"My son was finally diagnosed with combined-type ADHD and learning disabilities when he was 7. He was assessed to be reading at an early kindergarten level when he was halfway through grade 2. With his diagnosis, medications, therapies and supports he is now caught up to grade-level at the end of grade 3.
In kindergarten and grade 1, my sweet boy was criticized and punished for being too disruptive. He was often isolated from his classmates and kept inside at recess. It was heartbreaking for both of us. Children with ADHD can be successful, but they need help to get there. My child never wanted to be bad or uncooperative… but he didn’t have the supports he needed to meet his needs.
His grade 2 teacher helped him get set up for support in the classroom and she helped me with her kindness by telling me he was working so hard to try and overcome his challenges in a setting that wasn’t designed for him. It is sad to know that many children probably struggle through school unnecessarily, because they don’t get the help they need. ADHD isn’t about being a bad child or a bad parent, it’s about accessing the right support and understanding for a growing brain that works differently!"
- Ouradhdlife, New Brunswick
"The collateral damage caused by ADHD knows no bounds. When I was diagnosed at 38, I began to understand the effect ADHD had on every aspect of my life: professional, personal, financial, etc. I wasn't just the guy who couldn't focus or sit still. I was deeply wounded. There was nothing it did not touch!"
- Craig, Newfoundland and Labrador
ADHD and autism both interfere with social skills, so it can take much longer for us to gain experience with our peers and potential romantic and sexual partners than it does for neurotypicals.
This experience however is often vital for us to properly understand our sexuality. For this reason, I feel there is a trend for many of us to not realize who and what we are until much later in life, and to go through a lot of unpleasantness on the way before learning to understand ourselves."
- Paul, Alberta
#PrideEdition #PrideMonth #ADHDSpeaks
I am a secondary teacher who has always worked with students in alternative programs and special education. Over the years, a large percentage of the students I worked with had a diagnosis of AD(H)D. I have always had an affinity for these students and could identify with their strengths and struggles. Deep down, I had always suspected that we had a lot in common. It wasn't until my fifties, and loss of my ability to utilize my memory as my calendar and watch did I finally understand why. In reaching out for help to adapt to the loss of my predominant organizational strategy, I received a formal diagnosis of ADD.
You don't know what you don't know until you know… this statement highlights how insight can recontextualize lived experiences. When you are neurodiverse, understanding that a life of ease and far less overwhelm can occur by implementing a few externalized strategies is beyond your grasp. This is why a diagnosis can be life-changing, as it provides a lens through which one can finally see and understand how AD(H)D impacts being in the world.
In becoming acquainted with how ADD shows up, I was stunned by the many ways my daily functioning differs from a neurotypical approach to everyday living. Keep in mind our world is constructed through a neurotypical lens requiring a sure way to organize and interact. So when you struggle to meet the unspoken standards, you unconsciously internalize negative messaging that can considerably impact your self-concept. I have felt inadequate in my ability to keep up and complete tasks in an organized, timely fashion. My messy, responsive way of life has always left me feeling chaotic and a little out of control. I now understand why.
BIG PICTURE THINKING
I can usually see the big picture, the connections and tasks that need to be completed to make something happen. This capability has its advantages in program development, project management, event planning or situational problem-solving. Starting at the end and working backward, filling in the details as you go can often lead to unique and positive outcomes. There is beauty in this engagement, leading to hours of focus and creativity. But big picture thinking can have drawbacks when there are many tasks, assignments and projects to complete within a short timeline. I see everything swimming in my mind's eye all at once, beckoning, requiring a response and a course of action. This leads to overwhelming and difficulty prioritizing tasks.
I believe my orientation towards big picture thinking is partly due to the time blindness experienced when you have AD(H)D. I had never used a calendar or datebook to keep my appointments and meetings straight. I used to memorize every scheduled appointment that was to take place and hoped I would not forget. Did this mean double booking, canceling and rescheduling --you bet. Could this be overwhelming? YES!!!! But, I did not know any other way. I have always been busy in chaos, meeting each task or commitment when the moment to take action arose. This has always been my version of organization and how I approached each day. I remember hearing that living a life with AD(H)D is living each day as a novelty. No two days are ever the same, no structure, no actual routine, except one that is imposed upon you. I would have to say that this has been my lived experience.
As an engaged teaching professional, educational coach and consultant, I have always worked hard to accomplish what is asked. I also take on additional projects that are important to the quality of my work and the students I have the privilege to work with. As someone with ADD, this impulse to engage and commit creates internal complexity, competing priorities, and pressure to meet additional timelines and complete an ever-growing to-do list.
I can now see why entrepreneurship or a career as a first responder are good choices for the AD(H) D brain. To compensate like most people with AD(H)D, I have spent time cultivating an ability to respond to the most urgent daily needs. This capability to effectively react to situations requiring immediate attention creates the impression that I am capable of handling the demands in my world. But I will confess that overwhelm can be an insistent companion, as priorities have a tendency to shift like sand as new information and ideas come flooding in unencumbered. It is easy to get lost in a mind full of all that needs tending but not quickly scheduled with adequate confidence. A constant influx of information, new opportunities and pressing tasks can distract one from the enjoyment of simply being.
In understanding the impact of AD(H)D, it would seem that big picture thinking coupled with time blindness is an expansive condition, stretching the content beyond the limits one can comfortably hold within. When immersed in the details, it can lead to overwhelm and an inability to move forward with any productive task or self-care capability.
The management of AD(H)D requires the intentional development of conscious awareness to impact and maximize daily functioning. My AD(H)D world is full of exciting possibilities but requires daily organization through externalized strategies and structures to truly take shape and manifest fully in a stress-free, healthy way. In understanding what supports are needed, my life can now unfold where chaos and order intersect, creating a life in balance.
Understanding the impact of AD(H)D is worth pursuing because it offers the development of self-compassion., self-acceptance and true authenticity. Developing the processes and supports one needs to thrive and achieve true potential is a gift. I am now a dedicated professional educational consultant and coach helping others seek understanding. As someone with lived experience and I must say each encounter with a new client is like looking in the mirror, a positive reflection of someone who desires to show up in their world.
I’m having a virtual parent-teacher interview and am scribbling random, almost illegible notes on a post-it about ways in which I can support my daughter- who is learning across the board a grade to two below her age -it's completely daunting. Internally, I am going back and berating myself for not forcing letters and numbers on her earlier, and making more diligent routines and schedules. She never cared for sitting down or would heavily protest or shut down when I would impose some of my own “fun learning ideas” into her dramatic play. At times I’d even make up diﬀerent voices for each letter because that seemed to catch her attention, but it never fully evolved into wanting to learn more. She loved being read to and only ever sat still for books so I just pushed my worry to the side and said, “she’ll learn it all in kindergarten”. Just give her autonomy and freedom and pick your battles, there are enough struggles to choose from here.
Perhaps like me your child was a high needs baby, then a high needs toddler? Never leaving your side, having huge emotional experiences beyond what appeared typical and basically running you ragged with their energetic output that was boundless, no matter how little they slept! And they were oblivious to how little sleep you got. Other mothers would be sitting gabbing joyfully, enjoying each other company on a patio with babies contentedly sleeping in strollers while I made my third lap down the shaded street carrying my baby, because she wouldn’t do a stroller and only napped, albeit brieﬂy, after being walked for hours or rocked almost violently. I loathed them.
Now in grade two things have evolved slightly. I would still call her a relentless force but fortunately, at school, she is seen as happy and most adaptable. She is working really hard to keep up and does quite well at emotional regulation in her day. But learning is a huge, huge challenge for her like it is for about 30-50% of ADHD kids who also have dyslexia, dyscalculia, or other learning diﬀerences on top of ADHD. “It’s like numbers are mysterious to Esme”, says her teacher. Even when counting 5 on her ﬁngers, to know what “5” actually means would be like going to the moon on a pogo stick. I end our third teacher conference completely triggered, ﬁghting back tears, feeling like an utter failure in life, and wanting to crumple up into a lint ball and be buried under the couch with some chocolate. My partner has a diﬀerent experience. She is feeling somewhat optimistic! She reﬂects on some of the more positive comments while I seem to be dwelling in the areas where she is so far behind and then projecting that into her future life as if nothing could change. Like
how will she ever “succeed" in life? How will she budget time, money, resources? How will she ﬁgure out x, y, z?! I am spiraling into the future black hole of worry that gets you deep dark real fast.
Luckily, I have some tools and time for self-reﬂection and pause for a moment to understand how much I am also entwined in this conversation from the place of my inner child. Though I didn’t have the same learning challenges of dyslexia and dyscalculia on top of ADHD like my daughter, I did have trouble at school with executive functioning issues. Like so many women, my ADHD went undiagnosed, until my daughter was assessed. So therefore in school I was just the extremely verbal girl who could take over the room with her energy and ideas and complained (loudly) when we were learning things that did not interest me or seemed completely irrelevant. And like many girls my presentation became more inattentive over time which translates to ignored in the school system. I was withdrawn in class at times, forgetful, with scattered notes everywhere or staring out the window dreaming up other places I would rather be. I was the girl who was told I was so bright but never lived up to my potential because I didn’t apply myself. Those “helpful” comments always made me fume. Please, if your teenage daughter comes home with comments like this on a report card investigate an ADHD diagnosis!
When dealing with my daughter I asses that my investment in her wellbeing and education comes from a deeper place than her loving, concerned parent- it comes from the internal place of me desperately wanting to re-parent myself and be recognized for some of the challenges I had. I want to go back in time and be seen and understood so that I could slough oﬀ some of this residual shame and self-criticism; feelings of doubt and not-enoughness I’ve been carrying. I didn’t want her to wonder in silence, what is going on with me? Why don’t I just “get it” like the others seem to? Much of this journey is about some of our parallel experiences as girls, now as women and mothers with recognition of our own ADHD, parenting little versions of ourselves. The key is I am her parent, aware of who she is and her struggles early on. She has me and her other mother advocating for her, researching and investigating all the ways in which we can support her from a place of knowledge, self-empowerment, and strength. We see her and know the challenges that will come up for her in a school environment. We know that ADHD is something she will be dealing with in many facets of her life for the rest of her life. We can intercept uninformed comments about her potential and her abilities from a united and informed front. This early acknowledgement is a key ingredient I never had that will inevitably shift my daughters' self-concept and experiences navigating systems.
I trust that osmosis it will also transform me and bring healing through the lines of time, with compassion, reweaving my past self through this lens of ADHD awareness. For now, I laugh myself up from my crumpled heap and go outside into nature to allow my wild child the space to run free, I invite my daughter along as well.
If you frequently battle about screen time with your kids (don’t we all!) but want to learn how to enforce healthy boundaries, you’re certainly not alone.
Most parents are concerned about their child’s screen time. But parents and caregivers seem to have an extra challenge in helping kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) manage screen time.
“Electronic usage is part of daily life and is not inherently problematic, and as with many other issues, it is an issue of moderation,” says Mary Jane Weiss, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA, of Endicott College.
While screen time is associated with some benefits and some adverse side effects, it’s important for parents to examine their child’s screen use, the impact it’s having on the child, and the child’s overall behavior and well-being.
One positive effect of screen time for children with ADHD, says Weiss, is a high level of engagement in a preferred activity.
“Many children enjoy screen time, and it can be used as a reward for other less preferred tasks (such as homework completion), and depending on the activity, screen time can also be instructive,” she says.
For visual learners, Weiss says that engaging in academic tasks in virtual format may be more appealing and may even be more effective. It’s also a social outlet for many kids with ADHD, which can be beneficial when used appropriately.
However, one area that can be negatively impacted by screen time is sleep, says Khadijah Booth Watkins, MD, MPH, associate director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. And for many kids with ADHD, sleep is already a challenge.
“This is particularly important for kids with ADHD as impaired sleep can worsen symptoms such as attention, concentration, and frustration tolerance,” she explains.
Not getting enough sleep can impact us all, and it’s important to make sure that our kids are getting enough sleep.
Screen time can also exacerbate concentration issues and mood disruptions for children with developmental disorders, as well as those prone to having anxiety issues, says Teodora Pavkovic, a nationally recognized psychologist and digital wellness expert at the K-12 EdTech company Linewize.
One reason, says Pavkovic, is that so much screen-based content is incredibly overstimulating for a child’s nervous system. Plus, children can find it very difficult to disengage from technology once they have become engaged.
Screen time has its place in a child’s life. However, how you go about enforcing healthy boundaries and approaching balance can increase cooperation and reduce arguments that often occur when kids are told to put a device down.
“We want to make sure our kids are striking a good and healthy balance between screen time and doing the other tasks that are developmentally appropriate and necessary such as extracurricular activities, spending time with friends, completing homework, family time, and so on,” says Booth Watkins.
With that in mind, here are 10 tips for helping kids with ADHD manage screen time.
Getting buy-in from everyone in the family is an essential first step when teaching kids how to manage screen time.
One way to get off on the right foot is to create a family media plan together. This includes conversations, brainstorming sessions, and considering ideas from each family member.
Don’t be afraid to be creative and think of ways to motivate and incentives to use to get your kids excited about the plan.
If you need help getting started, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has an excellent guide and interactive tool for creating a family media plan. They also have a media time calculator you can use once the plan is developed and implemented.
Screen time guidelines and boundaries should be age-appropriate. There are several recommendations online to help parents and guardians determine limits based on the types of content being consumed.
According to the AAP, there should be no screen time at all for children until 18 to 24 months, except for video chatting.
Kids ages 2 to 5 should be allowed less than 1 hour a day.
When it comes to older kids, the AAP recommends that parents and guardians negotiate limits and boundaries with their kids around screens. This is where the family media plan comes in handy.
Boundaries and consistency are crucial for children with ADHD. To help with this, Pavkovic recommends setting up a consistent screen schedule (in collaboration with your child, if they’re old enough) and minimizing their ability to move between too many different games or platforms during this time.
“Children with ADHD tend to find it hard enough to fight off distractions, so families are encouraged to really help them succeed with that as much as possible,” she says.
Just before screen time starts coming to an end, Pavkovic suggests providing some time prompts in a calm way and avoid ending screen time abruptly.
Some children do find time-based limitations too difficult to adhere to, though, so in those cases, she recommends developing an achievement-based strategy like “when you win x-number of gold coins in the game, you can stop.”
But of course, families will want to make sure that this remains within reasonable time limits.
For older kids, you can give a warning several minutes before screen time ends, with the goal of teaching the child to self-monitor with a timer, then go in and ask 5 minutes before the end of screen time, “How much time is left?” This will help the child learn to self-monitor, which is part of learning self-control.
“Children with ADHD appear to benefit from shorter periods of screen-based activities more frequently,” says Pavkovic.
For example, 40 minutes per day, 5 days a week, instead of 2 hours per day, twice a week. However, she says families are encouraged to tweak screen time to find a solution that shows the best behavioral outcome for their own child and then stick to this consistently.
Blocking apps, timers, and other tools are a parent’s best friend. Not only do they eliminate the verbal back and forth between adults and kids when it’s time to power off, but they also help parents keep tabs on what their kids are watching, doing, and viewing online.
Blocking apps and tools allow parents to turn off the internet connection to designated devices or block certain websites at specified times. Some internet providers and systems have their own programs you can use. Otherwise, there are a ton of free and subscription-based options such as:
Teaching kids healthy behaviors about screen time can also translate to healthy behaviors in life. That’s why Pavkovic recommends pairing up a screen time activity with some kind of physical activity so that the physical activity follows the tech-based one.
For example, after screen time is up, your child can choose from a list of physical activities like playing outside, bike riding, shooting baskets, dancing, or riding a scooter.
Pavkovic says to be very careful about cutting out or reducing screen time that is beneficial to your child.
“If your child is able to socialize through technology or enjoys being physically active by playing online games or following exercise tutorials, find other screen time activities that could be curbed instead,” she says.
This is also a great opportunity to encourage using screens for creativity, not just for consuming media.
When not in use, put all screens away. This applies to parents, too.
“Our kids take their cues from us, and we need to be deliberate in modeling healthy screen time and limits,” says Booth Watkins.
She points out that setting screen-free time and electronic-free zones that the entire family will adhere to can also be a good way to manage screen time in a way that doesn’t feel punitive. The kid won’t feel as targeted if the rule applies to the household.
For instance, no phones at the table for meals, or designate certain days and times as screen-free.
With that said, Booth Watkins says that parents may need to help kids think of other ways to spend their time.
“I often suggest, in advance, create a menu of activities that your child can choose to engage in, such as read a book, arts and crafts, play outside, play a board game, or other agreed-upon activities,” she explains.
Additionally, removing all devices from bedrooms at least 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime is critical for sleep. Plus, too much time spent on devices at night can negatively impact your child at school the next day.
Finally, consider storing all screens in a location that only parents or guardians are aware of. This reduces the chance that your child will get up in the middle of the night to look for their device.
Rather than think of this as screen time management, Booth Watkins says that we should think of this as helping our kids to develop healthy habits and healthy relationships with screen time.
“Kids with ADHD may need more support in helping them to internalize the new schedules and structure, especially since they may struggle in a greater way when it comes to tolerating delayed gratification,” she explains.
Investing time in a plan for screen time, fostering conversations about tech use, and working with your child to establish healthy habits can reduce conflict and encourage positive outcomes.
Technology use is a part of daily life, and helping kids to learn responsible tech use is an important skill.
When my husband and I were planning our family, I would have visions of the type of parent I wanted to be and what our family would look and be like. I thought about my hopes and wishes for my children and even had in mind how I wanted to instill in them a love of learning and the value of education.
Once our children came onto the scene life was harder to balance than I had envisioned. I struggled to work full-time with two children in daycare and find the balance I was looking for. That being said because my kids were not receiving homework I felt the status quo was still the way to go.
The first hint that something was amiss was when my daughter was at the end of pre-school. Her educators came to me with the news that she struggled with her numbers, she could not learn past the number 5. Because she was so young the conclusion was that she would likely catch up in elementary school. In kindergarten, I was relieved to hear that she was average compared to her peers. That relief did not last long, because in the fall of the following year I learned from her grade 1 teacher that she was struggling in all subjects but reading was her biggest struggle. Since I wanted to be on top of things and get her the help she needed, I had her assessed. I had known ahead of time that she was too young for a diagnosis, so I was simply looking to learn where she was and how to best support her. Post assessment, she was put on an IEP and hired a tutor specializing in learning disabilities. Despite these two interventions, she continued to struggle academically, so in grade 3 we had her re-assessed and even considered switching her school. The assessment concluded by stating that she had a generalized learning disability and continued to require an IEP. At this point in her academic career, I was primarily looking to her psychologist, tutor, teachers, and school administrators for guidance on how to best support her. I would do research and come up with creative solutions at home but I was not self-directed or confident in my ability to know how to help her best. My daughter hated the idea of changing schools so we kept her where she wanted to be. I felt I was just doing what we needed to do to get her through elementary school. I expected that once we found a high school more tailored to her needs, her academic experience would change.
In the fall of grade 6, as we were applying to high schools (in Quebec high school starts in grade 7) we learned she needed a new assessment. This time the results were different. This time we learned that our daughter had ADHD inattentive type, 3 learning disabilities, and anxiety. I was thrown. I had expected to hear she would have a learning disability. I had not expected 3 and I certainly did not expect ADHD. I was frozen, I knew close to nothing about ADHD aside from the stigma that it was either inattention or hyperactivity and I felt overwhelmed by the 3 learning disabilities. The psychologist who assessed her told me that the best thing I could do for her would be to work on her executive functioning as her skills in this area were weak. I asked her if she knew anyone who could help us and at the time she did not. So I left her office knowing what I had to look for but not knowing where to turn and how to tackle the 3 learning disabilities. I mistakenly thought her learning disabilities were her biggest problem and did not pay much attention to the fact that she also had ADHD. Because I did not know anything about it other than society’s stigma I chose to keep the diagnosis a secret and focus on what I understood better. So I focused on her learning disabilities, specifically math and writing because her tutor was working diligently on her reading abilities. Also, I found a coach to assist my daughter with her executive function weakness and a psychologist to help her with her anxiety. This is where my life would be changed forever.
I became fascinated by what her coach was doing with her. She was teaching her things, at a more advanced level than I, of what I had been doing with my kids at home. When I questioned her about where she learned all these things she pointed me in the direction of the Smart But Scattered series of books. I quickly devoured one of the books and learned that unconsciously I had been doing basic executive function support at home. I became hooked and was obsessed with learning more. Along with learning about executive functions, I started learning more about ADHD and quickly realized that her ADHD was her biggest problem. This led me to more books, seminars, courses, and getting coached myself.
What I learned revealed to me that my parenting skills were not as effective as I had thought, especially for my neurodiverse daughter. The coaching I received helped me be accountable in implementing the learning I was doing and the changes I wanted to make so that I was better able to support my children. The blinders I had been living with were lifted. I started to see clearly how our education system is not built for the neurodiverse. I started to see ADHD differently, and how our world is not built for the ADHD/neurodiverse brain. I started seeing that all children benefited from executive function skills learning, not just neurodiverse children. This shift in mentality had a major consequence. I no longer looked to or depended on the teachers, school administrators, and other experts to guide me. I became the leader, identifying things that were missing or ways to do it better. I started leading the conversation with her teachers and resource support staff.
While my parenting and the way I was able to advocate for my daughter changed for the better, I was still not satisfied with the amount of yelling I was doing and the level of frustration we were experiencing. I knew enough about executive functions and ADHD to know that self and emotion-regulation were real issues. Around the same time, I discovered Shanker Self-Reg. I read the book which further changed my and my family’s life. I learned that as a parent I was dysregulated and a dysregulated parent cannot help regulate an equally dysregulated child. I learned how to regulate myself and once I was more regulated, I was in a better position to help my daughter regulate and surprisingly help my neurotypical child better regulate as well.
My parenting continued to change in positive ways as I became more regulated and I was able to continue supporting them in more productive and empathetic ways. As time went on, I started noticing changes in my kids. Most notably in my daughter. I learned how to stay calm amid her meltdowns, I learned how to detect patterns in her behaviour to know when she needed my regulation support. I learned how to teach Shanker Self-Reg to my kids without explicitly teaching it. Today, it is still a work in progress but the change in our family has been enormous.
Since my daughter’s ADHD diagnosis, I’ve learned that any change in her had to start with me. I had to work on my self-regulation, parenting skills, and knowledge about ADHD and executive functioning skills. This process also helped me become a much better advocate for my daughter. Today my daughter gets tutored and coached and is at a school better suited to her personality and neurodiversity. Despite this, I remain the leader of her team ensuring she has the best supports to help her in reaching her goals. Is life picture perfect? No, we still have challenges, but life is not nearly as difficult as it used to be and her performance in school is also significantly better. Her teachers inform me that she pays attention in class and is also an amazing self-advocate.
So, I ask you, are you parenting the way you want to parent? What is one thing about the way you are parenting that you would like to, and could, change that would make a difference for your ADHD child?
I believe all parents are resourceful, resilient, and not alone!
Joy Gandell, MScA, ACC is a self-employed executive function, parenting, and learning coach. The name of her coaching practice is SETA Coaching & Training. She is also the host of the Being With Joy: A Quest To Crack The Parenting Code podcast which can be found on all the major podcast platforms. She lives in a suburb of Montreal, Quebec, and resides with her husband, 2 teenage children, and dog Molson.
I recently presented at CADDAC’s online conference how ADHD was key to my success as an entrepreneur and how my undiagnosed ADHD sabotaged success. There were many unanswered questions, and I would like to answer one right now! The unanswered question was, "What is your coping mechanism for restlessness brackets (mind and body)?”
It is still difficult for me, even though I am aware that it is physically and neurologically impossible to relax. In the past, my coping mechanism for restlessness was always constantly on the go, go, go, go, run, run, go, go.
For example, I wake up at 5 am, drive two hours to a construction site, then go to two, three or four other site meetings the same day. Then I would drive back to the office to catch up on emails, reports, update the team and review work. Then go home for dinner (late, of course), and put the kids to bed. After the kids are in bed, I would pull out the laptop and work late until bedtime. Then I would start a similar cycle again the next morning. That was 18 years. It was exhausting just to write about it.
WHY SUCH A TIGHT SCHEDULE?
By maintaining too tight of a schedule, everything became urgent! Rush to site, rush to each tightly scheduled meeting, get to the office late, and rush emails, reviews, etc. My brain was on fire, and I was pulling off magnificent feats of work completion. But this came at a cost.
COST OF SELF-IMPOSED URGENCY
I didn't allow enough travel time between meetings, and I had many close calls on the road and upset clients for being late many times. I spent too much time out of the office, and working on projects was delayed until the deadline was too close, and then I would burn the midnight candle at both ends to get it done. All things accumulated into constant fatigue and aggravated my emotional dysregulation, and it strained many relationships at work with staff, clients, and worse, with my wife and girls.
SEARCH FOR CALM
Now, I search for calm. I realized this one day on a personal retreat at the top of a mountain in Quebec early one fall morning. I wrote about it on my blog called “Searching For The Wrong Thing.” In short, I stopped trying to find ways to relax. I now find ways to be calm. Calm has helped me with coping with restlessness.
MY DAYS ARE SCHEDULED FOR CALM
My day is now structured to no longer be rushed, and I plan not to work at home in the evenings. Calm for me includes changing out of my work clothes into my "comfy clothes" as it helps me shed off work-related stress or anxiety. A mental shift to say I am at home and it is now safe. Calm includes sitting and catching up with my family at dinner. Calm includes reading after dinner.
My most crucial calm technique has been mindfulness-guided meditation every night before bed. I am currently at 500 straight days as it calms my mind so I can fall asleep quicker. It was not easy sticking to the routine at first, but after many attempts, I got this streak. Mindfulness meditation has also helped me be more mindful during the day. The biggest win has been the reduction of my emotional dysregulation at work and home. My meditation "sessions" range from three to 20 minutes. It is now part of my bedtime routine.
HOW I COPE AT WORK
At the office, I do more creative work that uses up my restless mental energy. I move around more at the office and talk to the staff about their projects. I have become a mobile project problem solver, a perfect role for me. I have shed a great many tasks that I don't enjoy, and I no longer do. I purchased a stand-up desk that can go up and down when I want to.
YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME – TRY IT
It is still unbelievable how finding calm has been an excellent way to cope with my physical and mental (primarily mental) restlessness. Sounds counterintuitive? But to me, it is the truth! It took almost a year for me to SEE this realization after committing myself to work on finding calm. I had to accept the results will take time to surface and to be patient. Besides my marriage, this has been the most important commitment that I made for myself.
André Brisson has a personal blog at andreb.ca and a professional blog at tacticalbts.com.
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has sent an e-mail or tweet to their elected official through CADDAC’s online advocacy campaign. To-date, 178 e-mails have been sent through our Ontario campaign and 289 through our national campaign as well as countless tweets. More are being added every day. A special thanks to those of you who have taken the extra time to share your personal thoughts and stories in the e-mails to your elected officials. It is these personalized e-mails that touch politicians the most.
I would also like to encourage those of you who have not yet contacted your elected official and Minister of Education through this quick and easy tool, to please do so. Since CADDAC has a newsletter following of over six thousand, we sincerely hope to see many more e-mails sent.
I would also like to encourage all of you to share this information with your contact lists. Please access E-mail text to share, which will provide you with an e-mail to send to your friends, family and colleagues. Until those in a decision-making position, understand that their constituents actually do care about students with ADHD, things will remain the same.
At the launch of this campaign CADDAC reached out to every Ministry of Education across Canada except for Quebec. CADDAC is in the process of hiring a bilingual employee and is searching for Quebec partners to assist us in advocacy efforts in that province.
To-date six of the twelve ministries contacted have replied to our e-mail, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, North West Territories, Yukon, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Of these all six have agreed to meet. We have already met with representatives of the Ministry of Nova Scotia and have meetings booked with the Ministries of North West Territories, Manitoba, Saskatchewan. We are waiting for the meeting times to be set for Ontario and Yukon.
During our calls we expect to discuss ways in which Ministries can improve teacher training in ADHD, ensure that students with ADHD are receiving the resources they require and increase ADHD information on ministry web sites and other platforms to ensure that ADHD is recognized as a serious learning risk. In addition, during these calls we are gathering information on the unique process each province uses to flag students with special needs, when and how they develop individual learning plans for these students and how students with ADHD fare in their process. We are also asking about the role of parents in developing individual education plans.
Due to a media release sent out on January the 21st four media interviews occurred. Interviews with Global News Radio 900 CHML Hamilton, CBC Vancouver, CHEK News Victoria, and a free lance journalist in Alberta resulted in news stories and a live news radio interview.
When our Ministry meetings are completed CADDAC will send out another media release summarizing the meetings and comparing provincial supports for students with ADHD.
CADDAC has also sent out a request to ADHD medical professionals and ADHD support groups across Canada asking that they share the ADHD Right to Learn campaign information far and wide.
Please take a few minutes to help us advocate for students with ADHD across Canada by sending an e-mail or tweet to your elected official and passing on the ADHD Right to Learn campaign information.
CADDAC Founder and Director or Education and Advocacy
During CADDAC’s recent online conference I presented on school advocacy. At the end of the presentation many of the questions were let unanswered or briefly answered. Since many of these questions are common questions that CADDAC receives, I will be sharing the answers to these questions in several blog posts over the next few months.
Written by Heidi Bernhardt R.N.
If one wants to consider a private school or another public school can you suggest any specific school types (Montessori, outdoor, etc.) that have a great history with ADHD kids?
This is a question that we receive frequently and unfortunately there is no easy answer. Yes, there are some individual schools (as well as some public schools) that demonstrate expertise in teaching neurodiverse kids, but they don’t fit into any one category or type of school. My advice to parents when looking at private schools, or considering changing public schools is to first learn as much as you can about how ADHD impairs learning, executive functioning and self and emotional regulation. Then build a profile for your individual child, outline their strengths and needs, and define where they are struggling. After that, research appropriate teaching strategies and classroom accommodations to assist with these impairments. Use CADDAC webinars, classroom accommodation charts and Teach ADHD Charts to do so.
Once you are informed, visit the schools you are considering in person and assess the environment. Is it somewhere your child would feel welcome and comfortable? Then, sit down with the administration for an in-depth conversation. Have them explain their understanding of ADHD. Do they develop IEPs? Ask them how they educate their staff about all neurodevelopmental disorders, their impact on learning and the appropriate teaching strategies and classroom accommodations. How do they evaluate their teachers’ knowledge and understanding of this information and their success in applying these skills?
At the end of these questions I would suggest you describe some specific scenarios that your child has experienced at school. Ask how they would react and solve these situations? How would they deal with a child that is not handing in assignments or a child that is reluctant to try new things? How about a situation were a child has reacted badly when triggered? This will allow you to get a good understanding about their knowledge level of ADHD and how they might handle situations that commonly occur with your child.
Unfortunately, I have spoken to many parents who have reported that although their private school spoke about understanding self-regulation issues during the interview, in practice, they were far better at working with children’s academic difficulties than dealing with what they saw as behavioural outbursts. They were often reactive rather than proactive during these situations and handled them much the same as the public system.