My favorite game

= coming back to this blog and finding all the drafts I made while pretending I was going to update this regularly. :D

But seriously, hello again. I was away dealing with a bunch of more-important-things™.

The most-important of which:

I’M A FULL TIME GRAD STUDENT AGAIN!!!

Which means that after a year of hard work and soul-searching, I’m back on track for being certified to teach. Yes. Get ready, youth of America. Ready for SCIENCE.

That’s all I really wanted to say for now. :)

ONWARD FOR SCIENCE!

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ADHD?

This is a really, really good read from someone who is way more qualified to talk about ADHD than I am (in that she’s a certified mental health counselor and I’m just a loquacious ed student).

Hetty Says.....

Many of my clients have been diagnosed with ADHD, and I often hear people wondering if one child or other has this ‘affliction’.  Ever since my beautiful daughter (now a wonderful mother, nurse educator, and wonder woman) was diagnosed with ADHD back in the 1990s,  I have had a special interest in this collection of symptoms.  After a careful examination of my own life I decided it was a better label than ‘smart but scattered’.  First of all, I think of it as just that, a collection of symptoms.  Trouble focusing, following through, organizing, planning, listening, being on time, finding things, and so on.  The other part, the ‘H’ part, is about not being able to sit still.

Saying someone has ADD/ADHD is like a dermatologist saying someone has a rash.  The important thing is to figure out why.   Is there a reason for the distraction?  Has there been a…

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So what even IS ADHD, anyway?

So, last night I was inspired to write a post about what ADHD really is. Instead, I wrote a post about why I was inspired to write the post I wanted to write. :|

It got pretty long-winded, so I decided to just give it its own space. Go read it if you’re interested.

Anyway.

Peach’s ADHD Fact Sheet

Hello! I’m a student/co-worker/friend/stranger with ADHD!

This means I am…

  • …affected by any number of symptoms under the broad umbrella of “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.”

…. and actually, that’s pretty much all you can know for sure.

In other words, it means I could be…

Inattentive

  • …bad at continuously paying attention or maintaining focus on a given task. It can make things like reading or writing long essays really friggin’ difficult to complete on a deadline, and significant others tend not to appreciate it when you accidentally zone out while they’re talking to you.
  • …easily distracted. Once once the distraction happens, it’s really, really excruciatingly hard to reel yourself back in.
  • …hopelessly addicted to daydreaming. Put someone like this in an empty room with zero outside stimuli and you’ll find they still get distracted from the work you’re giving them. Turns out it’s hard to shut out your own insatiable mental wanderlust.
  • …full of ideas! It’s way easier to think outside the box when your brain inherently wants nothing more than to be free of it. It’s not uncommon for people with inattentive symptoms to be brilliant creators, inventors, and innovators.
  • …seriously struggling with organization and time management. Sometimes we let things slip through the cracks, forget important dates, or misjudge how long it’s going to take to get projects done. Combined with the “easily distracted” bit, it’s a perfect recipe for chronic procrastination. :(
  • …pretty good at forgetting about physical things, too. I spent way too much money on ID card replacements in college and I have a good locksmith stored in my phone just in case.

Hyperactive

  • …unable to sit still. Have you ever drank too much coffee or chugged an energy drink only to find that you feel like keeping still for 12 seconds would certainly be enough pressure and anxiety to literally kill you? Try having that feeling on a regular basis. And being told to sit quietly in a desk for 40 minutes. Oh, and instead on focusing on not moving or dying, could you be a dear and listen to everything the teacher says? Perfect.
  • …that guy in the cubicle next to you that plays with his loud clicky pen all the way from 9 to 5. Sorry about that. :(
  • …really, really talkative. Also sometimes loud. Read this blog and imagine what I must be like in person.
  • …unable to relax. Why waste time in a hammock enjoying the sun when I could be swimming, then kayaking, then rock climbing, then hiking, then cooking, then cleaning the fridge, then biking, then showering and I guess at that point I might have to sleep. Damn.

Impulsive

  • …impatient. Imagine a world in which every teeny tiny little micropause feels like being stuck in relentless traffic on a hot day. Now imagine you’re on line in Starbuck’s and the guy at the front doesn’t know what he wants to order even though he’s been in line for a full 4 minutes. Now try not to strangle him. Have fun.
  • …sorry for what I said, I really didn’t meant to let that slip. Again. Those mental filters you run your thoughts through before deciding which ones to say and which ones bite your tongue on aren’t always working 100% of the time.
  • …interrupting people all the time. Again, it has nothing to do with how interested I am in what you’re saying – it’s just hard to wait my turn without putting my full concentration on waiting. And waiting.
  • …easily irritable. Sometimes a short temper can get the best of me.

When diagnosed, we’re classified as “predominantly inattentive,” “predominantly hyperactive/impulsive,” or both (combined).

However – this classification does not mean that I necessarily have all of the symptoms listed in that category! It also does not mean I don’t have any symptoms from other categories!

For example, take Peach. She’s predominantly inattentive, but she’s can focus just fine when someone is speaking. However, she experiences every other symptom in that section, and she fidgets with her hands (or whatever is in them). A lot. And she talks a lot too, if that wasn’t clear from her writing.

This isn’t enough to qualify Peach as “hyperactive/inattentive,” so you might not be able to assume all that from the label on her file.

Speaking of –

Please don’t assume that…

  • …I’m dumber than everyone else. ADHD does not affect IQ, just the way we process information. If we’re struggling in class, it could be due to the fact that we spaced out and missed important information, forgot to do all our homework, simply could NOT force our fingers to type another word, or any number of other things that big ol’ list might cause. We’re definitely not stupid by default, though. 
  • …I’m just not trying hard enough. Like everyone else, we’re not fond of constant failure. We could put our blood, sweat, tears and soul into our most passionate dreams and still not get things together in time. It’s not a question of one’s willingness to apply oneself, just a chemical spanner in the works of our brain that’s hard to get past on willpower alone.
  • …I’m spoiled. ADHD or not, you probably saw one or more things on that list that describe you pretty well. It’s not uncommon for people to think we’re forming a crutch out of problems everyone deals with (like daydreaming at your desk of the great sun outside). The difference is in degree and frequency – I’d wager those sunny skies are wiped clean from your head after the boss comes in and reams you for poor performance.  With ADHD, it doesn’t matter. It could still happen.
  • …I’ll grow out of it. Roughly 2/3 of kids with ADHD will continue to experience some or all of their symptoms as adults. We might have developed coping mechanisms to carry us this far, but it’s not any easier to meet deadlines and stay quietly in our seats at work than it was when we were in grade school.
  • I know what ADHD is. Kids and adults alike have probably heard those letters thrown around in a ton of different ways. Not all of them are accurate. Just because we’re experiencing it doesn’t mean we totally understand what we’re dealing with, and it’s easy to get discouraged when you keep making the same mistakes no matter what you do to avoid them. Unsurprisingly then, ADHD is very commonly seen alongside anxiety, substance abuse, and depression – all of which may skew our self-judgement and/or complicate our diagnosis.

And that’s about it! Thanks. :)

…. for people who aren’t on medication, at least. The effects of drugs used to treat ADHD can have a whole other myriad set of effects on a person, which I’m going to leave for another time.

Also – being that this was all sparked by adaptations in lesson plans, my next post is likely to be a collection of suggestions for supporting students with ADHD. Until then, I hope this is helpful in some way.

Sources/Helpful Links:

The ADHD student

So – every once in a while, someone new finds out I have ADHD. Sometimes it’s a friend I’ve known forever, sometimes it’s a classmate I’ve been studying with for months, and sometimes it’s someone I’ve just met. Regardless, it’s usually not a big deal (or even a small deal, for that matter). A few curious clarifying questions later…. life pretty much goes on as it always had. Pretty low on the “deal” meter as far as I’m concerned.

It happened just this afternoon while I was working on a group project for one of my education classes. We’re planning a unit as a team, so we’re in the process of bouncing lesson plans off each other for feedback. It’s been going really, really well.

Back when this was assigned, the course instructor gave us a copies of a lesson he’d written as an example of a what a complete plan looks like. In it, he provided ways that the lesson can be adapted in the case of English language learners (ELL) and students with ADHD. This is pretty standard in lesson planning, so no surprises there.

What did strike me was the adaptation provided: “Pair off an ADHD student with brighter students in small groups and provide the students with a word bank of important terms, places, and individuals.”

Hrmm. That…  kind of sounds like ADHD makes you dumber than everyone else. :(

I figured it was probably just an oversight in the phrasing (and I know I definitely do that all the time), so I made a quick note to mention privately after class how reading that could discourage or offend someone who has ADHD. Ironically, I then got distracted and forgot to actually do it.  :|

Fast forward to today when I was perusing the lesson plans one of my teammates sent. I glance at the adaptions section, and word for word, there it is again.”Pair off an ADHD student with brighter students for small group work.”

Hm. Let’s see what’s written for Day 2. Once again, “Pair off an ADHD student with brighter students for small group work.”

Day 3? Day 4?

“Pair off an ADHD student with brighter students…”

Huzzah! The miracle cure has been found!

:(

I couldn’t help but wonder how this person would respond if I told them I have ADHD. We’ve been working together really well, so probably it would go like all those other “not even a deal” conversations I’ve had since my diagnosis.

And then I realized that in every single one of those cases, the person had met me first and found out about the ADHD after.

In other words, every single one of those people got a chance to form first impressions of me that had absolutely nothing to do with ADHD (or any of the other zillions of things that could make me different without being obvious on the surface). To all those people, I got to be Peach – the individual, rather than Peach – an ADHD student that we could pair off with brighter students for small group work.

This luxury is not afforded to students who are diagnosed when they are young. Once it’s on file, there’s a form that precedes them wherever they go in school. Teachers get a list of  all disabilities/disorders/other special needs in their classes so that they’re better prepared to help every individual child learn. This is a good thing – no amount of detention  is going to get a helicopter to sprout wings and glide the same way all those airplanes do, so why not just let it use the damn propeller?

Of course, this gets shot to all hell if you don’t actually know what it is you’re trying to provide accommodations for. Try telling that same helicopter that it’s perfectly ok to take the interstate instead of gliding because you understand and appreciate how different it is.

Or pairing it off with some B-52 bombers for small group work.

:P

Before I get any sassier about this, I’m gonna switch to a slightly more productive gear. I decided to break this up into two posts since I rambled so much at the beginning there. Stay tuned for some facts/assumptions about what ADHD actually does to a person.

…. but for REAL this time

So remember that time I was going to keep a blog to help keep my head straight?

:|

Yeah turns out I’m not always great at committing to positive changes I try to make. This is something I’d really like to change about myself.

:|

 

:|

 

Without much of a better place to start, I guess it’s worth noting that things are going pretty well! I’m working closely with a new graduate program at a new school, taking classes again, and with some effort on my part I should be matriculated in a certification program come September. About a year later, I should be nice and employable. Yessss.

More than that though, I’ve done a much better job committing to getting healthy than I have to blogging. I’m still not doing everything I want to (ie: working out every day and eating like a normal person) and I can go ahead and make a pile of excuses for why that is, but at least now I’m in the best shape I’ve been since high school. Small victories and all that, right?

I mean, with classes going well and a new (kind of) effective exercise regime, why come back to this poor abandoned blog at all?

Simple answer: it represents all the facets of myself that I STILL have a hard time facing and fixing.

Allow me to explain:

Peach Problem #1: The Feedback Loop

1. I decide to turn over a leaf and start being the person I want to be. AWESOME.

2. I get really gung-ho about some small step I can take in that direction. And I do it! YEAAAH!

3. A more-important-thing™ appears. Whether it’s a legitimate crisis, something a friend or relative wants me to take care of, or just something I decide I “deserve” for being good (or feeling bad) – it doesn’t matter. I’ll stop what I’m doing “just this once” because responsible people know how to prioritize (and really, becoming a better person what this was all about in the first place, right?).

4. Suddenly, there’s never a good time. Other more-important-things™ are always looming and Peach is far too busy handling those to worry about some silly little life quest.

5. It becomes embarrassing. I’ll deal with enough of the more-important-things™ to feel good about getting started again, but then I think about how long it’s been since I started and how embarrassing it would be to return to it now. After all this time. I remind myself how badly I need to get myself sorted out, and I just feel worse and worse until I decide to start some new leaf-turning course of action because that always feels really good at the start. :)

And besides – “This time I really mean it. It’ll be different, just you wait and see.”

…….

 

:|

 

This loop sucks.

It’s simultaneously not productive, encouraging to the part of me that wants to just take the easy way, AND just empowering enough to make me feel like I can proudly say I’m making good changes in my life. “I’m getting better,” says the inner (and outer) Peach. “I acknowledge my flaws and I take steps to fix them!”

Pffffffffft. :|

So yes, I’m embarrassed that I never came back to this blog. I’m also embarrassed of the things I want to write about here because they mean admitting truths about myself that I somehow convinced myself I need to ignore if my delicate sense of sanity is going to push through this grad school thing again.

Spoiler: that’s bull. One of the best things I can afford to do for myself right now is just to stop deluding myself. I’ve known for a while that I should get on it, but I’ve had a hard time pinpointing how to get the job done. This past week or so, I think I’ve figured out where to start:

NO EXCUSES

PERIOD.

Someone once told me that a good device for combating the inattentive symptoms of ADHD is to adopt a couple short, simple mantras that are just as likely to pop into your head as any other wayward thought. The example I’d been given was, “No, do it NOW.” That one never seemed to stick with me because, well, I already KNOW I should do it now – I just CAN’T focus on it (because of this big ol’ more-important-thing™ over here).

But “NO EXCUSES” doesn’t let me get off that easy. It doesn’t let me escape my responsibilities or ignore the hard parts of changes I’m trying to make. It’s a constant reminder that none of my habits are ever going to change without my own adherence to the process. And if it doesn’t work? It’s not because of any more-important-thing™, or medical condition, or other totally-extenuating-circumstance™, it’s because I didn’t find a way to make it work.

So here I am. Blogging and eating a solid breakfast. It’s about damn time I started being the Peach I’ve always hoped I’d (eventually maybe someday) be.

Odd Habits Die Hard

Uh, hi.

First posts are probably supposed to be informative and succinct, but since I only make a habit of being one of those things, I guess the honest thing to do is let the rambling flow. So like I said…. hi. :)

My name is Peach (not really) and I’ve got a lot to say. I’m a 24-year old child with ADHD and a strong passion for a lot of things. My life story is boring, but for the most part it can be summed up with this: I just found out a few months ago that I’ve been living with ADHD my entire life. Unfortunately, I found this out around the same time I was “asked to leave” the masters program I’d been languishing in for over a year (Secondary Education – Biology, for the curious). Over 30 credits of masters work, an embarrassingly large amount of money, and a whoooooooooole lot of sanity finally slipped through my fingers last May as I tried my hardest to inevitably get nowhere fast. Such is the nature of ADHD. I guess I know that now.

The story was the same all the way through high school, college, wherever. Work my mind and body raw to accomplish some great, creative idea and in the end I’d either produce something only just barely passable or I’d have nothing to bring to the table at all save for the poorly organized concepts and pipe dreams I started with.

My parents hated this. I REALLY hated it. Teachers didn’t say they hated it, but you could from the way they said “disappointed” that it wasn’t that simple.

And so I came to receive this bit of sage wisdom over and over and over again: “Peach, you’re so smart! If you just applied yourself you’d have anything you ever wanted!”

Honestly? I’d probably have everything I ever wanted and MORE if I could just have a nickel for every time I’ve heard that one. :|

Obviously, it gets old. And you stop believing it after the first few hundred times. It’s actually kind of hard to figure out what’s wrong with you when everyone around you says you’re intelligent or unique or creative or whatever when all you end up doing is messing up everything you set your mind to. It’s frustrating.

Fast forward back through the angst and the frustration and the confusion and the depression and out comes Professor Peach. A grad school fail-out who finally had an idea of what’s going on in her head (and how to go about fixing it). So she talked to a specialist, got diagnosed, and started medicating. Et voila? Welcome to Peach’s Blog.

For the gagillionth time in the world I’m about ready to apply myself and get my life back in order, but for the first time in my life I think my chemically defunct brain is actually on board with that plan. I want a slice of the internet to share all that on so my friends don’t start ignoring me in hopes I’ll go away or at least stop experiencing life-changing meditations (and/or medications) I want to talk about all the time with everyone.

Here goes everything, I guess.