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
“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)
The brain of the ADHD child is developing at an average 30% behind schedule in the frontal lobe region according to leading ADHD researcher Dr Russell Barkley. 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.
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.
If you love someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD or who you think has ADHD you might feel like you’re fighting a battle. False information, extreme biases, and fake news are profuse to the point that what most of the public believes about ADHD is simply lies –lies that affect those of us who have ADHD and those of us love people with ADHD. I’m not going to misrepresent this: it can feel like a battle. But, there are science and facts to combat the profuse misinformation permeating the internet.
Here are some facts you need to know about ADHD:
1. ADHD is not a new diagnosis, but the truth is that it has been well-researched all the way back to the late 1700s when Sir Alexander Crichton (1763–1856) gave a detailed and accurate description of the condition.
2. ADHD is not really about attention: it has been mislabeled and is actually a regulation problem due to the underdevelopment of the frontal lobe in people who have ADHD causing a failure to develop age-appropriate behaviors on schedule with their peers (attention problems are a byproduct of poor regulation).
3. In ADHD, the hyperactivity is caused by the overgrowth of the action part of the brain combined with the low ability to regulate due to the underdevelopment of the frontal lobe.
4. A huge component of ADHD –which is unfortunately not in the diagnostic criteria– is emotional dysregulation which affects every aspect of the ADHD person’s life and especially those who love and care for them.
5. ODD is a byproduct of ADHD which results from the emotional dysregulation combined with anger (often anger about not being understood), and every ADHD person is automatically subclinically ODD.
6. ADHD is the most researched and proven condition of any mental health condition known to man regardless of what culture and media tell you.
7. ADHD people are not addicted to media and video games, but rather media and video games work in a way that gives immediate responses which ADHD people need to stay motivated and focused.
8. ADHD is not a result of lack of discipline or poor parenting, but rather it is a result of how the brain has formed which is usually a result of genetics and can even be identified by genetic markers.
9. ADHD can be proven, there are even brain scans which back up the science proving that it is real, and it is the most treatable condition in psychology even though most ADHD people do not get treated.
10. ADHD needs to be identified and treated –the earlier the better– and there is significant potential damage for children who do not get a diagnoses, treatment, and have knowledge of their own diagnosis (I cannot emphasise enough how important knowledge of the condition is to the healthy psychological development of the child).
11. ADHD is a neurogenetic disorder, and ADHD medication is a scientifically proven neurogenetic treatment.
12. ADHD people are statistically far less likely to become addicts if they are effectively medicated and treated before they get desperate enough to start self-medicating with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol –even the majority of addicts with ADHD do not go back to illegal drugs if they are properly diagnosed and treated for their ADHD (It doesn’t matter what the media says, because the science backs up this position).
13. ADHD people cannot and will not be “normal” –ever– because they have different brains, so normal methods of organization, education, employment, etc will not work for them like it works for those who have neurotypical brains (this is why I endorse homeschooling).
This is a summary of topics discussed in Dr. Barkley’s “30 Essential Ideas You Should Know About ADHD” plus a few additional ideas which have their basis in science. You can find the entire 3-hour video series by Dr Barkley here, and I highly recommend taking the time to listen to the whole thing if you know and care about people who have ADHD or who you think might have ADHD.
If you don’t have 3 hours you can get a taste of the wonderful information available from Dr. Barkley in this video which is about 14 minutes long.
More than once recently I have been asked: “What does the Bible say about divorce and separation?”
The last time I was asked this, I’d just had dental work done, was still a little high on Novocaine, and was not altogether able to express myself well. This topic has been weighing heavily on my heart and mind because I know more than one lady facing this situation right now.
Charts always help me, so I made a chart hoping that it will help other women better understand their options. Marriage is hard –but it is especially hard if you have an unbelieving, backslidden, or abusive spouse. If you do not deal with these issues in your marriage, be thankful.
Scripture never addresses this the topic of physical abuse, but the purpose of marriage is to bring glory to God. God is not glorified when sin and abuse are allowed in our midst. Nowhere is scripture does it say that we are expected to stay in a marriage where our lives are being threatened. Additionally, we have a responsibility to protect our children from violence. I believe that God will hold a mother accountable for violence done against her children if she could have prevented it and did not. A wise person gets away from danger.
“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3
In Bible times, the law did not allow a wife to leave and divorce her husband, but our laws do. If you can get away from abuse without breaking the law, do it!
Jesus allowed divorce over unfaithfulness.
“He said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.’” Matthew 19:8-9
However, we know from the book of Hosea that God loves us even though we are unfaithful to him and calls us to love our spouses the same like Hosea loved his wife. That is how we are called to love and that is how we reflect God’s love to the world around us. That being said, Scripture does allow divorce for unfaithfulness, so this is a choice you will have to make for yourself. If you choose to not divorce but to try to reconcile, the love and grace required for that is indeed a reflection of God’s love.
“The Lord said to me, ‘Go. Show your love to your wife again. She is loved by another man. And she has committed adultery. But I want you to love her just as I love the people of Israel. They turn to other gods. And they love to offer raisin cakes to Baal and eat them. In spite of that, I love my people.'” Hosea 3:1
The Bible is silent on the topic of separation. The absence of the topic in scripture does not mean that it is forbidden. It means that it is part of our Christian stewardship and that we are expected to act in wisdom. Scripture does say that you shouldn’t deprive each other of intimacy, but that doesn’t specifically speak to separation if one person is an unbeliever –unless we stretch the verse which I won’t do. The command to not deprive each other was about believers as evidenced by the “devoting yourselves to prayer” part. That would obviously not be a priority for an unbelieving or backslidden spouse.
“Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:2-5
If you are married to an unbeliever or a backslidden Christian, separation may be necessary for your protection or sanity.
Make sure you are familiar with Christian Stewardship (see the links at the bottom of this post) and what is actually sin and what is not. Also, remember that your husband’s sin is not about you; it is about his relationship with God and his own struggles. All men –all people for that matter– struggle with sin. Sin alone is not a basis for a divorce. If it were, then all of us would end up divorce. There will be sin in your marriage, but like with any Christian brother, you are allowed to discuss it with him in hopes that he will change. There is a pattern put forth in scripture about how to address sin in believers.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17
Many men seem to forget that they are specifically commanded in Scripture to not be harsh and to be loving.
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19
Unloving and harsh is a common treatment of wives –even in Christian marriages, and I think wives should lovingly but firmly call their husbands on their sin. The command in scripture to correct a brother was not only given to men; you are not off the hook just because the man is your husband. In fact, who knows your husband better than you do?
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
When in doubt, pray for him. Remember, God is not glorified by sin, and He never ever wants us to follow our husbands into sin.
About marriage to an unbeliever:
When you are married to someone who is an unbeliever and that person is being hostile or has asked you to leave, sometimes separation is the only way to go. I believe that separation should be made with the intent to try to get back together. I mean if you made vows before God –even if the situation is not ideal– you should at least try to make it work, right? Because, well, you made vows before God. That’s not something to take lightly. But, if the unbelieving husband is uninterested in getting back together, scripture is clear that you are able to move on and get remarried.
“To the married, I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest, I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases, the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” 1 Corinthians 7:10-16.
About Christian stewardship:
Many times, husbands and wives disagree about what is right and what is wrong. Unless you as the wife can clearly cite chapter and verse in the New Testament that says that what your husband is doing is wrong, then you do not have a good defense of your position –what he is doing is not unbiblical– and you need to submit in this area. This sort of dispute is never a good reason for a separation or a divorce. There are many things which are not clearly lined out in scripture. These are part of our freedom in Christ –your Christian stewardship. When you are in doubt about what is the best choice, you need to make prayerful decisions. If everything was clearly written as black and white then God would have never told us to pray for wisdom.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
I know of more than one marriage that ended because the wife would not listen to reason and give up her false beliefs about scripture, about things she erroneously believed were sins –like not having more babies or not wearing skirts. God is not honored by our marriages when we twist the Bible and use it to destroy our marriages. May we be good workmen, studying the Bible so that we will not be ashamed.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these posts: