ADHD, faith

The Shoulds of Life Can Destroy You

Should is a messy word.

It’s a messy word that messes with my mind.

I should do this.

I should be able to do that.

Should is like an arrow that shoots guilt into the heart of the receiver and drags them down to the bottom of the Pit of Despair.

With one word, I can make someone else feel like a total loser.

With one thought, I can make myself feel like a total loser.

As my children get older, should takes on a new approach: I should have done this or I should not have done that.

Should doesn’t just destroy me: it can destroy my kids.

How many times have I said, “Well, you should be able to do that!”

I have kids with special needs and should isn’t a fair gauge.

I have ADHD and some massive health problems. Should isn’t a fair gauge for me either.

Should doesn’t have realistic goals.

It looks at the ideal.

Should is a perfectionist who doesn’t want to face reality.

It asks “What would happen if no one had any roadblocks?” and measures everything by that ruler.

The problem with this? We don’t live in an ideal world.

We don’t live in a world free of roadblocks.

We live in this world.

Everyone –no matter who they are– has some impediment ….mental illness, chronic health issues, learning disabilities, childhood trauma –just to name a few.

Should criticizes and tears down the confidence we have and ignores the progress we’ve made.

It changes around our thought process from being content with what is working to being dissatisfied with life.

This is what I have learned about should:

  1. It’s a liar. A lot of times, the things I tell myself I should be able to do aren’t true, or at least they aren’t true for me. “I should be able to do calculus.” Really? I have dyscalculia, a math-based learning disability. I need to change the should to something rational. Something like, “I might be able to do calculus if I get a tutor who specializes in learning disabilities.” Here’s another, “I should be able to keep my house clean.” That pang of guilt from the should kills me, but it’s also not based in reality. I have over 20 medical diagnoses. Some days, I can barely walk. Would I expect a friend in that condition to keep her house immaculately clean, the standard I hold myself to? No. A more reasonable thing to say to myself is: “I might be able to keep the house clean if I get help.”
  2. It’s destructive. If I allow the shoulds of life to take over my heart and mind it destroys every bit of joy I have. There’s only so much that I can control. What is in my power, I can reasonably expect myself to do. What’s outside my control –my health, my children’s disorders, my friend’s attitudes– those I should not guilt myself about and should not second-, third-, and fourth-guess myself. One thing that’s in my power: how I use my words and what thoughts I entertain and encourage. Every little bit of joy, happiness, and confidence can be destroyed by that little word should if I let it have control over me.
  3. There are many versions of should. For example: “If you really loved her, you would have put her in Karate so she’d be able to protect herself.” What is that statement really other than a veiled should intended to bring shame and heartache? How many times have I hidden a guilt-inducing should in a sentence that stung someone like a dagger?

Should is just a helping verb.

Am I really going to let a little verb have this much power over my life and my family’s life when I have the power to change the narrative, power to change my own outlook and happiness, not to mention that of those around me?

Words are very powerful.

Although we liked to reject the power of words as kids (Remember “I’m rubber –you’re glue….”?), the truth is that words have the power to build up, to tear down, to sustain us through the hard times, or compel us to give up. Words can even make us believe there is no hope.

Worse yet, if we say something often enough or loud enough, we start to believe it no matter how far from the truth it may be.

So, I’ve started intentionally changing my narrative. I am trying to rethink my shoulds.

For instance, when I’m panged with guilt and say to myself, “You should have had him in piano years ago!” I change it to, “I could have had him in piano years ago, but we didn’t have the money. I had to make the best decision for the whole family.”

This is truth.

Truth sets me free.

And, poof, the guilt is gone.

Should has lost its power.

When I’m frustrated and think “He should be able to write this” about one of my kids, I change the words I’m using to “could.” “He could write this if he didn’t have this learning disability. I’ve worked really really hard to get him to the place where he is. He may not be where other kids are, but he’s actually doing really well.”

I’m truth-checking my own statements so they do the least damage possible to me and to those around me.

I know should is a liar and that his lies are destructive. So, I’m not letting his lies –no matter what form they take — settle in my heart and mind and contaminate my joy and peace.

Check your shoulds at the door.

Don’t let them ruin you –or those you care about.

You have the power over your inner voice and over the words you speak to others.

Speak truth.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

If you found this helpful, you might find these posts about seeking peace and about giving yourself and your kids grace helpful, too.

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You If He Could

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank

How Do I Do It All?

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blogging

What I Wish I Had Known When I Started Blogging

I was recently asked what I wish I had known when I started blogging or what I would tell others who were starting to blog. Apparently, I have inspired some friends to start blogs of their own. This is the advice I passed on to them:


  1. Do it because you love it. Writing is hard. If you are doing it for accolades, to make other people happy or to impress others, you will give up. You need to do it because you are driven to do it for yourself, because you want to help others, and because you desire to make a difference. When I started out blogging the first time back in 2008ish, I was trying to look like all the perfect type-A blog moms –and I failed miserably. I wanted to look perfect, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t. It wasn’t honest. Now, I write because I love to write and because I love to help people. I write what I write even if people don’t like it because I am not trying to make anyone happy. I am trying to do what I think is right. I am okay being me.

  2. People will disagree with you. Sometimes in very unkind ways. That’s okay. Expect it. If you don’t have any haters, you’re probably not doing it right. The good news is that WordPress, as well as most forms of social media, have ways of blocking people who threaten, spam, or otherwise harass you. If you start off expecting it to happen, you won’t be quite as shocked as I was. I am a nice person, and I expect everyone else to be nice. That is not the reality of the world –or especially of the internet.

  3. Be honest. But not too honest. You want to write about things that you know about and that are near and dear to you. But, what you don’t want to do is come across as whiny or complaining. There are some topics that I wish to write about, but which I have refrained from addressing simply because the issue isn’t resolved enough in my life and in my own mind to be able to write it in a positive way. There are some topics I won’t address because they are too personal or it would air my family’s dirty laundry. Establish boundaries and respect those around you. This is important. For instance, I never discuss my husband or children without their permission. Too much honesty in that area could be a breach of trust. My relationships are not worth a few more views.

  4. WordPress is better than Blogger. WordPress wins in the blogging category for a number of reasons, but especially because they have excellent customer service. Unfortunately, Google products are lacking in the help category. For example, I am still trying to figure out why Adsense (a different Google product) has blocked my blog, and I can’t get a clear answer from anyone there about it! I actually like Google and Google products but I haven’t been impressed with their customer service. I have, however, been incredibly impressed with the quality and speed of the help I receive from WordPress. I have used both Blogger and WordPress, but in the end decided on WordPress.

  5. Self-host if you can. Hosting has to do with where your blog’s files are stored. You can store your files with WordPress for free with conditions, but what I learned the hard way is that when you decide that you want to upgrade (so you can make money), you have two choices: a WordPress upgrade which is expensive or another service which is less expensive. The problem is that WordPress makes it hard to transfer your blog files to another service. The transfer was so fraught with troubles that I ended up transferring back to WordPress and paying the higher prices just because the issues on the other server were so great it wasn’t worth the time to fix them –even if I had known how to fix them. You can resolve this problem altogether by starting out using WordPress’ program but not storing your files with them. If you start out hosting in a different site than WordPress, you never have to transfer your files and never have to potentially lose hundreds of dollars and thousands of readers when your blog is down and unreadable. Alternatively, if you want excellent service from a really great company, you could host with WordPress and pay their higher prices for their excellent services. It is worth it, in my opinion, but we all have budgets. I didn’t plan to pay this much, but I do think it is worth what I pay now that I know that many other hosting companies Have really horrendous customer service.

  6. It is best to start out with a little capital. It is best but not necessary. It takes money to make money. If you want to make money from your blog, you are probably going to have to invest some money. The first money I spent (about 6 months after I started the blog) was about $100 that upgraded my blog to a better WordPress package allowing advertising (the free package doesn’t allow advertising). In all, I have spent hundreds of dollars in the last year. I made my first bit of money this last month from advertising. It accumulated over the course of the year until it was large enough for me to receive a check. However, I am still in the hole compared to how much I have spent on the blog. Some of that was the amounts I spent on the other hosting service that didn’t work out. Some of that money I was unable to get back. Experience tax, I guess.

  7. Utilize social media. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. What you are writing can be totally awesome, but if no one is reading it, it won’t matter. Share it –but don’t be obnoxious about it. I haven’t invested in ads yet, but I read that Facebook Ads are actually pretty successful. Most of my views come from Facebook. I share my posts on my groups and hope others will share it if they find it useful. My plan is work on Pinterest next.

  8. It is a lot of work. It has taken daily work for 18 months –sometimes multiple people hours upon hours– to make only a hundred dollars. I didn’t go into it wanting to make money. There are better ways to make money, honestly. This is a passion for me –not a job. Very few people get rich quickly by blogging. It is a long and arduous process. If you don’t love writing, it might not be worth it to you.

  9. Take a break when you need it. After October when I posted daily on social media for nearly 3 weeks, I took a 2-week break and changed my posting schedule. I was beat –and it was affecting my health. All the attention on social media was affecting my health so much so that my labs came back all askew. My doctor said that I needed to regulate myself and set healthier boundaries for myself, or she would dictate what I could do to preserve my health. Know your limits and back off before you make yourself sick. Don’t do what I did.

  10. Educate yourself. There is a ton of information online about running a blog, online business, ect. If you aren’t writing, I recommend that you learn about how to run a blog. It is confusing, and there is a long learning curve, honestly, but it is worth it. Knowing that I have helped others and made a difference in people’s lives makes the threats, spammers, and stress worth it.

  11. Don’t compare. Measure your success against yourself, not others. If I compare myself to someone who has been blogging for years or caught a break when I didn’t, I will get discouraged and stop. If I measure myself against where I was before and where I want to go, I will have a better and more realistic view of my blog.

  12. Stay true to yourself. Your most popular most might not be your favorite posts. I love writing about my faith and chronic illness, but my readers love reading about homeschooling and ADHD. My most viewed posts are not the ones that I poured my heart and soul into. Honestly, many of the posts that have gotten the most views are the ones that I wrote on an impulse because I thought it was useful information. Apparently, I am pretty good at writing about homeschooling and ADHD, because people enjoy reading it. However, I can still write about things that are really dear to me, like my faith, while also writing about things that are more popular. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I have read that you’re supposed to pick a niche topic and stick to that. But, that isn’t true to who I am. I decided to write about what I am good at writing about (ADHD and homeschooling) while also staying true to my passion (my faith and illness).

    I hope this helps some inspiring bloggers. It has been a long journey but definitely a rewarding one!

    Blessings,
    Sarah Forbes

    Like what you see? Share it!

ADHD

Posts You Might Have Missed

With the recent changes on the blog, there seems to have been some hiccups. For some reason, it seems that many of my followers were not receiving emails notifying them of new posts. I hopefully have the issue resolved, and so I decided to do an update post in case you missed some of my recent posts.


I created a much needed ADHD Clinician Database. Do you know an awesome clinician? Please, share it with our members in the comments of this post. It is such a great need. It is so hard to find good doctors!

ADHD Clinician Database


 

My family has a history of hoarding. When you have ADHD, mental health issues, or chronic health problems, you can easily fall into hoarding. This post is an honest, plain look at the multi-generational effect that hoarding has on families and my endeavor to break the hold the possessions have over our lives.

Overcoming Hoarding


 

What do you do if you think that you or your child has ADHD? Where do you start? How do you know if the doctor you are seeing is a good doctor to treat ADHD? This an more is discussed in this pose about getting an ADHD diagnosis. It is especially important to have a full phycological evaluation to rule out other conditions. 50% of ADHDers have additional psychiatric conditions and these conditions can significantly complicate ADHD and its treatment.

How to Get an ADHD Diagnosis


 

Hopefully, the glitching is over, but thank you for your patience as we work on upgrading and improving the blog.

Blessings,
Sarah Forbes

ADHD, hoarding, illness

Overcoming Hoarding

Many people with mental health conditions, ADHD, and chronic illness deal with hoarding tendencies. Our relationship with stuff can be incredibly complicated and overwhelming.

This is the story of my family and my struggle with hoarding.

Do you know the difference between hoarding and collecting? A collection that is not actually valuable, useful, organized, and accessible is likely hoarding because if you can’t manage your things, you will easily fall into hoarding.


Now, before I get started, let me apologize to my family for any of the details that I may have gotten wrong. My intent in writing this post is to help other people who are struggling with hoarding. My writing is only as accurate as my memory. Since many of the things described in this post happened when I was a child or even before I was born, I am doing my best to accurately convey them to the best of my recollection. Please forgive me if I am less than totally accurate about some of the details. Please know that I am not disparaging anyone’s character in this post, but rather giving commentary on the effects of mental and physical illnesses.


This is the story of four Sarahs. Four girls, all named Sarah, spanning nearly a century.

This is the story of how hoarding has affected our lives and the story of my pursuit to break the generational hold that stuff –possessions– has on our lives.

Sarah Number One

My great grandmother’s name was Sarah. I never had the pleasure of knowing my great-grandmother as she died before I was born. I know that she was a very caring, loving lady who had only one child: my grandmother, also named Sarah. While my grandmother described my great grandmother as loving, she also described her as controlling and obsessive. If she were alive today, I have no doubt that she would be diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She required everything to be meticulously clean all the time. She held my grandmother –who was not naturally meticulous– to her standard. My grandmother was not allowed to save treasures or things that were important to her. Everything always had to be perfect in their house –and if it was not, then my grandmother was not even allowed to have friends over. Once, my great grandmother decided that her curtains were not right, therefore my grandmother was not allowed to have company. Listening to my grandmother describe her relationship with her mother, it was quite obvious that –while she loved her mother very much– she did not agree with how her mother chose to interact. Her mother put a huge emphasis on things, on perfection, and on tidiness at the expense of all else. This attitude would greatly influence her daughter.

Sarah Number Two and Three

My grandmother is Sarah number two. She grew up, got married, and had children. From what I have heard, she didn’t really start having problems with hoarding until after her fourth pregnancy. There were complications, she was hospitalized, and the baby –named Sarah Jane– died. Sarah Jane is Sarah number three. Sarah Jane was one of eight babies my grandmother lost. My grandmother’s health –physical and mental (which often go hand-in-hand)– declined from there. From what I understand, it was sometime around then the time of Sarah Jane’s death that my grandmother started hoarding. My father describes a memory of being so happy once when the living room was cleaned out that he has his siblings danced around happily because there was finally enough room to play.

Grandma probably had many of the same conditions that I have. Unfortunately for her, in the 1950s and 1960s, doctors were less likely to diagnose and treat conditions in women, and many of the conditions I have were unknown –undiagnosable– at the time. If I had to guess I would diagnose her with a thyroid problem, estrogen dominance, ADHD (maybe even a form of autism?), OCD hoarding –just from the limited knowledge I have. Since I spent very little time with her as an adult, this is mostly based on my memories of her as a child. Even in the 2000s when my mother was taking care of my grandmother, her doctors dismissed her symptoms and didn’t take it seriously. If they had taken it seriously, we may have discovered her cancer in time to save her life –but that is another story for another time.

Before Great Grandma died in the 1970s (when I was yet to be a gleam in my daddy’s eye), she bought Grandma a beautiful Civil War era house with a wrap around porch on a hill. It was certainly large enough to house my grandmother’s family of (by then) seven children.

In 1976, my mother visited my father, her then boyfriend, at this house. During the visit, their freezer died, and my mother assumed it would be dealt with.

But like many things, it was not.

By the time I knew Grandma, her house was full to the brim with stuff. So full of stuff that I don’t know what her house really looked like. All I could see was goat trails through piles. Even the outside of the house was cluttered and obscured with stuff.

In the 1990s, something got too close to the coal burning furnace in the basement, and that beautiful house burned to the ground nearly killing my grandfather who was sleeping on the fourth floor. That same fridge was still where it had died in December of 1976. It had never been cleaned out –never even opened I was told.

My grandmother moved a trailer onto the property with the intent of sorting through the rubble of the fire for her “treasures” that were in the fire. Due to her mental health issues or the physical health issues which restricted her movements, this sorting didn’t happen. She wouldn’t let people clean out the property. Even years later she complained about the things she hadn’t been able to save. What she did save was often ruined by water or smoke damage but it was still vital to her –absolutely essential to her that she had these things.

Eventually, the county forced them to sell the property and the debris from the house was cleaned up. What she had saved was moved into one of her children’s houses merely transferring her hoarding to a new location.

Unfortunately, the actual issue was not addressed.

What follows is my opinion based on conversations with my Grandmother when I was in high school (some of my family may or may not agree): My grandmother’s mother was an OCD clean-freak, critical of my unknown-then-probably ADHD (among other things) grandmother. My grandmother never learned to view possessions in a healthy way. She was forced to never keep anything –even special things– as a child, and she reacted as an adult by keeping everything.

This has been passed on to her kids, grandkids, and now great grandkids. It’s like our brains are wired to see possibilities and struggle to get rid of them. We make emotional connections to and plans for the things we possess. We can see the possibilities and struggle to look beyond that to the problems those possessions are causing in our lives.

I’ve read about epigenetic and how researchers believe that certain traumas in your family history can trigger a switch in your ancestors genetic make-up inclining you toward certain behavior or certain conditions.

Sarah Number Four

Hi, I am Sarah number four. Actually, I am Sarah number seven in our family according to my grandmother, but I am only including four of the Sarahs for the purpose of our story.

I am very much like my grandmother in many ways. I am gifted, artistic, and not naturally organized –totally ADHD. I look like her, even down to the same weight problems she had. I love dresses and long hair, just like she did. My aunt likes to remind me how much I look like Grandma. We have many of the same health problems, likely a result of shared genetics.

I recognized this struggle with possessions in myself in my early twenties.

I didn’t want to copy the same mistakes that my grandmother had made. I wanted to make wiser, better choices about my possessions.

I don’t want my possessions to rule my life.

So, I started actively working on my own view of possessions until I could get rid of things. More than once, I cleaned everything surplus out of my house –then I would relapse due to my illness. So, I would clean it all out again. At one time, I hauled 3 truckloads of craft and art supplies out of my garage to the local thrift store.

It took a few years of forcing myself to face this issue and my approach to possessions before I saw real progress.

The first few times, I will be honest –it was really hard. I had plans for those things when I bought them. But, my ideas are always greater than my time and my energy. Learning to accept reality was very important to my ability to part with my stuff and not bring more stuff into my home –as was dealing with my health and mental health issues (an option that was not available in my grandmother’s time).

Here is the reality: I will always have more ideas and plans than I have time and energy for. Once I accepted that as a fact, it made getting rid of things so much easier. Knowing that my ideas were greater than my ability to fulfill my ideas meant that I could put a priority on the things that were really important and get rid of the other things.

It was then that I started noticing this same hoarding tendency in my children.

I am fighting a multigenerational battle.

This battle –as far as I know– started with my great-grandmother and how she interacted with my grandmother and has been passed down from generation to generation.

Now, it’s passed to my children.

I am now fighting for my future grandchildren.

I am fighting to break a pattern of behavior that is neither healthy nor ideal. It is not what I want for my children and grandchildren.

Although sometimes due to my health and my inability to clean my house still resembles that of a hoarder, it is not because I cannot get rid of things.

I have learned to get rid of things.

At one point, a group of ladies came to help me clean out my house. In one day, we overhauled and cleaned out the whole house. I was getting rid of things hand-over-fist as fast as they could bring them to me.

For me, overcoming this need to have things just in case or because they were special, unique, or important to me came down to a few factors:

1) I’m a Christian. If I believe God will provide what I need then I don’t need to keep every little thing just in case. We need far fewer things than we think we need. Most of what we think of as needs are actually wants. I should be storing (hoarding) treasures in heaven not here on this earth.

2) There are very few things that are truly unique, and nearly everything I own could be bought again on Amazon or eBay if I truly and actually needed it. The toll of the possessions on my life is not worth keeping things just so I feel like I have been frugal.

3) Our things must fit in our space. If they don’t, we are not good stewards of our space. Our space –such as our homes– is also something God has given us. If things don’t fit in our space, it makes everyone miserable.

4) Even if I saved it for later, if I can’t manage my stuff, then even when I need it, I will not be able to find it, in which case I have wasted the storage space and my time.

5) I decided that people were more important than things. If I am choosing to fill up my home with things, to make my home unsafe for my children, to force my children and husband to work around my possessions that I refuse to get rid of, I have prioritized things over people –over my own family. I cannot do this in good conscience.

6) I decided I was not bringing new things into our house unless they were necessary. If I have the mindset that I am not bringing new things into the house, it saves me a lot of hassle. My first answer is “No new things.” If we actually need new things, I can adjust. But, assuming I will not bring new things into the home helps keep me from the mindset of always collecting new things. It was a change in the way that I think about possessions.

With the intent of teaching my children to not cling to possessions too tightly, I have begun to embrace minimalism. Not entirely –because I still have way too much stuff, but I have found the idea of not having more than we need very helpful.

I have worked really hard with my children on this issue. We have discussed at length –with kindness and understanding as well as honesty– about my grandmother’s issues.

I remember how traumatic it was when I came home from school at age five and many of my favorite things were gone. I know my mother meant to help, however, it made me cling to things more tightly. I do not force my children to get rid of things. Instead, we discuss what’s needed, why we keep things, the nature of possessions and how they can possess us if we aren’t careful. I’m trying to teach them how to get rid of things. How to be rational about possessions.

They have a drawer in their dresser that they can keep special things in and a box on their school shelf for special papers. When the box is full, they have to choose what to keep. Sometimes, we photograph special items and save the photo if we have to get rid of the item. I try to treat them –and their feelings– with respect. As an adult, their things may not seem important to me, but it is very important to them. If I want them to value what I value, I need to be willing to value what is important to them.

I’m not going to lie and say that this is an easy topic. It’s not. I’m fighting generations of genetics that incline us to certain behaviors.

I don’t get rid of everything. For instance, I have never gotten rid of one piece of my art. Somethings are important to keep.

With my children, I have decided to pick my battles, to be more concerned about if they’re learning to be discerning than if they get rid of every little thing.

It’s a journey.

One that I’m still on.

But I know there’s hope because I can see how much I’ve improved. I can see how much my children have improved.

I have learned to be thankful for what I have and thankful to have just what I need instead of clinging to everything for the one-day-plans that I had. Being thankful has greatly improved my outlook on things! If I’m thankful for what I have I’m less likely to feel the need to acquire more.

I posted a version of this article on one of my facebook groups and inspired a self-proclaimed hoarder to start cleaning her house. So, I am posting it here, honestly and plainly, in hopes that it will help and inspire others.

I do not claim to have conquered this area — on the contrary, it may be something I struggle with for my whole life.

But, if you struggle with it, you are not alone. There is hope. There is progress. It can get better. The first step, in my experience, is to get a proper diagnosis. A lot of hoarding is a result of unaddressed anxiety. You can’t help what you don’t understand. Thankfully, unlike in my grandmother’s day, there are doctors who will listen to women and treat them.

Be your own advocate.

Fight for yourself, for your family, for your future.

Your choices now don’t just affect you: they affect the generations to come.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

P.S. To any of my family who reads this, please give me grace as I tried to deal with this topic as graciously and honestly as I could.

If you found this post helpful, I would be honored if you would share it. 

ADHD

How To Get an ADHD Diagnosis

If you are an adult who thinks you have ADHD or if you are the parent of a child who you think has ADHD, where do you begin? How do you go about getting a diagnosis?

Caveat: Because I live in the USA, this will be written from the perspective of someone using our medical system here in the US. If you live in a different country, you may have to go about getting your diagnosis in a different way.

First of all, look up ADHD symptoms online and write down every symptom that you or your child has. Check multiple web pages, because one webpage may only list hyperactive type or another might only focus on inattentive type.

If you or your child are female, I recommend looking for pages that list women’s and girl’s symptoms specifically, because the ADHD often manifests itself differently in women and girls who are much less likely to get a diagnosis than boys are.

Write down any and all symptoms.

If the list is for you, an adult, write down any symptoms you had as a child on a separate list. Ask an adult who knew you as a child, if possible. I was surprised to find that my mom remembered me having anxiety as a child when I did not remember, for example.

Go to your primary care doctor and request a physical –a full blood panel including thyroid– and a sleep test. You want to rule out other conditions that could be mimicking the ADHD before you pursue a diagnosis. I would also recommend food allergy testing as some ADHD people find that their symptoms go almost entirely away when they remove trigger foods from their diets. Unfortunately, our PCP refused to do allergy testing for me when I requested it.

I recommend at least thyroid blood tests even on children because many times thyroid problems in children go unaddressed because doctors assume they are too young for thyroid problems. That is a misnomer. Children can have thyroid problems, especially if endocrine problems run in their family. Many ADHD people –including children– have sleep problems which exasperate their ADHD symptoms.

If your bloodwork and sleep test come back normal, or if you are already medicated for a condition such a low thyroid or sleep apnea and are still experiencing ADHD symptoms, I recommend contacting a mental health professional.

Depending on your healthcare plan you may need to go to your primary care doctor first and get a referral to a psychologist. Call the psychologist before setting up the appointment to make sure that this doctor knows about ADHD.

Here is an unfortunate reality: even many mental health professionals do not understand ADHD and do not believe it is real.

ADHD is very complicated. For this reason, it is best if you do not see a primary care physician or a regular pediatrician for ADHD diagnosis and treatment.

Mental health professionals that I would recommend seeing for ADHD diagnosis:

  • Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Developmental pediatrician
  • Neurologist

As I mentioned before, I recommend calling before you set up an appointment –even if it is with a referred doctor.

You want to find out what percent of the doctor’s clients have ADHD and what percent of the doctor’s clients are adults with ADHD.

The reason the percentage of adults matters is that –while children may have no choice as to where their parents take them for treatment– adults do have a choice. ADHD adults have a low tolerance for nonsense and are unlikely to tolerate subpar treatment. If they have adults with ADHD in their care, it is likely that the care will be better quality.

When you go in for the appointment, bring your list of symptoms that you made.

Here are some warning signs to watch for:

  • The doctor prescribes medication without a formal diagnosis.
  • The doctor doesn’t believe in ADHD and refuses to test you.
  • The doctor tries to give the computer-based child’s test to an adult.
  • The doctor refuses to test if the child isn’t struggling with his grades in school.
  • The doctor always only uses one kind of medication to treat ADHD and won’t even discuss other options.
  • The doctor refuses to test for ADHD because he blames the symptoms on the parent’s: parenting style, homeschooling, divorce, low income, etc.
  • The doctor patronizes or dismisses the parents’ concerns because he or she is the expert.
  • The doctor refuses to prescribe ADHD medication but will only give antidepressants.

(The last may be necessary with a young child, but it is common for a doctor to diagnose ADHD adults with depression instead of ADHD. The antidepressants just made me not care that my life was falling apart. It didn’t help my ADHD at all.)

The standard way to test for ADHD, in my experience, is via a set of questionnaires that are filled out by 3 adults in the child’s life –often the parents, a teacher, and an additional adult. If you homeschool, you can have one parent fill out one set, and the other parent the second. We had my children’s questionnaires filled out by one of their grandmothers, a Sunday school teacher, and me. Anyone who works with the child should be able to fill out the form.

Don’t listen to a doctor who says you cannot get a diagnosis if the child is homeschooled or that homeschool children do not have ADHD. That belief represents a misunderstanding of how ADHD works –the causes and severity of ADHD– and you do not need that kind of negativity. Get a new doctor.

Although each doctor has a different way that they go about diagnosis, since the paperwork style evaluation seems to be the most common, that is what I am describing. If you see a doctor who does brain scans and more detailed testing, that is awesome, too.

When you bring the paperwork back, the doctor will evaluate the results and usually interview the child. Our psychologist talked to our children while playing board games, so it was not stressful for the child at all. I recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, too, if you can find someone who really understands ADHD. It can be very helpful if you find someone who actually understands ADHD.

Regardless of how the results of the ADHD screening test come back –whether yes or no to the ADHD diagnosis– I recommend that you get a full psychological evaluation done next. Some doctors will allow you to skip the ADHD screening and go straight to a full psych eval. Other doctors will not.

If you suspected ADHD and the test came back negative, then what else is going on that made you think ADHD? Could it be bipolar? Oppositional Defiance Disorder? Something else? A full psych eval will tell you.

If you got a positive ADHD diagnosis, now you need to know what other mental health conditions the child has. 50% of people with ADHD have an additional psychiatric condition. Those conditions can significantly complicate the treatment of the ADHD even if you choose not to medicate. Either way –medication or not– you need to know what is going on so you can help your child or yourself.

A full psychological evaluation is worth every penny even if your insurance will not cover it. It could save you from tons of heartache later, such as when you try to medicate the ADHD with a stimulant and find your child in fetal position in the living room floor having panic attacks for hours or days and unable to function because he has a separate anxiety disorder that was just made significantly worse by a stimulant. This is a true story. This is why you need to know about the comorbidities.

Another example: if you have bipolar, going on a stimulant can send you manic –something you really don’t want to happen. Another reason for a full psych eval.

Maybe your child doesn’t have comorbidities, but you need to know for sure before pursuing treatment of any kind.

Dr. Russell Barkley explains (in the video series that I recommend every person with ADHD or parent of an ADHD child watch) that ADHD is a neurogenetic disorder –ie a genetic disorder affecting the brain. ADHD medication is a neurogenetic treatment. It fixes the problem cause in the brain by the genetics.

Since ADHD is genetic, there is a genetic test –called Genesite— available which will tell you based on your genetics which medication will work to treat your ADHD. I wish such a thing had been available when my children were trying medications! The cost varies based on what percentage your insurance will pay. I have heard prices from free all the way up to $350. But, it is definitely worth asking your doctor about.

If you have a child with ADHD, do not be surprised if the doctor wishes to evaluate you and the child’s other parent as well. ADHD is genetic and runs in families. This means that there is a high probability that you or the other parent have ADHD. Since 20% of adults with ADHD do not get diagnosed and treated, doctors try to make sure the parents have access to answers. Also, 50% of people with ADHD who take ADHD medications are able to function like a completely neurotypical person, and 80% see improvement in their condition. According to Dr. Barkley, ADHD is the most treatable condition in psychiatry. The doctor would be remiss in his duties if he didn’t at least bring it to the attention of the potentially-ADHD parent(s).

Medication for ADHD is tricky –especially when comorbidities are involved. This is why a trained mental health professional and not just a general practitioner is so important. Dosing medications, knowing side effects, and having experience with multiple medications and how they interact are all things that you get when you opt for a mental health professional.

It is unreasonable to expect your primary care physician to stay up-to-date on all the various special conditions that his clients have. He undoubtedly does not have the time to dedicate to educating himself on the complexities of ADHD in addition to all his other duties as a doctor. It is really unfair to expect him to –this is why we have specialists like mental health professionals. I do know some people who have had good luck with primary care physicians, but these are usually people who have only ADHD and no comorbidities.

How complicated is ADHD to treat by itself? Well, one researcher proposed that ADHD should be divided into different categories based on how the executive function issues affect the person with ADHD. He came up with 36 different kinds of ADHD based on the different executive function deficits. His proposal was rejected because of its complexity, but it goes to show how complicated and varied ADHD is. This is why one medication will not work for everyone with ADHD and why one medication works great for one person but will not work for another.

You need to be treated by someone who understands the complexity of ADHD –not someone who thinks all ADHD people look like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh (yes, a doctor actually told me that).

When you begin medication, you can use this chart to evaluate your child’s symptoms and see if the symptoms have improved on the medication.

Never hesitate to fire a doctor who will not listen to you, dismisses you, belittles you, ignores your or otherwise marginalizes your opinions. If you are the parent, you should not be treated like you are not important. If you are the patient, you know yourself better than anyone else. Don’t let an arrogant doctor undermine your confidence.

The first mental health nurse practitioner we saw for our children was a nightmare. She treated me like I was an idiot –the patronizing should have been a warning to me (but she came highly recommended). She only used one medication to treat children and wouldn’t even consider any other options. She refused to treat my children’s comorbidities even though we had the results of a full psych eval showing that there were other conditions which needed to be treated. It was horrible, and some of the worst few days of my entire life were while he was on that medication that she claimed: “always worked for ADHD.”

I fired her and found a new doctor. It was the best choice I could have made –I wish I had made it the first time I had doubts about her. My son’s experience on that medication was so traumatic that he actually blocked them out and has no memory of them.

Advocate for yourself.

Advocate for your child.

And don’t stop advocating until you get the answers you are looking for and the treatment you need.

Keep looking for a doctor who will listen to you. I went through six doctors in about five years trying to find someone who would just diagnose me with adult ADHD. I have no regrets about firing doctors and moving on to the next until I found someone who actually knew how to diagnose ADHD in adults.

The diagnosis was life-changing even though I am not medicated. Just understanding that my brain is different has been so impactful in my life that I lack the words to accurately articulate it.

I am not broken.

It is not my fault.

I have a unique brain that works differently –and I have discovered that along with that different, abnormal, unconventional brain comes beauty that I couldn’t see until I stopped shaming myself for all the things I thought I should be but couldn’t.

I found answers to questions I had been asking my whole life.

I found beauty in the ashes.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it!

ADHD, charts, homeschooling

ADHD Comorbidities That Parents Should Be Aware Of

ADHD is hard.

It is hard to live with ADHD when you have it.

It is hard to live with ADHD when your friends and family have it.

It is hard to accurately diagnose sometimes, and it is hard to find treatments that work –because everyone is different and how the ADHD affects them is different.

But, ADHD by itself can seem simple compared to ADHD with comorbidities.

Comorbidities are ADHD’s mean, ugly cousin who came to visit and just won’t leave.

Comorbidities take a condition that is complicated but successfully treatable in 50% or more of the cases and make it incredibly complicated to live with and medicate.

The definition of a comorbidity is “an additional condition” or “two conditions coexisting at the same time.”

By itself ADHD can be life-threatening –or at least the side effects of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD: suicide, car accidents, drug abuse, etc.

But comorbidities complicate everything.

It is often hard to tell where the ADHD ends and the comorbidity starts which is why a knowledgeable clinician or doctor is incredibly important and why I don’t recommend going to a primary care physician for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.

It took me six doctors to find someone in our area who could diagnose adult ADHD.

The primary doctor said I didn’t have ADHD because I wasn’t bouncing off the walls in her office at age 30 –hyperactivity is one part of ADHD that most people outgrow by internalizing the restlessness.

My psychiatrist who I was seeing for postpartum depression didn’t even believe ADHD was a real thing –yes, even many mental health professionals still do not recognize ADHD as legitimate.

The first psychologist I saw used the childhood ADHD diagnostic computer test for my evaluation and declared that I did not have ADHD –the kid’s test doesn’t work on adults.

You get the idea.

If it was that hard for me to get diagnosed with almost no comorbidities –I have some anxiety but not enough to need medication– then imagine how hard it is to get a child who cannot explain what is going on in their head a proper and accurate diagnosis if there are overlapping serious conditions.

If you think your child has ADHD –and especially if you think they have comorbidities– I implore you to find someone who is very informed about these disorders.

We had great success with a developmental pediatrician, a mental health nurse practitioner, and a psychologist who had ADHD himself.

They key to finding a good clinician in my experience is calling around and finding out what percentage of adults with ADHD are seen in that clinic. ADHD adults will not stay with a bad clinician. If they see a lot of ADHD patients and a lot of those are adults, you can probably count on decent treatment there.

The following graphic addresses six possible comorbidities, but these are not the only comorbidities know to hang around with ADHD. This is just a starting point to raise awareness of comorbidities. I encourage parents to do their own research.

Informed parents can better help their child.

Depression symptoms:

Persistent sadness, Withdrawal, Changes in sleep patterns, Loss of interest, Talk of suicide, Problems in school

Anxiety Disorder symptoms:

Sleep problems, Increased irritability. Withdrawal, School refusal, Argumentative, Hair twirling, Skin picking, Compulsivity, Panicking

Bipolar Disorder symptoms: Bursts of energy and restlessness, Impaired judgment, Depressive and manic episodes, Severe mood swings, Family history of bipolar

Conduct Disorder symptoms:

Family history, Trauma, Harming others, Animal cruelty, Aggression, Disregard for rules, Running away from home, Bullying

Sensory Processing Disorder symptoms:

Sensitivity to taste, touch, light, textures, etc., Coordination problems, Too rough/gentle, Weakness, Alternating dominant hand in writing

Oppositional Defiant Disorder symptoms:

Aggression, Antisocial behavior, Impulsivity, Screaming, Self-harm, Resentful, Argumentative, Vindictive, Rebellious

ADHD Comorbidities That Parents Should Be Aware OfDownload the PDF: ADHD Comorbidities That Parents Should Be Aware Of

There is more information about additional comorbidities based on a survey of adults with ADHD in this post called Should I Medicate My ADHD Child?

You can find more graphics about ADHD here.

This a reminder that I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am just a writer and author making graphics and posts based on information I have read from leading authorities on ADHD. I encourage you to research these issues yourself and watch the Dr. Barkley videos at the bottom of this post called What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child for more information about the science behind ADHD.

I hope this information is helpful. If you enjoyed this post, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog and follow me on Facebook.

Blessings!

Sarah Forbes

ADHD, charts, children, homeschooling

How Do Executive Function Problems Affect My ADHD Child?

#ADHDFacts

#DrBarkley

#GraceUnderPressureBlog

#ADHDAwarenessMonth


If you or your child have ADHD, you have executive function issues.

ADHD is basically all about problems in executive function.

What is executive function?

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” –from Wikipedia

How executive function problems affect someone varies by the person.

For instance, I don’t struggle with time management as much as some of my ADHD friends. I struggle in some areas, like keeping on a strict schedule, but I don’t struggle to arrive places on time or to make plans.

Some ADHD people have a hard time thinking up creative solutions, but that is one thing I am really good at.

So, while ADHD does involve executive function, how it looks in each person is as individual as the person themselves.

The following chart lists the various areas of executive function that could be deficient in an ADHD person.

How Do Executive Function Problems Affect my ADHD Child

It was very helpful for me to identify which areas I am good at and which I am not.

There are some of these areas that I am not struggling with which was very encouraging for me.

It also helped me to see these all written out because I was able to look at this chart and see how my children struggle compared to how I struggle.

At least if I can identify the problems, I can give them more grace and help in that area. If I can identify the issue in myself, then I can realize when one activity is going to cause more stress than another.

You can download the PDF of this graphic here: How Do Executive Function Problems Affect my ADHD Child PDF.

Follow this link to read a detailed description by Dr. Barkley of the 7 areas affected by executive function.

To learn more about executive function, take a look at these posts:

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Age?

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank?

For additional posts on ADHD:

What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You if He Could

10 ADHD Statistics Parents Should Be Aware Of

ADDitude Magazine Endorses Homeschooling When Public School Isn’t Working

Start Here to Learn More About Homeschooling an ADHD Child

So, You Want to Homeschool Your ADHD Child


 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I cannot diagnose your child or offer you medical advice. A lot of the ADHD information on this blog comes from Dr. Russell Barkley’s videos –many of which are available on YouTube. There are many links in this post to more information about these topics, but since I am not a scientist or a researcher, I am unable to provide you with double-blind studies. I am just a writer and artist making articles and graphics based on information I have seen and read from ADHD professionals in an effort to raise ADHD awareness. I encourage you to look into these ideas yourself and follow the links provided. You can see more of those videos from Dr. Barkley at the bottom of this post.


 

You can also download a pdf worksheet to evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment is helping his or her symptoms here.

If you found this information helpful, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog and follow my Facebook page.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

ADHD, children

10 ADHD Statistics Parents Should Be Aware Of

As part of ADHD awareness month, I have been posting ADHD facts regularly on Facebook. More than once I have been asked if I could back up my facts with studies and data. For some of these facts, I was able to find data; others I only have videos or articles by experts. I hope you find this information helpful. Please consider following the links and looking into the sources yourself.

An educated parent is better able to help their child.

Statistic adhd


1. ADHD is the most treatable condition in psychiatry, and yet 40% of ADHD children and 90% of ADHD adults are not recognized and treated for their ADHD meaning that the issue is under-treatment, not over-treatment. [source]


2. 80% of people with ADHD will be on medications at some point in their life which is a good thing because ADHD is a neurogenetic disorder and ADHD medication is an effective, proven neurogenetic therapy making medication completely justifiable. [source]


3. Less than 20% of adults with ADHD have been diagnosed and treated.
[source]


4. Approximately 2 million children in the USA have ADHD which means that in a classroom of 30 children, at least one will have ADHD. [source]


5. Only 50% of young children with ADHD are receiving services for their ADHD. [source]


6. At least 50% of ADHD children have a comorbidity or additional psychiatric condition. [source]


7. About 80% of ADHD patients respond positively to the medication. [source]


8. When ADHD people use stimulant medication it lessens the likelihood that they’ll abuse drugs and alcohol not increases it. [source]


9. ADHD people often use drugs and alcohol as self-medication which would likely be reduced if they were medicated properly. [source]


10. Exercise helps ADHD more than any other psychological disorder, so everyone who has ADHD should be in an exercise program of some kind. [source] and [source]

For my ADHD boys, I think Fruit Ninja on the Kinect was the best exercise program of anything we tried.


BONUS:

11. 50% of ADHD people who take medication are completely normalized meaning that the medication allows them to function like a neurotypical person. [source]

12. 50% of children with ADHD also have a learning disability. [source]


I hope you find this information helpful!

You can download the printable PDF of this image here: ADHD Statistics That Parents Should Be Aware Of.

You can also download a pdf worksheet to evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment is helping his or her symptoms here.

If you found this information helpful, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog or follow my Facebook page.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

PS If you enjoyed this post, there are many other posts on my blog about ADHD such as:

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You If He Could

Start Here to Learn More About Homeschooling an ADHD Child

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Age?

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank?

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A DOCTOR or mental health professional. I cannot diagnose your child or offer you medical advice. A lot of the ADHD information on this blog comes from Dr. Russell Barkley’s videos –many of which are available on YouTube. There are many links in this post to more information about these topics, but since I AM NOT A SCIENTIST or a researcher, I am unable to provide you with double-blind study reports. I am just a writer and artist making articles and graphics based on information I have seen and read from ADHD professionals in an effort to raise ADHD awareness. I encourage you to look into these ideas yourself and follow the links provided. You can see more of those videos from Dr. Barkley at the bottom of this post.

ADHD, children, homeschooling

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank?

#ADHDFacts
#DrBarkley
#GraceUnderPressureBlog
#ADHDAwarenessMonth

Executive function is defined as “self-directed actions needed to sustain problem-solving towards a goal.”

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” (from Wikipedia)

ADHD is an executive function disorder.

Because of the asynchronous growth in their brains, ADHD people struggle with executive function.

It is a daily struggle.

Since so much of life requires executive functions, it is easy for those of us with ADHD to deplete our executive function ability –or our executive function tank.

Different activities can either fill or tax our executive function. When the tank runs out, the ability for self-restraint is gone resulting in blowups and meltdowns –even in adults with ADHD.

“The executive function has a limited fuel tank, and you can spend it out real quick. Every time you use an executive function and you use it continuously, you empty the tank. And, if you get to the bottom of the tank, in the next situation, you will have no self-control. This is the ADHD child after school. It [the executive function] is gone, and you want to do homework? You’re out of your mind! So, you’ve got to refuel that tank, and that tank has a very limited capacity.” –Dr. Russell Barkley

What taxes the tank? How can we refuel the tank?

What Is My Child's Executive Function Tank-

You can download a printable PDF of this graphic “What Is My Child’s Executive Function Tank” by clicking here.

The most useful perspective on ADHD is to view it as a chronic disability.

“ADHD is the diabetes of psychiatry. It is a chronic disorder that must be managed every day to prevent the secondary harms it is going to cause, but there is no cure for this disorder. They [those with ADHD and their loved ones] need to view ADHD as diabetes of the brain. It’s a chronic disorder.” –Dr. Russell Barkley

Like with any disability, those with ADHD will need the support from those around them to succeed.

I hope this chart helps you better understand what is going in with your ADHD friends and family.

You can learn more about executive function on this post:

What Is My Child’s Executive Function Age?

To learn more about ADHD in general, there is a great video at the bottom of this post. The video is a 3 hour long series by the wonderful ADHD advocate Dr. Russell Barkley.

What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child

Many of the ideas in this post have come from Dr Barkley. The concept of an executive function tank came from the video in the bottom of this blog post:

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

I hope you find this information helpful. If you enjoyed this post, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog or follow me on Facebook.

You can also download a worksheet here to help you evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment plan is working.

Please remember to give your ADHD loved one or friend lots of grace. They have a brain that works differently than the brains of neurotypical people.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

Disclaimer:
I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I cannot diagnose your child or offer you medical advice. Most of this information comes from Dr. Barkley’s videos –many of which are available on YouTube. There are many links in this post to more information about these topics, but since I am not a scientist or a researcher, I am unable to provide you with double-blind studies. I am just a writer and artist making posts and images based on information I have seen and read from ADHD professionals in an effort to raise ADHD awareness. I encourage you to look into these ideas yourself and follow the links provided. If you Google “Executive Function + Dr. Russell Barkley” there is a lot of information available online.

ADHD, charts, homeschooling

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Age?

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” (from Wikipedia)

What is my ADHD child's executive age

The brain of the ADHD child is developing at an average 30% behind schedule in the frontal lobe region. The frontal lobe controls regulation. It is the executive function part of the brain. It is the boss, the voice in your brain, the executive assistant, that tells you what to do with what you know and learn. Because this part is behind schedule, children with ADHD brains are not always able to access the information they know to make use of it.

All the files are there in the information section, but the operating system is failing to access the files.

For example, they may know that stoves are hot and yet impulsively touch a hot stove because the part of their brain that says “Wait!” isn’t working on schedule with neurotypical brains. This is because the files stored in the back of their brain that says “Stoves are hot” was not accessed in a timely manner to prohibit touching the stove. It is not because they do not know the stove is hot. It is a failure of the frontal lobe of the brain to access the information they have stored in the memory sections.

Executive function dysregulation generally causes deficiencies in planning, abstract thinking, flexibility and behavioral control. It encompasses many different parts of regulation –from emotional control to physical control over their bodies to organizational abilities– and any one part could be more or less affected by ADHD. It varies by the individual.

Because there are other disorders or injuries that can cause executive delay problems, Executive Function Disorder is a diagnosis in an of itself. Sometimes, someone with ADHD will have both diagnoses. According to Dr. Barkley, every ADHD person has executive dysfunction by default to one level or another.

The 30% behind neurotypical people as listed in this graphic is just an average. So your child could be more behind or less behind. He could be more behind in some areas and less behind in others.

For instance, I knew I was impulsive (even though I didn’t know I have ADHD) and didn’t think things through as a teen. So I chose not to get my license until I was 19 and thought I could handle it. Impulsivity was a big deal for me. But I was also a smart kid and knew I wanted to be careful and make good choices. So even though I tended to be impulsive, I was careful about my choices, involving my parents in decision making, asking for advice from trusted adults, and being cautious. This made a huge difference in me not making bad choices as a teen.

When I got married I was 20 which gives me the executive age of 13.33 according to our chart (which is a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule). No wonder I had so much trouble organizing our lives, managing our home, working a job, and paying bills! It makes so much sense now. I had to work so much harder than anyone I knew to do these things well.

The chart only goes up to 32 years of age. There is a reason for this. In the human adult, we reach our peak maturity in our early thirties. That means that however much the ADHD brain has developed by the early thirties is where it will stay. However, that does not mean that we cannot learn new coping mechanisms or better skills. It does, however, mean that ADHD adults tend to be about the same Executive Function Age as those who are in their 20s. This makes us a lot of fun actually! Executive function only refers to the regulatory part of our brains, not our intelligence or ability to learn new things. We may tend to be emotionally reactive, impulsive and disorganized compared to other people our age. Medication can help us make up that 30% difference no matter what age we are.

I hope this chart will help you better understand those around you who have ADHD. Please give them a lot of grace –and remind them that you love them no matter what.

If you have ADHD, give yourself a big hug for me. You are awesome. You have worked way harder than everyone else to get to where you are right now. ADHD people are my most favorite people in the whole world. On average, they are kind, loyal, honest, gracious, and compassionate. Don’t let the fact that you are awesome get lost in the science of ADHD. You know how you always felt like you need a housekeeper and a secretary? That is because those parts of your brain don’t work the same way as neurotypical people’s brains do. All those things require your frontal lobe to work efficiently –the frontal lobe is the very part of your brain affected by ADHD. It is okay. Find a tribe of ADHD people who get you. Educate those around you about ADHD. And, above all else, give yourself a lot of grace.

If you have ADHD, leave a comment and let me know how it affects your life –do you feel the 30% behind? Or maybe this average isn’t true for you.

If you are a parent of an ADHD child, I would love to hear if this post and graphic helps you to understand your child better.

You can download a copy of the above graphic “What’s My ADHD Child’s Executive Age?” to print for yourself here.

You can also download a pdf worksheet to evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment is helping his or her symptoms here.

If you found this information helpful, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog or follow my Facebook page.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

PS If you enjoyed this post, there are many other posts on my blog about ADHD such as:

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You If He Could

Start Here to Learn More About Homeschooling an ADHD Child