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Zebra Stripes for ADHD

A monthly newsletter of stories tips and news for those concerned with ADHD, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder

Sarah Jane Keyser : ADHD Coach

Memory oh Memory, Where art Thou?

"You forgot, again?" Miss Zebrette (Joey's Teacher) was exasperated and
angry. " That's another zero for this home work assignment, Joey."

"Ah, Miss Zebrette, please." Joey hung his head in despair. "I did do
it, I promise. I just forgot to bring it with me. And I did try really,
I did. Koko was telling me to hurry; so I hurried and ran off without
it. What can I do??"

Miss Zebrette really liked Joey; in spite of his antics she knew he was
kind and generous. She didn't want to punish him, but she felt it was
time to stop rescuing him from himself	and time to let him face the
consequences. "Well, Joey, you tell me what you can do. What helps you

"I keep telling myself, homework, homework, homework, but it doesn't
stick in my brain."

"If saying it to yourself  doesn't work, what else could you do? What
sorts of things do you remember?"

Joey hemmed and hawed, "Pictures! I can put pictures of home work on my

"You think that if you see these pictures that you will remember to
bring your home work?"

"Gee, I might walk right by and not even see the pictures; sometimes I
do that."

"So how can you make the picture more seeable?"

"I could shout 'Tan ta ra! Tan ta ra!' and kick my heels whenever I see
the picture."

"That sounds like it would help to embed the message better, but if you
walk by and don't even see the picture what will you do?"

"Well.....", Joey thought for sometime, then he brightened and shouted,
"Lion!	I'll put a picture of the lion at the door!"  

"You think a picture of the lion will help you remember your homework?"

"The lion will wake me up  and say PAY ATTENTION! Yes, I think that
will work."

"That's good thinking Joey."

(to be continued)

About Remembering

Forgetting is a nuisance. I forget as fast as possible the number of times I walk out of the house forgetting to pick up the book, paper, glasses, agenda or other object which I intend to take with me.

So here is a story about remembering. I was getting low on toilet paper. Thought: buy toilet paper. I go shopping, come home , no toilet paper. Write it on a list, go shopping, forget the list, no toilet paper. Again shopping no toilet paper. Then I'm down to my last roll of toilet paper- gotta buy toilet paper. I go shopping, I'm walking around looking for something else and what happens? "Toilet paper" miraculously appears in my brain; without thinking or consulting a list- there it was. I come home with toilet paper.

What's going on here? I began to think about those maps which you find in tourist attractions where you press on a button for the display you want to visit and a string of lights are illuminated to show the path to your destination. Your brain is like the map. Your memories and thoughts are embedded in those hundreds of millions of neurons. Your conscious mind knows only about the neurons which are activated or lit up like the path on the tourist map.

To activate the neuron for toilet paper, you (or I) have to put a big charge to the light bulb; one push on the button isn't enough. After several pushes plus some emotion which provides an extra large charge the bulb (neuron) begins to glow, and you (I) think "toilet paper". When it comes to taking action even more charge is needed.

What does this mean for the ADHD brain? Controlling focus, that is where your energy goes, is a big problem for people with ADHD. People who hyper focus have lots of energy for a passion (emotion), but there's very little energy available for details like toilet paper or paying checks. People who are distractible have difficulty staying focused, so when the lamp for toilet paper or homework is glowing another event like "hurry up" overwhelms the charge and the lamp goes out. I guess that's why I so often forget to pick things up as I go out the door, I'm always in a hurry- even when I'm not.

Zebra Tips : Put a good charge on your neurons

Here's a tip to help you build up a glowing charge to those hard to light up lamp bulbs.

Use multiple modalities to increase activation of your neurons.

A modality is the path through which you receive information: eyes (visual), ears (aural), touch, and movement (kinesthetic), even taste, smell, and emotions play a role in learning.

Joey has proposed to use several modalities: pictures are visual, shouting "Tan ta ra!" is aural, kicking his heels is kinesthetic and remembering the lion who chased him provides a sharp emotional kick to make him pay attention. (See the first installment of Joey's story,

www.coachingkeytoadd.com/newsletter/newsletter-no1.html .)

Each one of us has his own personal likes and dislikes in modalities.

Experiment to discover what works best for you.

For more about me, Sarah Jane Keyser, About Sarah Jane

Do you need a safe place to talk?   email me today for a free coaching session.

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