Andrew: When we coach an adult client usually a lot starts to change in their lives. But sadly the usual ADHD life time experience is that when attempts are made to changes behaviours, they often don’t last. Making lasting change is difficult, new routines are interrupted and progress is lost. How do you avoid this?
David: I think there are a lot of ways we can help. One of the problems with ADHD is forgetfulness and memory issues. And you know this – you can have a client who has a great sense of awareness who really gets it, only to leave their coaching session and go right back to the old pattern.
So one of the things that is very important, is to develop systems, routines, prompts and reminders.
For example, I was very bad with time. How did I remind myself about time? I bought three huge clocks that stare at me right in my face, and those clocks are constant reminders of how I have to pay attention to how long it takes me to do things.
Lost in time
For 38 years of my life, prior to my diagnosis, I didn’t pay attention to how long it took me to do things. I just did them. And whenever they got done, they got done, and they were not done in a timely fashion. So I had to create reminders, symbols, whatever to remind me of what I need to pay attention to about time. I do this with all my clients.
One thing that’s critical in helping someone with ADHD is that at the end of any information session, coaching session or school session they need to be asked and need to respond to a simple question:
“How are you going to remember to do this?”
It is that simple. It can be a picture. But do you know how often that simple question is left out?
So even if the pattern is successful and they’ve achieved some element of success over one or two times, that’s great but we have to keep reminding them to continue to keep doing it.
I also believe that all your successes, all these good things need to be kept in one home, if you will, one notebook, one recording vehicle, so that when you go to a negative place you can access all these successful systems and experiences without having to go through the demanding process of accessing them from your brain’s memory.
When you have them in one success diary, notebook or file, you don’t have the pressure of retrieving them out of your head. They’re in a book. They’re in a video. They’re in a recording. They’re in one place where, when you need them, all you have to do is press a button or open a book. So:
- Remind yourself constantly of the new pattern and
- Review the success of the new pattern to reinforce your commitment to changing the pattern.
The brain is very elastic and flexible but it needs reinforcement.
Over a period of 30 to 40 days The theory about this is that over a period of 30 to 40 days is. if you consistently repeat it, you can change it. I’ve seen this happen, but you need the prompts and you need those memories. Both are very important.