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9 Tips for Thriving With ADD

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9 Tips for Thriving With ADD

ADD is not just a childhood condition. Millions of adult Americans suffer from it, mostly undiagnosed. Here’s how to keep it from running your life. (Click here to read more about what Adult ADD is and to determine if you have it.)

Educate yourself.

“The diagnosis becomes therapeutic through education,” writes Driven to Distraction author Edward Hallowell. “The more you know about the kind of mind you have — whether or not you call it ADD — the better able you will be to improve your life.”

Hallowell’s books are good places to begin learning more about ADD. You can also ask the healthcare professional who gives you a diagnosis to recommend books or support groups. Numerous Web sites, including the site for the Attention Deficit Disorder Association at, offer support, resources and information.

It may also be helpful for your partner and family members to become familiar with some of the fundamental patterns, challenges and gifts associated with ADD. Hallowell notes that having an informed, compassionate partner tends to be a huge advantage for many adults with ADD.

Create systems to remind you.

“You want to create external reminders,” says Hallowell. For example, put a basket by the front door for your keys. Hang hooks by your front door for coats, scarves, umbrellas or whatever you carry with you. Utilize the built-in reminder systems in your computer or phone to alert you when it’s time to do a new task. “These are all necessary and helpful structural changes.”

At the Hallowell Center, coaches encourage to-do lists. Gina Masullo now carries a notebook with her at all times. “That way, when something pops into my head, I no longer have to act on it immediately,” she says. “I don’t get distracted and then not remember what I was doing before. It sounds so simple, but for me, keeping to-do lists has been life changing.” She even installed a white board in her shower. “It’s where a lot of ideas come to me, so I figured, why not?”

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4:33PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

very helpful

8:45PM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

Awesome article and thanks so much for making us aware that there are things we CAN do to lessen the burden. Completely new to me was the issue of how other people might label you ... what an eye-opener ... since many of these adjectives were used for me :-(! I do have realized since though that I am a dynamo for getting ideas and projects on the table ... now actually finishing them myself ... that's a completely other story!

1:38AM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

And i thought it was only me that was getting all the bright productive ideas and problem solutions in the shower. i have never understood it but have always used it to solve many problems. i wonder why this is so?

6:51PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

This is a well researched, informative and helpful article. Much good advice. I have heard though, that if caught in childhood, especially early childhood, from what I have read elsewhere ADD can be reversed. All of the advice you have suggested, with the addition of cutting out additives, sugar, stimulants in childrens' diets can make that happen. Thanks for posting this article, Megan!

5:54PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

really helpful

10:56AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

I, too, seem to be the most productive in problem solving while in the shower. Maybe it is because there is not much to have to think about in there and your mind is freed up to tackle difficulties. I can talk to myself and no one hears me. Helps bolster my resolve.

9:35AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

The whiteboard in the shower intrigues me. (How does Ms Masullo keep the ink from washing off before she gets out?)

I also seem to get ideas while showering. I wonder if it's just a coincidence, or is there something about standing under streaming water that facilitates brain activity?

12:34AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Useful, thanks!

9:28PM PDT on Jun 6, 2011

Funny how an ADD article was 5 pages. Was this a test. I have trouble concentrating to go through 5 pages online.]

2:49PM PDT on Jun 6, 2011

Sometimes you are simply helped by KNOWING that your difficulties are NOT because you are stupid, lazy, ignorant, selfish, self-centered, unfeeling, or any other negative label that might be stuck on you. Building on your strengths says it all: you DO have strengths, and many gifts and talents, but house-cleaning might not be one of them. You can learn to do that without "having" to do it perfectly. Notes and calendars and other visual reminders DO help. They help me.

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