, Sarah completely turned her face away from Mrs. Moore, covered her head with her arm and ignored everything the teacher said to her. She would not move even when I asked. She would respond to me when I repeated the questions.

The meeting developed into what it should have been in the first place: a conversation between me and the teacher. I can’t recall much of the outcome; Sarah continued placement in programs for “gifted” students, and Mrs. Moore laughed embarrassingly throughout what must have been a horrible ordeal for her as well.

In case you wondered, she didn’t spit one time, although there was a slight lisp.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Who’s In Control Here?

It boils down to this: Roxie wants to be in charge. In any work situation she takes over: discussions, decisions, and directions. Do you know the type? It can be offensive, right?

Many of us know a person like her. We know the pushiness and the indignation associated with over-ambitious behaviors. They are powerful, and at times, a bit unrestrained.

To a certain degree, the unmanaged ADHD brain is a Roxie. It wants to have control and have its own way. It takes over the schedule you planned. It takes over your words and reactions with spur-of-the-moment and inappropriate comments that get you into trouble. It leads you to forget appointments, forget to pay bills, or forget to keep promises.

If you have ADHD, you know what I’m talking about.

As a person with ADHD you have to be on your best game to manage the free-spirited brain. Common endeavors can help increase the chemicals that help you control your brain. With lower levels of important neurotransmitters, the ADHD brain benefits from everyday activity that can help stimulate those neurotransmitters.

Among the activities you do each day such as sleeping well, eating well, and getting enough light, exercise is highly significant. Some may think of it as a vulgar word, but daily exercise proves to be a powerful tool for mental control and staying power.   It doesn’t need to be formal workouts at the gym, although these can do wonders for focus and clarity. It can be walking during lunch, doing simple arm exercises during a one-minute break at your desk, dancing when no one is watching, or moving through air to take a break from a current task.

Whichever way you exercise, it’s essential that you choose something you will do consistently. Instead of being controlled by your brain, you will find that you are the one who is in control.

For more information, watch Dr. Atha discuss this topic with Brett & Sierra here or check out our website today!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Manage the Unmanaged

A few years ago, one of my university students seemed never to stop talking. You might say she never shut up. She talked during my lectures. She begged for food. She blurted out obscenities when she got upset over an assignment.

“I can’t help it, Dr. McNay. I have ADHD.”

Boy, did she say that to the wrong person. ADHD is never an excuse for such behavior.

“They make medicines for things like that,” I said with a tinge of sarcasm in my voice.

The first time I met her, she came running into my classroom with a dollar bill in her hand.

“I smell the chili you brought for your class. I’m starving. Here, let my buy some,” she demanded as she thrust the money toward me.

I told her to come back in about 30 minutes after I served my own students. She huffed from the room, but she did come back and get a free bowl of chili.

The next time I met her she actually was my student. The first class meeting is etched in my mind. Every few seconds as I lectured I would sign the word no and say hush. She kept on talking to her classmate until I leaned over her desk and asked her to stop interrupting my “golden nuggets of information.” This time she got it.

Her mind and mouth often went where they wanted to go and stayed there.

I describe it as going 150 miles per hour in a 30 mile speed zone.  She was riding an uncontrolled motor bike as it sped toward the precipice of a cliff. Her ADHD brain took her on a true mental chase where she didn’t wish to go.

I won’t share the vulgarities she said when she got frustrated about writing a course paper for me. Instead, I will tell you that she and I had a long personal conversation about qualified mental health professionals in our community. I knew she needed help from someone who understood her free-spirited brain. After all, the ADHD brain is physically different from the more typical brain, which can often lead to impulsive comments and inappropriate behaviors. It’s a matter of lower levels of neurotransmitters that drive the electrical impulses in the brain. She sought professional help and began taking medication. It certainly made a world of difference for those of us who had to deal with her.

A large majority of persons with ADHD can improve the neurotransmitter imbalance with properly supervised medications. However, many people do not want to take medications, and for them I recommend four basics that pertain to all of us:
1. Sleep – develop and maintain health sleep hygiene
2. Eat – choose wisely from the recommended food groups and take in healthy snacks
3. Exercise -  or move through air consistently every day for about 30 minutes.
4. Sunlight – get into the light every day to help build serotonin levels

Many persons with ADHD find proper sleep, eating, exercise, and light mandatory for the energy, clarity, strength, and brain management they need throughout each day.  It’s a matter of letting their brains know who is truly in charge.

For more information on Controlling the ADHD Brain, check out this link.

Dr. Atha