As an adult with ADHD, you may have experienced feeling judged by the people in your life. From missed deadlines to the elusive keys that always seem to sprout legs, overcoming some of our struggles can feel like a neverending task. The shame we experience starts from our very earliest memories, and accumulates as we grow older. A boss’s frown for each minute late, or the sigh of a partner for the umpteenth time something gets misplaced. All of this negative reinforcement can weigh heavily on a person’s mental health, shaping their self-image into something far removed from their intrinsic worth. We deserve better! Keep reading for a few ADHD coping skills that can help to make you feel more like your priceless self again.
Accumulative Effects Of Negative Messaging
The magnitude of this issue is stark. Consider that by the age of 12, a child with ADHD is likely to have received 20,000 more negative messages than their neurotypical peers. The result? An adult whose familiarity with criticism towers over their experiences with praise. This relentless negativity contributes to even more troubling statistics: adults with ADHD experience depression at three times the rate of the general population, and are 6 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, and 8 times more likely to attempt to end their life. ADHD has even been correlated to Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, and the staggering number of negative messages is surely a factor.
ADHD Coping Skills to Overcome Negativity
Neurodivergents can work to balance the scales by incorporating positive reinforcement in their life and routines, and so can everyone else in their life. Leaders can uplift and energize their ADHD counterparts with it. Romantic partners can experience the joy of helping their partner heal and thrive through this practice. This approach does so much more than soften the stigma felt by those with ADHD. Let’s look at 3 simple ways to incorporate positive reinforcement in your life.
1. Embrace Novelty
Neurodivergents often feel a sense of renewed energy or tolerance for boring tasks when there is some novelty introduced. ADHD folks appreciate the chance to add a little fun and variety to their lives – from a completely new environment, to subtle changes in routines, tools, or tasks. This search for something fresh isn’t a sign of inconsistency; it’s a quest for stimulation, a way to keep the neural fires burning.
2. Praise (it ain’t just for Jaysus)
It’s not just about feeling good – although that’s a big part of it. Verbal praise generates a rush of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that ADHD brains often find in short supply. This boost doesn’t just brighten the moment; it shores up behavior and bolsters a sense of self-worth that can shield against the slings and arrows of everyday critiques.
3. PRIZES! (aka a reward system)
Rewards, much like praise, serve as a dopamine delivery system. They come in many shapes and flavors. Whether it’s the anticipation of some free time to kick back, the draw of solving a puzzle or working on a passion project, the enjoyment gained from a quick jog in nature, or the sweet of a favorite treat, rewards light up the ADHD brain. They can turn otherwise arduous tasks into genuine play.
The Great NaPP
The ADHD mind runs rampant with light and potential that we don’t talk about enough. It’s a brain that can hyper-focus, that can generate out-of-the-box ideas at lightning speed, and can approach problems with unparalleled creativity. With a little positive reinforcement, these can become the primary traits society sees in us. So next time you’re feeling the world’s judgment, or you just can’t seem to get motivated, remember to get a NaPP. That is, get some Novelty, Praise, and Prizes!
We love our ADHD here at The Neurospicy Shop. The majority of people in our family have been diagnosed, and we’ve got kiddos in our lives that have it too. While there are some minor challenges, ADHD also gives us the ability to think differently than other people, solve problems in unique ways, and we have a ton of fun along the way. But we can also get our feelings hurt a little easier sometimes. Rejection sensitive dysphoria is a topic that has gained popularity lately, and so far there is little research about rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) and who experiences it. But, RSD does seem to be most common in people who also have ADHD.
Rejection sensitive dysphoria is characterized by intense emotional sensitivity and fear of rejection or criticism. Since emotional regulation can be more challenging for people with ADHD, these intense feelings have the potential to spiral out of control. Understanding RSD and learning strategies to navigate these emotions, though, can help to manage these associated feelings. Whether you have ADHD or care for someone who does, understanding RSD can be a powerful tool in promoting emotional well-being.
Understanding Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
RSD refers to an extreme emotional response triggered by perceived or actual rejection, criticism, or failure. It often manifests as intense feelings of sadness, shame, anger, or anxiety, and from the outside, expressions of these emotions (crying, lashing out, etc) might seem like proportionately big reactions to the situation. It’s important to remember, though, that these feelings can be much more intense and distressing for someone with RSD than they would be for someone else.
Triggers vary from person to person, but common ones include situations where someone might feel criticized, left out, or ignored. The criticism, exclusion, or disapproval that someone with RSD perceives might even be a misunderstanding. The fear of potential rejection or criticism can generate overwhelming anxiety and distress, sometimes becoming so intense that individuals may go to great lengths to avoid situations that might trigger RSD.
The Connection Between ADHD and RSD
ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by symptoms like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. Both kids and adults with ADHD often struggle with emotional regulation and may experience difficulties in social interactions. RSD is closely related to ADHD due to overlapping neurobiological factors and common emotional dysregulation challenges.
Rejection sensitive dysphoria can exacerbate the already existing emotional challenges associated with ADHD. The situations that can feel like rejection to someone with RSD are pretty common in everyday life. A few examples:
Your best friend makes a new friend and has less time to hang out with you.
A teacher doesn’t call on you in class, but seems to always call on the boy next to you.
The promotion you applied for went to someone else.
Your sister forgot to tell you her big news, and you found out through the grapevine.
You find out that 3 of your friends have a group chat without you.
When it feels like rejection is hiding behind every corner, and that rejection leads to massive feelings of shame and anxiety, it’s easy to see why someone might develop self esteem issues and begin avoiding certain situations.
Recognizing and Coping with RSD
Identifying the signs and symptoms of RSD is crucial for managing its impact on your life and/or the life of your loved one. Some common signs include heightened emotional sensitivity, intense fear of criticism, and avoiding situations that might trigger rejection. Building self-awareness and understanding personal triggers can help you to find effective coping strategies.
Developing coping mechanisms and self-soothing techniques can be immensely helpful in managing RSD. A few things that might help:
Deep breathing exercises
Relaxation and self-care.
Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and a healthy lifestyle can also contribute to emotional well-being. (I mean, who among us isn’t more sensitive when we’re sleep deprived or hangry?)
A good counselor, therapist, or psychologist can also help someone with ADHD and RSD to identify coping strategies that are likely to work for them. And, whether those do or don’t work, that good counselor can also help to iterate and find new strategies to try until something clicks.
Understanding rejection sensitive dysphoria and its connection with ADHD can shed light on personal experiences. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with you! If you or someone you know has been experiencing intense emotions when faced with perceived rejection, it’s not a flaw – it’s a condition that you can learn to manage.
By embracing self-acceptance, practicing self-care, and finding effective coping strategies, you can grow beyond any feelings that might have previously held you back.
If you’re wondering whether a teenager in your life has autism, you’ve come to the right place. If you yourself are a teenager wondering if you have autism, you have also come to the right place! In this article, we’ll cover the signs of autism in teenagers – both what it looks like from the outside, and what it feels like on the inside. We’ll also mention some tips for what to do next if the signs feel like they align with your experiences.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by repetitive behavior, differences in social functioning, and hypersensitivity to stimuli. It’s important to understand what we’re talking about before we talk about the signs, because a lot of what we hear in the media or in our culture about autism creates a stigma that is not accurate. It’s just a condition, like ADHD or Asthma, and we happen to think that autism is actually a wonderful gift. Support needs also vary widely from person to person within the autism spectrum, and no two autistic people are the same.
Signs of Autism in Teenagers
Social Communication and Interaction
Teenagers with autism often prefer direct verbal communication. They often miss their peers’ nonverbal communication cues, and sarcasm might be confusing for them. (Did they mean what they said, or were they being sarcastic so they meant the opposite of what they said? Why can’t people just always say what they mean?)
It might be difficult to interpret gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Eye contact might feel uncomfortable, and from the outside, they might avoid eye contact entirely or hold eye contact for longer than expected if they’ve been told they need to make eye contact with other people. Reciprocal conversations, where two people take turns talking about themselves and asking questions about each others’ interests, may not come naturally.
Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors
Teenagers with autism sometimes engage in repetitive movements or actions, such as hand-flapping or rocking. These behaviors serve a self-soothing or sensory stimulation role, and are sometimes referred to as “stimming” (from the word stimulating). They might also be most comfortable in predictable routines, and might say they prefer routine because they know what to expect. If their routine is disrupted, they might become distressed or could even panic.
Highly focused interests or fixations on specific topics are common among autistic teenagers. Their intense passions and deep knowledge about certain subjects often surprise others.
Teenagers with autism often experience sensory sensitivities, which can manifest as over- or under-sensitivity to sensory stimuli. Certain sounds, textures, or lights may trigger strong reactions or discomfort. They might hate the grocery store lights, or not be able to focus if there’s a faint, distracting sound in the background while they work.
They may become overwhelmed by crowded or noisy environments. Some people actively seek specific sensory experiences, such as spinning or deep pressure, to regulate their sensory input. Deep pressure can come from a family pet or a weighted blanket or stuffed animal.
Executive Functioning Challenges
Executive functioning challenges affect things like organization, time management, planning, problem-solving, and transitioning. Teenagers with autism may struggle with completing tasks, maintaining a clean room, personal hygiene, and adapting to changes or transitions in their routines. They may find it difficult to prioritize tasks, manage their time effectively, and stay organized. These challenges can impact their academic performance and daily functioning.
Some teenagers might experience pathological demand avoidance, or PDA. Tasks that come with obligations or expectations can be particularly overwhelming in these cases, and it’s important to show compassion for yourself (teenager) or your teen (parental figures). For more about pathological demand avoidance (PDA) and autism, check out the linked article.
Potential Challenges in Identifying Autism in Teenagers
Identifying autism in teenagers can be challenging due to masking and camouflaging behaviors. By adolescence, we’ve learned that some behaviors are acceptable socially, and others make us the victim of criticism or even bullying. Coping mechanisms can help autistic teenagers to fit in socially, but they also can make it more difficult to recognize and meet their true needs.
Maybe they imitate movies, TV shows, or peers because they’ve seen those actions lead to positive social outcomes for others. If they “seem fine,” others might not believe them when they describe internal sensory difficulties or other challenges, but their internal experiences are very real! Additionally, social pressures and diagnostic biases, as well as gender differences, can impact the identification process.
The Importance of Early Intervention and Support
Early identification and intervention can drastically improve quality of life for individuals with autism. Appropriate resources and accommodations can empower them to feel comfortable in who they are and accomplish their life goals. Empowering teenagers with self-awareness and self-advocacy skills helps them navigate the challenges they may face and enhances their overall well-being.
Strategies for Supporting Autistic Teenagers
(Hey teenagers, this section isn’t just for your parents. Understanding what is helpful for you is an important step in the process of getting it!)
Creating an Understanding Environment
Creating an inclusive and understanding environment is essential for supporting autistic teenagers. Try out different communication strategies to see what works for them/you, and keep an open dialogue about how things are going. Some autistic teens appreciate clear and concise instructions, breaking down tasks into manageable steps, and using visual schedules for things like chores, homework, or extracurricular activities. It can also help to create a calm and predictable environment, minimizing sensory overload whenever possible. Giving them the opportunity to have quiet spaces or access to sensory tools, such as noise-canceling headphones or fidget toys, can support their sensory regulation.
Demonstrate Respect for Your Teen
A reversible stuffed animal is a great communication tool. While a teen is in the middle of something, they can choose whether they’d like to be approached by family members. If they place their turtle next to them with a smile, they can indicate to parents, siblings, etc. that they are comfortable being approached. On the other hand, a frowning stuffie indicates that they’d like to be left alone for the time being.
Know Thyself (And Express Thyself!)
Self-expression and self-regulation is key for autistic teenagers. Encouraging them to engage in their interests and providing outlets for creative expression can foster their sense of identity and boost their self-esteem. We feel this is particularly important because of the disproportionately high amount of negative messages autistic teens receive compared to their neurotypical peers. Offering opportunities to engage in activities that align with their passions, like joining clubs or pursuing hobbies, can help them connect with like-minded peers and build social connections.
Teaching effective communication skills might involve a little more intention than with neurotypical kids. Encouraging open and honest conversations, practicing active listening, and validating their feelings and experiences can create a safe space for them to express themselves. We have a few products that can also help autistic people build communication skills. Most importantly, be patient and understanding, and allow them the time they need to process information and respond.
Education and awareness play a significant role in supporting autistic teenagers. Educating family members, friends, and educators about autism can foster a more inclusive and accepting environment. Promoting acceptance and understanding can reduce stigma and create opportunities for meaningful social interactions.
Teaching Two-Way Conversation
Autistic kids and teens have a tendency to “info-dump” on the people around them, which can be super fun. But, it doesn’t necessarily help them learn about their friends and build connections. Conversation cards are a great tool to help teach the skill of two-way conversation, and parents/caregivers can start by using them at the dinner table!
Fulfilling Lives and an Inclusive Society
By recognizing the unique challenges and strengths of autistic teenagers, we can create a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes their overall well-being. If you see potential signs of autism in your teenager, consider a professional evaluation. Remember, acceptance and support are crucial in helping them navigate the complexities of life. By embracing their uniqueness and providing appropriate resources and interventions, we can empower them to reach their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of autistic teenagers and foster a more inclusive society.
ADHD Inattentive Type: Unlocking the Mysteries of Inattention
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that affects millions of people all over the globe. Within the realm of ADHD, there are different subtypes based on which traits tend to show up most dominantly in a given person. In this article, we’ll cover the Predominantly Inattentive Type ADHD, which used to be called ADD. Kids and adults with this type tend to have challenges with attention and focus, and don’t experience the hyperactivity and impulsiveness that others might have.
Our Evolving Understanding
The journey of diagnosing and understanding the inattentive type has evolved over time. First, it was known as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Then, it was later classified as ADHD-PI (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type), which is a common name for the subtype today. You might also hear it shortened to “inattentive type ADHD” or something similar – these names have so many syllables, and we’re in favor of shortening things when we can (maybe because of our own ADHD, lol).
What Does Predominantly Inattentive Type ADHD Look Like?
People with ADHD Inattentive Type experience a variety of traits that can impact their daily lives. That’s true of everyone with ADHD, but the difference here is which symptoms in particular the person experiences. These symptoms are most prevalent when trying to conduct organized daily activities (think work, school, cleaning the house, etc). An example:
Struggling with tasks that require sustained focus
A teacher is expecting all 20 kids in their class to complete a 30-minute assignment. Someone with inattentive type ADHD might struggle to stay focused long enough to complete the assignment. Students with Inattentive ADHD can be just as successful as their neurotypical peers, but may need accommodations such as an environment modified to be less distracting, extra time to finish the assignment, permission to stand and stretch, or by breaking the assignment down into parts.
Without consideration or accommodations, the school environment can be tough on you or your child’s self esteem and education. Some of the other common symptoms of inattentive type ADHD include:
Difficulties with organization
Challenges with time management
Frequently losing or misplacing things
Internally, both children and adults might feel overwhelmed and frustrated with cognitive tasks. They might find themselves daydreaming or spacing out, have trouble managing their thoughts and ideas, and describe themselves as scatterbrained.
We’ll cover ways to adjust your environment to be more accommodating to your, your loved one’s, or your client’s ADHD in other content. It’s important to remember that if you struggle to stay organized with your current organization system, you are not the problem! There hundreds of tools, strategies, and tips for ADHD that can help (many of which we cover in our blog).
Recognizing the Signs: Decoding the Impact of Inattention
Noticing and identifying the signs of ADHD, regardless of the subtype, is crucial for early intervention and support. It’s common for inattention to affect a person’s daily functioning, relationships, and academic or work performance. As a child grows up, it’s also important to note that symptoms may manifest differently as they become an adult. While children may have difficulties in school and social settings, adults may struggle with productivity, organization, and staying focused at work.
Seeking Professional Evaluation: Finding Clarity in Diagnosis
If you suspect that you or your loved one may have ADHD Inattentive Type, seeking professional evaluation can empower you to understand yourself better and receive treatment. Consult a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, who specializes in ADHD. They will conduct a comprehensive assessment, which may include interviews, questionnaires, and observations, to reach an accurate diagnosis. Collaboration between the individual, their caregivers, and healthcare providers is key in this process.
Treatment Options and Support
Treatment approaches for ADHD Inattentive Type typically involve a combination of strategies tailored to each individual’s needs. Medication, including both stimulants and non-stimulants, can help manage symptoms. Behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychoeducation provide valuable tools for coping with inattention. Since ADHD is a condition that describes the way someone’s brain works and isn’t something that can be “cured” (not that we would want it to be!), reasonable accommodations and support plans at school and work are also a valuable tool.
ADHD Strengths and Superpowers
A person with undiagnosed ADHD Inattentive Type will sometimes struggle with things that neurotypical people find easy. It’s a slippery slope that can lead to other struggles like self image, confidence etc. But there are also many rare and wonderful things about ADHD! Creative problem solving, a fantastic sense of humor, and the ability to hyperfocus are just a few gifts that those of us with ADHD get to appreciate and love about ourselves. Our neurodivergence is a key part of who we are – both the challenges and the gifts (and the gifts are pretty sweet if we do say so ourselves.)
To learn more, check out our next article about Predominantly Hyperactive Type ADHD for a comprehensive understanding of the different subtypes and their management strategies. Knowledge is power in the journey of ADHD!
Remember, you have the power to unlock your potential and thrive with ADHD Inattentive Type. Seek help, embrace understanding, and never forget that you are capable of greatness.