The Diagnostic and Statistics Manual 5 of the American Psychiatric Association identifies two primary types of ADD/ADHD. The first type is related to experiencing symptoms of inattention and the second is related to experiencing symptoms of hyperactivity. To be diagnosed in adults, five out of nine of the symptoms must be present.
Symptoms of inattention can be anything from missing details while writing, difficulty staying engaged in longer conversations, struggling to meet deadlines, absent mindedness when being directly addressed, an inability to remember where you left something, being easily distracted, or, having trouble completing repetitive tasks, such as filling out forms.
The other type of symptoms are related to impulsivity and hyperactivity. Those dealing with ADD/ADHD may manifest as predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, or at times both.
Symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity include trouble staying still, fidgeting, excessive talking, extended amounts of high energy, an inability to be patient in conversation, and interrupting others.
As an example, my past client had ADD as an adult. He grew up thinking he was just an irresponsible, lazy person because that’s what others thought of him.
He regularly missed deadlines, lost track of time watching TV, and even forget important appointments. He confessed to making someone wait twenty minutes because he was late. He told me he struggled a lot with procrastination. Work felt too overwhelming and tedious. He was more motivated by short-term, urgent projects, rather than larger, long-term projects.
Despite his seeming laziness, when the deadline drew nearer, he would stay up late and work diligently. Often, his work was so thorough that even Michelangelo would be impressed. What is amazing about ADD/ADHD brain, is that when it’s crunch time, it can work magic. Coaching and therapeutic guidance can further strengthen and refinine these skills by channeling those dealing ADD/ADHD to find times in the day where they aren’t as distracted.
I helped a specific client to improve his sleep cycles and increase the amount he slept. Although some boast of not needing sleep, sleep is necessary and will only make them more effective. Those dealing with ADD/ADHD are drawn to a lack of sleep because it increases their flow of adrenaline. But, while the short term effects may seem productive, their life is much much more balanced when they get the proper sleep, and they won’t face as much grogginess and apathy.
My specific client achieved great success, which was certainly related to the amount of sleep he was now getting. I recommended he make a structured bedtime. This may seem childish, but it is a way to ensure more sleep. Routine and rituals can aid those with ADD/ADHD. Adding things like exercise and a healthy diet will kick their ADD/ADHD superpowers into even greater action.
What are Your Superpowers?
ADD/ADHD doesn’t have to be a dysfunction. Instead, in can be a gift. Rather than a dysfunction, it might be better to think of ADD/ADHD as a great treasure, even a superpower. The neurology of ADD/ADHD is remarkable!
Here are a few of the perks:
A unique ability to get ‘in the zone.’ When you are ‘in the zone’ thoughts and ideas flow together quickly translating into actions for hours. As a result, those with ADD/ADHD have the capability of accomplishing tons of work in relatively short amounts of time, with limited needs for breaks. To achieve this success, they must be interested in the work and be given proper scaffolding to direct their energy.
The Olympian, Michael Phelps, known for winning 13 individual and 23 team gold medals thanks ADHD for his success. He struggled with it since kindergarten. By the age of 9, he was formally diagnosed. At age 12 he asked to be taken off his medication and instead relied on the structure of his rigourous swim training and practices. His regular routines, exercise, and diet, helped him to channel his remarkable energy.
Phelps is known for his unceasing training schedule. It consists of 3-6 hours in the pool a day and dry land training 4-5 days a week. Structure is central to his life, and his swimming career attests to the effectiveness of his discipline.
It’s sort of like a gut sense. People with super perception are able to understand people and what is going on with very little direct information. They take in every meaningful detail of a situation, even though others might not pick up on the importance of such details. As a Christian, it is not uncommon for God to also grant spiritual discernment to the already heightened biological super perception.
Super perception also often results in better deductive reasoning. Those with ADD/ADHD describe the ability as a sort of mind reading. There is science behind the mind reading. Science estimates that the human brain breaks down the 11 million bits of information we sense into groupings of 40-50 bits per second.
This number is for the average brain. The ADD/ADHD brain is different. It can take in and sort more information because, alongside the conscious mind, the unconscious is also working at a faster rate than those without ADD/ADHD. The unconscious mind is what provides the innate, accurate ‘gut’ sense associated with super perception.
Imagination overflows from the ADD/ADHD brain. The imagination allows them to come up with solutions to complex problems that come from “outside the box.” Where most may see pieces of unrelated information, the ADD/ADHD sees a mosaic of connections, which is impossible to notice from a conventional perspective.
Solving problems need not be linear or bound by typical cause and effect relationships. The ADD/ADHD mind abounds with theta waves to keep them calm and relaxed. Their ability to remain calm affords them access to their subconscious and spiritual dimensions at a faster more efficient rate. Powerful insight, originality, cleverness, perception, resourcefulness, vision, and inventiveness are hallmarks of their tremendous gifting.
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. – Proverbs 29:18
While these are the three most prevalent super powers of ADD/ADHD, there are others. For example, the ADD/ADHD mind has the capability to jump right into projects and situations, in which other may be paralyzed. Or their ability and desire to rescue people from a crisis or uncertain predicament. There are many special traits related to the ADD/ADHD mind, but for now, we will discuss the most crucial: hyperfocus, super perception, and super imagination.
Harness the Power of Adult ADD
“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Uncle Ben
In order to fully access your superpowers, you will need to understand that you have an interest-based neurology. This means that if something interests you, then you will be able to work exceptionally hard on the topic and remain focused on it for long periods of time. Knowing this is how you work is key to accessing the full capacity of ADHD/ADD brain. For those with interest-based neurology, it is actually better to make your interests apart of your work.
If public speaking energizes you, then take on more speaking engagements and seek out opportunities to perform presentations. Figure out how to limit your distractions, so you can achieve your goal of delivering a well-crafted presentation.
Avoid negativity. For example, maybe a co-worker of yours is always complaining about work trips. Ditch the co-worker. Try to surround yourself with supportive and encouraging voices, who will help hone your skills.
Daily routines are very important. Exercise, a healthy diet, ample sleep, and spiritual disciplines are all ways of best accessing your superpowers of hyper focus, super perceptions, and super imagination. I’m a huge advocate for creating positive habits. Establishing these healthy rhythms will help you to get things done without even thinking about it.
Sensory overload can be a problem for the ADHD/ADD brain. To prevent this, try things like listening to music in order to drown out other noise or turn off your phone alerts. You can explain to your co-workers and associates why you are taking these precautions, so they will understand.
Peter Shankman, a business entrepreneur, and life coach describes several key concepts to harness your super powers in his book “Faster than Normal.”
1) Clutter is like kryptonite is to Superman – A messy desk is a major distraction. You won’t be able to find things you need and will be tempted to reorganize often. Keep your space neat, clean, and organized, so you will be able to access what you need when you need it. Remember, you don’t need a flawless filing system, the main goal is just to avoid clutter. The process can be a simple as putting paperwork you rarely need into a different bin out of the way.
2) Get rid of choices – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, was onto something when he eliminated choices from his wardrobe. Sometimes having to many choices slows you down. If you really like wearing that shirt, then get a couple of them, so you can wear them throughout the week. There is no shame in wearing simple outfits you like, and it can even save you time.
3) Create deadlines in the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly – “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).” Time is short, and we are to value the time that the Lord has given us.
Part of the struggle of the ADHD/ADD brain is that it is difficult to begin a task. However, once you start, it is easier for you to finish because your brain loves closure. If you don’t have deadlines, then you never get closure. It will be helpful for you to work back and set a deadline for yourself. Then, go back to anticipate and allocate how much time you will need to complete the project. Remember to set realistic timelines, so you don’t find yourself staying up all night to complete an impossible task.
4) Delegate the small stuff – Why? Because if you don’t, then you will get sidetracked dealing with the small fish, while the big fish gets away. Remember that you are trying to take care of the big task. The task only you can perform. Let others help you tie up the loose ends, while you tackle the big thing. Learn to be willing to hand things off to others, especially when they are better at organizing and ordering. Then step back and be thankful that God gave us all different strengths
Celebrate being unique! It doesn’t have to be a curse, it can be a tremendous blessing. Learn about who you are and how you are uniquely wired through reflection on God and his word. Learn how you work. Don’t ignore God’s spiritual and biological gifting.
Accept God’s love and what he has for you, drink of it each day and remain motivated to accomplish the plans he has laid out for you. If you feel lost or overwhelmed, seek out a Christian counselor or coach. Find how to live life the way God intended for you.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10
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When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. – Psalm 34:17 -20
When people hear about the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the picture that typically comes to mind is of a hyperactive or impulsive child that is having difficulty coping at school or behaving in various social environments.
It is a big challenge for both the child and the family as they struggle with the child’s excessive movements and outbursts. But come adulthood, it is estimated that nearly half of such children will grow out of it, especially if they were diagnosed with ADHD at an early stage.
What does NOT usually come to mind are the adults who were not able to outgrow their ADHD problems as children, particularly those who were never diagnosed with ADHD when growing up. Because of this, there are an estimated 5% of adults in the US who continue to struggle in life as they cannot seem to take control of their symptoms.
The Symptoms of ADHD in Adults
Unlike in children, the symptoms of adult ADHD are trickier to diagnose. This is because it is easy to pass off such symptoms as problems that “regular people” may also have. Another concern is the adult’s mental health as he or she has struggled for years trying to gain acceptance from people around them, unaware that this difficulty stems from the ADHD that they have had since childhood.
Aside from emotional outbursts, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness, adults with ADHD may also have problems with the following:
- Concentrating on tasks
- Finishing work on time
- Following directions
- Organizing things
- Remembering important information
Because of these, adults with ADHD may also suffer from:
- Anger issues
- Chronic boredom
- Lack of motivation
- Low self-esteem
- Mood swings
- Relationship problems
- Substance abuse
Negative Patterns Shaped since Childhood
If not addressed early on, the negative patterns from childhood ADHD tend to repeat themselves in adults. In school, many such children were probably labeled as “underachievers” as they struggled with subjects and probably repeated a grade or two.
Even if they did not drop out, they may have regularly gotten into trouble over emotional outbursts (particularly anger concerns), tardiness, or truancy, and may also have dabbled in alcohol or drug usage, choosing to rebel rather than to conform to accepted norms.
As adults, similar patterns often occur due to continuing problems adjusting to what society expects. The inability to concentrate, remember, and finish tasks properly may either lead to difficulty holding a job or acquiring a good paying job sufficient for their needs.
These, in turn, aggravate mood swings and their possible dependencies (e.g. alcohol or drugs). Since there are more expectations placed on adults, relationship problems can become more pronounced, resulting in broken friendships, bridges burned at work, and even multiple divorces and marriages. The inability to focus can also cause accidents at home or on the road.
The Importance of Outside Help
The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated… it is finished when it surrenders. – Ben Stein
Our society demands a semblance of order so that everyone may function well, but conflict occurs when boundaries are crossed. Sadly, this is a hardship for those who suffer from ADHD since their impulsiveness and seeming lack of control naturally leads them to behave in ways that others may resent.
Treatment should be sought in order to avoid the more serious consequences. As a mental health disorder, the skillful guidance of a therapist can help the sufferer understand their circumstances, allowing them to view their lives more positively.
The therapist will also help the ADHD adult sufferer to better organize their life through tasks and other coping mechanisms. The end goal is for the sufferer to realize that they can control this disorder if they can just take things step by step and learn to avoid the negative behaviors and attitudes they may have developed over the years.
Modifying Behavior in a Safe Environment
Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have. – Norman Vincent Peale
Behavior modification is a key goal for ADHD therapy. Since the person has difficulty controlling their emotional responses, the therapist aims to correct this through different coping strategies, especially in situations that are considered highly stressful for the sufferer.
A good therapist is also able to focus on the specific problems that the sufferer is struggling with. These may include goal setting practice, organization of things, prioritization, and techniques for better and longer concentration.
For those dealing with extreme hyperactivity issues, they may include strategies for sitting still when needed and an introduction to activities to help lessen excessive energy.
Social skills can also be tackled, especially for those who have isolated themselves because of their disorder. These are all done in a safe and professional setting so that the person can practice them, knowing that all is kept confidential and that everything is done specifically for their needs.
For those who have been given medication for their disorder therapy sessions are still very important. While medication may help with impulsivity and difficulty in focusing, it does not automatically give them the life skills that ADHD has prevented them from learning.
Retraining the Brain
It is not what happens to you that determines how far you go in life; it is what you do with what happens to you. – Zig Ziglar
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) aims to change negative thinking into positive thinking. This is very important since an adult with ADHD has probably been dealing with years of unhealthy thoughts about themselves and society around them.
CBT rewires the thinking so that not everything has to be “perfect”. When this is achieved, then minor mistakes will not be so magnified in the mind of the sufferer, allowing them to continue on with their tasks rather than giving up.
Sufferers are also trained not to overgeneralize situations (e.g. – they always forget their keys, they always mess up when organizing important things) so that they can come to understand that these may all be overcome. The new positive ways of thinking allow them to take on bigger challenges as well – something that they may have stopped doing due to failures in the past.
CBT also aims to stop comparative thinking where the sufferer is always comparing themselves to others, which is generally unhealthy in any person – ADHD sufferer or not.
Benefits of Talk Therapy
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
Talk therapy is used to unlock the reasons behind the anxiety or depression the person may be undergoing due to their struggles with ADHD. Without this, it will be difficult to modify behavior or rewire thinking. In the discussions, family relationships may be brought up as well as past, present and future dreams and fears. Overall, such discussions aim to alleviate emotional and spiritual burdens.
Family therapy may also be included since the spouse or children may also be undergoing stress related to their loved one’s disorder. Part of the sessions may include coping skills during outbursts as well as ways to support their loved one as they struggle with the disorder. Strong family support is important in overcoming ADHD.
Overcoming Low Self-Esteem
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7
Most adults with ADHD have probably experienced years of emotional issues stemming from their condition. Being branded as “stupid”, “slow”, “lazy” or “weird” while growing up can destroy a person’s sense of self-worth. Many have probably also endured countless setbacks in life such as failed relationships or slow and disappointing progress in their careers.
Therapy is essential in tackling such ideas so that there can be emotional and mental healing. If this can be done, their distorted self-image may be changed, allowing them to view life with hope and promise.
In addition, the sufferer will be asked to come to terms with their condition since it will be with them for the rest of their lives. With proper management and support, however, they may also come to understand that this disorder should not hold them back from achieving a fulfilling life.
Christian ADHD Therapy
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
For ADHD sufferers who would like to obtain spiritual healing and strengthen their inner resolve, a Christian therapist may help by combining therapy with Biblical truths. Scripture-based lessons may help such adults fully achieve the spiritual peace they have been missing all these years.
Many ADHD sufferers who have undergone such therapy have discovered that their disconnection with God had intensely aggravated their situation since there was no one they could turn to in their hours of doubt and despair. Repairing that relationship is critical since ADHD is a lifetime condition, albeit one that can be overcome with God’s help.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ADHD or you suspect that you or a friend may have ADHD, then it is important to contact a Christian therapist San Diego who can provide the support needed to overcome this disorder. It is not too late to turn things around with God’s help.
For nothing will be impossible with God. – Luke 1:37
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A child bolts around the classroom even after repeated directions to remain seated. He has verbal outbursts and constantly interrupts other students who are talking. This child could be displaying forms of ADHD.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) considers ADHD “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.” People with ADHD may show both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, or one may dominate.
Symptoms of ADHD
The NIH breaks ADHD down into three types: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD affects millions of children and often carries over into adulthood. Symptoms may decrease but are usually present to some degree.
Here are a few symptoms to look for to help recognize if you, or someone you know, has ADHD.
ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation:
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
- Finds paying attention challenging
- Struggles to listen
- Rarely follows through with given instructions
- Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring consistent mental effort
- Regularly loses belongings
- Is easily distracted
- Is forgetful in daily activities
ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation:
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair
- Has difficulty remaining seated
- Runs about or climbs excessively in children; extreme restlessness in adults
- Difficulty engaging in activities quietly
- Acts as if driven by a motor; adults will often feel inside as if they are driven by a motor
- Talks excessively
- Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
- Difficulty waiting or taking turns Interrupts or intrudes upon others
If the individual meets the criteria for both inattention and hyperactive-impulsive she has combined ADHD presentations. Children with ADHD can face more challenging scenarios in life.
Finding it hard to focus in the classroom or to sit still can lead to poor academic performance. Some teachers and students may even pass judgment on a child with ADHD. Some peers and adults will refuse to accept a child with ADHD because of their behavior, which can result in low self-esteem.
How to Treat ADHD
ADHD does not need to be left untreated. Many therapies and methods exist to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve the quality of life.
1. Behavior therapy
Teachers and parents can implement behavioral strategies to give consistency and establish clear rules in the home and school environment. A token reward system is one strategy to use to give positive and negative feedback. If instructions or a task are completed a marble goes into the jar. If a task is not completed, two marbles are taken out. A reward is given based on the number of marbles in the jar at the end of the day.
Older children with ADHD can benefit from psychotherapy. Itcreates an environment where they can express their frustrations, explore behavior patterns and come up with solutions to combat their symptoms.
3. Parenting skills training
A young child with ADHD needs overwhelming support from his family. Often, the child might feel ridiculed at school. It’s important to create a safe place at home by learning your child’s behaviors and how you can react.
4. Family therapy
Not every member of the family might be as understanding of the one with ADHD. Setting aside time to meet with a family therapist will help manage stress levels. The child needs to know he is loved and accepted by the family.
5. Social skills training
Learning proper social behaviors will help children assimilate into the classroom culture.
6. Relaxation exercises
Never underestimate the power of relaxation. Trying different yoga exercise or forms of breathing can help a child with ADHD calm down.
7. Modified diet
For those with ADHD, most experts suggest a modified diet which involves eliminating foods thought to increase hyperactivity, such as sugar, and common allergens such as wheat, milk, and eggs. Some diets recommend avoiding artificial food colorings and additives. Caffeine use as a stimulant for children with ADHD can have adverse effects and is not recommended in the diet.
Encourage children to move. Not only is exercise a massive health benefit, regular exercise may have a positive effect on behavior in children with ADHD when added to treatment.
What Should Christians Know About ADHD and its Treatment?
The number of children diagnosed with ADHD in the United States continues to rise. Turning to forms of medication for ADHD has taken families and schools by storm to such an extent that kids are routinely referred for psychiatric care. Most people default to the idea the child has a brain disease and needs medication to cure a chemical imbalance.
Not every doctor agrees that medication is the course to follow for a child with ADHD. Dr. Leon Eisenberg, known as the scientific father of ADHD, viewed ADHD as a fictitious diagnosis which consists only of identifying a list of behavioral symptoms. Indeed, a medical diagnosis does not seem to capture the essence of this problem and is too simple an answer to a complicated issue.
Christians often contemplate the use of ADHD medication for children. Some believe medication used during the younger years will become a gateway drug in the future or have adverse side effects to their child’s development.
Medication is not always the answer, especially for such a complex issue like ADHD. Here are a few practices Christians can put in place to help their child struggling with ADHD.
Become the advocate
Your child will need to know he has your support no matter what. Become his voice at school to ensure teachers are working toward your child’s success as well. Often, children with ADHD are alienated or seen as a nuisance. You can become a part of a team that decides what kind of services the school has in place for children with ADHD.
Constant negative feedback can take a toll on a child’s confidence. Just imagine if you were in a setting where almost everything you did was seen as wrong or bad. Set aside special time during the day for one-on-one connection. Notice how your child is gifted and nurture that gift.
Praise every success
Notice and give praise for your child’s success, no matter how small it might seem to you. Encouragement can work wonders, especially if the child is accustomed to negative comments. It takes even more praise to reverse the effects of negative feedback.
Christians should take time to perform their own research about treatment plans for ADHD. Every family must make an individual choice of whether medication is the right next step for their child.
Impulsive and inattentive children need parental love, guidance, and discipline before any type of medical intervention. Christian counselors in San Deigo can help navigate behaviors and create different strategies to implement during daily interactions with children with ADHD.
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