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Strategies For ADHD: Start Building Your Life Around What You're Good At

Updated on July 23, 2014

3 Life-Changing Ways To Approach ADHD

This is your life. Find out what youre good at, and pour yourself into it. Don't let your ADHD, or what other people tell you about your ADHD, stop you from getting in touch with your passion, or doing what you are really good at.

One of my favorite things in the world to see is people operating in their strengths and reaching the world. Any time I've ever been inspired by another person's life, it's because they were doing something they were good at.

For those with ADHD it can be especially difficult to find stable footing long enough to stand alive in their strengths. Often the practical details of daily life can sweep them off their feet. In attempts to recover, they pour all resources into skills they don't necessarily have natural ability to do well. They set off with good intentions, but don't yield the payoff and especially the meaning they are seeking.

There is a better strategy that not only is more meaningful, but will yield better results, and be more fulfilling. A Strengths-Based Approach for those with ADHD who get stuck dealing with the details of life.

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Top Book Recommendations for the ADHD Journey - Each book here can help you. If you've already read one, tell us about it in the comments!

These books are the best ones I know of to begin your ADHD journey. "Organizing Solutions For People With ADHD" will lay out practical strategies that will immediately help you with day-to-day tasks, and "The Gift of Adult ADD" will give you the right angle for approaching and understanding ADHD. Seriously.

Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder
Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder

Amazing resource #1 of 2.

(Think of Dr. Hallowell's + Dr. Ratey's books on ADHD as making up the "ADHD Bible".

That in mind, this one is the "Old Testament".

This will give you a comprehensive in-depth understanding of ADHD. education, family perspectives, diagnosis, and treatment.

 
Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, 2nd Edition-Revised and Updated: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized
Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, 2nd Edition-Revised and Updated: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized

Practical, Practical, Practical!

This is book is a comprehensive guide for all the practical things you do in your daily routine. It will take all your daily tasks, and show you ways to revolutionize them to fit your ADHD-ness. So good.

 
The Gift of Adult ADD: How to Transform Your Challenges and Build on Your Strengths
The Gift of Adult ADD: How to Transform Your Challenges and Build on Your Strengths

This will instill a strengths-based approach to your ADHD. It's time for your frustrations, anger, and disappointment to melt. It's time for hope, compassion, and a healthy sense of self to arise. That's what this book is for.

 
StrengthsFinder 2.0
StrengthsFinder 2.0

This book will give you your very own personal weapons to use along your ADHD Journey. It will highlight your personal strengths and skills, and teach you how to use them as tools.

 
Adam Muller ADHD COLLECTIVE
Adam Muller ADHD COLLECTIVE

My Own Journey With ADHD

Welcome! My name is Adam Muller. The strategies for ADHD I list here are the ones that have helped me the most in my own journey.

I share these strategies because I believe in them.

I stayed away from the 'ADHD' label for a long time because of the stigma it had, and because I hate labels. I've found that using the ADHD label has its pros* and cons**, and please read the note at the very end of this section for some of those Pros* and Cons**.

In my journey, finding out I had ADHD cleared up some confusion as I looked at some frustrating themes in my life.

The themes in my life that led to reaching out for support:

1. Not knowing what to do with my life

2. Fear of doing the wrong thing

3. Fear of never living up to my potential

4. The inability to follow through

5. Shame for wasted time

6. The fear of failure

7. Regular self-sabotage

8. Destructive self-talk

9. AND....the list can go on.

Strengths-based living has made the difference in my life for getting enough traction to start some momentum. It's been an incredible journey, and now I am able to be part of helping others on their journey too.

I am Creative Director for ADHD COLLECTIVE, an ADHD coaching business my wife and I started this year. It has been incredibly rewarding, not only for us, but for those we have the privilege to help.

**Cons:

Everybody's story is different, and labels can tend to leave out the complexity. Labels can also lead to assumptions. And you know what they say about that. A label tends to be exclusive rather than inclusive. Obviously, there are more, but these get at the big ones.

*Pros:

They can give us handles. Though your experience may not encapsulate all the characteristics of ADHD, some of the characteristics may hit home in a deep way. Labels can help define things more clearly so that we understand what's going on.

****If you don't like labels, feel free to replace them in your head as you read this lens. I really understand.

Strategies For ADHD
Strategies For ADHD

Strategies For ADHD: Approach #1

Start Focusing On Your Strengths

Are there times when you've noticed another person working harder to achieve something you find easy? What do you do well? What are some things you naturally care about? What are you passionate about?

Our culture can often overlook how valuable self-investment can be. It's too worried about how much you can do, do, do. Don't listen. The best investment you can ever make is in yourself and what you're good at. Utilizing your strengths is your right, not utilizing them is an injustice, to yourself and to others.

Trying to fix the things you're not good at wastes the energy you could be investing in your strengths. Your Strengths are what give you traction because they allow you to do the things you do well already. Focusing on anything else just leads to spinning your wheels.

So dig deeper at what you love, and spend the time finding out why. Don't listen to our culture, go find out who you are. For those with ADHD, the devil is often in those details, because of how many people with ADHD get stuck in them, and can't find enough momentum to give life everything they got.

Your Strengths!

Your strengths are your most powerful asset. Learn about them. Invest in them. Use them.

Your Strengths Are Your Best Tools For ADHD - StrengthsFinder

This book will give you your very own personal weapons to use along your ADHD Journey. It will highlight your personal strengths and skills, and teach you how to use them as tools.

ADHD Tip
ADHD Tip

Strategies For ADHD: Approach #2

Stop Trying To Fix Things You Aren't Good At

If you have ADHD, you may find that upkeep on the practical tasks of life isn't necessarily your strong suit. That's okay.

If you're experiencing disappointment for not being able to accomplish goals, or follow through, or manage your calendar, or do the dishes, or other regulatory tasks that help practical life move along, don't let it crush you.

These little tasks still need to get done, but a different approach is what you need. If your strategy for the small things is to just try harder, stop immediately. That's just going to contribute more momentum for a downward spiral, the next time you slip up.

Focusing on the things you aren't good at and trying to fix them, is an ineffective way to accomplish your goals, and leads to being overwhelmed.

The reason it's important to stop this approach is that you're going to need the energy, so don't waste it feeling bad about not being organized enough, etc.

Strategies For ADHD: Approach #3
Strategies For ADHD: Approach #3

Strategies For ADHD: Approach #3

A System For Support

Breaking old systems of behavior takes accountability, and you are going to need assistance implementing a new strengths-based approach. Reaching out for support is the best strategy I know for dealing with the, "Just-Try-Harder" syndrome. It's not enough that you just try harder. You need a different strategy. Reaching out for support is a bit like showing yourself that you're valuable and that you're worth it.

Sometimes it's hard to admit you aren't good at certain things, but if you can allow yourself to be honest, freedom will spring up. Freedom to get started on your passion and what you find most meaningful.

There are amazing ADHD coaches who can assist you on your journey, as you shift the weight of your goals onto what you're good at. The important thing is to find those who specialize in a strengths-based model.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, I wholeheartedly recommend ADHD COLLECTIVE (because I am involved with them! and because I am convinced a strengths-based approach is the most powerful approach). ADHD COLLECTIVE creates customized strategies and systems to help build your life around what you're good at, in order to achieve the momentum needed to accomplish your life goals.

With ADHD vs. Without ADHD?

Would you change your ADHD if you could?

Recommend a Resource and Let's Help Each Other - Creating The Most Expansive Collection of Resources for Those With ADHD!

Let's make this list the most expansive collection of resources for ADHD on the entire internet!

Will you help me? What book, tool, or resource helped you with your ADD/ADHD? Find it on amazon and list it here!

HOW TO ADD TO THIS LIST:

a. Click the "Add To This List" below.

b. Find the item on amazon, then copy/paste the url of the page

c. Click on "Help me find links" and search by category, etc.

ALL recommendations are automatically approved and added to the list!

This is an amazing opportunity to help each other, and I look forward to seeing (and voting for) your recommendations!

An ADHD Strategy Question For Everyone - What strategy would you use for a KITCHEN DISASTER? (give your answer in the next section below)

KITCHEN DISASTER STRATEGY POLL - This is for everyone! Whether you have ADHD or not, go ahead, give it a go! (there will be another module below where we'll loo

THE SCENARIO: No matter what you do to keep the kitchen clean it always seems to get messy! Dishes are piled up in the sink. Pot and pans are piling up on the countertops. On the stove. You even find

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Know More. Understand Better. Empower Yourself.

Each of these links lead to knowing more about ADHD.

Go find one thing you didn't know before.

I'll regularly update these to keep things fresh.

And please add to the list in the comments below if you find something great!

A Call To Helping Others

Change The World

As you begin to change, you are going to notice others stuck in the same cycle of disappointment.

Reach out.

Tell them the talents you see in them. Encourage them to explore their own strengths. Love them. I believe strongly what the world needs are people who are passionate and alive in their respective talents and gifts.

That's why I am writing this post. At some point, others are going to need you alive in your strengths, just like I've needed people in my life who have inspired me to step up. This post is for me, as much as it is for those that need you, alive in your strengths, changing the world.

KITCHEN DISASTER POLL DISCUSION - Pot Protocol: A great strategy for a cluttered kitchen!

The picture above is from a book I recommend here called, "Organizing Solutions For People With ADHD" by Susan C. Pinsky. It's an amazing resource for those with ADHD wanting to get more organized.

Because organization poses unique challenges for those with ADHD, the same old approach isn't going to work. She understands that and offers us a fresh change-up for what organization means for people with ADHD. It's chalked full of practical photos so that her suggestions can be implemented easily.

So! What strategy answers would work best for those with ADHD? Let's look at them:

ANSWER: A

Put on some music and get to it -- set up a reminder in your google calendar once a week to clean!

DISCUSSION:

Music'll work! Google reminders...maybe for a few, but don't bank on it. Consider: you have to remember to put in reminders, and even though they go off, it could easily be missed if preoccupied with something else. For the few it might work for, multiple reminders might be in order.

ANSWER: B

Put an ad on Craigslist/TaskRabbit -- seriously consider working this into your monthly budget.

DISCUSSION:

This could be a good strategy! It just depends on budget. If funds are too tight, and it produces anxiety to be able to afford, the benefits of this strategy might be a wash. If funds allot for it, this strategy might be gold.

**ANSWER: C**

Clean them, save a few, box the rest, and get rid of em' -- if you have less they can't pile up!

**DISCUSSION:**

This is the best overall strategy I think because it requires the least amount of effort, and abates the kitchen disaster almost by default. Get rid of all the dishes you don't use! You don't need 7 pots to boil water in, and there's a good chance 4-5 of those pots will be left on the countertops afterward. Box up extra dishes, send them to the goodwill!

ANSWER: D

Stop. Take note of how out-of-control the kitchen is -- if you make yourself feel bad enough, it likely won't happen again.

DISCUSSION:

It's not uncommon a strategy, it's just a bad one. We may feel like beating ourselves up to get us going in the right direction, but it's a poor strategy if we want anything to last.

ANSWER: E

I have no idea -- this would never happen to me!

DISCUSSION:

You're an expert at cleaning and organization? Perfect! I'm looking for someone to clean and organize my house once a week...:)

ANSWER: E

Other

DISCUSSION:

Tell us your strategies. What little tricks work for you? Got any tricks that might help those with ADHD?

Whether it's a brief comment, a few questions, or a discussion starter, your thoughts are welcome here.

Do you have an experience we can learn from?

What strategies resonate with you?

What are a few things that have been game-changers for you?

Is there a website you can recommend?

What resources have been most helpful for you?

Thank you for reading! And liking the page helps too! - Will you share your story with us?

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    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 3 years ago

      @happynutritionist: Thank you! For taking the time to read it. :)

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 3 years ago from Chicago area

      @adammuller003 lm: This is a really good answer. It can be so hard to understand one's own strengths and accept one's weaknesses without feeling bad, or deficient. And "follow your passion" can come off as pie-in-the-sky, whereas "do what you're good at" seems more practical for day to day life and as a stress reliever. For instance, our family is hosting an extended family gathering soon, something we do every year, and typically I make the main course, a side dish, and organize & bring all the paper goods, tablecloths, utensils etc. I am reasonably good at the cooking part and rather enjoy it, but not as great at thinking through all the tablewear, packing it up and getting it to the venue on time. So when a relative offered to handle all that stuff, for the first time I just said "great; thank you!" without feeling guilty about how, as host, I should be doing all that stuff. This is a really really small, probably boring (lol) example, but what I'm trying to say is that "do what you're good at" is a lifestyle orientation, not just a career mantra.

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      happynutritionist 3 years ago

      Thanks for all the time you put into this page, it's very helpful to me, a family member says she has this condition based on things she has read about it.

    • profile image

      natashaad 3 years ago

      Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to reply and posting the links. I will give them a try.

    • profile image

      natashaad 3 years ago

      I don't know how many times I've read "do what you're good at" or "follow your passion", I guess too many that I've lost count. The problem is I don't know what I'm naturally good at. I can learn something but I always mess up at some point because I forget the details. Follow your passion sounds easy right? Not so much when you don't even know where to start.

    • QSciences profile image

      QSciences 3 years ago

      You may want to visit this site too! http://www.q-sciences.com

    • frenchlingo profile image

      frenchlingo 4 years ago

      I work with a lot of different individuals and they obviously come from various backgrounds. Knowing how to help others is a must in today's world. I appreciate your time and your knowledge in writing up this informative lens.

      Another great way to help people with ADHD is to use different mediums of communication at the same time. Like playing a presentation, keeping it short, but ensuring it has more visuals like graphs than words.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @DrLibby: DrLibby, thank you! We love it!

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      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Excellent lens. Thank you for publishing it. I'll ask: does the definition of ADHD appear anywhere in this lens? I had to look it up.

    • DrLibby profile image

      DrLibby 4 years ago

      I confess to not knowing much about ADHD but am glad to hear you & your wife have a coaching program for those who do. I can see how that would be of great benefit to keep someone on track. Nice & informative lens too.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @Gypzeerose: I love it! Thank you!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens, about such an important topic. Pinned to my mental health board. I proudly wear my ADD badge.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @NoYouAreNot: thank you! for reading!

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @anitabreeze: amen. That second to last sentence says it all!

      All parents out there! I can't think of better advice than:

      "Just love the kids and help them figure out how to pursue what they love."

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @NoYouAreNot: thank you! For reading it!

    • aviwolfson profile image

      Avi Wolfson 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great tips and advice, this lens deserves a purple star!

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 4 years ago

      I'm bookmarking this, and I'll check the resources suggested over time. Uber-useful (lathough not for me personally), thank you!

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      anitabreeze 4 years ago

      This is a great resource as well as an inspiration. Two of my children have ADHD, they are borderline genius with a lot of pain and anxiety. One is now all grown up and I think it's important for parents to know that if they go with their strengths they will be successful! He is a Dad and a homeowner and a really great guy and a computer guru. My other child with ADHD is an amazing artist and writer. Just love the kids and help them figure out how to pursue what they love. That's the best advice I can give.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @Swisstoons: thanks swisstoons:)

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @KnitnPurlGirl: thank you! I dig your Narnia lens:

      https://hubpages.com/literature/narnia-radio-theat

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 4 years ago from Michigan

      Lots of great advice here...for anyone.

    • KnitnPurlGirl profile image

      KnitnPurlGirl 4 years ago

      An interesting lens. Very well done.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @smine27: thank you for your comment. I just finished reading this lens about anxiety and panic attacks:

      http://www.squidoo.com/panic-attack-symptoms-recog...

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @dellgirl: and a good weekend to you! I appreciate you stopping by my lens too:)

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @cdevries: indeed. I've been there my friend.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @socialcx1: Thank you sir! I appreciate your kind words.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I really enjoyed reading your story. It has helped me to understand a bit more about this. I deal with panic disorder and I have found some helpful tips in here for myself. Thank you. :)

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      dellgirl 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this information and these tips, its very thorough and so well done! I learned so much here. Wishing you a good weekend.

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 4 years ago

      I like the Kitchen Disaster question... It got me thinking about my own Desk Disaster. Maybe what I need it just seriously less stuff.

    • socialcx1 profile image

      socialcx1 4 years ago

      Thanks for a thought provoking lens. I appreciate the hard work you have put in to create it.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @goldenrulecomics: Agreed!

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      Great article. I don't know much about ADHD but the advice that you should focus on what you are good at is good advice for everyone. Too often we spend our lives working on our weaknesses to bring those parts of our lives up to average while neglecting the strengths we have that could make our lives truly spectacular.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @JamieHopes LM: Appreciate it bro!

    • JamieHopes LM profile image

      JamieHopes LM 4 years ago

      Great read. Well done!

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Appreciate the kind words, and thank you for checking it out!

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Appreciate the kind words, and thank you for checking it out!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens with good advice for everyone, not just those with ADHD.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you JaqStone!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is a great lens, and a great resource. Focusing on your strengths while understanding your weaknesses is great advice for everyone, regardless of a diagnosis.

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @HSP Connections: So great of you to share your experience man. So interesting. First, it seems like the way you work with it is working really good! I definitely relate to being overwhelmed by a large project. Breaking it up is extremely helpful. And your reaction to calls of action is really similar for me. But I also have the flip side; if I see the different layers and the respective value hierarchy of each part, I can get intensely motivated.

      I am curious, what are your particular strengths? And another question, if you had the opportunity, would you undo your ADD?

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @SusannaDuffy: I appreciate your comment Susana!

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      Peter Messerschmidt 4 years ago from Port Townsend, WA, USA

      I guess I mostly try to work WITH the condition and how it impacts my life, rather than against, or trying get "around" it. Most likely, I'd turn the kitchen problem into a 7-step task rather than a SINGLE task. The problem I have (with "Inattentive" ADD) is that I'll "zone out" if a project is too large... but if I can take that SAME large project and turn it into seven SMALL projects... I can usually manage to complete each of the small projects... adding up to "a whole."

      My biggest challenge is working with the physiological things happening in my brain. A "call to action" normally should "perk" someone up and keep them focused... instead, I start (literally) feeling sleepy, or "foggy" like I haven't slept in a week. But if I'm "engaged" in moving from one thing to another, the... ehmmm... "sleep trigger"... isn't activated.

      In a sense, I got some insight from aspects of NLP... people with ADD/ADHD tend to "chunk small" (or ultra small) so I have to approach life as a myriad TINY segments. To a non-ADD person it would probably seem chaotic... but I get an impressive amount of stuff done.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 4 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I share the themes you list in your journey - I believe they're common to everyone, ADHD or otherwise

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @bushaex: Simple and true sir. And perhaps a C, a D, and an E, might not be a bad idea. Thanks for stopping by!

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @BarbsSpot: Thank you for checking out the lens!

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      Stephen Bush 4 years ago from Ohio

      Things do not always go as planned and my permanent strategy is as follows: Always Have a Plan B.

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      BarbsSpot 4 years ago

      @Lensmaster...Haven't experienced ADHD in my family; however, if I did, I certainly would recommend this Lens as a possible starting point to learn to deal with the problem! Nice work!

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @verymary: Thank you for your comment; you highlight some really great stuff! I especially appreciate you including your personal experiences, , that's the real rub.

      Your differentiation between the practical things that are still musts, (driver's license example) is a good one to make. There are certain practical things that will always need our attention and should.

      You are kind to discuss with your kids how school's expectation of them doesn't necessarily carry over into their adult life. I've seen parents who don't question the educational system's handling of their children's schooling, and the kids end up bearing a big burden, and often for the wrong things. Kids really do end up "making it through school," when it has the potential to do so much more. Maybe that's for another lens:)

    • adammuller003 lm profile image
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      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      @iwrite100: Thank you for reading, and for your kindness of passing it on for your friend!

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      Ned Hallowell, well-known ADHD expert who has ADHD himself, agrees with you. He said at a talk I went to, "Don't spend too much time working on things you're not good at." I think that's mostly true, though there are some practical life skills important enough to merit the extra work. For instance, my 16 y.o. with inattentive ADD has his state-required 50 hours of driving practice now to apply for a license, but we're having him do extra hours, given his diagnosis. On the other hand, he tried sports when younger (with lots of nudging from my hubby & me), really didn't like, so we let him dump those. Exercise is important, but he can get it without sports. I think it's a matter of sorting out what really is a must and what is "nice but not necessary." The problem is, in school kids/teens have to spent lots of time on things they're not good at, because it's part of the curriculum. I've spoken with my kids about how school is kind of a weird time of life, because you basically are expected to be good at everything, every day. And adult life is not like that. An electrician isn't expected to perform knee surgery, and vice versa. If kids with ADHD can get the caring adult support and, yes, coaching they need to make it through the world of school -- and, ideally, identify their strengths and passions along the way -- they may find relief as adults who are able to specialize in things they're naturally "wired to do." Great page!

    • iwrite100 profile image

      Maribel Forayo 4 years ago from Philippines

      These are really helpful. I have a friend who has a child diagnosed of ADHD. I'd be sending her your link.