December 04, 2013

Mastering ADD -- Part 1

I have ADD. Yes, that's right -- Attention Deficit Disorder. It's a misnomer though, because I can super-focus on something that really interests me, like my current research project. *wink* For most of my life, I felt like a failure and stupid, but guess what? The first eye opener for me was in high school psyc class. My classmates and I took IQ tests and I discovered I could qualify for Mensa! Wow! Me, a brainiac, no way!

Of course, then that led to "Dolores is not living up to her potential" statements on report cards. Is that a set-up or what? But, tightly sheltered in my hands, was a tiny shiny glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I was not so dumb after all. Maybe giftedness was why I thought and acted differently from everyone else. Even then, I didn't completely accept myself, because I still was not "normal." I could identify with Pinocchio who wanted to be a real boy and later Data, on Star Trek, who sought to be human.

However, it was not until much later, after marriage and motherhood, that I discovered just who I was. All of us, our whole family was diagnosed at the same time by the same expert (Dr. Grace Ketterman. I've mentioned her before--here.) with ADD. Hallelujah! For me, it was such a relief to learn my state of being had a name and that it is neurological.
My autographed copy of
Dr, Ketterman's book.

The very first thing I needed to know after our diagnosis was practical coping skills, not only for myself, but also how to wisely parent our son. My doctor could not follow me around daily, handing out free advice. She had to make a living. We continued to visit her on a monthly basis for a couple of years and I journaled the most pressing problems to receive her advice, but I felt overwhelmed and at the same time, starved for information, so I turned to books. While medication helped to clear the cobwebs of foggy thots, most of the materials I read about ADD/ADHD, did not tell me how to manage living with it. What may seem obvious to you, scatter-brains like me before medication, do not have problem-solving techniques under our belts. I needed assistance -- helpful concrete step by step directions, written in sequence. I continued to read self-help books, adopting some survival skills along the way. If you think coping is a crutch, you may be right, but you wouldn't take crutches away from a one-legged man, would you, if he needed them to get around?

After six difficult years in public school, we decided to educate our son at home. I got involved right away in a local homeschool support group. Later I was asked to sit on a panel of parents and share some of my organizational tips. I went from being completely disorganized to over-the-top organized (one of the hazards of over-compensating for ADD deficiencies. *wink*).

Anyway, I love hand-outs which I collect in 3 ring-binder notebooks. It's something I can refer back to, if needed. So on the hand-out that evening, some of my suggestions were:

1. Make a master list and check it twice.

2. List all the most important tasks your family must complete (including lessons) in a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. Make "appointments" for each on one BIG calendar.

3. Store items near the place you use them.

4. Transform piles into files.

6. A place for everything and everything in it's place! Remember this rule: O.H.I.O. Only handle it once.

7. Pull weeds when you see them in the infant stage, otherwise you'll have Godzilla-sized problems in no time.

8. Date all papers. File or throw away papers that are no longer needed.

9. On scrub day, start at the door and work your way around the room.

10. Do each task one step at a time and complete the task before beginning on a new one. If needed, write down the steps of a job in sequence and laminate it. Post it near job site as a reminder of what needs to be done.
11. Go for the Gold! Visit stores with a list of the items you need and only purchase those items. I carry a small spiral notebook and pen in my purse for reminders and master lists. Somehow, that link from hand to head makes things stick for me!

12. If you can manage this without getting distracted, combine tasks to save time. If you are running errands, write down all the places you need to go, what you need to get, and "map" your way there in the straightest way possible. Don't backtrack as that wastes not only time, but gas.

13. Delegate chores. Many hands make a job light!

14. Learn to say NO! Know your limitations. After all, God rested after creating order from chaos all week!

15. Keep a pad and pen near your phone to write down important messages. Assign a place for posting them such as on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board near your calendar. This is for everyone in your family. Post the message and act on it as soon as possible if the message was for you.

16. I keep 3-ring binders or file folders for all loose papers. Other items go into themed boxes and baskets. I label them using blank index cards (temporary) or blank sticker labels (permanent).

17. Prepare lesson plans in advance. Write them down and put all items needed for the lesson together. Being organized means less frustration, less time lost and secondly, if you become ill and a substitute teacher takes over, everything will run smoother because the day was pre-planned in advance. (I wrote my son's assignments in a large spiral notebook, leaving him space to check them off as he progressed through them. It gave him a real sense of accomplishment and helped him know when those assignments were completed, he could play with his homeschooling friends up the street,
a real motivator for both. I also kept them as proof that my child was getting an education.)

18. Be flexible.

  ~~ <> @ <> ~~

Note: After retiring from homeschooling, the above list was helpful when I later went back to teaching in Pre-K Sunday School and was asked to prepare a teacher training class called "One of the Honey Bees of Teaching: Bee Prepared."
~~ <> @ <> ~~

"The Week's Calendar"
by Frances Heilprin.

Monday-- Watch the bubbles fly--
Tuesday -- See the wash get dry.
Wednesday -- Mend with all our might ---
Thursday -- Make things clean and bright.
Friday -- Bad for dust and flies. --
Saturday -- Good for cakes and pies.
Sunday -- From all tasks we're free,
After church we have our tea.
~~ <> @ <> ~~

Near to the end of our homeschooling days, I filled out a survey for a book called "Homeschooling the Challenging Child" by Christine Field.  She is a lawyer/free-lance writer/homeschool mom who had adopted a boy with ADD. Previous to that adoption, the lawyer in her blamed parents for discipline problems, but she soon saw that she couldn't lay all the blame at parents feet, because despite doing all the "right things," her son was still struggling. She quotes me four times in her book.

1. Delores from Missouri notes, "Like David used harp music to soothe King Saul's nerves, we've tried to keep soothing music around." p. 55.

2. Delores in Missouri gave her son an interesting assignment. She writes, "He's always had Bible memory verses to practice his handwriting with and memorize at the same time as his spelling. I've tried to make his verses uplifting, positive ones since ADD people tend to internalize the negative, preachy ones (pessimism, discouragement, depression). Last year, he had twenty-five verses of joy and cheer to memorize! His outlook changed for the better--everyone noticed!" p.57. (see post below for verses)
3. Delores says her son is a tester, more so in his younger years than now. "He's one of those children Dr. James Dobson in his Strong-Willed Child book says was born with a cigar in his mouth." P. 72.
4. Delores from Missouri writes: "I learned to be firm, stand my ground when needed, but refuse to argue, and his privileges would go bye-bye! And he still had to do whatever was requested of him." P. 117.

To be continued. . .


  1. Interesting read and how exciting to be quoted in the book. All wonderful and useful advice. I use lists all the time and have learnt to say 'I will check if we are free and get back to you'. Then go home and think I actually want to do whatever and not feel obligated.

  2. whoaah this weblog is great i love reading your posts.
    Stay up the good work! You know, many persons are searching around for this info, you could aid them greatly.

  3. Its like you learn my mind! You seeem to know a lot approximately this, sufh as you wrote the e book
    inn it or something. I believe that you just coupd do with some percent to dive the message house a little bit, however
    instead of that, that is fantastic blog. An excellent read.
    I will definjtely be back.

    1. I've lived it and want to pass along the knowledge I've gained. Perhaps it will help you or someone else, because finding out about ADD and gratitude was such an eye-opener for me. Thank you for visiting my blog today and taking the time to read a post or two or three. smile! Have a great day!


Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. (Hebrews 12:28).