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Dr. Catherine Avery
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AD/HD and Friendships
12 Replies

AD/HDers are attracted to stimulation. It would make sense that an AD/HDer would be attracted to the company of others with this *condition.* I've been amazed at the number of my childhood and…Continue

Started this discussion. Last reply by jason m collard May 13, 2011.

Who were your most favorite and least favorite teachers in elementary school and why?
33 Replies

AD/HDers are known for having intense feelings towards their teachers - either intensely liking them or intensely disliking them!  In those grades where the teacher is liked, the grades of the AD/HD…Continue

Started this discussion. Last reply by Connie Jul 29, 2010.

 

Dr. Catherine Avery's Page

Latest Activity

Maggie and Dr. Catherine Avery are now friends
Mar 27
salman khan left a comment for Dr. Catherine Avery
"thank you so much my dear …"
Nov 2, 2011
Dr. Catherine Avery and salman khan are now friends
Oct 21, 2011
Linda Rhodes left a comment for Dr. Catherine Avery
"Hi Dr. Avery, The info is helpful and I have read so much on AD/HD, but I have not come across anything on trying to get a spouse to read or learn about the AD/HD spouse's condition. I have tried various things such as leaving articles on the…"
Oct 14, 2011
Rodrigo Melo left a comment for Dr. Catherine Avery
"Thanks for the great Posts Doctor!"
Jul 21, 2011
Dr. Catherine Avery updated their profile
Jul 20, 2011
Dr. Catherine Avery and Tania are now friends
Jul 19, 2011
Lori Ambrose left a comment for Dr. Catherine Avery
"Thank you for your friendship!  Lori"
Jun 6, 2011
Dr. Catherine Avery left a comment for Lori Ambrose
"Thanks for the friend invitation, Lori, and welcome to ADDer World! "
Jun 5, 2011
Dr. Catherine Avery and Lori Ambrose are now friends
Jun 5, 2011
Dr. Catherine Avery left a comment for Robert Hogan
"Thanks Robert!  I've been lucky to have interviewed so many ADHD adults and to discover that what I initially thought were my own idiosyncracies are actually common to ADHD adults!"
May 30, 2011
Robert Hogan left a comment for Dr. Catherine Avery
"wow ! that was awesome what you wrote, I sure could identify what you wrote, my girlfriend and I were just speaking about how the littest noise can go right through me and has to be found and fixed as it will irratate me, lol I am seeing a…"
May 30, 2011
jason m collard replied to Dr. Catherine Avery's discussion AD/HD and Friendships
"im more addicted than attracted to stimulation in the mental sense. Love to read about various subjects such as philosophy religion science and so on sometimes so much that i tend to be self contained but I still like to have people around to talk…"
May 13, 2011
farzana zoha left a comment for Dr. Catherine Avery
"hii doc..thanx a lot for your friend request....."
May 8, 2011
Dr. Catherine Avery and melissa a tate are now friends
Apr 24, 2011
Dr. Catherine Avery left a comment for Frank O
"Thank you, Frank!"
Apr 13, 2011

Profile Information

About me & Relation to ADHD?
I am a clinical psychologist who has evaluated over 2,100 individuals for AD/HD, a parent of two children with AD/HD, and I have lived with this condition for as far back as I can remember! (Given the state of my memory, some days that's not saying much...) I also recently published a book on my professional and personal experiences entitled Life at Full Throttle: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults. It is a humorous yet educational exploration on how AD/HD impacts us on a daily basis. The feedback that I have received from fellow ADDers has been overwhelmingly positive! Uniformly I am told by readers that they are laughing out loud while reading, identifying strongly with my stories, and learning new aspects of this condition that they heretofore had not associated with AD/HD.
Your Website:
http://www.lifeatfullthrottleadhd.com

Chapter 16. And What Did You Do Today, Dear?

 

Chapter 16

And What Did You Do Today, Dear?

 

I considered naming this chapter “In Honor of the Unsung Heroes” because in the AD/HD world, mothers and fathers who are full-time homemakers are exactly that. But AD/HD adults are more likely to identify with the current title, since this is a question that many of us have grappled with at the end of a long day at home. And although we may have worked feverishly on 101 projects throughout the daylight hours, as we stare at the chaos spilling out of each and every room of our homes, we are suddenly bewildered in terms of how indeed our time was spent. Why are time management and task completion such a struggle for AD/HDers, particularly in the home setting?

Sari Solden’s description of the expected duties of a homemaker offers insight into the unique struggles of AD/HDers within the home. In her book, Women with Attention Deficit Disorder, Solden writes a fictional ad that lists the expectations placed on homemakers:

 

Woman wanted to coordinate multiple schedules in an unstructured, distracting atmosphere. Must be able to process great numbers of details quickly and maintain a neat, well-organized environment. Must keep track of all important occasions, including social obligations, birthday cards, and thank you notes, as well as be responsible for all subtleties and niceties of life. Must be able to choose quickly and easily from a great number of options. Applicants will be responsible for all recordkeeping and for maintenance of all systems in the organization, as well as the upkeep on all equipment.

 

For those interested, please call 911-N-O-T-A-D-H-D.[i]

 

My guess is that if such a job existed outside of the home, no AD/HDer in his or her right mind would apply for it, for it requires skills that are precisely most difficult for those with attentional impairments: organization, sustained focus, multitasking, and the ability to tune out distractions.

Let’s take multitasking as an example. Multitasking is the current catchphrase to describe the process of dividing one’s attention and working on more than one project at a time. By definition then, multitasking necessitates the ability to actually remember what tasks you are in the midst of completing, a requirement that excludes most AD/HDers from the get-go. AD/HD adults are more likely to become wholly absorbed in one task, until we are distracted by the reminder of another responsibility that really should have been taken care of the day before, and this new task will dominate our attention until the phone rings and we become immersed in conversation, no longer conscious of the multiple tasks that are in partial stages of completion (including the cookies in the oven and the sink that is rapidly filling up with water). In this manner many AD/HD adults spend their days moving from one unfinished task to the next, always in motion, but with little sense of accomplishment by day’s end. As one frustrated homemaker stated, “Sometimes I feel just like an AD/HD commercial: one frame or phase after the other, but NO SONG.”

Being at home also has a strange way of warping time. Without a work schedule, time seems to melt away. You have only just seen your children off to school when they are suddenly tromping back through the door again. This is most likely due to the AD/HDer’s ability to become lost in thought or absorbed in projects. For a while, I set an hourly alarm on my watch, hoping that this little reminder would help me to be cognizant of passing time and allow me to remain present for the fifty-nine minutes between alerts. This intervention didn’t work out as planned, but it did allow me the hourly thrill of recognizing how easily AD/HDers can be transposed to another dimension.

Although it would be just dandy as a homemaker to be able to establish a schedule to accommodate all of the tasks that need to be completed in a given day, there are always unexpected interruptions in the life of a stay-at-home parent. Though you may plan to organize the bills on a given morning, you don’t anticipate that your child’s kindergarten teacher will call to announce that little Katie has vomited all over the classroom sand table and ask if you would please come pick her up as soon as possible? You also don’t foresee that your sewer system will suddenly back up, with foul-smelling toilet water rising ominously close to the rim. And while fielding calls from telemarketers intermixed with reminders from helpful PTA members about upcoming events, you have to wonder if there are any paid positions that have these kinds of job requirements.

Suddenly it is 3:45 pm, and your older children arrive home from school with special needs (“I need to get some papier-mâché to make a model of the solar system that is due tomorrow.”) and expectations (“My teacher wants you to call her—I’m not exactly sure why.”); and before you know it, it’s dinnertime, minus the prepared dinner, and your spouse is asking you, like clockwork, what you did that day.

But full-time homemakers are not alone in these struggles! After reviewing hundreds of stories from AD/HD adults, I want to go on record as stating that although many AD/HDers report being more organized and productive while at work, not a single adult stated, “Well, my workday is a complete disaster, but let me tell you about the wonderful organizational system that I maintain at home.” AD/HDers who function well within the structure of their workplace describe the chaos that ensues on their days off. AD/HD adults who enjoy a sense of accomplishment during office hours speak in hushed tones about the many unfinished projects that await them at home, how they feel pulled in multiple directions, and how they can’t seem to accomplish anything outside of work. As one client aptly put it, “At work I am able to shut all the doors and focus on one thing. At home, too many doors are open.”

In the next chapter, I will offer recommendations that may assist you in providing greater organization and structure to your home life. All I really want to say in this chapter is this: Those of you who stay at home have a really tough job, and you should be recognized for the daunting tasks that you take on day after day. Furthermore, you definitely should not be hard on yourself. Ask any career-oriented AD/HDer to switch places with you, and he or she will be begging for mercy by week’s end. Most important, make sure to take some time for yourself each day to rejuvenate—guilt-free. You deserve it.


 

Chapter 17

Once You Accept Your Limitations, the Solutions are Limitless

 

Perhaps as a reader you are part of the large group of adults who have lived with symptoms of inattention, disorganization, and for many, restlessness throughout their lifetimes, but are only just beginning to question whether or not these “idiosyncrasies” are actually part of a larger disorder of attention. You are embarking on an exciting journey of self-discovery. But first you need to confirm your diagnosis. Talk to your parents or siblings and gather more information about your behavior and attention span as a child, as well as about other family members who may have had similar issues. Do you have access to your childhood report cards? These can provide a wealth of information, particularly the sections where teacher comments are located. “Exercises self-control,” “listens courteously,” “works independently and is not easily distracted,” “completes work on time”—these are often areas where AD/HDers receive checkmarks indicating a need for improvement. Next, find a psychologist, psychiatrist, family practitioner, or internist who is well-versed in AD/HD and who can determine whether or not you indeed meet the criteria for this disorder. Talk to your physician about treatment options.

Perhaps you are part of the minority of AD/HD adults who have recently been diagnosed. Receiving the diagnosis alone is often a huge step for adults who have been struggling with these symptoms for as far back as they can remember. So you are not immature, self-focused, self-destructive, and all the other negative labels that have been ascribed to you over the years, whether by yourself or by others. Re-labeling your behaviors as symptoms of a disorder is an emotional undertaking. Often AD/HD adults have internalized a lot of negative messages, and they replay them every time one of their symptoms is displayed. “Interrupting again, huh? Are you ever going to grow up?” “Feel like you can’t keep up with the conversation? Maybe you should have paid more attention in school.” The first step in recovery is to tell these internal bullies to shut up. Yep, and that feels really good. “Shut up! That was impulsivity, not immaturity, and rather than beating myself up over this, I am going to figure out how to best handle these symptoms.”

Usually there are a lot of old tapes that need to be identified and then altered. Listen carefully. These tapes have often been playing in the background for so long that you have automatically come to accept their damning judgments. Confront these messages when you become aware of them, and make a decision that you are no longer going to be at the mercy of their negativity.

The next step is to take inventory of how AD/HD symptoms are impacting your life. Are you chronically late for appointments and get-togethers? Do you have trouble relaxing after a hard day at work (or at home)? Do you feel overwhelmed when faced with a large project, and do you consequently procrastinate on getting started? Are you always looking for items that you have misplaced? Be honest with yourself. The purpose here is not to place blame but to look at areas of your life where you need to intervene and find solutions to aggravating behavior patterns.

Now pick a behavior that you would like to focus on first. What solutions have you tried in the past to deal with this? What worked and what did not? For an intervention that did not work, think about why not. Let’s take forgetfulness as an example. Perhaps you have tried making lists but didn’t find this to be helpful. Why not? Did you misplace the lists? Did you feel discouraged by all the items on your lists? Did you forget to use your list after the first day of this intervention? Don’t worry. I’m not going to accuse you of making excuses. These are all legitimate reasons why many people stop making lists. Once you determine why list-making was not successful for you, then you can fine-tune your approach so that it can work.

In this chapter I would like to review some of the most common roadblocks that are created by AD/HD symptoms and what interventions have been helpful to other AD/HD adults. Some recommendations will hit the mark for you, while others may not. We are all very different, despite our similar symptoms of inattention. Even the recommendations that sound promising to you will need to be tailored to meet your specific lifestyle and circumstances.

 

Organization

  •  Without question, a personal organizer as well as a family calendar are essential for all AD/HDers to maintain. Family wall calendars can keep track of all school events, dentist and doctor appointments, vacation dates, visits from relatives, get-togethers with friends, etc. Hang it in a central location like the kitchen so that you can write down events when you schedule them by phone or when you review your children’s notes from school. Encourage your children to write down events as well so that there are no last-minute surprise conflicts in the family schedule. Check your calendar before going to bed at night to make certain that you are aware of upcoming events.
  •  Most occupations will also necessitate a planner to keep track of all the details of work, and this is where personal organizers come into play. Finding a planner or organizer that works for you is essential, and the number of planners that I have purchased and then shelved is an ongoing source of amusement for my family. If a planner is too big and awkward, you will not be likely to bring it with you. If it’s too small, you will never be able to cram everything you need to remember on the tiny pages, and even if you could, you’d never be able to decipher what you wrote.

Then, of course, there are the personal digital assistants (PDAs) that offer a large number of organizational benefits, if you have the patience required to punch in the letters and numbers. Many AD/HD adults do not—and it’s an expensive lesson to learn. However, as these handheld computers become more and more sophisticated, they will likely become more AD/HD friendly as well. They also fit in your pocket, a big plus in terms of having your agenda readily available.

 

  • Personal planners are also helpful for those adults who are full-time homemakers, because they can assist you with time management as well. Many AD/HD adults take on too much—and then feel as though they spend their time putting out fires. A well-used planner can assist AD/HDers in not overbooking their days. If you are planning on paying the bills on Tuesday, schedule that activity in your planner, marking off the time as you would a scheduled meeting. If you need to pick up supplies for a school project, put that down as an after-school activity for you and your child. In addition to all the other events that fill up your days, also mark off time for yourself, whether it is to exercise or to chill out and regroup. Once you get into the habit of using your planner in this manner, when you get a call asking if you have the time to help out, you can check your schedule and make an informed decision about whether you have the time or not. If your schedule is full, say no!
  •  To-do lists are also essential for the busy AD/HDer, and the more you utilize and rely on them, the less likely you are to misplace or forget about them altogether. Knowing that I would be unable to keep track of both a to-do list and an agenda, I combine the two and choose planners that have space set aside for lists. Highlight anything that has not been completed and add it to your next day’s to-do list. If you are at your computer on and off throughout the day, another highly effective system is the use of an ongoing to-do list that you can keep in an open folder on your computer. Every time you think of something that you must do, double click your “To-Do List” icon and write it down. You can always print up your to-do list to take with you when you leave the house.

 

Short-Term Memory Problems

 

First and foremost, don’t assume that there is anything you cannot possibly forget! If distracted, what was centrally important to you may be pushed off the radar screen. Interventions that have made my life a whole lot easier include:

 

  • Ask receptionists to call you to remind you of upcoming appointments. Usually they are more than happy to do this and avoid having a no-show.
  •  Ask friends who call to remind you why they called before they hang up.
  •  Ask others to write down requests that they have of you, both at work and at home.
  •  If you need to leave a project midway, leave yourself a note stating where you left off and what you need to do next.
  •  If you have an item that you need to bring with you, put it next to your car keys or your shoes so that you cannot possibly forget it.

 

Task Management

 

  • Oftentimes, a large project that needs to be completed can appear overwhelming. Thus, it is strongly recommended that any large project be broken down into smaller components. Create a checklist of steps that need to be completed. This allows you to judge your progress and provides a sense of gratification as you check off item after item. 
  •  Along the same lines, if there is a task that you find yourself avoiding, approach it in short time intervals. Commit fifteen minutes to the task, take a five-minute break to reward yourself, and then commit another fifteen minutes. Pretty soon you will find that the onerous task has been completed.
  •  Having a large number of smaller tasks to complete can also feel overwhelming, and under these circumstances, AD/HDers often find themselves spinning their wheels, unable to get anything done at all. When you become overwhelmed by the number of tasks that must be addressed, sit down and make out a list of everything that must be done. Include everything that’s preying on you; they all take up space in your beleaguered brain. This process allows you to clear your head so to speak, and everything that you need to complete is summarized before you in written form. Now prioritize what needs to be done immediately, what must be done before the end of the business day, what should be completed before tomorrow, next week, etc. Suddenly, rather than feeling overwhelmed, you have an action plan. As you complete each task, the feeling of being weighed down will lighten, and you will feel more empowered.

 

Sleep/Arousal Problems

 

  • Melatonin, a natural sleep agent, is very helpful in promoting sleepiness, and there is no grogginess the next morning. Take it thirty to forty-five minutes before you want to fall asleep.
  •  Hot baths or showers are wonderful sleep enhancers.
  •  Stay off the computer or Internet late at night; those activities are too stimulating and will deprive you of needed sleep.
  •  Try to avoid taking cat naps because this further interferes with a normal sleep pattern.

 

Emotional Lability

 

  • AD/HDers can be a moody bunch, and there are times where there may be no true precipitant to an angry mood. Rather than trying to find the causes for one’s anger at the world, recognize that the foul mood will pass and limit interactions with others until it does. Learning to laugh at oneself during these foul moods can be helpful as well.
  •  Although increasing one’s organizational skills should be a goal for an individual with attentional weaknesses, it is equally important to allow some time each day to relax and pursue an enjoyable interest. Schedule downtime for yourself; don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed.
  •  Finally, maintain a sense of humor about the situations that you find yourself in as a result of your attentional weaknesses. Although medication and organizational techniques will help to reduce your attentional difficulties, they will not disappear, and you need to accept this unique facet of your personality with a sense of tolerance and humor.




 

Chapter 16

[i] Sari Solden, Women with Attention Deficit Disorder (Nevada City, CA: Underwood Books, 1995), 55.

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At 4:48am on November 2, 2011, salman khan said…

thank you so much my dear  !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 10:53pm on October 14, 2011, Linda Rhodes said…
Hi Dr. Avery,
The info is helpful and I have read so much on AD/HD, but I have not come across anything on trying to get a spouse to read or learn about the AD/HD spouse's condition. I have tried various things such as leaving articles on the chair in which he sits, but he tells me he glances at them, meaning he has not looked at the material. He is very disinterested and my impression is he thinks it is an excuse for certain behaviors. I try not to use it as a handicap, but as I get older I notice my symptoms have worsened. I cannot take the usual medication due to a coronary, but I do take alternative products. I have sought counseling, but even counselors or those who have never dealt with this condition fully understand how it can impact one's life.
At 7:00am on July 21, 2011, Rodrigo Melo said…
Thanks for the great Posts Doctor!
At 4:51pm on June 6, 2011, Lori Ambrose said…
Thank you for your friendship!  Lori
At 5:55pm on May 30, 2011, Robert Hogan said…

wow ! that was awesome what you wrote, I sure could identify what you wrote, my girlfriend and I were just speaking about how the littest noise can go right through me and has to be found and fixed as it will irratate me, lol I am seeing a psychologist and pdoc and it has helped me tremdously to stay clear of my triggers to get over whelmed to quickly and act out in not a nice way. It took time for those around me to accept that I was changing and not being selfish, just didnt want anymore outbursts which always in the end hurt me the most.

Regards, Thought I just share a little with you !

Robert

At 7:08pm on May 8, 2011, farzana zoha said…
hii doc..thanx a lot for your friend request.....
At 7:05pm on April 13, 2011, Frank O said…

Hi Doctor Avery:

Just a quick note to thank you for the "friend request". That was kind of you. I've read your posts and enjoy your insight and commentary.

 

Thanks again!

 

Frank

At 12:48pm on April 13, 2011, Richard eh said…
Thanks for the invitation ... the above reading give me pause to examine my transition from a critical functioning profession to retirement with its freedom and the abyss that it sometimes presents.
At 11:06am on April 07, 2011, Cheryl Anne Groth gave Dr. Catherine Avery a gift
At 9:30am on April 7, 2011, Rodrigo Melo said…

Thanks for the invitation! This is very important to me, to find support! 

Brazil is finally giving  big steps into a new understating of this so important situation!

 
 
 

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