An exercise to Improve Attention
Improving attention through visualisation is easy and will help you improve your ability for selective attention and focusing. Improving your attention will also help improve your memory. All you have to do is focus your attention on one thing. This thing can be a pen, a visual image, or anything else. Keep your attention on the object or image and notice all aspects of it. Notice the colour, texture, shape, function and meaning. When ever your attention becomes focused on something else other than the object or image, just gently bring your attention back. You can start with 2 minutes of focusing and then gradually increase the session over time. This exercise will help your ability to maintain attention in conversations, on your task and on your goals. Don't forget to do this exercise in a comfortable position, such as sitting on the floor, pillow or chair and to use a meaningful object or image.
Benefits of Improving Attention
Self-awareness and being self aware of others is an important aspect in maintaining focus. Improving your attention will help you will learn to identify how you feel, to trust yourself, and to know your strengths and limitations. When you need to focus on group work or to maintain a conversation you will learn about the other person's likes, dislikes and goals without judgement but full acceptance because your attention will stay with what is in front of you rather than shift to another topic, idea or object.
There are many factors that can cause parental stress. A few include financial, relationships, child temperament, work challenges and own past challenges.
Parental stress and child temperament is causal, however it can be argued if one causes the other. Studies have shown that children with challenging behaviours can cause maladaptive parenting strategies such as aggression or avoidance. On the other hand, parents can be stressed from factors outside of the child's control such as workplace issues which can cause maladaptive parenting styles, leading to challenging behaviours in the child.
Child temperament includes slow to warm up, fearfulness, effortful self-regulation and being difficult. These children are more likely to develop behaviour problems when exposed to stress in the family home compared to other children. The parent becomes irritable from stress, resulting in the child with poor self-regulation to become challenging. While a child who is able to self-regulate will soothe him or her self through self-talk, keeping one self occupied with something else such as playing and maintain good behaviour.
Therefore, it is important to consider child temperament and his or her environment to understand why challenging behaviours occur. Especially when one child misbehaves and the other doesn't in the same environment.
Polish psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski (1964) termed the construct overexcitabilities (OE) to mean that certain individuals have stronger responses and are more sensitive to certain stimuli, which include psychomotor (e.g., need to move more, impulsive activity, restlessness), sensual (receiving more sensual input than other people such as a strong reaction to loud noise, textures such as wool and/or tags, sight including light, or certain tastes), emotional (feel emotions more intensely such as a strong sense of sadness, joy, hurt, empathy, compassion, strong effective recall of past experiences), intellectual (independence of thought, sharp sense of observation, curious, questions everything, makes connections that others would miss), and imagination (tends to daydream, recognises associations through images, loves stories which represent the world of fantasy, doodles, invents).
In summary there are five overexcitabilities which gifted people may have being psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional.
Researchers have stated that gifted people are more overexcited that non-gifted people and therefore can be gifted in any of these areas such as creatively gifted, intellectually gifted, gifted in sports (psychomotor) or gifted with world issues due to strong feelings and morals. Understanding children and others through this OE lens will help inform their mental health, abilities and avoid misdiagnosis for a disorder.
Some researchers argue that there is not a strong correlation between giftedness and OE while others agree with the correlation. A meta analysis was conducted to determine the validity of the idea and found that gifted people had higher scores in some OE areas compared to non-gifted people. For example, the difference in intellectual and imaginational overexcitabilites between gifted and non-gifted people had a medium effect size. The difference in sensual and emotional effect size between gifted and non-gifted people was small and psychomotor overexcitabilities effect size was not significant. The meta analysis found that OE may not be the best way to determine if people who are sensitive and overexcited are gifted but can be a part of their character and indeed when a person presents with overexcited responses such as high energy, lack of impulse control or sensory issues, that giftedness should be considered and measured when doing a mental health assessment or to understand the personhood in educational settings.
Source: Winkler D., & Voight, A., (2016). Giftedness and overexcitability: Investigating the relationship using a meta-analysis. Gifted Child Quarterly 60(4), 243-257.
Mnemonics is any device used to help you remember. A device may include rhymes, using pictures, groups of letters to remember a long list of numbers (i.e., abc = 1). The letters can be formed into words to help you remember the numbers easier. An example is a telephone with numbers and letters on a key and telephone numbers with 1800 - ring - me.
Another strategy is to connect words with pictures to improve retention and retrieval. Make the image as vivid as possible in your mind. You can even make it is interesting ridiculous as you can. Connect emotions with the image. Click here for an example from Vocabulary Cartoons
FACT: Mnemonics is effective because it connects new information with information that you already have in your long term memory. The memory is further improved when you use all your senses such as smell, image, feelings.
Most of these translations are from Cindy Goldrich's book "8 Keys to Parenting Children with ADHD". While it is important to understand ADHD challenges to help the children learn how to remain focused, organised and self-aware, it is also important to see their challenges from another viewpoint. All children are unique, but their uniqueness may present as challenges when put in a pool of normality. When you let them thrive in their own unique way, you may get amazing results. Some unusual and unique people who helped changed the world for the better with their crazy, creative ideas include Walt Disney, Albert Einstein and Richard Branson, just to name a few. Remember, ADHD people are now being called the creative genius.
•Questions Authority – Independent Thinker
•Lazy – Laid Back, Relaxed
•Argumentative – Persuasive
•Manipulative – Delegates Well
•Bossy – Signs of Leadership
•Distractible – Curious
•Poor Sense of Time – Lives in the Moment
•Difficulty Transitioning – Can Focus Intensely
•Hyperactive – Full of energy
•Strong-willed – Tenacious, Persistent
•Daydreamer – Creative, Imaginative
•Daredevil – Risk Taker, Adventurous
•Aggressive – Assertive
•Slow Processor – Deep Thinker
•Confusion - Intellectual Curiosity
There has been a lot of discussion over the years about misdiagnosing people who are thought to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but may in fact be gifted.
People who are gifted tend to misbehave if they are bored and not challenged, have a lot of energy, usually need less sleep (resembling hyperactivity), argue with authority figures because they have a need to question everything, lose their ability to attend because their mind is full of new ideas and overloaded with thoughts which causes them to lose focus (resembling inattention) and act without a lot of thought, which can result in risky behaviour (resembling impulsivity).
It is also known that both the ADHD and the gifted can experience underachievement and and be inept socially. Moreover, both the ADHD and gifted people can experience overexcitabilities in any of the psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational and emotional domains. This means that they can be intense in any of these areas.
It is also important to realise that the person may have both ADHD and giftedness. This means that the person is known to be twice exceptional because he or she has two types of special needs (one being from ADHD symptoms and the other from the symptoms of giftedness).
It is therefore important for the parent or the person receiving the diagnosis to be an informed client so he or she is ready to question the outcome as some clinicians may not be fully aware of the possibility of misdiagnosis or specialised in assessing or treating people with ADHD or the gifted, which in turn will result in the wrong type of treatment and worst of all given medication when there is no reason for it.
Diagnosis in an adult should take at least three hours as suggested by Dr Kevin Murphy from the Adult ADHD Clinic U. in Massachusetts Medical Centre. The diagnosis will include a computerised test, a clinical interview with the client, an interview with the client's parents (if still alive) and their spouse or other close person to the adult. Children's diagnosis will also include interviews and assessments from the teacher and parent as well as from the child. It has been known that some doctors used to test if the child had ADHD by seeing if they reacted differently to the drug Ritalin. If the child did improve then they were to be considered to have the diagnosis of ADHD, however, it was later found that any non-ADHD person will have some change in attention and behaviour with Ritalin. To put this in another way, be an informed client to ensure that you are receiving the correct diagnosis, as the diagnosis will inform the type of treatment and support you will receive.
Lastly, the correct diagnosis will also inform how you see yourself - with a disorder or a gift. But should ADHD really be considered a disorder? For example if ADHD symptoms are similar to giftedness then why should one be considered a disorder and the other a gift? There are many people who have ADHD already challenging the notion that it should be not considered a disorder, but symptoms that society needs to adapt to. With the right strategies and support, the person with ADHD and the person with giftedness will both thrive.
D. Niall Hartnett , Jason M. Nelson & Anne N. Rinn (2004) Gifted or ADHD? The possibilities of misdiagnosis, Roeper Review, 26:2, 73-76, DOI: 10.1080/02783190409554245
Edwards, K. (2009). Misdignosis, the recent trend in thinking about gifted children with ADHD. APEX, 15(4), 29-44. Retrieved online from http://www.giftedchildren.or.nz/apex.
Below is a fact sheet from the Royal Children's Hospital that will give you tips and strategies to help your child cope with ADHD symptoms.
How ADHD presents is not alike for everyone. This is why it may be so difficult to accept as a disorder or why some people may think of the disorder as a myth. Personally, I don't think this debate is necessary, but what is important is to help people who are inattentive and/or hyperactive cope better in life and to help them achieve whatever it is they want out of life, preferably without the need for drugs. It is more important to let them be who they need to be while helping them function better rather than to shut them down with drugs.
Example of differences:
Niggs (2006) says that people with ADHD are "anxious, whereas others are fearless; some have motor coordination problems, while others are good athletes; some are hostile, whereas others are friendly; some have high IQs and find schoolwork easy to understand, while others have learning disabilities or below-average language skills. Likewise, some have average psychological test scores on neuropsychological examination, but others have multiple impairments".
Nigg, J. T. (2006). What Causes ADHD? Understanding What Goes Wrong and Why. London: The Guildford Press, p. 175.
Self-determination theory posits that being aware of yourself will help you remain self motivated without the need for external rewards. Self-awareness is one of the 11 components related to self-determination theory that address intrinsic motivation.
Self awareness means that you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Self awareness builds self respect because you will be willing to work in an environment that support these aspects of yourself and thrive. Therefore find work that you are good at and where you can delegate work you are not so good at to other people. An environment that supports this structure would have to include people that won't mind your own shortcomings but their own too. Finding an environment that supports your strengths and working in a team that will distribute work that you are not so good at to others will help you stay focused and attentive.
A supportive environment and team also means providing a structure that will provide accountability, meaning standing by your decisions and actions. Each decision and task completed will help complete the overall goal and vision of the team. If you fail to focus on your goals, then you fail the team. People who tend to respect their manager, colleagues and the vision of the company are more willing to work hard and cope with the challenges because where they work, who they work with and why they are doing the work provides intrinsic motivation as it is important to the person.
In summary, it is important to work in an environment where you are respected, respect others, understand each others strengths and weaknesses and delegate work you are not so good at to remain stimulated and engaged.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have found that drawing pictures of information that needs to be remembered is a strong and reliable strategy to enhance memory.
“We pitted drawing against a number of other known encoding strategies, but drawing always came out on top,” said the study’s lead author, Jeffrey Wammes, PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology. “We believe that the benefit arises because drawing helps to create a more cohesive memory trace that better integrates visual, motor and semantic information.”
Read more http://neurosciencenews.com/drawing-memory-recall-4094/
Information on latest research and strategies to improve mental health, trauma symptoms and trauma-informed care for children, young people and adults.