donderdag 18 september 2008

ADHD and Failure at the Point of Perfomance. Why Don't we just do it?

Russell Barkley said:

AD/HD does not interfere with knowledge. It is not a skill deficit. It is not a learning disability. AD/HD disrupts the performance of knowledge, not the knowledge itself.

Why is that important? It’s important for this reason: You do not do skill training to help people with AD/HD. Stop treating them as if they’re stupid. Stop treating them as if they don’t know anything. “Oh, you can’t sit still? I’ll teach you. Oh you can’t do time management? I’ll teach you. Oh, you don’t have any friends? We’ll do social skills training. Listen to how we approach this disorder. We view it as a deficit and I can correct it by teaching you the right things to do.”

I made great notes on ADHD and failure at the point of performance. But just didn’t have time to transfer them from my head to paper. This is a rush job before “Lost in Austen ‘starts at 10.

I had two months since the last meeting-Why didn’t I write good topic notes? Why can’t we get things done, even when we know exactly what we need to do?

The Usual Suspects - Distractibility, Temporal myopia (to pinch Russell Barkley’s phrase for time wasting), Inability to resist temptation to do something more fun instead, Overwhelmed by organizing my ideas,

What helps to get thing done?

Being Centered, Clarity about goals and ethics. (I’m an atheist, but group members with a strong religious belief seem to have an advantage in managing their adhd)

Perhaps, the more deeply we embed our principles and goals the easier it becomes to have them in mind in a crisis.

Focusing questions for clarity: Imagine your funeral: what are people saying? Who are your heroes?

See Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for writing a personal mission statement.

Awareness of Performance. Lifetime Ongoing Evaluation of effectiveness of organisational techniques, medication etc. Is everything still working for you?

A change of work demands e.g. might need a different oganisational method

Persistence. Most people with ADHD are good at this. You get distracted but Refocus again and again .It’s our strength- hopefully one of many!

Beware of Self blame-‘I’ve done nothing all morning again, I’m waste of space’. It distracts from refocusing, it distracts from the task and makes it difficult to think clearly. Forget it; let other people with more attentional resources blame you, they are, after all, often willing to help in this instance :).

Beware of perfectionism. Organization needs to be good enough to get the job done- no more.

Use Visualization techniques (from sports science)

. Effective for a number of uses including refocusing- imagine yourself vividly, concentrated on- e.g. filling in your tax return return. The feel of the pen in your hand, see your accounts open on the table before you, the feel of the chair beneath you, the smell of ink, and you absorbed concentrating. Don’t think what a relief it will be when you’ve finished – you can get caught in a day dream of how good it will feel and what you'll do when it’s finished .Stay in the moment. Your reward is in the moment, the contentment of concentration. When you notice your attention has wandered refocus by refreshing the image of you happily concentrating and get back to work.

Visualiation can also be used to practice something difficult-e.g. staying calm in a difficult interview, or to set reminders to you when pencil and paper reminders are not enough

Habits. Thinking about doing the same thing every day of your life can make life seen pointless. Swallow your angst. Try and grow a habit even, just one to start, and another if you already have some... Read Henry James essay on habits. Habits help us get things done by taking some of the pressure of working memory and self control.

Finally, New Scientist in The Origins of Will Power gave some hints on developing will power based on research by scientists such as Baumeister and Gollwitzer who studied the effect of planning on Will Power.

Here’s a summary of their recommendations:

Choose your battles

Willpower is limited -making a big decision; resisting temptation or controlling emotions all deplete it.

Baumeister found that People persisted with an impossible task longer when asked to resist eating radishes (easy , ( Rapunzel’s mum had eaten them already?) ) then when asked to resist eating fresh baked cookies (hard))


Writing a clear plan: including details of how, when and where. Makes it much more likely you'll get the job done.

(I ‘d add that Adhders who daydream may be distracted by thinking about the future . Still need to plan but especial care and awareness needed. Good luck !)

Boost energy levels

Exercising willpower depletes blood glucose, just like physical exercise.

(People performed mentally draining problems persisted more when given a sugary soda, then those given a diet drink or water)


Willpower strengthens with use, like a muscle. Exercising self-control, e.g. keeping an exercise plan over time, can boost your resolve in other areas.


Set a trigger for new habits, for example going to the gym at 5pm every Tuesday (rather then I’m going to join the gym). Removing the conscious decision makes it easier to get started, and to form a habit.

I know I included habits 2X.Repetition is required for habit formation.

Be Specific

If your goal is specific, (rather than vague or general), you are more likely to succeed.

Positive Goals

Focusing on a positive goal can sometimes be more successful than avoiding a negative one. Aim to win, rather than fear losing.

Geen opmerkingen: