Attention Deficit Disorder in the Laundromat

image via Flickr, David Goehring

image via Flickr, David Goehring

While the experience I’m about to share occurred 15 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Its message is as valid today as it was when I was blessed to have had my Laundromat experience.

As Divine Order would have it, I found myself in a laundromat two weeks ago. My plans were to run inside, quickly place my clothing in the washing machine, run to the grocery store, return to the laundromat, place my clothing in the dryer, swing by the hardware store, return to laundromat, and scurry home with my clean clothes in basket.

This, however, was not my destiny.

Rather, I spend two hours at the laundromat that night listening to a story — an all too-true story that I want to share. I hope that it will illustrate the painful truth of my reflections, the serious impact ADD has on the quality of life, and the tremendous need that we must all work to meet.

This is the story of the woman who proctors the events that occur in this laundromat. She watches the people. She cleans the washers. She wipes the tables. She sweeps the floor. And she talks…

 

She works at the laundromat part-time.

She’s been divorced twice.

Her 10-year-old son has a hard time in school.

He struggled for a long time–was held back a grade and was recently placed in the LD classroom.

He has a problem controlling his behavior.

She says she has a real hard time with him.

She says he is always getting in trouble.

He recently started a fire in the boy’s bathroom at school.

He’s been diagnosed as having ADD.

She’s on welfare.

She uses the medical assistance card for health care.

She has other children.

Her son’s father is an alcoholic— she’s certain he has ADD, too.

Her mom left home when she was very young.

Her dad was abusive.

She says that she doesn’t feel that she experienced a lot of love when she was growing up.

She says she’s depressed.

She sees a psychiatrist weekly.

She says she’s been diagnosed as being depressed as a result of a chemical imbalance.

She takes a new drug for her chemical imbalance.

She says that she really doesn’t believe her depression is because of a chemical imbalance.

She thinks she’s depressed because her life is a disaster.

She says her work at the laundromat is the only thing that keeps her going — gets her out and doing something.

But she worries about how bad things get at home when she’s not there.

She has no consistent childcare for her children.

She has seen many counselors.

She says her current psychiatrist wonders why her son does the things he does.

Over the years, she’s been given many different reasons for her son’s behavior: he just wants her attention, he’s emotionally disturbed, he’s reacting to her depression.

She doesn’t know what to think.

She makes sure every day, as her kids go off to school, to say “I love you very much” so that they’ll know no matter what, they’re loved.

She laughs and says she really thinks she has ADD, too.

She doesn’t know what to do about it.

Her son was recently in the psychiatric ward of a local hospital for six weeks.

She says he isn’t much different since coming home from the hospital.

The hospital bill was $38,000.

She didn’t have to pay for any of it.

She says that our tax money paid for all of it.

She’s grateful for that.

She doesn’t know how other people ever get any help.

She thinks that people on welfare get the best medical care in the country.

She says she has a friend who works in the welfare office; he can’t afford to get help for his daughter who has the same problems.

She says her son has been on Ritalin for a while.

When he was in the hospital there was in increase in his dose.

She doesn’t understand why.

She doesn’t really know what ADD is.

She doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her son.

She says she’s frightened for him.

Weekly, he sees a psychiatrist whom she says she met one time for 10 minutes.

She doesn’t know what the psychiatrist talks with him about.

He used to see a different psychiatrist.

She didn’t know what they talked about either.

She says she feels that she’s learned a lot about life from her experiences.

She’s at a loss for how to turn her life around.

Meanwhile, she says she’ll continue to do her best with what’s been offered.

 

At 8 o’clock, the laundromat closed, but I am sure her story goes on and on. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that this is just the story of a welfare mother in a laundromat.

If you have an open ear and an accepting attitude, I have learned that you can hear a similar story from your neighbor, your cousin, your hairdresser, you minister, your grocer, and even from your doctor.


What is your life story with ADD/ADHD?  We’re listening…

The Prognosis for ADD

image via Flickr, by Ginny

image via Flickr, by Ginny

What is the prognosis when ADD is treated appropriately?

The prognosis of ADD is highly variable depending upon a multiplicity of factors. The individual’s temperament. His language skills. His intelligence. His basic academic skills. The profile and severity of attention weakness. His physical characteristics. The integrity of his nervous system. The presence of illness. Stresses in his life. His attitudes and beliefs. His self esteem. His motivation. The expectations set for him. The profile of strengths, weaknesses, and temperamental characteristics of people in his life….

For each individual, the mix of these factors is a little bit different. And for any given individual, the mix is constantly changing. This is what makes ADD such a challenge.

When all these factors are taken into account and appropriate, comprehensive treatments are put into place, the prognosis for ADD is good but guarded.

That is, the ADD individual can be helped to function successfully academically and on the job; he can have meaningful social relationships; and he can function independently.

However, as long as he continues to take on life’s challenges, there is always the possibility that the problems associated with ADD will resurface. But this really is no different from what we all face in our own personal quest for self-development.


There is no magic pill or quick fix for Attention Deficit Disorder.  That’s why Dr. Liden has dedicated over 30 years of his life to diagnosing and treating the disorder, following his patients through many life stages and challenges, helping them achieve success and independence through it all.  His collected wisdom is shared here on the BWC blog and in a number of books.  He also serves as Senior Medical Director of The Being Well Center, which offers Long Distance Services and an affordable Accurate Diagnosis Determination.

The Greatest Challenge of Being an ADD Doctor

Dr. Craig Liden | The Being Well CenterThere are many things that clinicians, healthcare professionals, and educators can do to help the individual with ADD and his family to improve the quality of their lives. The satisfaction of participating in this process is unbelievable.

However, the biggest challenge of working with Attention Deficit Disorder is that it is so unpredictable. Just when we think that, together, we have made it over the hump–that now it’s licked–invariably (maybe it’s next week, maybe it’s next month, or maybe it is in a year or so) the bottom falls out again. A new expectation comes along and the road for the person with ADD gets bumpy again.

While we all can intellectually appreciate that ADD is a chronic, biologically-based difference that results in recurrent dysfunction, it is a whole different thing for professionals to accept this emotionally.

It is common for professionals to experience a sense of failure and feel disappointed when significant problems resurface in a patient after a sustained period of apparent normal functioning.

In addition to grappling with his own emotions, the clinician must face the challenge of supporting the ADD individual and his family in their coming to grips with the chronic nature of ADD. This can be particularly difficult when what everyone really wants is a simple, easy answer.

Finally, with the persistence of the problem, inevitably comes the guilt on the part of parents, teachers, and clinicians who think, “if only I had…”


Are you a doctor, clinician, educator or parent who has thought, “If only I had…”?  

Want the inside scoop and honest answers about other ADD topics?  Start here for some of our most popular posts, or go right ahead and buy a copy of Dr. Liden’s bestseller, Pay Attention!

 

Pick the best college for an ADD student

Are there particular colleges that are best for the ADD student?

While some colleges specialize in programming for students with learning disabilities and ADD, it is my experience that these schools are appropriate for some students with ADD but may not be best pick for others.

Similarly, some assume that a small private college is better for the ADD student than a large university.

Again, I have found that a small college may be ideal for some ADD students but a mistake for others.

image via Flickr, COD Newsroom

image via Flickr, COD Newsroom

My advice to families as they begin to identify the appropriate college choices for their child with ADD is to survey all that a school has to offer considering the fields of study, course availability, typical class size, campus size, student housing options, social climate, student diversity, distance from home, cost, availability of financial aid, and quality of support services.

Each individual with ADD is different. Each has a unique profile of strengths and weaknesses, temperamental traits, learning abilities, styles, and experiences, ability to function independently, and career interests.

In selecting the right college for the ADD student, we must carefully consider how our child’s unique characteristics match up with unique features of the school.


Looking for keys to making college a success for your student?  Call the Being Well Center today and enroll in Confidence@College!

Keys to Success at College for Students with ADD

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

Can individuals with ADD be successful in college?

Absolutely, many individuals with ADD are very successful in college.

For others, however, ADD significantly compromises the students’ ability to experience the same success. Not only do the expectations for academic performance, independent functioning, and social decision-making dramatically increase in college, this jump occurs far from home away from the support, structure, and monitoring of mom, dad, and the invested high school teacher.

At home, family routines and parents often structure and set limits for sleeping, eating, money management, and social activities.

When a student moves onto the college campus, he must organize his own time, establish and follow his own daily routine, be fully responsible for his basic daily needs, and negotiate the complex college social life involving roommates, parties, drinking, and sex.

Similarly, before college, parents advocate for their ADD child; away from home, the role of advocate transfers to the student. While the ADD child lives at home, most often, parents keep track of medication, call for prescriptions, and remember missed doses. These responsibilities are transferred to the ADD student the day he sets foot on campus.

All of these transferred responsibilities are tremendously challenging for the impulsive and distractible student with poor monitoring and a short attention span. These new roles and responsibilities can be insurmountable for the ADD student who also struggles with a basic awareness and acceptance of his differences.

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

While it can be extremely challenging, college provides the ADD individual with the opportunity to grow in ways he never can if he is living at home.

In my experience, the keys to success for the ADD student in college requires:

  • good self awareness acceptance of ADD
  • treatment compliance
  • a willingness to seek and use support services
  • a commitment to maintaining a healthy daily routine
  • a willingness to work harder than many other students
  • adequate academic skills
  • good study skills and work habits
  • the ability to function independently
  • efficient social skills, good problem-solving
  • and the motivation to succeed

Wow!


How are you or a college student in your life doing with the success checklist items?  Never be afraid to seek help–college success IS possible with the right tools!

 

ADD/ADHD Behavior Management Help for Parents and Teachers

image via Flickr, Rober Arévalo

image via Flickr, Rober Arévalo

How can parents, teachers, and childcare providers best manage behavior in children with ADD?

There is no simple technique that is effective in managing all children with ADD. Each child is unique and requires an individualized approach to promoting positive behavior change.

It begins with first really knowing who the child is and then setting realistic expectations.

When we discipline ourselves to do these two things, we minimize the likelihood that difficulties arise in the first place. Furthermore, when we reflect upon the child’s unique characteristics and set realistic expectations based upon these characteristics we equip ourselves with information essential to managing problems when they do occur:

STEP 1. Knowing who the child is

To understand the child’s unique pattern of individual characteristics, we must reflect on the answers to the following questions:

  • What are his strong and weak skills?
  • What are his attentional characteristics?
  • What are his physical abilities and limitations?
  • What stresses is he facing in his life?
  • What are his basic attitudes and beliefs?
  • How does he feel about himself?
  • Who are the significant people in his life?

STEP 2. Setting realistic expectations

Based upon the child’s unique pattern of individual characteristics, we must identify the appropriate expectations for academic achievement, social interaction, and independent functioning.

Encourage Independent Functioning

Only when these two steps have occurred can we effectively manage behavior, promote responsibility, and encourage independent functioning.

image via Flickr, Brad Flickinger

image via Flickr, Brad Flickinger

When problems emerge, we should take the actions described below (steps 3, 4, and 5) to ensure that individualized, effective management occurs.

These steps include determining the factors which are contributing to the problem, developing a plan which takes these factors into consideration, putting the plan into action, seeing what happens, and making changes in the plan as necessary:

 STEP 3. Determining the factors that are contributing to the problem behavior

To do this, we use our knowledge about the child’s unique characteristics to determine the following:

  • What specific expectation did the child fail to meet?
  • What characteristics of the child contributed to this failure/the problem?
  • What aspects of the child’s life circumstances contributed to the problem?

STEP 4. Developing a plan and putting it into action

In order to develop an action plan, we must reflect and act on the answers to the following questions:

  • Given who the child is and the factors contributing to the problem, does the expectation need to be modified? If yes, then how?
  • How is the expectation(s) best communicated to the child so that he understands it?
  • What can the child do, think, or say to increase the likelihood he will be successful in meeting the expectation?
  • What should happen if the child fails to meet the expectation; that is, should there be a consequence and what should it be?

STEP 5. Seeing what happens and making changes in the plan when necessary

image via Flickr, Simply CVR

image via Flickr, Simply CVR

We must reflect on the success of the plan; that is, we must determine whether or not the child is now behaving more appropriately. If he is not, we must identify what went wrong by answering the following questions and revising the action plan accordingly:

  • Were the expectations unrealistic?
  • Was the identified set of contributing factors inaccurate or incomplete?
  • Was the action plan–the method of communicating expectations, the structuring the environment, the child’s strategy, and the use of consequences–ineffective?

You’re not alone in struggling to identify and cope with the behavior challenges of ADD/ADHD!  Parenting and teaching children with Attention Deficit Disorder requires extra reserves of patience, reflection, and determination.  If you found hope in these questions, Dr. Liden provides more detailed guidance in his book, Accommodations for Success: A Guide and Workbook for Creating 504 Agreements and IEP’s for Children with ADD/ADHD.

Do We Need Special Classes for Kids with ADD?

image via Flickr, Jirka Matousek

image via Flickr, Jirka Matousek

The benefits of special classes or tutoring for kids with ADD…

All children, particularly those who are distractible, can benefit from the low teacher to student ratios that are characteristic of special classes and tutoring services.

Furthermore, some children with ADD require tutoring or special education services when their skill deficiencies in reading, spelling, writing, or math interfere with satisfactory academic progress.

…On the flip side, how special services can harm rather than help…

However, associated learning problems seen in children with ADD are often the result of inattention rather than basic skill deficits. When this is the case, academic performance improves as attentional weaknesses are appropriately treated.

Therefore, quickly jumping to tutoring or special education services when academic problems arise can temporarily cover-up the underlying attention problem.

When this band-aid approach is used, the problem inevitably resurfaces in a magnified form later.


Have you found special classes or tutoring have helped or hindered your child?

Looking for a comprehensive, action-oriented guide to navigating the confusing and often frustrating IEP or 504 Agreement process?  Dr. Liden’s Accommodation for Success is the answer you’ve been hoping to find!  Get a copy for yourself or a friend.  No better gift you can give than a guide to school success!