Tips for Older Teens & Adults with ADHD

Latest Blog: “Tips for Older Teens & Adults with ADHD” BY LOIS PRISLOVSKY

WARNING: For mature audiences & us grown ups with ADHD    

 Tips for older teens and adults with ADHD:


1. If you only do one recommendation – pick EXERCISE! Exercise vigorously and regularly.  Understand you are drawn to intense stimuli and go for it.  Plan guilt free excitement outlets.  A little planning goes a long way here – trust me.  Making arrangements to try kite surfing or go mountain biking on a new expert course you have no business being on sure beats [hypothetically speaking] scrambling to find buddies with bail money in the middle of the night after you spontaneously decided to climb the bell tower.


2. Structure is critically important for balance and well being for those of us with ADHD brain styles. For example, to foster more reliable attention, I go to sleep and wake up basically the same time everyday – even on vacation.  External structure like this helps pattern planning for efficient thinking and performance.  Having a plan establishes a thoughtfully balanced life. I recommend scheduling everything you can–work, exercise, eating, sex, sleep, quality time with your children, quality time with your spouse, quality time with yourself, and quality time with ______ (you know who needs to be in this space for you).  Designating a time for everything may allow you to better focus on one connection at a time.  This type of mindful focus on whom or what is in front of you adds to the quality of your relationships and productivity.  Last night at dinner, my 15-year old son said, “A few weeks ago you asked me who is the most easy for me to talk with in terms of who best fits with my humor, tone, sensitivities, logic, speed, and conversational cadence – you know – who do I get to talk to without making any adjustments to myself.  Remember, I told you I needed to think about it.   I did. And it is you.”  I teared up with gratitude, as I know precious few parents get to converse with their children without the slightest hint of awkwardness. I know he will use this knowledge and experience to build many comfortable and rewarding relationships. If we can achieve this level of connection – so can you and yours – it just takes practicing your focused intention to be precisely who the other person needs you to be at that moment.  Now, that we are on the topic of putting the other person first, lets transition to tip 3 which is less warm and fuzzy – or not – depending on your tastes.


3.  Let the other person come first-literally.
Best selling author, Brene Brown, explains, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.  It’s a relationship between equals. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. And we share with people who earn the right to hear the story”.  One of the “come passion” stories I have been entrusted with over the years is that it often works best when the person with ADHD makes sure their partner has an orgasm first. It seems all that excitement, energy and movement makes for fantastic sex until the ADHD person is no longer motivated and therefore loses interest and focus.  It is like that classic neuropsychology experiment where the hunger area of the lateral hypothalamus is lesioned by an electrode attached directly into the brain of the laboratory rat.  The rat is immediately no longer interested in food – in fact, if eating, the food pellet drops out of its mouth.  If Barb can write about smearing feces being part of her autism; I can share ADHD sex life hacks.  My wife, who is a little more concerned about our sex life reputation than I, would like me to add that sometimes we come together…but honestly that is rare and this book is about practical advice not lassoing leap-year unicorns.


4.  Be patient with yourself as you learn more and do better.  As Deepak Chopra reminds us in Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being: “You are not your brain.  Perception isn’t passive. You are not simply receiving a fixed given reality.  You are shaping it.  Self-awareness changes perception.”   The key is to keep moving forward or as Barb Rentenbach types, “I find patience to be rather like a marathon, and similarly exciting in the sense that it is a testament to human endurance and perseverance.  One sips water along the way, eats a few bananas – letting the mind wander to other matters but never loosing sight of the goal or the sustained effort it takes to achieve it. As in aging, the trick is to maintain grace and not loose bowel control.”


5.  We know what we focus on grows.  Make a habit of taking a moment to focus your intention clearly.  As I shared in our last book, I Might be You: An Exploration of Autism and Connection, I recommend taking a moment to focus your intention on the best interest of the other(s) before every session, meeting, class, practice, operation … or whatever form your day takes.


Generous intentions connect us and connection is the point of living.
When you have a better understanding of the other person’s brain style, it is easier to help.  Below is an actual session note for an 11- year old girl who was able to use her strengths to find her solutions.
8-5-2015 = Today JD, her mom and I discussed her tics as an impulsivity issue. Common in about 25 percent of children and typically seen to progress from the face or eyes then southward down the body.  It is likely that JD is under-stimulated and has the impulse to twitch or move to help her stay engaged.  She clearly thinks best when moving.  So we collaborated on an approach to have JD replace the socially awkward tic with a less noticeable movement – but one that would also bring her release when the pressure builds up.   JD chose a toe curl and release.  We talked about habit reversal therapy and called it “twitch switch” which JD clearly understood immediately.  She got that the most important part of twitch switch is the application of a competing response whenever she notices a tic or urge to tic.   We then did a hypnosis exercise designed to help her monitor her relaxation and control her focus. JD gave us feedback on her experience today and said, “I think it may take about two weeks to make the switch.”  I think she may be right – especially if JD begins to practice the switch consciously and unconsciously. = 1 session


As Edward Hollowell author of Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthoodsays, “Fear and shame are the only true disabilities.”  I encourage you to structure your life to best support your natural style of brain construction and then live your life with gusto.

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