Author Archive for Dr. Kenny Handelman – Page 2

Why I Like NBC’s “The Voice” and Its ADHD Lessons

230px TheVoiceTitleCard Why I Like NBCs The Voice and Its ADHD Lessons

The Voice (picture from wikipedia.org)

In general, I’m not one for reality shows, especially not ones about singing (maybe it’s because I can hardly carry a tune…). But, something about the promos for “The Voice” caught my attention. This season (season 2), I caught a couple of the early shows – with the blind auditions, and I’m now watching the final shows (to see who’s going to win!).

As a doctor who specializes in ADHD, I think “The Voice” has some important lessons for parents of kids and teens with ADHD, as well as Adults with ADHD, and I’ll share them with you here.

If you’re not familiar with “The Voice”, it has some interesting twists on a singing competition show.

Firstly, on this show, the judges aren’t just judges, they’re coaches. The four coaches are: Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Ceelo Green and Blake Shelton. While they do ‘judge’ throughout the competition, they each choose contestants, and they coach them. The coaches help to develop their singer’s talents, and help them to do the best they possibly can during the show. Through the course of the show, the contestants get great advice, training and encouragement from their coaches, and viewers can see how close the relationships develop during the course of the show.

ADHD Lesson: getting coaching from people who have been where you are, and can help you to go where you need to go, can be life altering. When it comes to ADHD treatment, there are doctors, therapists and other health professionals, and now there are also expert ADHD Coaches – who can help you in many ways as well. To find out more about coaching, visit the ADHD Coaches Organization.

Secondly, when the contestants audition, the judges are ‘blind’ to what they look like. The judges have their chairs turned backward, and they can only hear the singer’s voice when they’re deciding if they want to choose them for their team. This is a real twist, because the judges have to choose the contestants based solely on their voice, and not on how they look. We all know that certain people look like stars, and many people don’t. In some reality shows, a person’s look has a big impact on whether they’re chosen. In this show, people are chosen based on their own merit. Although the world doesn’t always work that way, it’s great to see it happen.

ADHD Lesson: Many times, kids, teens and even adults with ADHD are judged negatively because of their ADHD symptoms (i.e. they’re too inattentive, or too impulsive in a situation). We need to help people to see ADHDer’s talents and actual abilities. Often, they’re incredibly talented in particular areas. Hopefully, people can look past ADHD to see the talent, and hopefully, good treatment for ADHD will help people to develop their talents, and share them well with others.

Thirdly, I love how many contestants and participants make so many sacrifices to pursue their dream of singing. Early in the season, there were many people who left their jobs, left a semester at college or made other sacrifices to be able to attend the auditions. And not all of them even got chosen for the show! From my perspective, even if they weren’t selected for the show, those participants were hugely successful for choosing to pursue their dreams.
To quote Zachary Scott: “As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” (source Brainyquote.com)

Fourthly, many of the show’s contestants/singers are singing for reasons which are much bigger than just themselves and their dreams. Many are singing to stay true to themselves and to support their families; to honor and thank those that believed in them; and Erin Willette even stayed in the show and sang when her father passed away in between the auditions and the live battle rounds. Although she was quite emotional about it, she knew she had her father’s love and support, and both of her parents (and her family) wanted her to pursue her dream. What a gift her family gave her, and what a gift she gave her dad – for him to see her pursuing her dream (and succeeding!) in his final days.

ADHD Lesson: Combining points 3 and 4, we learn that it’s important to pursue our dreams, and to work for a reason bigger than ourselves.
For many of us, getting through the day to day and week to week can be challenging (especially when dealing with ADD/ADHD in ourselves or our children). And it may seem selfish, indulgent, or just absurd to take the time to dream again, or to connect with our long lost dreams. And it is still important to do! Why do you get excited when you see an underdog win a gold medal in the Olympics? Why do we love hearing the back-story of someone who goes on to do great things? Because it inspires us. It touches us deep insider – where we have our dreams, goals and our greatness. And when we hear their story, we briefly remember our greatness. Make a decision to pursue your dreams again. You don’t have to quit your job, or move to Los Angeles right now, but if you love music – start playing your guitar again, or start singing again. Maybe there’s a local ‘open mic’ night, and you can enjoy connecting with your creative side again. Or the church choir would love to have your voice join them…

When it comes to helping to motivate kids/teens and adults with ADHD, it’s important to have a great ‘reason why’. People with ADHD don’t pursue goals ‘just because’. The daily, mundane, boring (and seemingly irrelevant tasks) don’t get done just because they should. When there is a great reason why – that motivates ADHDer’s to do great things. So, think about some great reasons why. And if you have a child or teen with ADHD, take the time to help them to find the reason why things are important (like Math homework that they think will never be relevant in their life… try putting a dollar sign in front of the numbers :-)) With a strong ‘reason why’, the contestants in “The Voice” are more compelling, and in real life, if we have a strong ‘reason why’, we work much harder to pursue what’s important to us.

Finally, one of the reasons that I love “The Voice” is the huge respect I have for Adam Levine, the singer from Maroon 5. Not only is Adam a great singer, a great coach on the show, and the coach who won in season 1 of “The Voice”, he is also an adult with ADHD.

Not only is Adam an adult with ADHD, he is one who is sharing it widely, and using his position of celebrity to help others who have adult ADHD. Up to 60-70% of kids/teens with ADHD still have it as adults. However, most believe that they have outgrown it, and don’t need any more help. Adam’s message is simple – you may not have outgrown it, and you should review it with your doctor, and get the help you need. Recently, Adam has worked with Shire to create the “Own It Project” target=”_blank”, which encourages adults with ADHD to ‘own their ADHD’, and if that’s you – you can submit your story to qualify to win a prize.

Adam is doing a great thing to raise awareness of adult ADHD, decrease stigma, and to help others. And for that, I’m grateful.

When it comes down to it, I don’t mind whether you watch “The Voice”, or whether you ever will. Hopefully, these reflections will help you in your life (or your loved one’s life) by taking the messages and applying them to your situation.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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ADHD Medication Free Webinar Training

At the end of March 2012, I did a webinar training for ADD Resources.org, called “ADHD Medication Update”.

I’m sharing the video here, and it’s broken into 4 different video segments:

1) Introduction – this is the introduction, and let’s you know what I’ll cover during the training.

2) This is the main teaching – during this session, I cover WHY we use ADHD medications, and help you to understand that there are really only 4 types of ADHD medication – a) methylphenidate medicines, b) amphetamine medications, c) non-stimulant atomoxetine, d) non stimulant guanfacine.

We’ll cover how to make decisions around changing or adjusting medication, as well as a discussion about tolerance to ADHD medication

3) In the third video, I share some information on the ADHD Medication Shortage in the US, and strategies you can use to help yourself during this struggle.

4) In the fourth and final video, I share a summary of the ‘Ritalin Gone Wrong’ article, and share some responses to that.

I hope you enjoy the videos. Please feel free to pass them along, and type any comments in below.

Best,
Dr. Kenny

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ADHD in Japan: A Personal Perspective

225px Flag of Japan.svg  ADHD in Japan: A Personal PerspectiveThe “Land of the Rising Sun”…
The home of Samurai and Ninja…
The birthplace of Sony, Nintendo, and countless other technology companies which have changed our world…
The originators of Anime and Manga…
The manufacturers of Toyota, Honda and many other cars…

Japan is a country with a rich history, a strong economy, a fascinating culture, and it has a big influence on our modern world. For these reasons and others, I was very excited that I was invited to teach Japanese doctors about ADHD in early March 2012. While I was there, I presented to, and met many Japanese Child Psychiatrists and Pediatric Neurologists. I had many discussions with them about their work with ADHD.

In this blog post, I’ll share some of what I learned while I was there, and I’ll share some of my personal opinions about ADHD in Japan. Please note – this blog post really is my personal opinion. I did not see patients in Japan, I was only there for 6 days, and I did not conduct any research while I was there. Although I’ve gathered information and formed some opinions, I clearly cannot say that I have a strong grasp of Japanese culture, nor the mental health system in Japan, nor all there is to know about ADHD in Japan. That said, I hope that my thoughts can help you to understand more about ADHD in Japan. (And if you read this article, and find that my opinion has some factual inaccuracies, please let me know if the comments, and I’ll do my best to fix them.)

(and after sharing my opinions about ADHD in Japan, I’ll share about my experiences with traveling in Japan, so stay tuned…)

Firstly, you may wonder: Do kids and teens have ADHD in Japan? Do they get diagnosed, and are they prescribed medication?

The answer is: yes and yes.

Kids and teens are diagnosed with ADHD in Japan, and they are prescribed medication when they are diagnosed.

In general, to get a diagnosis of ADHD in Japan, one needs to see a Child Psychiatrist or Pediatric Neurologist. To get an assessment, a family would go directly to the specialist, as there aren’t family doctors or general practitioners in Japan. The specialists use the same assessment and diagnosis process that doctors in North America and Western Europe do.

In many ways, the challenges with getting diagnosed with ADHD are similar in Japan as they are in other parts of the world. By this I mean that there is stigma around mental health issues, and a significant reluctance for parents to give children medication. In addition to the challenges around acceptance of the diagnosis of ADHD and the use of medication which go on all over the developed world, in Japan, there have been significant issues with stimulant abuse and misuse. This has led to even more concerns around the proper use of ADHD medication in Japan. Here is a link to an article published in 1989 about stimulant abuse in Japan. There were renewed concerns about stimulant abuse in 2007, which are summarized below.

I learned about one very interesting cultural difference around ADHD diagnosis and treatment in Japan. In Japanese culture, it is important to respect other people’s personal space. When a child with ADHD has hyperactivity/impulsivity, which includes a symptom like: “interrupts and intrudes on others”, then their parents are often very concerned about this symptom, because it breaks the cultural norm. As such, parents of a child with this symptom may be more inclined to get their child diagnosed with ADHD, and they would be more inclined to give their child medication to help with ADHD. While this may be good to ensure that these children get the help that they need, it can also work against longer term treatment. In other words, when that symptom goes away (and the child is no longer interrupting and intruding on others), the parent is more likely to stop treating their child with medication. And even though that hyperactive/impulsive symptom is resolved, the child may have many other challenges with ADHD (such as inattention, restlessness, social problems, etc.).

While talking with Japanese specialists about their ADHD patients, it seemed to me that parents of kids and teens with ADHD go through issues of frustration and guilt, as they do in North America. Although I didn’t meet parents of kids and teens with ADHD in Japan to discuss this issue with them, I have a suspicion that the frustration and guilt that parents experience may be more in Japanese culture around ADHD than in Western countries.

What About Medication for ADHD in Japan?

When it comes to medication for ADHD in Japan, there are very few options. While Ritalin is available in Japan, it is illegal for it to be used for ADHD (it is currently only approved for narcolepsy). In October 2007, there was a crisis which happened in Japan over Ritalin, and a concern around its abuse. There were articles in a major Japanese newspaper – The Yomiuri (which at this point are not available on their website – and if they are, they aren’t in English). There was a significant tightening of rules around the use of stimulants for ADHD. Although I can’t access any source materials for this story, a user on ADD Forums posted a quote from the news story, when it was happening (you can find the post here). The quote said:

A panel of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Wednesday decided to remove the psychotropic drug Ritalin from its list of approved medicines to treat depression as it has become widely abused.

Following the decision by the pharmaceutical and food sanitation council, the ministry within this month will restrict the prescription of the highly addictive drug solely for the treatment of narcolepsy.

Ritalin is the brand name of methylphenidate hydrochloride, a central nervous system stimulant.

To prevent a further increase of the abuse of the drug, especially among young people, the ministry ordered Novartis Pharma K.K., the pharmaceutical company that produces and distributes the drug, to develop a system to manage its distribution.

The Minato Ward, Tokyo-based company plans to set up the system by early next year.

Under the new system, which is as strict as that applied for narcotics for medical use, doctors with expertise in diagnosing narcolepsy as well as medical institutions and pharmacies that prescribe the drug will be required to be preregistered.

Also at the panel meeting, Janssen Pharmaceutical K.K. proposed the same management system regarding the distribution of Concerta, a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

(Oct. 19, 2007)

Prior to the release of Concerta in Japan, there were no medications officially approved for the treatment of ADHD. Doctors were treating ADHD with Ritalin, but Ritalin was only approved for the treatment of Depression and Narcolepsy. Because of the issue described above, Ritalin was only approved for Narcolepsy, and doctors are no longer allowed to use it to treat ADHD. Shortly after this issue, Concerta was released, and was approved for the treatment of ADHD.

The medications currently available in Japan for ADHD include: Concerta (OROS Methylphenidate) and Strattera (Atomoxetine).

These medicines are approved to treat ADHD from 6-18 years old.

Doctors are not allowed to prescribe the medication to anyone younger than 6 years old, and they are only allowed to prescribe ADHD medication to anyone over 18 years old if they started the medication prior to their 18th birthday. In other words, at the current time, if someone is diagnosed with Adult ADHD, and did not start medication before their 18th birthday, they would not be allowed to take an ADHD medication. I do understand that at least one of the companies which produces ADHD medication in Japan is applying for an adult indication for ADHD. If and when this is approved, it would make it easier for patients who get diagnosed with adult ADHD to receive medication for their condition.

For a published scientific article looking at the use of medications for ADHD in Japan, please view this article.

Japanese ADHD Specialists:

When I presented in Tokyo, I presented at a national ADHD meeting. There were many Japanese presenters at the meeting (which I could understand thanks to the translators). I was very impressed by the caliber of their presentations, and the wisdom and insight they shared. I have attended ADHD meetings in Canada, USA and Europe, and while all of the presentations in Tokyo were very good, there were a couple of presentations ranked in the top presentations that I’ve seen. The Japanese Psychiatrists and Pediatricians are very well trained, intelligent, they conduct great research, and they care for their patients deeply.

Prevalence of ADHD in Japan:

The prevalence of ADHD in Japan is relatively understudied. Yoshimasu published in 2006 that regarding ADHD in Japan (and Eastern countries): “the epidemiological evidence including data for incidence, prevalence, gender differences, and etiology remain insufficient.”

When it comes to the number of patients diagnosed with ADHD and the number receiving medication, my sense is that there are significantly fewer in Japan (based on population) compared to the United States or Canada. While I have no solid research upon which to base this opinion, here’s how my logic goes (from my Canadian perspective):

  • Japan has a population of approximately 135 million people; Canada has a population of approximately 35 million people
  • Japan has approximately 500 Child Psychiatrists; Canada has approximately 500 Child Psychiatrists
  • Japan has approximately 2500 Pediatricians who treat ADHD; Canada has approximately 2500 Pediatricians who treat ADHD

In other words – for the size of the population, there is an equally sized ‘work force’ of medical specialists who assess and treat ADHD. While I don’t know the budgets of mental health treatment programs (i.e. how much money is invested in psychological treatments), based on my logic above, I suspect that overall fewer patients in Japan (based as a percentage of the population) are identified with ADHD and receive help for it than are in Canada.

Hopefully these insights and opinions are helpful to you. Please share any comments below.

Before wrapping up, I’d like to share some of my personal experiences traveling in Japan.

My Personal Experiences Traveling in Japan:

I had so many great experiences while in Japan, even though it was a very busy trip (I was there for 6 days, and I had 6 presentations in 4 cities). I hardly had time to get accustomed to the time difference, so I was always some variant of tired while I was there (except for when I was presenting, because as the saying goes: “The show must go on!”). Here are a few experiences which I enjoyed:

Grateful for the translators:

I was fortunate while I was in Japan to have two excellent medical translators. They did real time translation during my presentation, so that doctors could listen to my presentation in Japanese on headphones while I presented in English. When participants asked questions, I would listen to the question in English on headphones, while they were asking in Japanese. While most doctors could speak some English, there were few who could talk about medical issues comfortably in English (and their English was always better than my Japanese!).

When traveling between cities, I was fortunate enough to have a guide to get me to the train, or airport. Because I don’t speak or read Japanese, it is very hard to get around without help, because one can’t even read a street sign! And while many people speak some English, it is hard to get around without speaking Japanese.

Excellent Train System:

JapanTrip 4 of 333 150x150 ADHD in Japan: A Personal Perspective

Dr. Kenny and the Bullet Train in Tokyo

Japan has an excellent train system. It runs like clockwork, and the trains are local, express (to an adjacent city), and there are of course the “Bullet Trains”. I did take the Bullet Train from Tokyo to Nagoya. It went approximately 160 km/h, and it was smooth and comfortable. On my last day in Japan, I was supposed to take the Bullet Train from Osaka to Tokyo (so that I could go to Narita Airport to fly home), however there had been an accident earlier, and the bullet train was significantly delayed. The message we were told was that someone had slipped off the platform when the bullet train was passing through a station, so the train was not running. While it was explained as an accident, one of the psychiatrists I had spoken to expressed concerns about the high suicide rate in Japan, and how many people jump in front of trains as their method of committing suicide. While I will never know what happened to that person that day, I was certainly concerned for that person, and their family. In the end, the travel agent found me an alternate way of getting to Tokyo (via a short flight), and I got to Narita airport earlier than I would have otherwise. Interestingly, when I had no ability whatsoever to contribute to the solution of the issue, I had a surprising calm about the fact that I could potentially miss my flight. If I were in the English speaking world, I wouldn’t have had a travel agent with me, and I would have had to figure it out, or get the right help to figure it out – and in that case, I certainly would have worried more.

Expensive Taxi Ride: One of the first things I noticed when I got to Japan was the fact that the airports are quite a distance from the cities. Narita International airport is quite a drive from Tokyo, and when I arrived on a Friday afternoon, it took around 2 hours to get there. The bill for the taxi ride? The equivalent of $300! The message here is this: when you go to visit Tokyo on holidays – make sure to take the train from Narita Airport into Tokyo. It’ll probably be faster, and it will cost a lot less.

JapanTrip 21 of 333 150x150 ADHD in Japan: A Personal Perspective

Fresh Tuna in Tsu City

Amazing Sushi: Need I say more? As a sushi lover, I had fantastic fresh sushi in Japan. I was able to go to two different local restaurants (one in Tokyo and one in Tsu City), and the food was amazing. When I say ‘local restaurants’, I mean restaurants which aren’t tourist locations, but rather restaurants where real Japanese people eat. That’s how I love to get great food when traveling, and I loved it!

Tech Tourism: When I had time to tour in Tokyo, I went to the beautiful Asakusa temple, and then the day was getting late, and things were closing. When I was asking my guide about the different options we had, I chose to go to Ginza (a part of Tokyo), where the Sony showroom is. As a bit of a ‘tech geek’, I really enjoyed seeing the Sony showroom, which included several pieces of technology which aren’t in North America yet. I then went to ‘Bic Camera’, which was like a huge department store, with floors and floors of electronics. Although I loved seeing these great technology stores (and I didn’t spend too much), I must admit that I feel pretty geeky for visiting the tech stores in Tokyo icon smile ADHD in Japan: A Personal Perspective

Wonderful People: While in Japan, I met many smart, educated, warm, caring and humble people. While I was only there a short time, I met some great medical colleagues, and made at least one good friend that I will keep in touch with.

Japan is a fascinating and complex country, and this trip has really piqued my curiosity. I look forward to my next opportunity to go back to the ‘land of the rising sun’, to experience more of what Japan has to offer.

Final Thoughts:

If you are going to travel to Japan, and you take medication for ADHD, please be very mindful of the Japanese rules and laws for stimulant medication. In a future post, I will share the current rules and restrictions (hint – you can’t bring all stimulant medications into Japan…)

Best,

Dr. Kenny

Here are some more of my pictures from Japan:

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ADHD and Marriage

When adults with ADD/ADHD get into long term relationships or get married, certain things can happen (because of the ADD/ADHD). There is a pattern of behavior and interaction that can develop which can undermine the relationship.

This can be very hard for the adult with ADHD, and also for the spouse or partner who doesn’t have ADD/ADHD.

The good news is that by understanding the nature of the challenges, and by developing the right strategies, things can improve significantly.

Watch the video below to see how ADD Coach Lynne Edris, ACG explains the problem, and gives you some ideas to get you started on improving your relationship:

(just click play to start the video:)

Click here for the iPhone/iPad version of the video

The coaching call will be live on Monday February 13th at 9:15 pm eastern time. Members of the ‘Insiders’ will be able to participate live, or get the recording after the call.

If you find this information helpful, and you’d like to join us for the live coaching call, click here to join the ‘Insiders‘.

Please share any thoughts or comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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Family Meetings For Parenting ADHD Kids

As a parent of a child or teen with ADD/ADHD, you’re likely always looking for parenting strategies that work. If you’re like many parents that I work with, you find some that work, and then after a while, your child (gotta love ‘em :-)) goes and changes, and then you feel like you’re back to the drawing board.

One of the strategies that can be very helpful, and is often not taught – is having family meetings. Family meetings – when they are done well – can be very helpful (and if they are done poorly, they can really back fire!).
That’s why I’ve interviewed ADD Coach Diane O’Reilly for this coaching video for you. She discusses how to run a Family Meeting to help your family to function better. And not only is Diane a trained, expert coach, but as you’ll hear – she has 4 boys – three of whom have ADHD (and one is on the ‘borderline’, she says), and she herself has ADHD. So Diane knows how to use this strategy to make family life run better.

Just click play to watch this video:

Click here for iPhone/iPad compatible video.

If you’ve found this video helpful, and you’d like to join our coaching training call on Monday February 13th at 8 pm Eastern time (or even if you can’t make it live, you can get the recordings), just click here to join the “Insiders” program:
Join ADD/ADHD Insiders

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Ritalin Gone Wrong Response

A recent article in the New York Times entitled: “Ritalin Gone Wrong” was very critical of the current treatment for ADD/ADHD. There are significant problems with the arguments forwarded in the article. I was interviewed on the News about this issue, on Thursday February 2nd, 2012. Here’s the video. I will write a more detailed response on this blog for your shortly.

To start the video, just click the button below:

For iPhone/iPad video, click here.

Please feel free to share this video with others who may want to know this information, and please share your thoughts and comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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It’s My Birthday. Will You Do Me a Favor?

birthday 150x150 Its My Birthday. Will You Do Me a Favor?It’s February 3rd, 2012 and that means I’m one year older today.

41 years old, to be specific.

It may be weird to ask for a birthday present… but I’m going to do it anyway (heck, it’s my birthday – there’s no harm in asking…)

Will you share one thing that I’ve been able to help you with in the past year with ADD/ADHD?
It could be that I helped you change your perspective and inspired you. Or maybe you learned about a new strategy, medication or alternative treatment that could help. Whatever it is – however small or big, I’d love to hear it.

This blog, my emails and all of the information that I share is meant to help you (and our society at large) to understand ADD/ADHD better, and to get the right perspective on ADD/ADHD. I focus on differences rather than deficits, encourage a strength based approach and I believe that knowledge is power – i.e. when you have the right information, you can make the best health choices.

Nothing could be better than hearing how my material has helped you.

Just leave a comment on this post.

It would make my day.

Thanks in advance icon smile Its My Birthday. Will You Do Me a Favor?

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ADHD & New Year’s Resolutions

Today is January 4, 2012, and I sent an email today to my email subscribers asking them two simple questions:

  1. What is your #1 New Years Resolution this year?
  2. Have you achieved your New Years Resolutions in the past?

I asked people to just hit ‘reply’ and send in an email to let me know the short answers to these questions. On other occasions, I have used ‘survey software’, which makes it easy to tabulate and summarize responses, but this time, I thought if people just had to hit ‘reply’ in their email, then they’d be more likely to respond.
And did you ever respond!
In the first 8 hours after the email was sent – I received 153 email responses!
I am appreciative, honored, and touched by the emails sent. I wanted to summarize some of the comments and issues which came forward.
First, I’d like to give you some background.

The Issue With New Year’s Resolutions:
Every January 1st, many people ‘resolve’ to improve things in their lives. The gyms are full, the diet clinics are doing brisk business, and people plan to change their lives.
And by Valentine’s day (or maybe even by January 7th?), the resolutions are gone, forgotten, and things are back to ‘normal’.

And when it comes to people with ADD/ADHD, it can be very hard to make and keep resolutions. The symptoms of ADD/ADHD include poor focus, distractibility, impulsivity, etc. And, many people with ADD/ADHD have executive functioning difficulties. One executive function is: goal directed persistence! If everyone in society has trouble with keeping resolutions, how easy is it going to be for people who have trouble with ‘goal directed persistence’?!

And when it comes to family members who care for their loved ones with ADD/ADHD, they often get so burned out by their daily support and advocacy that it can be hard to focus on themselves…

So, with all of the odds against us here, why did I want to talk about New Year’s Resolutions?

It is my personal belief that we need to continuously strive for improvement. We need to evaluate where we are, and continuously set goals to reach the next step.
And not everyone agrees with me… BUT on New Year’s – this is a chance when everyone is considering New Year’s Resolutions. Many people are thinking about setting goals, and they want to achieve them.
I view this as a chance to help you – if you want it.

Your Responses To My Email Questions:

154 emails in the first 8 hours!
The first 80 or so got personal responses, and then I had to just read the emails, because I was running out of time.
I did read every email, and let me say this:
I am very touched and appreciative to each and every one of you who wrote in (and if you respond after this post goes live, I will happily read your email as well!)
As I was reading your emails, I realized that when you wrote in, you were letting me in to your hopes, dreams, and sometimes wounds (from previous hopes and dreams which didn’t go well). I was touched and honored that you were kind enough to share this very personal information with me. And I don’t take it lightly.

In my email to you, I wrote the list of the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions according to About.com. They are:
1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends
2. Fit in Fitness
3. Tame the Bulge
4. Quit Smoking
5. Enjoy Life More
6. Quit Drinking
7. Get Out of Debt
8. Learn Something New
9. Help Others
10. Get Organized

But I wanted to know what your top resolutions were.
While this isn’t an official ‘tally’, here are some of the top themes which came up over and over again when you wrote in your #1 New Year’s Resolution:

  1. Have more patience (with my ADHD child, spouse, or with myself)
  2. Declutter, and get organized
  3. Lose weight/gain health
  4. Spend more time with friends/better connection with family
  5. Save more money/spend less/earn more
  6. (I resolve to) Not make any more resolutions because I always let myself down
  7. I don’t make resolutions, I work on year round improvement

When it came to the question of “have you been successful with resolutions in the past?”, the answer was a resounding “No”. Though there was a (powerful) minority who have been partially or fully successful in the past with resolutions.

There were several emails which I’d like to quote:

Regarding question 1: What is your #1 New Years Resolution this year?

John said: For the first time, to set goals for myself.

N. said: This year number one is : Take care of myself FIRST.

A humorous response: Marvin wrote: I’m a 70 year old who was diagnosed with ADHD almost 20 years ago. I have had the same resolution for several years and am one of the few people I know who has consistently been successful in keeping theirs: No new tattoos. (Of course I don’t have any old tattoos).

Regarding Question #2: Have you achieved your new years resolutions in the past?

Suzy said: (I don’t achieve my resolutions because) Like you said…..I don’t persevere. Top resolution should be to be more self disciplined…..that would take care of a lot!!

Kay wrote: No it is the same each year, the list is the same…. same goals, same ending.

Psalm says: Resolutions are rather intimidating to me. I prefer to think of goals, such as small, incremental, attainable goals.

Jennifer: I have not always achieved my resolutions but I have when I am very specific with the goal.

N. wrote: Yes, I achieve them because I type them up and paste them inside my wallet, checkbook, reading material etc and post them where I will see and be reminded of them every day plus I announce them to my inner circle for support.

Of course, as you can see – your wisdom came through in the emails. As you were sharing your comments, many of you revealed the answers to success with setting and achieving goals and New Year’s Resolutions.

And remembering the importance of the fact that we are in the area of mental health, there were some emails which were very personal, and acknowledged how hard things can be for people. Here is one example:

As J. wrote: My New Years resolution is to learn to live with ADD and all it brings, to fight the bully at work who constantly yells at me and to not commit suicide because of my poor self-image. Have I achieved my past new year’s goals? No, of course not.

Of course, I personally emailed J., and encouraged a visit to the doctor and/or therapist to work on J’s issues and challenges. (Our thoughts and prayers are with you, J!)

After reading 154 emails with people’s hopes, dreams, wounds and fears, I reiterate that I was personally touched and honored that you shared all that you did.

In the next few days, I’ll be sharing some thoughts and ideas for your on how to do well with your New Year’s Resolutions this year. Your emails have motivated me a lot to make sure to give you some helpful tips and strategies.

I’ll wrap up with this:

Jamie wrote: “Thanks…just curious…what were yours?”

When it comes to resolutions, I do take the time to review the past year, take stock, and look forward to the new year, and I do set goals. I set specific, measurable goals, with deadlines on them (3 month, 6 month, 9 month, 12 month) – and my goals are written down.

My three main goals (or goal categories) this year are:

  1. Family: Support my family more and increase my connection with them
  2. Health: Improve my health and well-being
  3. Finances: Improve my business and financial well-being

Thanks again, and watch for more updates in the coming days.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

p.s. please share your thoughts and comments below in the comments section…


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Holiday Message: Most Of All, Remember…

As we get closer to the Christmas break, life gets much busier…

Whether this is a religious holiday for you or not (i.e. Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza…), no doubt your life has gotten much busier in the past few weeks.

And things become all about the work get togethers, the ‘secret santa’, the family functions, trying to honor family traditions, and of course – trying to find the “right” present for your loved ones.
And if it’s for your child, no doubt, there is the ‘hot gift’ of the season, which is way too hard to find… (I suspect those toy companies do it on purpose!)

This time of year can be very stressful and challenging.
We all put too much pressure on ourselves for the holiday season.

And during all of these stresses and pressures – there’s one important thing to remember: and that is WHY we do all of these things…

Think about it for a moment:

  • Why do you want to get your child or loved one the ‘right gift’?
  • Why do you want to spend time with family? (even if it is your parents, or in-laws, or aunts and uncles who are judgmental, don’t understand you, and don’t ‘get’ ADD…)
  • Why do you try so hard to keep ‘family traditions’ alive?

My argument is this:
We do all of these things so that we can hopefully experience an EMOTION.
All of this hard work, to get us to FEEL a certain way.

What is this feeling that we drive ourselves so hard to feel?

[highlight color="FFFF00"]In my view, we’re pursuing this: an emotion of connection, closeness and love.[/highlight]

And in our day to day lives – we are so busy, so concerned about the stresses of the day, and week, and month, that we don’t often stop and take the time to feel this life-fulfilling feeling with the people we love – especially if they have ADD/ADHD and we have to work so hard to support them… (or if we ourselves have ADD and have trouble keeping up with day to day life…)

My advice to you- and my ‘christmas message’ to you is this:

Take the time to experience that loving connection and feeling with your loved ones this holiday season.
Make THAT the specific goal, and find the time to do it.

For many people, the busy holiday season doesn’t actually lead to this feeling of connection, closeness and love. It just leads to stress, overwhelm, upset, and a desire to get back to the routine of work…
Or maybe you’ve heard yourself saying to yourself under your breath: “I need a holiday after my holiday!”

Now, I’m not saying that you need to avoid the family traditions, and the get togethers, and all of the busy things you want to do, or feel you need to do.
Rather, I’m suggesting this:

1) Be easy on yourself. Don’t push yourself so hard that you get run down, overwhelmed and are ready to snap. That doesn’t serve you, and it doesn’t serve the ones you love. If your house isn’t perfectly neat, or if the Christmas meal is missing the cranberry sauce (or if it’s even take out from a chinese restauarant!), be easy on yourself, and remember, the point of the holidays is a feeling of connection, closeness and love.

2) At some point in your holiday schedule – take some time to do something with the people you love most – and make sure that you nurture a sense of connection, closeness and love.
This may mean going for a walk, or going bowling, or just having a quiet chat when no one else is around.
And when you do this – be sure to open up, and share your feelings. This part is so important – because that will show your loved ones how you really feel.
You may even want to explain how you do all of the holiday ‘activities’ and traditions to try to make it a special time for the family, so that your loving connections will get even stronger. Talk about how important your loved ones are to you, and how much they mean to you.
Give specific examples of things they’ve done that you love and/or are proud of.

Don’t use general statements, like: “You know I love you son.”

Rather, use very specific comments like, “I love you just for who you are. And when you stood up for your friend who was in trouble last September, even though that was a hard time for you, I saw the power of your character, your loyalty and I was so proud. I love you for who you are.”

When a comment is general, kids and loved ones think you just read it out of a book. But when you open up, and acknowledge them for what they’ve done and who they are – then they know you mean it. Everybody appreciates when someone sees who they really are, and acknowledges them for being themselves.

And of course if this is a religious and/or cultural holiday for you, be sure to consider and pray on the true meaning of the holiday. This can deepen your spritual connection, which can be beneficial to you in so many ways.

I wish you happy holidays, and I want you to know that I truly appreciate you for allowing me to participate in your journey with ADD/ADHD. I am honored, and I really appreciate you.
I hope you have happy, fulfilling, connected and loving holidays.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you think this message can help someone else, please forward it to them.

Best,
Dr. Kenny

p.s. If you find this message helpful, you may also find my book: Attention Difference Disorder helpful. It is for parents of kids and teens with ADD/ADHD. You can find it on Amazon.com here. Depending on when you order, Amazon may be able to still get it to you by the holidays!

p.s.

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ADHD Medication: How To Decide

When it comes to making a decision about whether to use a medication for ADD/ADHD or not, many people struggle with this… There is so much misinformation out there, that people are worried about making the wrong decision, and whether they will be judged for it…

In this short video (taken from a presentation I did), I share with you the way to decide if you will take ADD/ADHD medication or not. And this applies whether you are dealing with child/teen ADD/ADHD, or Adult ADD/ADHD.

Please watch this short video, share your comments/thoughts below (and also forward it to friends/family who may appreciate it!).

What do you think? Do you agree with the message of this video?
Best,
Dr. Kenny

p.s. To learn a whole lot more about the safe and effective use of ADD/ADHD medication – take advantage of the special discount on the Medication Mastery Course (special ends on Monday December 5th at 11:59 pm Eastern time) [hyperlink family="Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif" size="20" color="1A12FF" textshadow="1" alignment="center" weight="bold" style="normal" lineheight="110" linkurl="http://medicationmastery.com" linkwindow="_blank"]Click Here To Take Advantage Of The Special Offer[/hyperlink]

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