Attention Management not Time Management

For me, the Take-Home tip from this podcast – was the “Do Not Disturb” on your phone. Usually when writing, I leave my phone downstairs but today I didn’t by mistake – and I was tempted by the constant boings of push-notifications to read emails half way through. Damn, I then lost my thread.

Her idea to turn on the Do Not Disturb mode on the I-phone (if you swipe up from the bottom as if using the Torch, it is a “crescent moon” shape on the tool bar) is genius.

Continue reading “Attention Management not Time Management”

Caffeine: A User’s Guide to Getting Optimally Wired

images-1When Dr Ned Hallowell, the ADHD expert from America, came to the UK – I was surprised to learn that he controlled his own ADD symptoms with coffee rather than medication. Any ADHDer is likely to LOVE coffee, or have an on-off relationship with it, knowing that overly wired means that you just do stupid things faster. Here is a neuroscientist explaining how to use coffee to your best advantage….

Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world, but few use it to maximal advantage. Get optimally wired with these tips. Continue reading “Caffeine: A User’s Guide to Getting Optimally Wired”

CBD – a help for ADHD?

UnknownRecently I took part in a double-blind randomised controlled medical trial for a cannabis inhaler to help in controlling ADHD symptoms. At the end of the six-week trial, I was later told that I was on the placebo – which was no surprise as the mouth puffer had no effect whatsoever. While I wasn’t expecting to feel euphoria, I expected to feel something – and quickly sensed I was puffing a dud. However, the trial run out of the Maudsley clinic in London, was evidence of the growing interest in CBD – Cannabis oil or medical marijuana – typically the extract of the plant without the THC, the part that makes you high. Continue reading “CBD – a help for ADHD?”

Hurrah! A positive piece on ADHD and creativity…

attention-in-school

Thanks to Scott Barry Kaufman for this great positive piece on the power of creativity and ADHD here in the Scientific American. The Author Kaufman suggests that there is a link between a fast brain that allows  unfiltered messages to come through all the time, and unfettered imagination. Acting on impulse is not always bad – especially if you use those impulses to create something new. And working memory…pah, who needs it when it comes to artistic or scientific endeavour. Isn’t google our new working memory after all these days?

Continue reading “Hurrah! A positive piece on ADHD and creativity…”

Is ADHD a disease? And are novelty-seeking jobs really a cure?

From the NY Times article
From the NY Times article

When a piece like this comes out in the NY Times  it doesn’t always help the cause of seeing ADHD as a real issue, that people struggle with daily, and that those that are affected by it do deserve help. We don’t tell the short-sighted to try and manage without glasses, so why assume that the ADHDer has to settle down to difficult daily tasks without medication (or drugs, as the piece annoyingly calls them)?

First, is the author, a professor of Clinical Psychiatry Richard A. Friedman right to call it a disease? Not really. It confuses what it is, and it is already confusing enough – as disorders go. Disease is something one contracts, or that one gets over or rid of – like malaria or typhoid. Because ADHD is neurodevelopmental, ie the brain can develop and grow out of it, or at least many of the symptoms can be helped, it is better seen as a bundle of traits or a different brain wiring than a disease. You can’t give ADHD to anyone else after all, only your offspring because of the genetic link.

Secondly, are novelty-seeking jobs really a natural cure? Or small classes in school? Not really, not when inattention means that that adult or child will underachieve in any environment, unless some accommodation can be made to assist them to keep on task and pay attention – medication, coaching, teacher’s tricks. They aren’t going to learn or perform well in any environment, if they can’t stay focussed.

Finally – the jump in diagnoses does seem scary when you put it into percentages, but it is obvious really. Neuroscience is new science – a generation ago, people were just told to shape up,  mental health was seen as a shameful area of the medical profession, people were stuck in psychiatric institutions and the key was thrown away.

Given the genetic component of the condition, if a child has a positive diagnosis – it doesn’t take very long until one of the parents looks back at the difficulties in their life, and realises that they may have ADHD, too, ad that it’s just they were branded naughty, wrong, undisciplined, or are reading this in jail (expert Dr Ned Hallowell estimates that 20% of the US prison population have it – much of it undiagnosed). This then leads them to seek a diagnosis and medication (some of which is not apparently that different from caffeine – another Dr Ned observation) which then leads to what the author calls an “epidemic”.

Remember, in the UK, up until 2006, after the age of 18 it wasn’t even possible to get further medication for ADHD because it was deemed to have disappeared overnight, and adult ADHD did not even exist. Of course, if you take this as the base point, statistics and percentages are going to go off the Richter scale as people come forward to ask for help.

So, before suggesting that all ADHDers find a natural “cure” by following the path of our most famous UK ADHDer Sir Richard Branson, and become entrepreneurs ( hopefully without too much of the novelty-seeking risk taking associated with the condition, complete with pilots dying in test runs to space), let’s look at what the  new brain science is teaching us about this complex condition first. The more we learn about it, and the better we treat it and support those that have it (think of those unnecessarily locked up prisoners, who might have take a different course if not branded “wrong”, disobedient or dangerous at an early age) the better we might harness their human potential.

Only then will we have something approaching a natural “cure”.

 

 

Mastering ADHD for adults – Dr Hallowell’s Game-changing Workshop in London on 30 September

adhdcartoonAnyone who has been touched by ADHD considers US-based Dr Hallowell as something of a guru. And, on the eve of ADHD Awareness month, the Crossley Family managed to persuade him across the pond to talk to those affected by ADHD in the UK. An author of 20 books, a self-professed ADHDer himself, with dyslexia, and a father to two ADHD boys – Ned Hallowell also runs a psychiatry practice in New York, and advocates what he calls a “strength-based” or positive approach to the condition.

At 64, he has some 25 years of experience under his belt, he refuses to see the complex neurological “disorder” as a disability – instead insisting that if he had a choice to have ADHD or not have it, then he’d keep it. Despite dishing out scripts for medication Continue reading “Mastering ADHD for adults – Dr Hallowell’s Game-changing Workshop in London on 30 September”

ADD kids are hunters, the rest are farmers

Childrearing in traditional societies – a lesson for ADD parents

For a year since my 12 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD, I’ve been trying to get hold of the Hunter school in Massachussetts. Recommended by a friend in the States, it’s known for its alternative ways of schooling children with ADD, I have a hunch it might help me find some behavioural strategies that just aren’t available here in the UK. It’s so called, because it believes ADD kids are genetic throwbacks to a time when we were “hunters”, alert to all sounds in the jungle (have I lost you already?), as opposed to our so-called civilised society where we have become “farmers”, able to tend to our corner of the world by sitting still and waiting for the crops to grow. This link to a Radio 4 programme today looks at childrearing strategies in “Hunter” tribes in Papua New Guinea, as opposed to childrearing strategies in the Western world. The programme speaks to parents of ADHD children. Click the letter “C” in the title to listen to the clip.