Using Music Therapy To Help Adults With ADHD

January 14th, 2018

When people think of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they often think of children. That’s partially because it’s easier to diagnose in young people. However, there are many adults who suffer from ADHD as well. If you are one of these, you need to know about a growing area of treatment known as music therapy that can help you better manage your attention, memory, and mood. Read on to learn more about this treatment option.


Music Therapy Defined
The Center for Music Therapy explains that this treatment option affects the human brain positively by using different kinds of music. Your brain controls your entire body, which is why disorders like ADHD become such a problem. Music reaches the brain through your ears and helps change things slightly. The rhythm in music can regulate breathing and promote the release of brain chemicals like endorphins. It can also help with relaxation and stress reduction, both of which can help an adult with ADHD have stronger self-control.

What is music therapy used for? The University of New Hampshire shows that it helps with a number of neurological, emotional, and behavioral problems. Depression, anxiety, dementia, and ADHD can all be improved through the use of music. While there are music therapists that can directly help an adult better manage their ADHD issues, this is one treatment that can be done at home.

Music To Fit Different Needs
The key is to add music to your daily life. For example, most alarm clocks and phones will let you wake up to music, which is a great way to start your day. Commuting to and from work is a great time to use some headphones and enjoy some songs. Music can really help you stay motivated when you’re exercising or doing chores, and you can squeeze in a few tunes as you get ready for bed.

But what kind of music should you be listening to? That depends on your needs at the moment. Organic Soul recommends that you match the energy and speed of a song to what you’re doing. If you need to relax, play some calm music with slow, steady beats. Instrumental songs are often best for relaxation as well. If you need to stay motivated, play something with high energy and a faster beat. Your mood tends to match what music you are listening to, so you can even help become happier by listening to upbeat songs.

This can help you focus despite your ADHD, but it can also help even out your energy levels. If you are feeling too excited or active, listen to a relaxing song. If you are feeling the opposite, listen to something that sparks your energy. And to help you stay focused, try instrumental tunes with a strong and steady rhythm. Just avoid songs with lyrics, as your ADHD can have you listening to the words more than focusing on the task at hand.

Making Music Also Helps

You don’t have to just listen to music to gain the benefits of music therapy. There is a strong body of research showing how learning to make music helps your brain. You can learn easier, develop stronger social skills, boost your self-esteem, and it can help you become more disciplined. That can be especially good for your ADHD.

One great instrument to learn how to play is the saxophone. There are many different types of saxophones on the market, so the buying guide at can help you pick the one that’s right for you. Chances are, you want to start with a student saxophone because that version is easier to play. Once you’ve mastered the basics and realize how much making music can help with your ADHD, you can look into more professional models.

Music Therapy Can Help

While music cannot replace the need for medication or therapy, it can definitely help you control your ADHD and feel better in general. Match the tempo and energy of a song to your activity to help stay focused, and look into purchasing a saxophone to enjoy all the benefits of making music.

Charles Carpenter of Healing Sounds

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9 ADD Friendly Foods to Improve Memory

November 19th, 2013

The following guest post is from Pete of

If you’re one of the millions of people in the world who has ever found your television remote in the freezer or searched frantically for your car keys before locating them in your pocket, then you may be able to benefit from the following foods.  All of these have been scientifically proven to improve your memory and keep you sharp. The following nine foods will boost your memory and keep your brain working at its peak for years to come.

  • Oil-Based Salad Dressing   

Many people automatically associate the word ‘oil’ with unhealthy eating habits primarily because we’ve always been told that oils and fats are bad for us. However, there are plenty of reasons why oil-based salad dressing can improve your memory. Most of the oils that are used in salad dressings are incredibly high in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant known to protect the cells in the brain from damage and keep mental faculties sharp for long periods of time. Something fascinating to consider is that scientific studies have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that these benefits do not exist when Vitamin E is taken as a supplement. It must be consumed in food.

  • Fish 

Most of the fish that you can find in your local market contains what are known as omega-3 fatty acids, or healthy fats. These contain a substance known as DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, which is crucial for allowing the neurons in the brain to function normally. Essentially, fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel can help to make sure that your brain works at full function. Of course, you should be sure that you eat fish like this in moderation because it also contains a substance known as mercury which can be toxic if consumed in great quantities. Never fear, though: the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish outweigh the trace amount of mercury found in standard 2oz serving sizes.

  • Dark, Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens are one of the best sources of Vitamin E, the antioxidant that is also found in healthy oils. Some of the best choices include kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and other similar foods. A half cup of cooked spinach contains 25% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E on its own! These vegetables also contain folate, a substance that is also known to protect the brain although the reasons how or why remain unclear. It is thought that the folate breaks down a substance that triggers the death of nerve cells in the brain.

  • Avocados

Everyone underestimates the power of the yummy, creamy avocado. Not only does it contain Vitamin E, it is also a great source of Vitamin C. When these are consumed in conjunction with one another, they are more easily processed by the body and have been scientifically proven to lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease – one of the leading causes of memory loss in adults. Avocado can be eaten right from the peel or added to sandwiches and other dishes as well. It’s a truly versatile food that is just as good for you as it is delicious.

  • Peanuts and Peanut Butter

While you’ve likely been told that peanuts and peanut butter contain a lot of oil and fat, these are of the healthy variety as long as this nut and its products are consumed in moderation. They are packed with Vitamin E and healthy fats which improve both brain and heart function. Peanuts and peanut products have long been researched and scientific evidence shows that consuming peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds in moderation can go a long way toward protecting existing brain cells and helping in the creation of new ones.

  • Berries 

Berries are truly miracle foods in that they offer up tons of valuable substances that your brain can use to improve function and thereby memory. Blueberries, strawberries and the lesser-known acai berry can help to protect the brain’s ability to correctly file away and store information. Not only does this help to improve your memory right away, but it can protect your brain over the long term and help to reduce the effects aging has on your brain. Essentially, the antioxidants in the berries help to remove the proteins floating around in your bloodstream that can lodge in your brain and cause memory loss.

  • Whole Grains

Finally, you should always remember all of the benefits that whole grains provide. Scientific studies have shown that people who consume large amounts of whole grains on a regular basis (such as those who consume Mediterranean diets) are able to prevent mild cognitive impairment that may later develop into Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is important to make sure that other healthy foods are consumed along with whole grains in order for them to do their jobs as intended. For instance, a lunch of whole wheat bread and a side of berries is a great, healthy choice.

Absent-mindedness, lack of concentration and the inability to remember simple details can certainly become frustrating, but eating the right foods can help stop this cognitive impairment in its tracks. Remember that you should always boost your healthy diet by staying hydrated, too! Dehydration is one of the leading causes of temporary memory loss and it is easily remedied by consuming at least 64oz of water each and every day.

For more tips on ADD and Nutrition, you can read my article on Treating ADD With Brain Boosting Nutrients.


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How to Improve Communication With Your ADHD Partner

September 29th, 2013

By Leslie Rouder, LCSW

The great Carl Jung once said that “Loneliness doesn’t come from having no one around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that are important to you.”  Although this is a universal truth,  in the case of those who have ADHD, communication can certainly be a bigger obstacle to intimacy than to those who do not.  Not only for the person who has ADHD, but for the partner who may feel that they are never being heard.


Over the past 13 years of counseling couples in which one partner had ADHD, I have heard numerous complaints. Many of the challenges are quite common amongst individuals whose partners have ADHD, but the single biggest complaint I hear over and over again is that, “My ADHD partner does not appear to be listening to me.” Good communication is probably the single most important element that constitutes a healthy thriving relationship.  When one partner in a relationship feels that they are not being heard (regardless of the reason) all kinds of resentment and anger can build.  Often the non-ADHD spouse feels uncared for, or even disrespected because their ADHD partner may seem to zone out, pay them “lip service” or not respond at all.  If they are aware of how their partner’s ADHD is affecting their ability to pay attention (and most of them are) they may be able to objectify it and even understand it, but at the end of the day, they are still not able to resolve the problem.  Many of these couples have been through the diagnosis stage, the education stage and the medication stage, and still the same problems around communication persists.  By the time they come to see me, many of these couples are feeling hopeless, exhausted, frustrated, beat up, misunderstood and angry.  They just want solutions that will make it better or they want out.


Although re-learning old behavior patterns can be difficult, I am here to say that when both partners are willing to make changes and see it as a priority, communication can greatly improve.  To this effort, I have outlined the most important areas to consider in moving communication forward.

  • The use of ADHD Medication

Although medication is not for everyone, we do know that for about 80% of those with ADHD, medication is the single most important treatment in mitigating ADHD symptoms, especially in the area of distractibility.  For some, more than others, medication can mean a huge difference in one’s ability to be present in a conversation, as well as one’s life in general.   If your partner has been diagnosed with ADHD and is not on medication, this would be a worthwhile consideration.  If your partner is already on medication, it would be a good idea to be sure that when you want  to discuss something that is of a serious nature, that the medication is still effective and has not worn off (like at the end of the day)

  • Get your partners attention. 

Make sure to tell your partner that there is something important that you wish to discuss and find a time when he or she can devote time to the conversation.   Don’t try to fit it in while your partner is running out the door for an appointment or has limited time.  But an interesting fact that you should know is that 89% of men will assume that something is wrong if you say, “We need to talk”, as apposed to 61% of women.  So be aware that this language may induce some form of anxiety or defensiveness before you even start the conversation.  So perhaps you can let your partner know that you need some time to discuss something with in such a way that they don’t instantly feel that there is a problem.  Ask them if they would mind giving you their attention for a few minutes, or perhaps  you can  gesture to them is some way that lets them know that you wish to talk and “they are not in trouble”.    Unless of course, they are. (only kidding :))

  • Write your communication to your partner.

In some cases, you may want to write a letter or e mail to your partner so that they have time to read it, process it and consider how they want to respond without any pressure.  I would only do this in certain circumstances that are fairly straight forward and do not involve a lot of possible misinterpretation.  Most communication is non-verbal in nature, so remember that when you write, the other person is not hearing voice inflection or seeing your body language.  This can lead to miscommunication.  So be careful when and how you choose to use written communication.

For the ADHD Partner

Remember that your partner has probably experienced months or years of feeling hurt or frustrated because you have a long history of not giving them your attention when wanting to talk.  He or she may have felt that you were not interested in what they had to say or that you do not value them as a partner.  For this reason, you must

  • Make the extra effort to recognize the importance of paying attention when your partner is speaking to you.  This may mean that you need to set aside some activity that you may be involved in at the moment or even set aside some alone time for her/him so that there won’t be any distractions.  
  • Listen to understand.  Wait until he or she is completely finished with what they are saying before you respond.  Listen to understand first, rather than to take a position of being wrong or right.  If you need some time to process what is being said, then ask for it.  But make sure that you come back to your partner with a response.  Don’t just leave them dangling.
  • Use a note pad to jot down thoughts.   Rather than interrupt your partner when speaking, you might want to jot down a word or 2 to remind you of something that you do not wish to forget when responding.  But be careful not to lose the gist of the conversation while writing a note to yourself.  Or ask your partner if he/ or she would give you a moment to take notes, so that you can turn your full attention to the conversation without being distracted.
  • Mirror back.  Before you respond to your partner, make sure you understand the meaning of what he or she has said.  A good way to do this would be to mirror back to your partner what you believe he/she has said.  So, “What I heard you say is ________.”   If you are unsure of the meaning of what he/she is saying now is the time to get clarification.  Then mirror back again.  Once your partner agrees that you understanding is correct,   you may then respond to what they are saying, having made sure that you understood the meaning of the communication accurately.  If you do this consistently, it will become automatic and greatly enhance your all round communication skills in any circumstance.   

  In conclusion, not feeling heard by your partner leads to a rather unhappy relationship.  Here are the main ideas you want to remember

  • State your intentions before the conversation to avoid defensiveness.
  • Listen to understand rather than respond.
  • Listen without interrupting.
  • Clarify your understanding of what your partner is saying (through mirroring).
  • Avoid being demeaning or confrontational.
  • And lastly, try using humor, love and/or empathy.

Leslie is a holistic therapist working in South Florida who specializes in working with adults with ADHD. If you would like more information about her work sign up for her free Newsletter at






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The Shocking Truth About Developing Good Habits (part 1)

August 31st, 2013

By Leslie Rouder, LCSW

Are you a person who believes that you always do what you intend to do?  Most people would probably answer yes.  However, despite what you may believe,  research shows that the majority of people, do not.  In fact, most individuals have far less control then they believe they do.  As frustrating as this may be, there are ways of establishing good habits and overcoming those existing ones that seem to get in our way.  But first let’s look at how habits are formed, as well as the obstacles we face in overcoming the existing ones that prevent us from achieving our goals. 

It has often been said that it takes 3 weeks of repeating a behavior for it to become a habit.  However, when looking into this further, I discovered that this is actually not true.  In most cases, it takes much longer.  (WEW! That sure let’s me off the hook for all those times I thought I would  have it down in a month’s time, only to discover that I had not.)  In fact, it was discovered in a recent study that for most habits to become automatic, one must perform them repeatedly for an average of 66 days and in many other cases (depending on the particular activity) longer than 84.  In this same study, it was discovered that some (more difficult habits) took as much as 254 days to form, which is the better part of a year.  It’s no wonder so many of us are unable to keep our New Year’s Resolutions.  

Since helping individuals to develop and enforce good habits, is part of my work as a coach, I understand the importance of developing well intentioned habits as being vital to ones success in reaching ones goals.  In this effort, I did some research and discovered some perplexing studies about our habits and why it is often so difficult to do what we intend. 

Have you ever tried to change a particular behavior only to realize that it was not as easy as you thought?  How many times have you said you wanted to lose weight, exercise daily, quit smoking, change jobs, or cut down on drinking?  What do you suppose the success rate was for the average person? Studies have shown that for the majority of people who attempt to change their behavior, old strongly held habits dominated their conscious choices.  This is because it is not our conscious mind that is in the drivers seat.  In fact, it is the power of the unconscious mind that influences all of our thinking and behavior.  Our strong established habits will automatically override our conscious intentions in most cases.  Now, combine that fact with the length of time it takes to form a strong habit, it is easy to see just how difficult it can be to establish new habits on any consistent basis. 

This being the case, what’s the answer to this frustrating phenomena?  How do we overcome the unconscious programming of our minds, when we are not even consciously aware of them and why don’t our habits surrender to our conscious intentions?   Consider these 4 essential characteristics of habits;

  1. Habits are performed automatically, without much need for decision- making or thought. 
  2. Habits are emotionless.
  3. Habits are performed in context to other things. (That is, they are  situational.) 
  4. Habits serve a purpose and/or provide us with something. (consciously or unconsciously)      

So, in considering what it is we want to do, versus what we actually do, the first thing we need to notice is the behaviors supporting our existing habits.  By observing how, when and where we perform these automatic activities we get vital hints as to  what is actually happening in the unconscious mind.  Since our unconscious mind is constantly carrying out all kinds of high-level thinking that we are unaware of, as well as unable to access through our ordinary thought process, it would make sense that we would have to consider alternate ways to do this.   One of the ways that assist us in accessing our unconscious mind is in asking the right questions about our process.   Another way to access this hidden part of our mind is through the use of NLP or hypnosis.  In fact, some of the quickest changes I have seen have come out of using all three of these modalities.  

In my next newsletter article I will explore the answers further and assist in providing some solutions to this very difficult dilemma. 

If you have experiences with overcoming or establishing new habits that you would like to share, please let me know. I am always interested in hearing  and learning from other’s experiences. 

Leslie is a holistic therapist working in South Florida who specializes in the treatment of ADD in adults. If you would like more information about her work or more help with ADD,  sign up for her free newsletter at




The Shocking Truth About Developing Good Habits (part 2)

July 31st, 2013

In my last Newsletter I explored how the unconscious mind dictates much of our automatic behaviors, making it very difficult to break old patterns of behavior and establish new habits.  In this article, I will explore this further and provide a useful exercise that taps into our unconscious resources while reinforcing the development of a new habit.

The first step to changing our behavior in many ways begins with the awareness and power of the unconscious mind.  Although there are many ways to do this, the following is an exercise that is easy to do alone (or with a partner) and is designed to tap into the power of the unconscious mind.  Take the time to answer the following questions and write them down on a piece of paper.

Answer the following series of questions;Why do you want to develop this habit? Since motivation is key to beginning any new habit, being clear about why we wish to establish a new habit, makes it is easier for us to consider making a change in our pattern of behavior.  Be as specific as you can. How will it benefit your life?

What will you see that will be different?

How will you feel once this habit has been established?

What will you hear?

What will you notice about how others interact with you differently?

Include your health, your sense of mental well-being, your physical appearance, your social life, your work life, your family life, and any other aspect that might be affected in a positive manner in considering this.

  • How will not developing this habit impact your life?

In answering this, be very specific as to how your life will be negatively impacted by not developing this habit.  Use the same criteria that you used when considering all the benefits.

  • What steps will you need to take to develop this habit?

Break down all the actions steps.  Again, be very specific as to each step along the way.  What time will you perform this habit?  Under what circumstances? What will be the context under which you will perform this habit? In what sequence will it be performed.  The idea of context and sequence is vital here.  For example when I am in a particular place or circumstance, I will do __________.   Sequence is more about the order of how you will do something.  For example, as soon as I get out of bed in the morning, I will brush my teeth and then go for a jog.   Thereby giving your mind the context under which you will perform the habit, but also the sequence in which you will do it.

  • What obstacles can you foresee yourself facing in developing this habit? And
  • How will you compensate for those obstacles?

Here are two of the most important parts to consider.  If we don’t consider the obstacles that we will face and plan for them, when they appear, we will most likely defer back to our old habits since it is easier and they are always waiting to take over our automatic unconscious process.  Therefore, in planning for any obstacles, we are already mapping out a plan for our mind to follow when encountering any hurdles.  For example, when I get up in the morning I will brush my teeth, then  I will go for a jog, unless it is raining.  In the event of it raining, I will go to the gym and exercise on a tread mill, instead.


The last part of this exercise is to visualize the entire process from beginning to end, since the unconscious mind sees things in pictures.   See yourself performing the habit in the context that you will be doing it.  Notice every step that you will take along the way.  Notice what you do in the event of an obstacle. Visualize yourself already having established this habit 6 months into the future and notice how this new behavior has impacted every single aspect of your life. Then look back over the past 6 months and notice all the steps you took along the way and any of the obstacles that you needed to overcome to establish this new habit.   Make a special note of how you handled those obstacles.  Savor the good feelings that arise from this visualization and allow yourself to enjoy those feelings.   You may be surprised at what comes up for you during this visualization process.  Sometimes, an obstacle that you never even thought about appears, or some other vital piece of information presents itself to you that you never considered. Use this information to make any adjustments or changes to your mind map.  Run the process through again, having made these adjustments.  Now bring yourself back to the present moment and begin the process, exactly as you envisioned it with any adjustments so that it feels right for you.  Repeat this process a few times over the next few days, if needed.  You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.


Leslie is a holistic therapist and ADD couch practicing in South Florida.  If you would like more information about her work or more help with ADD, sign up for her free newsletter at .



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What I Learned About Procrastination

October 30th, 2012


Last month, I shared my frustration with my ongoing procrastination in getting started on my monthly newsletter.  As a result, I said that I would work on the next newsletter for 30 minutes each day and promised to report back to you on how I did.  In keeping my promise,  I wrote the following article;

Being held accountable REALLY DOES work. I definitely made more of an effort to spend time on the planning and preparation of this month’s Newsletter, due to my need to keep my promise of reporting back to you.  However, I did not spend 30 minutes each day, as originally planned and I made a point of noticing why and how that happened. Here’s what I discovered. I noticed that once I got started it was not a good idea to stop after only 30 minutes due to my ongoing difficulty   transitioning both in and out, while requiring sustained mental effort, planning and forethought.  As many of us know, not exactly an “ADD- user- friendly- activity. ”  However, what I did realize was that there were several tasks that I could easily transition in and out of in 30 minutes on a daily basis that were more appropriate for scheduling in this way.  These tasks were far more automatic and required a lot less organization and thought, such as sorting through the mail on automatic pilot.

So, in conclusion, here’s what I learned about  procrastination and how this might be helpful to some of you;    (more…)


The Biggest Obstacle in Overcoming Procrastination and Achieving One’s Goals

October 3rd, 2012

I recently had a conversation with a friend in which I shared my frustration with being “under the gun” around writing my October Newsletter.  Now, I normally follow my own advice when it comes to procrastination, and I generally stay on top of my work load for the most part, but for some reason, no matter how good my intentions, miraculously, it seems that every month, the entire month “slips by”,  leading to a lot of self imposed pressure to get it done NOW.   Sound familiar?  Well, for many of us, with ADHD,  procrastination is an ongoing dilemma that seems to plague our lives and create a lot of unnecessary stress.  On my friend’s suggestion, I decided to share my  dilemma  with you, in the hope that I will not only find a solution for myself,  but help in better understanding the thought mechanism behind procrastination and how these thoughts influence our ability to achieve our goals.   Therefore, in working on my own goal to get my Newsletter done early each month, I have decided to block out  at least 30 minutes each day to do my writing.  I will let you  know next month,  how successful I am.  Since, I am generally the one holding my clients accountable for starting and completing projects,  you,  can now hold me accountable.  I promise to report back to you next month and let you know how I did on achieving this goal.  In addition, I am dedicating this month’s Newsletter to overcoming procrastination and achieving one’s goals. 

It has long been known that circus elephants have historically been trained to stay tethered to a post by attaching heavy chains to their legs when they are very young so that when they yank or pull at these chains, they are unable to break free.  Within a short amount of time, they give up trying, having learned that it is useless.   From that moment on, they no longer need a heavy chain to hold them because anytime they feel any resistance, no matter how heavy or light the chain, they give up trying, having incorporated the belief that they cannot succeed in breaking free.  This is regardless of the fact that, as they grow into adulthood, they have more than enough strength to pull out any restraint, break any chain and tear up the entire circus tent.  Elephants are pretty smart animals, but learned helplessness and a self limiting belief system creates the exact outcome the trainers want.  The elephants give up trying.  Although individuals with ADHD are not elephants, we  can easily draw the comparison and easily understand  that the biggest obstacle to achieving success, is our own self limiting beliefs.  For anyone,  especially those with ADHD, whose  early life experiences were most likely fraught with frustration, disappointment, and perhaps failure, one can see how easy it would be to create multitudes of distortions around what is true and possible,  while creating many self  limiting beliefs.  Therefore, breaking free from these negative beliefs, is probably the single most important step in reaching one’s goals and achieving success in life.  This article explores these self defeating thought patterns and provides insight into ways to change them. (more…)

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The 3 Biggest Reasons Why People With ADHD Struggle with Their Weight

August 3rd, 2012

By Leslie Rouder, LCSW Cht.

There has been a lot of research lately on the relationship between ADHD and eating disorders, as well as problems with obesity that would indicate that having ADHD may predispose individuals to difficulties regulating their weight.  In fact, a study done in 2004, found that 10% of individuals with ADHD suffered from an eating disorder at some point in their life time compared to the general population of .6 to 4.5 %.  In another study done at an obesity clinic in 2005, 58% of overweight teenagers were diagnosed with ADHD as opposed to 35.7% of the general population.  In looking at these numbers one might ask, what are the reasons for these differences and what do we do about it? In answer to those questions, I have written the following article.

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not act, but a habit.” However, when one has ADHD, developing healthy habits can be a big challenge due to problems with self-awareness, as well as self-regulation.  The 3 biggest problem areas facing individuals with ADHD that would affect one’s ability to maintain a healthy weight are the following;

  1.  Difficulty with Planning and Organization

 Eating healthy food requires planning, making the time to shop for the right foods, and making the time to prepare one’s meals.  This can be tricky for someone with ADHD, due to difficulties with executive functioning, that could impair one’s ability to plan and organize one’s meals as well as one’s time in shopping and preparing them.  Very often individuals are juggling work, family and other social obligations and find that it is just easier to eat on the run, which could lead to fast food and poor food choices.

2. Difficulty with Self Awareness and Regulation

Being able to identify when one is actually hungry as well as satiated means one must be mindful.  Paying attention to one’s internal messages can be a challenge in the face of the many distractions and responsibilities an individual may have.  In addition, some individuals with ADHD have a tendency to hyper- focus which may lead to skipping meals only to find themselves starving and later overeating or binge eating as a result.  Another difficulty for many individuals with ADHD is in the ability to regulate ones sleeping habits.  Since getting enough sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy weight, for those individuals with ADHD, who find it difficult to fall asleep or cannot regulate their sleeping patterns so that they are well rested, lack of sleep adds to the challenge in maintaining a healthy weight.  In addition, many individuals with ADHD will often eat while studying, watching TV, or doing some other activity, not even paying attention how much food they are eating or the amount of calories they are actually consuming.

3. The Use of  Food to Self-Medicate

Food is often an easy, fast way to alleviate stress, anger, sadness, loneliness or boredom, along with several other emotions that may come up in an individual’s life.  Since food is readily available, legal and provides immediate gratification, many individuals will reach for food to alleviate many of these emotions.  Sometimes individuals tell me that food helps them to stay focused and grounded while studying or before doing a boring or difficult task.  Boredom is a big problem for individuals with ADHD and can also add to the desire to use food to alleviate these feelings. Since individuals with ADHD have low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for the reward center of the brain, many will use food to help elevate these levels, while providing them a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.

 How does one go about addressing the above issues that lead to problems with weight regulation?  Firstly, if you have an eating disorder, do seek help from an individual who is trained in treating this problem.  Make sure that this individual is also knowledgeable about ADHD and how that diagnosis may figure into the treatment protocol.  If you have an ongoing struggle to lose weight, work on developing good organizational and planning tools.  There are many great computer programs and APPS you can put on your iPhone or android to help with meal planning and shopping while out about.  Get in the habit of meditating and developing awareness around all your activities, as well as eating.  A great book on mindfulness is Dr. Lidia Zylowsak’s book entitled The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD.    It even comes with a CD that walks you through the meditation process.  Make a rule not to eat while doing other activities. If you have a tendency to hyper focus and skip meals, set an alarm to remind yourself that it is time to take a meal break.  If you are not on medication for your ADHD already, consider trying a medication regimen, which can be very helpful in keeping one’s attention and focus as well as lessen the tendency to be impulsive. If you are on medication, make sure you take it regularly and that it is working properly. Develop a daily exercise program including some form of cardio vascular exercise.  Work with an ADHD coach or counselor that can help you develop and stick with your routine and schedule. In seeking professional help, be sure that the clinician you are working with is knowledgeable about ADHD, since developing a treatment protocol without considering the specific challenges facing these individuals, can be detrimental to obtaining a successful treatment outcome.

If you want more help with ADHD, sign up for my free newsletter on my website and get your free tips to Overcoming Procrastination and Achieving Your Goals.  Go to:

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3 Clutter-Clearing Tips for the Holidays

November 9th, 2011

By Leslie Rouder, LCSW, CHt. 

Is the thought of getting ready for the holidays causing you stress or overwhelm? Are you feeling like you don’t know where to start? Keeping your home clutter-free and organized, especially around holiday time, can help alleviate some of the stress and overwhelm you may be feeling, especially when you have ADD. 

I put together a list of 3 important things you can do to keep your home clutter-free for the holidays, as well as all year round.

1.  Set up 4 different boxes and label each box with the following labels:

  • Throw Away– these are items that are no longer needed.  This includes trash, but may also include things that are broken (and cannot be repaired) or items that no longer have any worth to you.
  • Give Away– these are those items that can be re-cycled to someone that you know might enjoy having them, or donated to your favorite charity.
  • Short term storage –these are those items that just need to be put back in their place in your home.  They are used often and have a location that is easy to find.
  • Long term storage –these are those items that you use infrequently and need to store somewhere out of the way.  This could be in closets, attics, or garages.  Make sure to label each box so that when you need these items, they are easy to locate. (more…)

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Avoiding “Unavoidable” Interruptions

September 18th, 2011

By Leslie Rouder, LCSW, CHt.

When I first thought of writing this post, it was with the idea of providing people with ADD ways to get back on track after unavoidable interruptions, since I was recently asked to address this problem in my blog postings.  But the more I really started thinking about all the possible answers, the more I realized that there is no best way to get back on track if you have ADD and are interrupted.  This is because interruptions may make completing a task or project extremely difficult (and nearly impossible) for many people with ADD  to get back on track in a timely fashion. Now I understand that this is not very comforting to hear, but it is often the reality of the situation.

According to what research has shown, the average person working in an office is interrupted approximately every 8 minutes. (That’s over 50 times per day) In addition, the average person (without ADHD) takes 5 minutes to recover. That is over 4 hours a day, spent being interrupted and recovering. It would seem to me that almost anyone living in this fast paced life style (with or without ADD) might feel rather unproductive and a bit frustrated with the amount of unforeseen interruptions one encounters throughout the day. For this reason, my best advice on the idea of  unavoidable interruptions is to find ways to avoid them.

So the next question is how?

  • Make a list of what it is that you need to accomplish for the day.  Keep it to no more than 3 tasks.
  • Block out a segment of time that you will require to do this.
  • If you are in a distracting environment and can go elsewhere, find an alternative place that you can go to, where you will not be interrupted for this segment of time.  I have a client that goes to Denny’s (drinks several cups of excellent coffee) and studies for hours.  As an alternative, she will go to the beach and study by the ocean. 
  • If you are at home or in your office, turn off cell phones, or any electronics that are not necessary to the completion of your task that may distract you.  Turn the volume off of your computer so that you are not hearing when new e mails arrive.  
  • If you are in your office at work or at home, delegate tasks to others for the time segment that you have blocked out.  Put up a sign on your door saying “Do Not Disturb” and explain to your fellow workers or household members that you need their help in providing you this designated amount of uninterrupted time.
  • Use either ear plugs to block out noise or use static noise, background music, or TV sounds to help you stay focused.  Some people do better with no sounds, while others need background noise.
  • Keep plenty of water or snacks nearby, so that you do not get distracted by feeling thirsty or hungry while completing your work.
  • Some people work better alone, while others work better with a “body double”. (Someone in the room with them, which helps keep them on track) Find what works best for you and do it. 

Although there is no perfect solution to avoiding interruptions, if you use some of the above suggestions, I am sure you will be amazed at how much more productive you can be.  If there are other suggestions that you have found helpful and would like to share, please let me know.  I would love to hear how you have handled unavoidable interruptions effectively in your life.