Monday, October 20, 2008


ADDers have to struggle to maintain an optimal arousal level. Although I’m not a psychopharmacologist ( although I have a Masters in Biochemsitry), I have learned that the stimulant medications for ADD probably increase arousal and alertness by increasing the neurotransmitter Dopamine. However, I have coached many people with an ADD brain style, and they report minimal to great benefits with stimulants.

So why do they need coaching? Because, for numerous unstimulating tasks, despite increased alertness, they still lack motivation and organizational skills, and can’t initiate or complete tasks on a consistent basis. Some find ( particularly older people) that they feel an increased heart rate ( at which point I ask them to check with their doctors about an EKG). That’s what happened to me with all the stimulants I tried. They increased my alertness, but at the price of increasing my heart rate and anxiety

Individuals with a non-ADD brain style, usually manage to regulate the neurotransmitters involved in arousal. Also, they will often only do a rewarding task, if they finished a tedious one first. Contrary to common sense, the ADDer works in a reverse manner. I learned in my ADD coaching, that frequently, it works well for ADDers if do something enjoyable first to build up their arousal level and then they find that they can do the tedious task, It’s incredible! Two recent examples in my clinical work involved: first, an artist who loved to paint, but hadn’t done so in a while, because she convinced herself that she had to clean up her house first. When it was suggested to her that she painted first which was stimulating for that she might then be motivated enough to clean her house. It worked for her!.

Second, was a middle-age man who rode his motorcycle for an hour in order to build up his arousal. And then he was able to work on his taxes. Amazing!

Another strategy which worked with a medical student, was having her read for 45 minutes setting her clock to ring when the time was over. Then she was to take a 15 Minute break doing something active, and return to her studies afterward. It worked!

As an ADDer, have you experienced success with these strategies?


Anonymous said...

I can completely relate to the examples that you gave. I have struggled with the challenges of ADD my whole life, but I would the be first to say that I would not change it. I find that my creativity and inspiration are also directly related to my ADD. Look forward to reading more from your blog! Thanks!

Dr. June Kaufman said...

Thanks you for your comment. I strongly believe add is a trait or brain style and is not a disorder. Like any brain style there are positives and negatives. There are strong positives for ADDers: spontaneity, great interpersonal skills, ntrpreneurship,creativeity and energy, to name a few.