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I just read a 2003 report from Harvard Women’s Health Watch, an article called “Could it be attention disorder?”  Even though it is slightly dated – the only medication the authors recommend for adults with ADD is atomextine (at the time, this was the only one FDA-approved) – the article was illuminating.  Here are some of the more interesting findings.

  • While more boys than girls are diagnosed with AD(H)D, more women than men are diagnosed for the first time.
  • One out of four siblings of a person with AD(H)D also has AD(H)D.  (I am one of four siblings of someone we all think has AD(H)D.
  • The symptoms are present in childhood, but go unrecognized in girls because they overcompensate.  (Yep.)
  • Girls with AD(H)D have less disruptive symptoms than boys – inattentiveness and shyness.  (Ringing a bell, indeed.)
  • Women who become parents themselves or have stressful jobs, lose their compensating abilities, what the article calls their “marginal coping skills.”  (Ouch!)
  • Women who work tend to work longer hours than their peers and get the same amount done.  (This was me in high school and college.  In the work force, I wasn’t really competing against anyone.  I was usually a department of one or one and a half and I always got everything done hyper-efficiently because I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw up.)

Suggestions include: drugs and support.  They emphasize the support, someone who can help develop strategies for organizing and remembering, and support for the emotional ups and downs caused by feeling bad about ourselves, anxious and/or depressed, all secondary symptoms of AD(H)D.

Specific suggestions:

  • Keep a calendar and notebook on hand at all time. (I use my iPhone, but need to back it up to make sure I don’t lose anything.)  All appointments and anything needed to be remembered go in the notebook or PDA.  Check frequently.  (I need to organize this method of keeping notes.  I keep the notes, but they aren’t prioritized.  I also have a reminder app on my phone, but I ignore it.  Seriously.)
  • Make a schedule!  Stick to it!  (I did this with some help from a therapist, but I don’t like her suggestions, so I need to tweak it to work for me.  Keeping a schedule is anathema to my personality, so this is a hard one, but necessary.)
  • Set up an organizing system.  Things go in their place.  Always.  (Another killer one for me and my family.)
  • Hire a professional organizer.  (I can’t afford one, although I really want one.  Maybe I could barter with someone for publicity!  Also, my mother figure has offered to help, but we can’t coordinate schedules until next month.)

 

 

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