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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, No. 7

Sarah Jane Keyser : ADHD Coach

ADHD to the rescue : Joey uses his impulsiveness to win a stripe

Zebra school had the afternoon off. Joey and his friends Koko and Sammy
had played Buck-and-bump for a while and then they wandered out into a
new area of the savannah looking for the best grasses to browse. Since
Koko and Sammy had learned to help Joey put the brakes on his motor
mouth with Stop! Look! Listen!, they were the best of friends. (See the
September issue for the story about the motor mouth)

Koko and Sammy were grazing close together in the open. Joey was
somewhat further away. Joey would bite off a mouthful of grass to chew
on and lift his head to look around. That was his usual habit; he spent
a lot of time scanning the horizon and testing the breezes while he
chewed thoughtfully. 

As always he felt restless; he moved about here and there. They had
wandered further away than usual from the rest of the herd. The land
seemed flat, but Joey knew there could be hidden dips and gullies which
weren't apparent. Grasses swayed in the gentle breeze. Joey's ears
pivoted back and forth to pick up the smallest noises. What was that
rustle in the grass? Not the wind. He strained to see through the

Then he saw it! An ear poking above the waving grasses! 

"Koko! Run", Joey brayed. He leapt  from zero to sixty just as the
hyena sprinted toward Koko and Sammy. Joey arrived in time to give the
hyena a swift kick and then he followed Koko and Sammy at full gallop
toward cover. 

At the sound of Joey's frantic call, other members of the herd rushed
out to drive off the invaders. 

Everyone cheered Joey for his alert and rapid action. Miss Zebrette
stepped forward and tied a big black ribbon with a gold medal attached
around Joey's neck . 

"Today, Joey you have earned a Zebra Stripe of honor for outstanding
bravery in the face of danger".  Everyone brayed loudly. Joey's white
hide turned bright red to the tip of his tail.

What job works for you?

Hyperactivity and impulsivity characteristic of many people with ADHD are often seen as faults because they are most noticeable in a class room or meeting where they lead to disruptive and inappropriate behavior. But in other contexts they can be valuable assets. Joey's customary awareness of many stimuli which in the classroom makes it difficult to focus on schoolwork but in the world allows him to gather and process many sensations at once. His hair trigger reaction which saves Koko and Sammy is the impulsivity which is reprimanded in the class room when he blurts out comments interrupting the teacher.

For those with ADHD, school can be the most difficult time of life because they are required to do things, like sitting still, which are contrary to their internal program. Once they get out in the world, there are many jobs where these characteristics are valuable. Workers in the emergency room do well with ADHD. Computer programming seems to be a natural for many people with ADHD. Marketing and PR appeal to the creative types.

Look for a job which matches your special strengths.

Zebra Tips : Impulsive Organizing

"Impulsive organizing" does that sound like an oxymoron?

I'll explain. We often talk about "Getting Organized", but there is more to organization than the "getting". It must also include "staying organized". And, there's the rub for people with ADD. We just might "get organized" once or twice or n times, but somehow you turn around three times and the mess has grown back.

I've spent hours cogitating on the stack(s) of stuff and wondering how to tame it.

Here is what I've learned: Items which have a home do get put away. Two dictionaries and ring binders which I use frequently do go home because home is within arm's reach of my work space. Bills are easy: they go straight to the envelope in the cupboard of the kitchen until the end of the month. Whenever I see these items on the table, I have a knee jerk reaction (that's the impulse) to move them to the shelf which is home.

The stuff that stays has no clearly defined home or it's material for a project in process like writing an article or I have to do something like make a decision. Some books and magazines stay in the stack because home is too far away- like in another room.

I've also noticed that the energy of an impulse is very easily deflected. If putting something away requires more than one or two movements then the "do-it-later" theme swamps the impulse. If a decision has to be made, the impulse dies a horrible death.

So here is my plan for staying organized by impulse:

  1. Stuff that is in current use or requires some action should have a home close to where it is used, arm's reach or maximum two steps, and be easy to access. Don't be complicated. You don't want a housing slum around your work space.

  2. Stuff that is historical like paid bills or finished projects or books and magazines which are referred to infrequently should be further away in another room maybe.

  3. Then give into your impulses. A piece of paper on the table? With a wave of your wand banish it to its home.

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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