Archive for Adult ADHD

Guilt and ADHD

guilt 200x300 Guilt and ADHD

When you’re dealing with ADD/ADHD, you often experience guilt.

If you’re a parent dealing with an ADD/ADHD child or teen, you may experience guilt in numerous ways, such as:

  • Guilt that you have somehow caused the ADHD…
  • Guilt that you aren’t handling it well…
  • Guilt about the treatment you are giving your child (i.e. medication)

If you’re an adult dealing with ADD/ADHD, you may experience guilt in numerous ways as well:

  • Guilt over impulsive comments you make
  • Guilt over disorganization, or being late on deadlines
  • Guilt over financial issues

Guilt can be a trap, or like an invisible cage which locks you in. If you, however, learn from the guilt, it can be a great teacher, and help you out.

I’ve just posted a new ADHD Podcast episode which discusses how to Overcome ADHD Guilt in 5 Steps. This free episode will help you to overcome guilt, by understanding it, learning from it, and moving forward.

Enjoy!

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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Apps to Help You Sleep Better

AppsforAdultADHD 300x198 Apps to Help You Sleep BetterMany people with ADHD struggle with sleep.

I’ve just released a podcast episode called: 5 Steps to a Good Night Sleep with ADHD. In this podcast, I go through 5 steps to help you to figure out what’s going on with your sleep problems, and I also give you steps and strategies to work on to help out.

One of the things I found which was quite interesting, while I was researching this episode, was the fact that there are some apps which can help you to sleep better.

Firstly, you may benefit from using sleep headphones – these can allow you to listen to your mp3 player, or music which can help you to fall asleep and stay asleep. These sleep headphones are flatter than normal headphones, so you won’t roll over onto your headphones and have them pressing into your head or cheek.

And then these apps may help you as well:

Sleep Hypnosis audios: Here is a sample sleep hypnosis CD from Amazon for $10. You may benefit from listening to a hypnosis CD to help you fall asleep. It’s pretty inexpensive, and it may help you out.

Here are a couple of iPhone Apps that may help you to sleep better:

Sleep – Red Hammer Software – This app has numerous ambient sounds to help you to sleep better. It is like a white noise machine, but it has many different settings which could help your sleep.

Sleep Cycle alarm clock – Maciek Drejak Labs This app helps to awaken you when you are in your lightest sleep, so that you awaken feeling more refreshed and alert. To use it effectively, you need to put the iPhone under your pillow (and I suggest you put it on ‘airplane’ mode. (and although I haven’t tried it, I have friends who swear by it, and there are 2268 Five star reviews in the app store).

Do you have any sleep strategies to help you or your kids with ADHD? Please share them in the comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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ADHD Podcast

I’m please to let you know that I’ve launched an ADHD Podcast. It is available on iTunes, Zune and Blackberry. Of course, you can just go to the site and listen to the shows right there.

It is a weekly ADHD Podcast, and I aim to bring you tips, strategies and tools to help you to live better with ADHD.

You can find the show here:

1) ADHD Podcast

2) ADHD Podcast on iTunes

Please listen in – sign up to get new episodes delivered automatically, and please join the discussion by commenting on the episodes – we’d love your input!

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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The Individuality of People with ADHD

fingerprint 150x150 The Individuality of People with ADHDWhen you ask someone what they think of when they hear the term “ADHD”, they often say that they picture a boy who is hyperactive. And that’s accurate – there are some boys with ADHD who are hyperactive.

But ADD/ADHD can go far beyond boys who are hyperactive.

There are also boys who are inattentive, girls who are daydreamers, young men who get angry easily, young women who are “too emotional”, and a whole range of other different ‘presentations’ of how people seem when they have ADD or ADHD.

In my office, after completing an assessment, I discuss with a family that their child meets criteria for ADHD (if they do) and I explain more about it. It’s quite a common occurrence for the parent to say something like: “I know about ADHD because my other child has it (or my nephew has it; or I’m a teacher and I’ve had kids in my class with it), and I just don’t see my child having the same thing as the other kid(s) that I know with ADHD.”

I then go on to explain how ADHD can ‘look different’ in different people, and I explain how it is manifesting in their child.

While I’ve always known that ADHD can seem different from one person to another, the extent of the individual nature of ADHD really hit home recently when I was reading to prepare for a presentation to teachers. In the book ADHD in the Schools by Dupaul and Stoner, this point was made very clear. Before sharing Dr. Dupaul and Dr. Stoner’s insights, let me just give a brief overview of how ADHD is diagnosed with the DSM criteria.

The DSM-IV-TR (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association) lists 9 symptoms of inattention, and 9 symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity. To meet the criteria for ADHD, one has to have at least 6 symptoms on one or both of these two lists (inattention or hyperactivity/impulsivity).

If one has at least 6 symptoms of inattention, and fewer than 6 symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity, then one is diagnosed with ADHD- Inattentive Subtype.

If one has at least 6 symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity, and fewer than 6 symptoms of inattention, then one is diagonsed with ADHD- Hyperactive Impulsive Subtype.

If one has at least 6 symptoms on BOTH lists, then one has ADHD- Combined Subtype.

So, to meet criteria for ADHD Combined Type, one has to have at least 12 out of 18 symptoms of ADHD. Of course, one could have 13 symptoms, or 14, etc.

In their book ADHD in the Schools, Doctors DuPaul and Stoner write:

“There are at least 7,056 possible combinations of 12 out of 18 symptoms that could result in a diagnosis of ADHD-Combined Type.”

7,056 different combinations of ADHD symptoms!

No wonder there isn’t one stereotype for kids/teens and adults with ADHD.

And this only relates to the combined type of ADHD. There would be more combinations if we added inattentive only, or hyperactive impulsive only.

And this is just based on the combination of symptoms alone. If we go a little deeper, and look at the individual, and take into account things like:

  • Ethnic and cultural background
  • Personal life experiences
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Strengths and skills people have
  • Weaknesses and challenges people struggle with
  • Personality traits
  • The society they’ve grown up in…
  • And a whole lot of other varilables

It’s no wonder that not everyone with ADD/ADHD seems to ‘look’ the same, and appear to have the same type of ADHD.

Are there similarities between individuals with ADHD? Of course there are. To meet criteria for the diagnosis, one has to have a relevant number of symptoms, and there are clinical patterns which can emerge.

However, don’t ever dismiss ADHD as a diagnosis just because that one person doesn’t appear the way you think ADHD should look . That person is just an individual with ADHD (with all of their unique individuality).

I hope that after reading this blog post, you’ll share this message with other people about ADHD. One of the first steps to destigmatize and to improve understanding about ADHD in society at large is for people to have the facts. And if we can help people to realize that not every person with ADHD is a hyperactive boy, and we open people’s minds to the fact that people with ADHD can be either gender, they can have a whole range of different symptoms, life experiences and levels of achievement in life, then we can do a lot of good out there.

And once someone has been diagnosed with ADHD, it is important that we focus on their differences and strengths to help them to achieve their best outcomes.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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ADDA Webinar: Rethink ADHD

addawebinar 300x63 ADDA Webinar: Rethink ADHD

Please join me tonight (June 13th 2012) for a free webinar for ADDA.

My topic: “Rethink ADHD: Changing the Discussion”

Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Time:  9:00 – 10:00 pm EDT

Registration link: http://bit.ly/handelman6-13g

Normally these events are for members of ADDA only, but because you’re a subscriber or reader of my blog, ADDA is letting me open up the presentation for you as well.

We are in interesting times when it comes to the public view and the public discussion around ADHD. Stigma, misperceptions, judgement and ignorance abound.

We have an interesting paradox between the research we have around the benefits of diagnosis and treatment, and the challenges that people have accessing these treatments.

And then people have to defend and explain themselves because of the misconceptions that others have. This webinar will discuss the issues of stigma and judgement, and provide some insight into what the discussion about ADHD should be about.

We need to move the discussion of ADHD from: – ‘Does ADHD exist’ to ‘how do we make sure people are getting proper assessments and diagnosis?’

From: ‘Are medications for ADHD safe?’ to ‘Ensuring you have a comprehensive treatment program, including medication, therapy, alternatives, and coaching’. -

From: ‘Is treatment improving inattention?’ to ‘Let’s not just treat core symptoms, let’s treat the whole individual, and ensure that quality of life improves.’

From: ‘Judging adults with ADHD’ to ‘moving toward compassion, support and understanding.’

ADDA has a special surprise for you this evening, too. So I hope to “see” you Wednesday night.

Warmly,

Dr. Kenny

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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 & 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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Practice Gratitude Regulary

This past week, it was US Thanksgiving. When it’s Thanksgiving, people (generally) have a great time with friends and family, and have a wonderful, satisfying meal together.

And… most people take some time to consider what they are thankful for.

I am thankful for so many things. Including:

  • My Family and Friends
  • My Health
  • My profession, and the ability I have to help people on a day to day basis
  • The fact that I was born at the time I was (we live in amazing times, with incredible opportunities)
  • The fact that I was born in Canada (it may get cold here, but it is one of the best countries in the world, in my opinion)

And I’m also thankful to you - my blog reader or subscriber – because you’ve chosen to share your journey with ADD/ADHD with me, and you allow me to come onto your computer screen, or into your email inbox to share my thoughts, perspective and advice. I also really appreciate your comments, feedback and participation in the dialogue.

Now – I love Thanksgiving, and I think it is a wonderful yearly ritual.

And I encourage you to practice gratitude more regularly than once a year.

When I say ‘practice gratitude’, I mean that I encourage you to take a few moments, and quiet yourself down. Get comfortable, slow your breathing, and even close your eyes. Think about who and what you are grateful and thankful for. And then feel the feelings of gratitude and love for what you are focusing on. This exercise can take just a moment, and it can be tremendously helpful for you.

When you achieve a state of gratitude (with true feeling and emotion), it changes how you feel, as well as how you interact with the world and others. This can help you in our stressed out, overly busy world – especially if you have ADD/ADHD yourself, or if it’s in your family.

I encourage you to practice gratitude regularly – ideally daily.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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Adult ADHD: Surviving The Holidays

The Holidays can be a very stressful time for everyone – but it’s especially difficult for Adults with ADD/ADHD.

There are so many details to take care of, including:

  • Decorations
  • Cards
  • Gifts
  • Events
  • Food…
  • And the list goes on and on…

And the worst part is that many adults with ADD often get overwhelmed, and then down when they feel that they have messed up for yet another year…

Why not start off the holidays with some strategies that can help you out?

Adult ADD Coach: Lynne Edris (from Coaching ADDvantages), can help you with some strategies to help you to do better this holiday season.

Steps to help you out:

First: Watch this video where Lynne shares some specific strategies to help you out:

Second: Join us for the live coaching call on Monday November 21st at 9:15 pm eastern time. Just click here to join the Insiders Membership Site.

[hyperlink family="impact,chicago" size="18" color="B10000" textshadow="1" alignment="center" weight="bold" style="normal" lineheight="110" linkurl="http://attentiondifferencedisorder.com/members/join-insiders/" linkwindow="_blank"]Join Insiders >>>[/hyperlink]

And, we hope you have a great holiday season icon smile Adult ADHD: Surviving The Holidays

Best,

Dr. Kenny

p.s. there are many benefits to being an ‘Insider’. Click here to find out more.

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Procrastination in ADHD Kids and Teens

Does your ADD or ADHD child procrastinate a lot? If you’re like most parents, the answer is yes. And it likely leads to frustration, hassles, and maybe even battles.

And most parents are thinking: ” This whole thing could have been avoided, if my son (or daughter) didn’t leave this till the last minute!”

Procrastination is a complicated issue. There isn’t a one size fits all answer to it. To fully understand what’s going on with procrastination, and to help you to find solutions for it, I’ve interviewed Diane O’Reilly, from Indigo Tree Coaching below. She’ll help you to understand what’s going on with clutter, and also how to develop strategies to improve it.

To Join The Attention Difference Disorders Insiders Membership and

Participate in the Coaching Call for Parents

of Kids and Teens with ADD/ADHD:

“Overcome Procrastination”

>> CLICK HERE NOW <<

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