Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Smile That Can Crack Your Face.

“I don’t understand. Why can’t you do better?”

That question.  We phrase the comments several different ways, asked them in many tones of voice, but they still carry the same message.  You’re not living up to my expectations.  Many of us heard it when we were children from the adults around us.  We may have even said it to our own children.  It’s a question that’s hard to get rid of but so unhelpful.  It’s a question that’s pretty near impossible to deliver with a smile.

“I don’t understand.  Why didn’t you turn in that assignment?”

After all, our parents knew us and we know our children.  We’ve heard the questions that they ask. We've picked up the books that they read.  We've seen the IQ score on the report. We've marveled at some comment that shows a greater maturity and insight than we thought was in that young head.  They should be able to do better.

“I don’t understand.  Didn’t you listen to the teacher when they told you what to do?”

ADHD throws a real monkey wrench in the works.  It’s now hard to tell what’s done “on purpose” and what’s done “because of the ADHD.”   We are looking for reasons to explain behavior that makes no sense.  We believe if we could only find the reason, we could find the single solution.  The reality is that there may be no single reason and no single solution.  In fact, there may be no perfect combination of solutions at all, rather a need to accept what is and learn how to adapt.

“I don’t understand……….”

When our children are born we may not realize it, but we have built-in expectations. Those include expectations of health, behavior, and achievement among other things.  ADHD wrecks many of those expectations.  One of the hardest but most important things to do is to smile at a child in the face of wrecked expectations with the intent to make new ones.  It may hurt to smile in that moment, but it can make all the difference in the way a child feels about him or herself. It can provide needed encouragement to pick everything up and try again.

“Thank you for telling me about the missing assignments.  It’s going to be alright.  Let’s sit down and make a plan to get them finished over the next few days.”

Follow me on Twitter @pam327 - FB at Pamela Mecca Seymour, LPC

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ADHD and Lying

This is a biggie, and a real problem for many parents when it comes to ADHD and schoolwork. 

“Have you done that science project?”
“Yep, and handed it in.”
“Have you finished your English paper?”
“Yep, and handed it in.”

Note from teacher (usually by the time it’s really too late to make them up) - I’m missing these assignments...........

Follow-up results in some more disassembling - “I put it right on the desk, she must have lost it.”  OR  “I emailed it, his email must not be working.”  All attempts at finding the missing work are unsuccessful.


Some of you may be laughing or crying right now, because you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

So why does this happen?  In short, it’s a mal-adaptive way of dealing with being overwhelmed, and it’s a phenomena that is created by all whole host of executive functions coming up short.  First of all, we have the personal disorganization that results in the assignment being forgotten, or the rubric being lost (which your child needs because they really didn’t hear the multi-step directions due to inability to attend), or not keeping up with the calendar (“what day is it, anyway?”) So the assignment doesn’t get done, completed, and/or handed in on the right day.  Now stuff is starting to back up, so poor sense of time and inability to manage emotion lead to feeling overwhelmed.  Personal disorganization comes up again with a lack of necessary skills to plan to “dig out”.  More work backs up and the cycle repeats.  In the meantime, parents and teachers are asking (nagging) about getting everything done.  Because your child values short-term gain over long term reward (which requires perseverance), the illogical conclusion is to just tell everyone what they want to hear and hope that somehow it all works out / the next assignment has a better grade to make up for the zero / they will really get organized tomorrow / they will study really hard for the next test and get a 100 / or other sorts of magical thinking. 

This can get to be habitual and really devastating, so it’s important to address in a really practical, consistent way.  Some suggestions:

1.   Don’t condone or excuse the lying, but don’t focus on it as a character flaw.  People who feel that they are inherently “bad” don’t see a reason to try and improve.  A better approach is talk about how you will work together to end the need for lying because it damages relationships.
2.  When your child volunteers that they have assignments that are missing or incomplete, thank them for telling you. You want to encourage this.  It’s yet another way they have to admit they messed up which is difficult for all of us.  People with ADHD need to learn how to ask for appropriate help when they need it, and you are reinforcing that skill.
3.  Assume that stuff is sometimes going to get lost and that not all assignments are likely to get turned in on time.  It’s your reality, and your child’s reality, especially in middle school and high school.  Work to mitigate the problem as much as possible rather than deny that it’s ever going to happen.
4. If nobody else is doing it, keep track of back assignments and calendar their completion in a public place.  Follow up with the teacher immediately on the day they are supposed to be turned in to make sure they got there.  This often needs to happen into high school, and despite hearing from teachers that your child needs to be independent, your child needs that extra accommodation and it’s fine. 
5.  If you have a copier or scanner, ask your child everyday if they have a rubric, form, directions, or a completed assignment that they would like to copy.  Put the copy in a designated location and give them back the original.  Sometimes those assignments really do get lost and it’s good habit to have a back-up.  Scan or copy all important documents.
6. Talk to your children about ways to repair relationships that have been damaged by lying including teachers, friends, and you.  Often an apology note to the teacher with some steps your child is taking to avoid the problem in the future can go a long way.  Emphasize that relationships can be repaired.

It takes time to learn new habits.  If your child has started lying about schoolwork, it’s not going to stop overnight.  Your continuing positive approach can help turn the habit around and teach you how to live with your child and teach your child how to live with themselves.

Follow me on Twitter @pam327 - FB at Pamela Mecca Seymour, LPC

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Montessori and ADHD

 “The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy."
“To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom.”

Maria Montessori 

The relationship between ADHD and the Montessori classroom is a tricky one.  Montessori is neither a panacea for children with ADHD, nor an environment that they should avoid altogether.  ADHD is not caused nor cured by diet, the frenetic pace of our culture, television, or poor parenting.  (See my comment about the first article below, and the author's repsonse)  Those issues can certainly affect the severity of ADHD symptoms and a child's ability to develop coping mechanisms, but ADHD stems from structural differences in the brain, is highly heritable, and was first identified in this country before the Civil War.  I am sure that Dr. Montessori met and observed some children who might have been identified as "mentally defective," but may actually have been living with ADHD.

The traditional Montessori classroom, when properly designed and maintained, can be beneficial to a child with ADHD.  Particularly in Children's House, the environment is structured to develop control and concentration.  (I have used some traditional Montessori activities, such as "walking the line" with some of my younger non-Montessori ADHD clients to a good effect) The child has freedom within the structure of the classroom, and can spend a long period of time on activities of choice.  The child learns how to remember and apply multi-step directions when they choose a work, take it off the shelf and carry it to a work area, complete the work, pick it up, and put it away - all of which must be done in a specific fashion.  All of those skills are important for children with ADHD to learn and practice.  Some children with ADHD require years of practice before those skills are mastered.   Children with ADHD will be done a disservice in the classroom when the teacher does not recognize that the child may not be capable of fully implementing these skills without the help of the teacher or a classmate.  Likewise, it will not help the child if the requirements to operated within the defined behavioral parameters of the classroom are ignored.  For the ADHD child to be successful, both the teacher and the parents must be willing to ask the child to perform at the highest level of capability, while providing assistance so that the child will still be successful.  In some schools this balance may be difficult.  More on that in a minute.

Older children must also learn and practice the skills of moving from one work to another in a timely fashion so that they complete enough work each day to make adequate academic progress.  For children with the executive function issues around ADHD, that can be a daunting challenge.  Activation (starting a task - particularly one perceived as difficult), perserverance, and organization all take a hit in the ADHD brain.  Since children in Montessori school often see their worth in the amount of work they complete, continued failure in this area can lead to discouragement and even depression.  A child in a Montessori classroom who is either spending the day wandering around the room with no substantive tasks completed, or a child who is just sitting complacently without showing willingness to attempt anything independently are both illustrations of this problem.  A child who begins to exhibit behavior that seems angry or defiant may also have arrived at the same place.  Again, the teacher who understands how ADHD truly impacts issues around work completion will be able to identify a discouraged or anxious child and will modify the child's environment accordingly, without labeling the child as "lazy", "oppositional", or "unmotivated".  The parents will also need to do their part to listen to teacher concerns as soon as they are voiced, and provide their child with the appropriate assistance at home.  This assistance may need to go beyond medication to things such as creating a structured schedule to help continue the "Montessori Day" into the home, learning all that they can about ADHD and how it affects their child, and agreeing to participate in the extra help that might be offered at and outside of school.

The challenge for many Montessori schools at the present time - particularly public Montessori schools - involves the ability to accommodate children with ADHD within the parameters of shrinking staffs and increasing demands for children to meet benchmarks on a yearly basis.  Even with two adults, it is a challenge to meet the needs of 25+ children on a truly individual basis.  In addition, the degree to which the plan of work may be modified for a child when the school has target standards to meet is limited.  In a traditional Montessori environment, where learning takes place in a three year cycle, children can often take time to practice and master classroom skills that require growth of executive functions. I'm not speaking of skills doing math or writing a paragraph or answering comprehension questions; rather I'm speaking of the skills required to develop a plan of work, do the work completely and properly, ask for help when needed, and do it all in a timely fashion.  Often once they have developed some mastery of those executive functions, learning is accelerated in subsequent years. Children in many types of public schools no longer have the luxury of time to develop executive function skills according to their own developmental timetable, and teachers certainly do not have time to teach them.  Standards are expected to be met on a yearly basis.

So if your child has ADHD, or you suspect they do, you must consider the following things before enrolling your child in any particular Montessori school, whether it's public or private:
  • How much bandwidth do you as a parent have for assisting your child at home?  Are you prepared to continue the "Montessori Day" with the appropriate amount of structure in your home to help your ADHD child?  Are you willing to use agencies and providers to help with ADHD outside of school if it becomes necessary?  
  • Are you willing to adopt and support the philosophy and structure of the school, even when you child is not always successful meeting the school's expectations?
  • Does your child become discouraged easily?  Learning how to behave independently can be difficult work for a Montessori child.  How much comfort do you have with your child trying and being unsuccessful?  Independence often results in "skinned knees."
  • Does your child tend to misbehave or "shut down" in an environment with lots of choice and stimulation?
  • How well to the teachers understand the Montessori theories of developing control and concentration and how do they apply those theories in their classrooms?
  • How well does the staff at the school truly understand ADHD beyond a child's difficulty sitting still or paying attention?  Do they understand what executive functions are and how they impact a child in the classroom?  Do they know and use positive interventions for children with ADHD?
  • What is the school's philosophy about grade-level benchmarks and testing?  What is your philosophy?  If your child shows a slow rate of gain academically in one particular year while they are developing skills for staying productively on task,  how will the school react?  How will you react?  
  • Will there be continual pressure for your child to perform independently yet be "on grade level?"
If any of those things are concerns for you, your child might not thrive in that particular Montessori environment, or might not be a good fit for Montessori at all.  For two other perspectives, I offer the articles below.

Mindfulness Through Technology

One of the hardest situations at a school can be trying to talk to a child when they are extremely upset.  Even after the tears and the crying and the yelling stops, it is still often difficult to go back to what happened to try and figure out a "why".

One day this fall when we were trying to parse this problem with a youngster who had calmed down but was still too upset to talk, I asked if he would be willing to close his eyes and let a lady talk to him for a few minutes.  I told him it might help him relax.  At that point I was thinking that what looked like anger and defiance was really anxiety around some issues in his classroom.  I happened to have an app on my phone called "".  He agreed, so I grabbed some headphones, started the 5 minute calm cycle, and popped them on his head.  By the time the five minutes were over, he had his head down on the table, and was almost asleep.  When it finished, he sat back up, and we started talking again.  This time I heard much more from him about what he was thinking and feeling than I had before.  Plus he was a good deal calmer.

Since then, I've used the app with several more youngsters.  In all cases, the app not only helps to calm the child down, it also helps them to open up - a benefit that I had not expected.  This week I had a young lady with me who was having tummy trouble.  She's in 4th grade.  She has a very difficult time talking about her feelings and often doesn't really seem to know what they are.  When I noticed that she was uncomfortable, we stopped working on what we were doing, and I asked if she wanted to try the app.  We went to the library, she sat in a comfy chair, and I started the 5 minute cycle.  When she finished she smiled at me and said she felt relaxed and sleepy.  She also told me her tummy felt better.  I told her I was glad.  As we were putting away the headphones, she looked at me and said, "Mrs. Seymour? "When I think about (x), I feel bad."  This was definitely a new level of self-awareness and disclosure.  At that point we were able to talk for several more minutes about that issue and were able to come up with a specific plan to help.  There are now 5 iPads in the library at school that have the app installed.  She can come in, grab an iPad and some headphones, and use the app herself.

I don't think there's anything special about this particular app - there are lots of mindfulness apps available for the iPad and iPhone, but I do like the fact that this one has several different background settings (it shows a setting or scene that you can watch while you listen), and has several different cycles or routines.  The basic ones are free.  This app is different from progressive relaxation - you are not consciously tensing and relaxing different muscle groups.  It is also not hypnosis.  There is no altered state with suggestions being added.  Rather, it's just focusing on your physical body in the here and now.

I am planning to write a grant to get some iTouches and headphones to have available for children who need them.  If I had more time at school, I think one of the things I would do next year is show all of the children in the building how to use the app.  Since we have iPads already in the building, the app could be installed on all of our devices and children could use them as needed.

If anyone has information on any research that has been done about using mindfulness in schools via technology, I'd really love to know about it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What a 5-year-old Thinks You Might Like to Know.......

I spent a lot of time in my office today which means I was unofficially on bathroom patrol.  At my Montessori school, children use the restrooms in pairs, with one sitting in a chair holding a paper towel while the other uses the facilities.  Recently we have started responding and acknowledging the correct behavior outside the bathroom, using posters that have photos of children behaving the proper way.  When children are doing what they are supposed to, they see a "thumbs up" from an adult or an older child.  When things get noisy, an adult is supposed to reference the poster to remind the child how they should behave.

Today a young man was sitting outside the bathroom who often has a hard time remembering to look at the poster and model the behavior.  He's five.  It got a bit noisy out there, so I went out to see if I could help.  I came around the corner and he sort-of scrambled sideways onto a chair.  I pointed to the appropriate picture on the poster with a smile.

"But it's so BORING to sit still in a chair," he said.  (eye roll and frown)

"Yes, I know," I said.  "But it's important to know how to sit still because sometimes it's useful."

"I can't do that," he said.

"Yes you can.  Have you tried something to keep your mind busy?" I asked.  "Try counting backwards from 50."  ("Or even A HUNDRED!" said an interested party behind me.)  "Let's do it together."

So we counted backward to about 35 together.  I smiled and went back to my office.  It got noisy again out there.  I was ready to head back out, but then it suddenly got quiet.  I heard someone whispering "82, 83, 84, 85........".  He was sitting still and counting.  I gave him a thumbs up.  He smiled and kept counting.  A minute later he moseyed into my office.

"I counted all the way to 130!"  (Hmmm, his partner sure is taking a long time.........)

"That's great," I said.  "Did it help?"

"Sort-of.  But it's still boring."

"I know.  Come here, I want to tell you a secret."  He came closer.  I whispered to him, "Some people have a hard time sitting still and that's OK.  It gets better if you practice.  You just did a great job practicing."

He looked at me and whispered back, "I don't think that should be a secret.  I think its something that everybody should know if they are bored."

So he went back to his classroom to tell his classmates, and I'm telling you.

My Seven Hairbrushes

It's been about five years since I've started altering my environment to reduce stress.  I'm not talking about soothing paint colors or quiet music or fluffy pillows.  Those things are wonderful, and they do help reduce stress, but I'm talking about more about my stuff and where it is.

I started to get a clue about this when I read the upteenth psychological report for a child with ADHD that recommended they have a set of textbooks at home and one at school.  I hadn't really done any reading on ADHD at that point because I'd just recently been diagnosed myself.  At that point my son had not been formally diagnosed, so I was still in the dark about how the ADHD brain really functions.  This idea of duplicates seemed pretty cool.  A rather elegant solution to leaving stuff behind all the time.

One of the small things in my life that caused a great deal of stress was never seeming to have a hairbrush when I needed one.  I had started carrying a very small purse, and the hairbrush I liked would always get stuffed in last.  When I had to dig something out, the hairbrush was the first thing out, and inevitably left where I put it down.  Lots of bad hair days.  I finally realized that like a duplicate set of textbooks, I needed duplicate hairbrushes in several different places EXCEPT my purse.  So now I have one in both bathrooms, all three cars, my desk at school, and in my suitcase.  May seem like overkill, but I'm never without one.

The hairbrush thing turned out to be the start of other things that changed small stressful areas of my life.  My car keys are now either in my ignition, or clipped with a carabiner to the outside of my purse.  I only keep my carkeys on that carabiner so that I don't use them for any other purpose than to drive the car.  I looked at every horizontal surface in the house and removed as much visual clutter as I could.  I pared down everything in my closet to a minimum.  Most weeks I go to the grocery store only once, and I tend to buy the same stuff.  I come home and make food for the entire week.  I take the sheets off the bed, wash and dry them and put them right back on so they don't add to the laundry pile.

All of these things are small, but they make a big difference in my stress level on a day-to-day basis.  I know that my brain does a poor job of keeping me conscious of where I put things, so important things always have to be in the same obvious place or places.  I need duplicates of some things in several places.  (Like my phone charger.)  I know that I have a hard time "getting going" when it comes to housework and laundry.  Having a huge pile of laundry to do invites my brain to suggest putting it off until I "have more time".  Seems like a piece of cake to wash, dry, fold and distribute a small load.  Somehow it seems easier to keep a house clean that has less stuff laying around.  I'm still not sure exactly what executive function is involved in that.  I know that the visual stimulation of all the stuff at the grocery store tends to stress me out.  I want to be out of the place so sometimes I don't make good decisions, buy stuff I really don't need, or leave without getting everything I need.  Telling myself that I only buy the same detergent regardless of what is on sale, and doing that with other items beside, actually saves some money and definitely a lot of time.  My phone has a location-specific list maker.  (So when I drive to Target or BJs, a list of items I need at those stores pops up...)  That has helped a lot, but no technology is foolproof.

I still struggle with other issues of disorganization, activation (getting going), and maintenance.  You ought to see my craft room right now.  Whew!  I'm always on the prowl for some new strategy to add to my life, but I'm really happy about what I've done so far.  If you have tips that have helped reduce your ADHD stress, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Education Wish List for 2014

If I had a magic wand, this is what I would want to conjure for my colleagues and students in all of the schools I know and love, and all others beside:

1.  I would create an app that would bounce all ugly emails sent by parents to teachers between the hours of 9:30 PM and 6:30 AM.  Shame on you if you've done this.  I do not care if you were frustrated with the homework assignment, or if your child reports a story of the teacher saying something mean or doing something unfair.  In my experience at the other end of your damage, as I'm listening and handing out Kleenex and trying to convince the recipient of their value as a teacher, you usually only have about 1/2 the story correct.  Even if the teacher committed an egregious error, your responsibility as a parent is to request a meeting with the teacher and the principal to get all of the facts and present your side of the story.  If it's not worth a meeting, it's not worth an ugly email.
2.  While were at it, lets talk about parents and students that threaten or hurt teachers and other school personnel.  Maybe there should be some specifically stiff penalties for coming into a school and "cussing up" a teacher.  Why should the verbal or physical assault of a teacher be considered the same type of crime as what happens in a bar?  I have spent a relatively short time in schools in comparison to some, but I have been threatened, sworn at, bitten, kicked, hit, watched a phone switchboard smashed by a parent's fist, and had rocks thrown at me.  This list doesn't include kids under 6.  I think some additional criminal or civil penalties need to be considered for people that choose not to exercise self-control in a school - especially older children and adults.
3.  I would make sure everyone who comes to school in the morning has a tummy full of decent food.  I really hope I don't have to explain this any further.  Really.
4.  I would give students two assessments - one for mastery and one for effort.  I think we sort of do this now, but it's really not clear for children or parents.  A 90 on a spelling test means you could spell 90% of the words.  A high mark for effort means you finished all of the work completely and on-time.  Maybe as homework migrates more to the digital realm, there will actually be a way to keep track of how long it takes a student to master a task.  Some children need to SEE the link between the amount of time they spend and the resulting mastery.  If it takes a child an extra hour of practice to get a 90 on that test, shouldn't that effort be acknowledged ?  Not rewarded, but acknowledged in a formal measurable way.
5.  Children who are no longer working or making effort in school because they are discouraged would have some type of early warning system.  I firmly believe that if we can do a better job of detecting and intervening in this circumstance, we would be able to make a big difference.  We are so wrapped up in getting everyone through a certain amount of curriculum that we are often very quick to label a child unmotivated.  This is just another word for lazy, and it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy - especially when we get nervous that the work isn't done, and we start chewing at the child to "get going".  For those of us who do not generally have problems with motivation and a good work ethic, understanding how discouragement can effect effort takes a leap of understanding.  "Why don't they just DO it?"  But that difference in mindset and response to feedback makes a huge difference.  A concrete example:  I work with several children in my school using a computer-based program called Cogmed.  It's a bit of a mental boot-camp for five weeks and it can be very difficult.  I had one child who would become discouraged very easily - he was plain old discouraged with himself in general.  Cogmed somewhat mitigates that effect by offering audio feedback on right and wrong responses, and encouraging statements to keep the child going when the response isn't right.  One day none of this was working for him.  He was not hearing the encouragement,  just the sound the computer makes when he responded incorrectly.  So I turned the sound off.  Completely.  No way to know whether the answer was right or wrong.  I just told him to concentrate and do his best.  Not only did he work a lot faster, he also improved his score.  This is not the picture of a lazy child.  It's a picture of a discouraged child.  Change the feedback stream and you get a different result.  There are many ways to take this principle and apply it in the classroom.  (Please feel free to contact me if you need some........)
6.  I would make everyone in the North Carolina General Assembly, on the State School Board and the Governor spend a day in a regular classroom at an average school.  Better yet, lets make it a week.  I'm not talking about a 30 minute read-to-the-handpicked-kids photo-op.  No GT classes with super performing kids at a flagship school.  I'm talking at the 50th percentile.  I'm talking about showing up to meet the teacher at 0 dark 30 and staying the entire day.  Doing all of the duties, maybe even trying to give a lesson.  Reading all of the directives from DPI.  Sitting in on meetings with parents.  Sitting while the teacher does all of the paperwork and answers all of the email.  Leaving with the teacher at the end of the day.  I guess at that point we'll take a picture.  Maybe the hair will be a bit messy, the tie or scarf askew, a bit of food from the cafeteria on the shirt or blouse.  The teacher will go home at that point and probably do some more work.  Hopefully the legislator will go back to Raleigh and draft a bill that gives teachers a raise, improves funding for professional development, and shakes some money loose for aides and another school counselor.

But I'm just wishing here..........

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

5 Things ADHDers Can Do in 2014

I have never been big on New Year's Resolutions that require learning difficult new habits.  In particular this is because January and February have traditionally been the months when I've had the lowest amounts of energy and motivation.  New diet and/or exercise program = epic fail.  However, I love lists of things that you can do that are (or at least are pretty close to) One and Done.  Here's that type of list for you.  If you or someone in your family is diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, here are some things to do in the new year.

1.  Subscribe to CHADD CHADD stands for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.  They are the largest organization of their kind, and they have a phenomenal amount of information on their site including articles, webinars, research studies, and information about local groups.  Your $53 membership also includes "Attention" magazine and access to all the previous issues online.  It's a great way to educate yourself and your family.

2.  Watch these two videos: "ADD and Loving It" and "ADD and Mastering It."  Available at  I think these videos are the best at providing a thorough and funny view of ADHD.  They are good for ages 10 and up.  Our understanding of ADHD in our house took a major turn after my husband and I watched them.

3.  If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, consider whether or not you might have ADHD and whether or not you need treatment and/or coaching.  This is very important for two reasons.  First, the ADHD symptoms in your children are affected, both positively and negatively, by your parenting behavior.  If your home is in chaos, you cannot expect your ADHD child to be organized and on top of things at school.  It's really not very fair, and it just plain old isn't going to happen.  More importantly, your attempts to overcome your own struggles with an ADHD brain are going to be a powerful example to your child.  If your child has ADHD, there's almost an even chance that one of their biological parents does too.  So take a look in the mirror.  Go see your Doctor or a Psychologist and have a screening done.

4.  Consider getting a smartphone or an iTouch for everyone in your house who is in 6th grade or higher,  and learn how to use it one app at a time.   The apps and features on these things can be harnessed to make up for what the ADHD brain lacks - multiple times over.  Alarms, digital calendars, task lists, homework apps, grocery store lists and apps, mindfulness training, exercise routines - the list is endless.  Please DON'T start with Facebook or Angry Birds because you probably won't move on to the more important tasks.  There are several good articles out right now about using smartphones with ADHD., and for a few examples.

5.  Read ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kohlberg.  Before you run out and buy 18 plastic bins next week to "finally organize that junk room!" or clean out the car "so it STAYS that way!", buy this book and read it.  An easy read with lots and lots of practical suggestions for many different types of things.  It also does a great job explaining why certain types of organizational solutions = epic fail for ADHDers.  The other ADHD members of your family will thank you for not trying to impose a system that will spell a lack of success for them.

Hopefully you will find these items relatively quick and somewhat painless.  You don't have to do all of them and you don't have to do them in any particular order.  As my friend the FlyLady says, "Just jump in where you are!"

Happy New Year!