ADHD and Creativity

One of the more positive aspects about having ADHD for me is the continuous flow of new and creative ideas. Unfortunately for many with ADHD, including myself, many ideas remain ideas, due to various factors such as difficulty organising and planning projects appropriately, frustration, and perhaps an inability to sustain the long term focus needed to bring a project to life. I’ve heard many people with ADHD sharing great ideas that if implemented correctly could certainly be successful but the ideas more often fade into nothing after weeks or months leaving behind a sense of failure and depression.   In this post I will attempt to examine why people with ADHD seem to be very creative yet often fail to follow their ideas through. Using my own experience my hope is that others with ADHD can relate and perhaps understand themselves a little better and overcome some of the barriers and perhaps learn to bring their ideas to life.steve-jobs

The widely held understanding of ADHD from the scientific community is that there are abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex of the brain in those with ADHD. The Neurotransmitters which release dopamine and noradrenaline appear to be impaired in this area of the brain that controls emotional responses, behaviour, judgement and Attention.

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Due to these differences in the pre-frontal cortex a person who has ADHD often will have great difficulty regulating their attention an impulses and will often appear hyperactive or extremely fidgety. Rather than being described as a deficit, meaning a lack of, ADHD has also been defined as a dysregulation of the management system. This may explain why sometimes there appears to be no attention what so ever and other times there is hyper-focus which although sometimes can be a positive, if you are in the zone you get things done, more often the hyper-focus can be an unproductive quality. For example playing GTA 5 rather than doing homework that needs to be in by tomorrow, a child with ADHD may find it more difficult to prioritise and focus appropriately due to being unable to regulate their management system.

So what has this got to do with creativity? From my own experience growing up as a child with ADHD, when my brain switched off in the classroom due to a lack of stimulation or a boring Feckin teacher, my brain would create its own stimuli. I would drift off into a world of my own and my imagination would take over. Although I was physically present within the classroom my mind was usually elsewhere. I often felt stupid and frustrated because I couldn’t concentrate on algebra for instance. Looking back I was extremely creative in my imagination as a coping mechanism to get me through the boring school environment. Although I was unable to sustain concentration on certain subjects my mind was always active and thinking new ideas. In my imagination I could run wild whilst being confined to a bloody seat. It was all well and good until I had to sit an exam or answer a question on what the teacher had just been talking about. My point is, perhaps the brain of those with ADHD compensates for their lack of attention during mundane tasks allowing the person to develop a more innovative and creative type of brain.

Every now and again a thought or a new idea will pop into my mind. I’ve actually had one in the last few weeks that I’m quite precious about and that can be a problem in itself. I don’t always have the necessary skills to bring my ideas to life and if you are overly precious or cautious, you could potentially fail to connect with the right people that could bring the idea to the next level.

I mentioned earlier that people with ADHD experience difficulty organising and planning projects appropriately, so again having a clear and realistic understanding of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to identify possible partners with the skills you are lacking and help implement the ideas to become a reality.

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In my own experience in the initial stages of an AHA moment there is usually an adrenalin rush or perhaps dopamine and noradrenaline rush were all of a sudden you have deep focus and even organisation skills. The idea feels like the best idea in the whole wide world. You can’t think of anything else. You sit up nights on end working and without realising you can actually plan and deliver during this time. For me it’s very useful to identify these patterns and behaviours.

Then comes the dreaded decrease in activity, suddenly the new project feels like the stupidest idea in the world. Perhaps you’ve told the wrong person about the idea or they fail to see your vision. Alongside a life time of difficulties due to having ADHD the mind starts to doubt. ‘Why did I start this’ ‘It is so stupid’ I’ve heard many people saying ‘all of a sudden I can’t even look at the project’ which is quite sad considering the effort and sleepless nights invested in these projects. I’ve known people to spend their life savings on their ideas to the despair of loving partners, who perhaps have also seen these patterns before. Once the dip in the initial excitement appears the ability to focus and implement the work decreases often leaving a sense of humiliation and depression. Then before you know it another idea pops into the mind and away you go again. The ADHDer often moves from one idea to the next, perhaps just to feel again what it is like to be able to focus. The repeating of this pattern leaves a feeling of uselessness as well as lots of unfinished projects that are worthless.

I have learned from previous experiences to recognise and almost expect the dip in energy and by doing so better prepare for it. If there is a sudden feeling of negativity towards the work you’ve invested in it may be useful to take a step back and revaluate in a few weeks to see how you feel. I recognise that not all ideas or good and sometimes the negatively comes from the realisation that the idea is silly, a few weeks away can help clarify if it is or not and prevent you investing anymore unnecessary time. Having supportive people around you with your best interests at heart can also help you clarify and give you the extra nudge when needed.

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I am sure that there are those that will argue that people with ADHD are no more creative, good for you. The aim of this blog is to try and help those who can relate to the common problems that many with ADHD experience. By understanding ourselves a little better perhaps we can overcome some of the barriers we face. In my experience working with Adult ADHD NI I’ve met many unique and creative people and I’ve seen how a little support and encouragement can transform lives. Perhaps the bursts of creativity and innovative ideas that people with ADHD experience is the brain trying to experience deep focus and the organisation skills they are lacking, unfortunately it never remains.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

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Guest Blogger Dr. Douglas A. Puryear, MD. Eleven Basic “Facts” About ADD ADHD

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Doug Puryear as my guest blogger. Through Doug’s writing I have managed to better understand my own ADHD and have also been able to implement some of his recommended strategies to help me better manage life with ADHD. I highly recommend books such as Your Life Can Be Better, and I’ve found that people we have supported through Adult ADHD NI have also found his works equally valuable. I encourage all my readers to visit Doug’s Blog ADDadultstrategies.wordpress.com <https://addadultstrategies.wordpress.com/> which offers constructive
ways for helping people cope with the problems that are associated with ADD or ADHD.

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Eleven Basic “Facts” About ADD ADHD

  1. ADD ADHD exists. Our brains function differently than other peoples. This has been shown by brain imaging.
  2. Our main difficulty is an inability to control our focus. We are either unfocused or hyperfocused. Most of our difficulties come from that.
  3. Thus we tend to be distractible, impulsive, irritable and unreliable. We forget things and lose things. We procrastinate. We get eagerly involved in something and then quickly lose interest. We have trouble finishing things. And so on and so on. We each have our own individual pattern of problems.
  4. This can make our lives very difficult, but there are things we can do to make our lives better.
  5. Medication helps many people who have ADD ADHD, but it is not for everyone. It primarily helps with focus.
  6. Stratgies are very helpful. We identify a problem that causes us enough trouble to make it worth working on. We devise a strategy. We persist in that strategy until it becomes a habit.

The problem must be specific – for example, “I lose my keys.” not “I lose things.”

7.Many physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists do not understand ADD ADHD. Many of them do not understand that they do not understand. Certified ADD ADHD coaches can be very helpful.

8.  We need to educate ourselves about our condition and how we can cope. There is a lot of good information on the net. There is a lot of garbage on the net.

I recommend three books:, The ADHD Effect On Marriage, and most humbly, my own, Your Life Can Be Better, primarily about using strategies. I recommend three websites: this one, and ADDerworld.ning.com, and even more humbly, ADDadultstrategies.wordpress.com.

9.The basic basics: You need an appointment book and a to do list, or their electronic equivalents, and you need to know how to use them. You needed sleep, structure, strategies, exercise, and outdoors.

10.Every person is unique. You need to find what works for you.

11.Your life can be better.

Note. Sometimes people confuse their opinions with facts. I call these ten “facts” because some of them are truly facts and some of them are more my opinion.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

Life without Organisational Skills.

If I was to pinpoint one of the many ADHD traits that I find the most frustrating and debilitating I think it would be the lack of Organizational Skills. Although I’ve made some improvement over the years it’s mainly due to the support of a loving and understanding partner who has taken the time to show me some management skills that most people take for granted such as planning the day ahead with to do lists, deciding on priorities and maintaining a structured environment.

Technology has also improved my organisation skills as I can set reminders for myself, if I remember to do so and keep track of lists of things that need to be carried out throughout the day. Unfortunately Technology can easily be a distraction from daily tasks I was on level 108 of Candy Crush when it dawned on me that I had actually wasted days of my life playing that pointless game.

As a child having no organisation skills meant lost or forgotten homework assignments and inadequate, to say the very least, planning for exams. I was in a constant state of worry knowing that at some stage I was going to be scolded for not doing my homework and once I was scolded I couldn’t concentrate because I had been once again humiliated in front of the whole class by the teacher who was perceiving my difficulties as me being lazy. The impact of the teacher’s negative, uncompassionate and intolerant communication would spread like wildfire throughout the classroom. ‘MISS, Niall is copying me’ a classmate would complain. I’d whisper ‘Please, I don’t know what to do’ which was usually followed by ‘MISS ,Niall is talking to me again’ NIALL GET UP HERE TO THE FRONT OF THE CLASS SO I CAN KEEP AN EYE ON YOU’ the teacher would roar. There I would sit for the rest of the class with my head down, red faced, angry and frustrated at myself for being so stupid. I can see now that if some time had have been put into helping me build the organisational skills that I was clearly lacking; things could have been somewhat different.

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As a young adult with ADHD my lack of organisation skills manifested in missed appointments, unpaid bills and impulsively spending money on things I didn’t need rather than buying food or paying rent etc. Adults are expected to be well organised and responsible. However, due to the constant distractions in the ADHD Mind as well as hyper-focusing, which sometimes is seen as an ADHD superpower but more often causes strain on relationships with people because your simply not present, combined with forgetting to do simple things like eating or sleeping believe it or not, creates an impossible environment for the person to maintain any sort of structured life style. As I got older my life became a game of avoiding humiliation and trying to prevent people from seeing my difficulties, trying to mask the problems behind an attitude of I don’t give a shit.

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As I’m writing this I have had a moment of panic in recognition that approximately 4% of the population are living this way. Many of whom have no Idea of why their lives are so upside down. Adults with ADHD trying to survive many of whom are parents striving to do the best they can for their children without the simple organisational skills needed to survive. I dedicate todays post to every person affected by ADHD and I hope that through my Blog I can encourage people to go easy on themselves and seek support where available.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

Defiance

It is commonly believed that there is a link between ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), known here in Ireland as POYWTMWTDS (Piss Off You Won’t Tell Me What To Do Syndrome). I was never officially diagnosed with ODD but I’m pretty sure I had it as a child. Back as far as I can remember I could never understand what gave people authority over me and couldn’t wait to become an adult so that I would no longer have to do what others said. How naive was I.

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Kids with ADHD and ODD don’t conform to rules or structures easily and as a result parents and teachers can feel frustrated and angry towards the child, often labeling them bad children. Parents frequently get the blame for the Childs behaviours even though it is not usually the case. The parents ive worked with tend to work extremely hard trying to maintain boundaries and structure, often with poor results. Due to the child’s behaviour they are often rejected from social events such as birthday parties , leaving both child and parents feeling rejected.

For me rules and regulations always caused me difficulty and my nature is rebellious. A simple rule at school was no running in the corridor. I understood the rule and why it was in place but for some reason I would defy the rule, especially, if I saw a teacher. Perhaps part of me wished to be an exception to the rule or maybe I just wanted to vex the teachers. As an adult my initial instinct is to do the opposite of the rule but I’ve learned that it’s myself that usually ends up worse off. I suppose I’m slowly learning to conform. I dislike authority figures such as traffic wardens as many people do. I understand that they are a necessary evil and ultimately I have a choice. Either I park where I like or receive a fine. In my mind the Red coats, as they are called here in Co. Fermanagh, get a high out of slapping tickets on cars and trying to tell me where I can or cannot park. If I receive a fine it’s all their fault and it takes me ages to accept that it was my own actions that caused me to receive the fine.

As I’ve gotten older I have a better understanding of why we have rules and authorities in place. Yet I still have disobedient streak, or an immaturity, towards authority figures and my defiant nature can still affect my life. If disagree with an imposed authority my natural instinct is to defy it.

From speaking to many people with ADHD as well as parents of children with ADHD it seems defiance is a very common trait and usually has a negative effect on the person’s life if they can’t learn to manage it.

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I remember when I was fourteen years old at Saturday band practice, how COOL was I. There I was beating my drumsticks against the inside wall of the community building where we practiced. I happened upon the Break Glass Fire Alarm Box and I fully understood that if I broke the glass with the drumstick I would be in trouble, yet I just couldn’t resist. It was like the DO NOT PUSH THE BIG RED SHINY BUTTON that you see in cartoons and in my mind I was thinking ‘you won’t tell me’

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The consequences of my actions didn’t seem to click until the siren of the alarm went off and all eyes turned to me. For the next hour I had to listen to an angry music teacher, caretaker, and fireman lecturing me on my irresponsible behaviour. When they asked me why I did it I gave the most honest answer I could at fourteen which was ‘I don’t Know’. I asked myself that question many times afterwards.

There is another thing that influences the defiant nature within me and it’s to do with how people communicate. If asked with respect I’d literally do anything to help. Tell me I HAVE to do something and it’s a whole different outcome. I have an instant urge to do the opposite of what the person said and if I happen to do what I’ve been TOLD there is usually is a feeling of resentment towards the other person and a sense that I’ve been controlled.

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This subject of defiance is relevant because large numbers of children, teenagers and adults with ADHD are failing to reach their potential. Many are being excluded from classrooms or getting suspended and expelled from schools or colleges and adults are getting sacked from jobs because of traits that is just part of who they are. I feel that as a society we need to change our approach to conditions such as ADHD and bring about a better understanding of differences. I recognise those with a defiant nature will probably read this and say ‘you’ll not tell me to change my approach to conditions such as ADHD’. Nonetheless I really do hope that we begin to recognise that some individuals, many of whom have ADHD, find it difficult to understand why rules are in place and perhaps need a different approach to help them understand and accept them.

Reading back on this I realize that there needs more balance in this post for it to be accurate to my own experience. I may do another blog called ADHD and Defiance No. 2 and explain the positive aspects of this trait and how defiance can also be a helpful quality on occasions.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

We with Adhd are descendants of hunters ACHOO

According to Thom Hartmann’s book ‘Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception’ those with ADHD are the Hunters of society. I like that idea ‘Niall the mighty Hunter’ try telling that to Emma who has been carrying Lemsips to me all week due to another severe dose of the dreaded MANFLU. I’ve already went through two 8 packs of Kleenex in the last week, the Balsam ones with the protective balm to help prevent your nose becoming red or drying out. How manly is that?

photo-8-1024x887However the hunter theory has actually some really good arguments. For instance, although people with ADHD tend to have short attentions spans they also can become extremely focused at certain times and this is known as Hyper-focus. Hyper-focus is an intense form of mental concentration or visualization which I imagine would be useful when hunting pray to feed your family or community. Probably not so useful when a teacher is trying to teach algebra and you’re focusing on a spider walking up a wall.

Scientists recently found a gene called DRD4 and some believe that it may back some of Hartmann’s ideas. This gene, also known as the Thomas Edison gene because those with the gene tend to have unusually high intelligence and although not limitied exclusively to those with ADHD, it has been found in many people displaying ADHD Traits.  DRD4 is seen to have been a critical asset for the survival of ancient humans. If you were alive 10,000 to 50,000 years ago and happened to have this particular gene your chances of survival in the wild would have been greatly enhanced. If a family was hungry the hunters needed to be able to think outside the box, scan aggressively and be able to noticing everything around. Today this is what is known as distractibility and is typically seen as a negative trait.

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School life as well as many modern work environments requires a person to be a good planner and well organised. The traits that the ADHD individual tends to lack is seemly replaced with impulsive behaviours causing individuals to make careless and snap decisions. Again picture the hunter with the ability to throw his or herself into the chase, flexible and ready to change strategy at a moment’s notice. Or let us imagine a parent teacher meeting a thousand years ago.

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Teacher: Your child fails to follow instruction.

Hunter Parent: As a hunter my child is naturally independent.

Teacher: But your child is a day dreamer

Hunter Parent: Your classes bore my child, he needs excitement. He has evolved over millions of years to hunt and provide food for the community and yet you confine him to a chair in a stuffy room and expect him to conform to this unnatural environment.

Teacher: You may have a point, but your child acts without consequences and is lacking in social graces.

Hunter Parent: A hunter child has natural instincts that allow him to take risks and face danger. My child, like me, puts performance before politeness and it seems to me that my child is not failing you, YOU ARE FAILING MY CHILD.

In my personal and professional experience the modern day school system as well as many adult learning colleges and universities are failing to meet the needs of countless potential modern day Thomas Edison’s.

One last thought before I go off and sneeze for the millionth time this week. For those who still think ADHD is a new, made up condition. Read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a classic novel by Mark Twain released in 1884 about a boy called Tom Sawyer who was a curious, hyperactive, restless and reckless child who always got in fights with friends and had trouble with authority figures and tell me you don’t see ADHD.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

The Lotto numbers are easier to predict than someone with ADHD.

I went to school with people who had a PLAN for how their lives where going to be and those people have since then stuck to the plan rigorously. For people with ADHD life is not quite that simple. A ‘daily plan’ can be an almost impossible task never mind a yearly one or a life time plan. I could always relate to Forests Mum when she would say…..

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But seriously, one of the Consequences of having ADHD is that you tend to be quite unpredictable. When I say unpredictable I don’t mean other people find you unpredictable, even though that is also true. I mean people with ADHD find THEMSELVES unpredictable; it seems to be in the nature of the condition. Due to my own unpredictable nature I’ve had quite a multifaceted life and I could tell lots of stories about how my ADHD traits served me well but to be honest I had many more years of feeling despondent, misunderstood and petrified of where I was going to end up.

For those without ADHD try and imagine wakening up in in the morning in your nice warm bed at home and getting ready to go to your job knowing that before the end of the day your life could be turned upside down and everything lost due to a condition that you seem to have little power to control. That’s not an exaggeration of what it’s like to have ADHD. I’ve experienced it myself on many occasions and have heard others with ADHD describe the same scenario. I think it’s caused by a combination of frustration, impulsiveness, denial of how severely the ADHD is affecting the person and the arch enemy of every ADHDer BOREDOM.

I’ve worked alongside many parents of teenagers with ADHD and heard them describe the fear they have for their child’s future and the powerlessness that they feel when the frustrated teenager gets suspended again for poor behaviours or walks out of school, college, job, relationship etc. for the umpteenth time or impulsively spends there money on things they don’t need rather than paying bills or even buying food for themselves. My Fiancée Emma does say the only thing that is predicable about ADHD is the unpredictability which is an assessment I can’t disagree with.  Over the more recent years I’ve learned to restrain my impulses, with great effort might I add. Learning about ADHD has helped as well as accepting it and trying to understand what is driving the impulses.  For me it was usually fear.

On a positive note it’s now 2015, Happy New Year everybody by the way.

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It’s important for me not to look too far ahead or try and predict but right now I feel extremely positive about people’s willingness to understand ADHD and we at Adult ADHD NI hope that we can create a better environment for those affected by ADHD so that they too have a chance to live happy fulfilled lives here in Ireland.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

Insomnia and ADHD

This blog really should be on procrastination considering I’ve been meaning to write it for almost two weeks and I kept finding really important reasons not to. (Watching TV, Doodling) Even as I write this I’m fighting against an urge to play my guitar. Must write Blog. However, I’ve already decided on a topic Insomnia and ADHD just because it’s a theme that came up several times over the last few weeks with some of our members.

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Like many others with ADHD I have also always had great difficulty with sleep.   Don’t get me wrong I love sleep but it’s the getting to sleep I’ve never liked. Most people seem to be out for the count as soon their heads touch the pillow, but for me my mind becomes active, legs become restless, my tummy may start to rumble, I’ll remember something urgent that i was meant to do earlier or find some other random excuse to sit up all night (Google, Facebook or Twitter). For me the getting to sleep has always been quite boring and the more I try to go to sleep the more difficult it becomes. Now that i think about it, I probably procrastinate going to sleep and when I finally do get to sleep the waking up becomes another issue.

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What’s even more irritating if i have to be up early you can guarantee that’ll be the night I won’t sleep at all because of a racing mind. Looking back it has always been like that but it seemed to get worse in my teens and 20s. During that period I regularly sat up to 5am with a group of night owl friends. I was often anxious and depressed and I’m pretty sure the lack of sleep and sunlight probably didn’t help. I also recognise now that lack of sleep escalates my ADHD symptoms, I become much more unorganised, forgetful and my focus becomes non-existent.

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Since my diagnosis I’ve tried to understand how my ADHD affects me. I don’t use it as an excuse but i do recognise that many others with ADHD have the same difficulties so I go easy on myself. However I do like to challenge myself and try to overcome the difficulties where possible. Last year we decided to turn our bedroom into a technology free zone. That included Tellies, Mobile phones, laptops and Ipads but we compromised on Kindles because their BRILLIANT. The result has been fantastic; I go to bed at a reasonable time, sleep at moderate time and as a result wake up feeling much better. My technology free zone is either working really well or it’s just simply because I’m in my mid-thirties and getting old. Ignore that last bit please. These simple changes allow me to function as best as I can and help to deliver a much needed service within Adult ADHD NI and ensure that those in need of ADHD support can avail of it.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com