Psychological Self-Help

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moderately inattentive. So, experts and tests are needed; it is not a
quick-observation-in-the-classroom or a do-it-all-by-yourself area.
Therefore, my brief focus here will be more on self-help steps for
adults with ADHD than on treating childhood disorders. 
ADHD and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are much more
commonly diagnosed among pre-teen boys than girls (4 to 9 times as
often), although some doctors think the same number of girls as boys
tend to be ADD and (1) active tomboys, (2) withdrawn daydreamers,
or (3) constant talkers. All three types are likely to be disorganized,
undisciplined, and inattentive. Girls are not as likely as boys to be
over-active, impulsive and rebellious or "difficult". About 50% of
people suffering from ADHD or ADD seem to get some relief at
puberty, the other 50% retain some symptoms all their lives. This
notion of adult ADD has only been emphasized recently; several books
and Web sites for adults will be cited later. Some studies estimate as
high as 20% of adults have this handicap; others say it is more like 5
or 10%. Studies have shown that 4% of adults can’t organize their
activities, can’t focus on a task for long, and jump from one stimulus
to another. There seems to be a genetic factor. Medication and
cognitive-behavioral therapy are helpful with adults too. The
psychotherapy and skills training mostly provide the client with self-
awareness of the disorder (it is relieving to know what is wrong and
that you aren’t just stupid, crazy, or mean) and with ways of
developing a structure or some guidelines for accomplishing important
tasks (Hollowell, 1997). 
Barkley, Hollowell, Incorvaia, and others make the point that
structure must be given the ADHD person in real life settings (not just
in a therapy or training session) and under supervision. Barkley’s
example is that a training session for being on time will probably not
work with a person who has no sense of time...and a poor memory.
The structure must be in the immediate environment (not in their head
which is jumping from place to place), i.e. provide children with
supervision and very simple external prompts to staying on the right
path, cues to and reminders of what to do NOW, etc. Likewise, adults
frequently need To-Be-Done lists, appointment books, watches with
alarms, well rehearsed self-instructions, an everything-in-its-place
lifestyle (keys always left by the door), very simple filing systems or
someone to maintain their files, if possible a coach on hand to
encourage them and keep them on track, etc. A schedule for
exercising with a buddy or for meditating would be beneficial. The
ADHD must arrange the environment to make up for his/her lack of a
sense of time and distractibility. And, medication may be a life-long
necessity; stimulants, like Ritalin, are safe (only if used properly) and
non-addictive; it doesn’t give you a “high.” ADHD is treatable, but not
easily. You need expert help. 
Just because ADD and ADHD are thought by many to be biological
disorders, it would be a mistake to dismiss the many psychological and
interpersonal aspects of this problem. The behaviors involved in ADHD
(inattentive, forgetful, impulsive, sometimes defiant and aggressive)
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