What comes to mind when you hear the term “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” or ADHD? Often you visualize a kid in school who can’t sit still and always seems to get in trouble. His desk is messy, she fidgets a lot, he gets up often to sharpen his pencil, she always is gabbing to a friend and doesn’t pay attention in class, they have a reputation for being difficult and irresponsible.
What about ADHD in adults? What thoughts come to mind?
Did you know that many individuals are not evaluated for ADHD until they are adults … or not at all?
I am one of those people. I found out as an adult when I was talking with a psychologist, and he casually responded to me, “well that’s because you have ADHD.”
Initially, I was shocked by his observation, never having that thought cross my mind. Even my mother didn’t believe it. “You have a master’s degree, you can’t possibly have ADHD,” I remember her saying to me.
As I started to reflect on my life, my daily routine, and my everyday tasks, I had to agree with the psychologist.
Now, as a therapist at The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health, my specialty – and one of my passions – is working with adults and children to help them overcome their ADHD struggles. I help evaluate clients for ADHD, and then I begin a structured problem-solving process individualized for each client’s needs.
I especially love to see the look on a client’s face when they realize there is an explanation for the struggles they’ve lived with their whole life and the social difficulties they are dealing with.
Now, they can move forward, learning about ADHD and how they can manage their condition successfully.
I like to say they are taking one small bite at a time out of the elephant in the room.
My goal through our sessions is to help clients figure out what their obstacles are, and what they can do to overcome them.
As a therapist with ADHD helping clients with ADHD, I get it, and it seems to help them, too, knowing I understand their struggles.
In our sessions, I work with clients to identify the barriers they encounter and develop a personalized solution to remove those barriers. If they feel overwhelmed with a task they need to complete, we begin the structured problem-solving process.
Doing laundry seems to be a common difficult task for those with ADHD. For most people, the process is automatic, however, for a person with ADHD, it involves too many steps – from gathering the laundry, to sorting it, loading it in the washer, determining what setting to use, waiting for the wash to finish, moving it to the dryer, deciding how much time it will take to dry, waiting again, folding the laundry and putting it away. For many, it is easier not to do the laundry because the task is so overwhelming. This also shows why many people with ADHD wrongfully are labeled as lazy or procrastinators.
Through our fact-finding, problem-solving sessions, I also encourage clients to find humor. Approaching a cumbersome and complex task with humor can reduce stress and anxiety, and help clients have a clearer and more objective mindset to tackle their issue.
I also recommend body doubling. Do something with another person to get through the task with less anxiety. If you have to clean the house, for example, invite a friend over to keep you on track, and the task won’t seem so insurmountable.
It’s all about learning how to organize tasks systematically.
I also work with clients to practice mindfulness. This is a great tool for people who are super interrupters.
ADHD can be debilitating. That’s why determining if you have ADHD is critical.
Parents should be on the lookout for these signs of ADHD in their kids:
- Daydreaming often
- Forgetting or losing things a lot
- Always squirming or fidgeting
- Talking too much and too often
- Making careless mistakes or taking unnecessary risks repeatedly
- Having a hard time resisting temptation
- Having trouble taking turns
- Having difficulty getting along with others
It’s normal for kids to have trouble focusing or behaving appropriately from time to time. But, when you start seeing a pattern, you may want to consider an evaluation for ADHD.
Children with ADHD don’t grow out of it; I’m a good example. I didn’t learn I had ADHD until I was in my late 20s. The symptoms are a little different – there is more restlessness, impulsive behavior and the inability to plan or manage tasks, time and finances. ADHD in adults can cause difficulties with work life, home life, family life, friendships and relationships.
Coping with the challenges of ADHD can seem overwhelming, but there is help!
I recommend some reading resources for those with ADHD and those trying to help their loved ones who have ADHD:
Three books I recommend:
- More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD
- Thriving with Adult ADHD: Skills to Strengthen Executive Functioning
- The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps
“ADDitude” magazine also is a great source of information.
I also follow ADHDoers on Instagram and ADHD Elite.
Also consider seeking help from a mental health therapist with professional training in ADHD.
Be patient, but persistent with yourself as you begin to tackle one task at a time on your journey to overcoming the obstacles of ADHD. Planning, organizing and prioritizing on a regular basis takes time and practice. Expect some setbacks, but always look at the progress you have made.
If you struggle with ADHD, Licensed Professional Counselor Zemirah Weber can help. She has a special interest and expertise in ADHD and has worked extensively with teens and adults who have ADHD. She helps clients identify their individual barriers to executive function and implement individualized and creative solutions to work through their ADHD obstacles. Clients will learn structured problem-solving techniques for managing work and home life, managing time and organizing tasks and projects, all while finding some humor through the process. To arrange an appointment with Zemirah, call The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health at 248.399.7447.