Tackle Spending Shame with a Personal Budget

ADHD Guilt and Shame around Spending Money - How Personal Budgets can help.

I can’t believe I’ve spent so much…

Do you feel guilty every time you buy something for yourself? Do you find yourself putting empty wrappers or coffee cups in the bin outside the house, hiding the evidence? Or maybe you’re the opposite, you feel so guilty about the idea of spending money on yourself that you never buy anything at all, instead you spend money on the people you love, trying to make them happy instead of treating yourself.

Both of those things are common in people who have ADHD. Some of us feel ashamed or guilty after buying a magazine or a drink and feel that they’ve been selfish. Sometimes our impulse buying kicks in, particularly if we’ve found a new hobby, and we go completely overboard, buying everything and anything that looks like it would be a great project, leading to huge waves of after purchase guilt and frustration, and ultimately to a lot of unfinished projects.

Money is difficult to manage, and as a lot of people with ADHD struggle to find work they are often the person who stays at home to look after the kids while their partner works, and as such, they are ‘in charge’ of the household finances. Every time we stumble and buy something we just can’t resist there’s a feeling of failure, and the question of whether we ‘confess’ what we’ve done or not. Some people have a family who understands the difficulties we have with money, others are not so fortunate and when things get out of hand, when we realise that we’ve hit the credit limit, or we haven’t considered the fact that the car insurance is due next week, or the school trip payments need to be made.

Ideally, we’d all have someone there to carefully manage our finances, to guide us with what is a good purchase, and what is necessary, and to tell us that we don’t need to ‘buy’ our friends and family with gifts but for most of us, this just isn’t possible.

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Summary of ADHD: The Brain-Behaviour Connection by Dr. Joel Nigg Ph.D.

Summary of The Brain-Behaviour Connection - Dr. Joel Nigg Ph.D.

So this post is to summarise some of the current thinking in neuroscience around ADHD as discussed by Dr. Joel Nigg, Ph.D. in a free webinar on ADDitude which aired on 28 June 2016. My intention is to make webinars like this one a bit more accessible to the everyday person who might get a little lost in all the scientific jargon. I studied A-Level Biology and Chemistry and then Applied Genetics and the University of Liverpool before transferring to a Business Management degree so I have a reasonable basic scientific understanding, but I struggle to follow some of the webinars, I can’t be the only one!

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Neuroscience Basics (How the brain works)

Very basically, the brain consists of different areas, each playing a different role in helping us to function. These areas are connected together by axons, like little wires, which are wrapped in something called white matter or myelin sheath, like insulation. This insulation helps to transmit messages from one part of the brain to the other without losing any information so any damage to this can prevent the brain from working properly.

Up until now there has been a lot of focus on the actual brain tissue, the grey matter, with a suggestion that there is a slight reduction in the amount of grey matter in ADHD brains but now there is a shift in focus to the white matter, the insulation around the wires connecting the areas of the brain.

The white matter develops over time as we grow from infant, to child, to adult but in ADHD brains there seems to be slower development of this layer, and it can be underdeveloped, or thinner, than in ‘neurotypical’ brains. This would therefore explain why the brain does not function as it should do.

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Pokémon GO – Your Answer to Exercise Resistance?

Pokémon GO! Could it be the key to motivation to exercise for ADHD children and adults?

Pokémon GO! is sweeping the nation as it is released in the UK today, but children are not the only ones giving it a try. Could it help motivate those of us who really struggle to find exercise enjoyable to get outside and start walking?

Admittedly, this is not the post I was expecting to write today for ADHD Mum of Three, as a respectable and responsible 36 year old mother surely I should be groaning at the thought of another app that is going to drain the hours out of the lives of my children, and let’s be honest, my life too.

I am a gamer, I always have been, it gets my brain working, I get drawn in and time disappears. We call games ‘time vampires’ in our house, and I was in two minds as to whether or not to download Pokémon GO or not as I was a huge fan of Pokémon games when they first came out in the 1990’s.

However, I have been trying to get more exercise recently, I joined Weight Watchers a little while ago and exercise is one of the things that is really promoted. I did well over the first two or three weeks, I bought a fitbit, just the little zip one, and I started going on walks in parks and countryside nearby. I was excited to get my first badges awarded on fitbit, and it helped my weight loss, but alas, my motivation started to fade.

It was just a bit too boring to be honest, I had a couple of particular places to walk but even on a sunny day I was finding it more of a frustration to drive there, walk the same route and see the same trees and flowers. I need something more, I’m terrible at appreciating natural beauty. It takes less than two minutes looking at a sunset or at beautifully landscaped gardens before my brain thinks ‘done that, what next…’. I’m a nightmare in museums!

So, would Pokémon GO be a possible answer to my problems?

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Signs of Inattentive ADHD – A Guide for Teachers, TAs and Other Professionals

Inattentive PI ADHD Classroom Identify List

Inattentive ADHD Can Be Overlooked in the classroom as it is Less VISIBLE than COMBINED or Hyperactive/ Impulsive ADHD

Around 5% of children are affected by ADHD, at a ratio of 2:1 girls to boys according to the DSM-5.1 Girls are more likely to present with Predominantly Inattentive ADHD (ADHD PI) whereby the child is not as likely to be a disruptive influence in the classroom as a child with Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD (ADHD PH/I), or classic ADHD, may be.

The signs of ADHD PI are much harder to spot because generally these children are trying to ‘fit in’ with their peers, not wishing to draw attention to themselves as they feel like they are not  achieving as well as they could do. I’ve heard children as young as 8 say that they don’t want to be ‘found out’ because people think they’re bright, but really they feel stupid because they keep making mistakes and feel like they need to try harder.

I wrote in my article about growing up with Inattentive ADHD that I felt invisible and in some ways that was what I was aiming for when I was younger, I didn’t want to stand out. I coasted through school managing to do fairly well but I could have achieved more if someone had been able to explain to me that my brain worked differently to my peers and that trying to be like them wasn’t going to solve all of my problems.

Medication could have helped with some of my symptoms, helping me to focus in lessons, and extra time in exams may have helped, but I think, more importantly, understanding why I couldn’t seem to do things like everyone else would have made a huge difference. I wasn’t just lazy or stupid, I was trying as hard as I could and every failure felt enormous, even if it was getting 9/10 on a maths test. Support from a teacher or another professional would have meant learning techniques and strategies to manage my time, organise my things and how to manage my emotions and build up my self-esteem.

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Why Inattentive ADHD Often Goes Unnoticed

Inattentive ADHD Classroom Child School Identify

Girls with ADHD are less likely to be diagnosed because they are more likely to present with Inattentive Symptoms

According to the DSM-5 ADHD affects about 5% of children but occurs in boys more than girls at a ration of 2:1.2

Often girls with ADHD stay ‘under the radar’ in the classroom because girls are more likely to have the Predominantly Inattentive Presentation of ADHD, rather than Combined or Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation. See my guide here to understand the terms and to gain an overview of the different symptoms that are linked to each presentation.

I was one of those girls, albeit at a time before there had not been as much research into ADHD – particularly in the UK. That’s me in the photograph up there, ironically highlighted when the reality was just the opposite. I am 7 years old in that picture and in the equivalent class of Year 3. That year my parents would be told at parent’s evening that I was a daydreamer, I never seemed to be listening and I wouldn’t finish my work as quickly as other children. I could do better if I just applied myself, if I just made more effort. I didn’t look particularly different and I certainly didn’t know I was different, I just though I was bad.

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Adult ADHD Online Shopping Tips

Adult ADHD Online Shopping Tips Save Money Online and Avoid Common Pitfalls of Impulse Spending

Follow these Online Shopping Tips to Save Money and Avoid the Common ADHD Pitfalls of Impulse Buying!

There are plenty of ways to save money online but those of us with ADHD need to approach with caution! If you have read my post about saving money in-store then you will know that the biggest pitfall for shopping is impulse buying, we love a good bargain!

Shopping online is great for those of us who struggle to negotiate big stores, who feel anxious and stressed at the thought of going out into the throng of people all filling their trolleys, particularly if we have to shop at peak times when just finding a space in the car park can be a challenge.

There’s an incredible range of products available online too, pretty much anything you can think of is available somewhere and you don’t have to worry about shopping at unsocial hours. The shops are always open and there’s always a ‘Sale!’ on somewhere.

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Symptoms Checklist for Diagnosis of ADHD

ADHD Symptoms Checklist - Diagnostic Criteria

What are the main ADHD Symptoms and How do they Diagnose ADHD?

To obtain an ADHD diagnosis you must speak to a health professional, the usual first step would be to speak to your GP. If there is enough evidence to seek a referral you will then be referred to a specialist or consultant who will be able to assess and diagnose ADHD. Unfortunately in the UK there is a real need for ADHD specialists and waiting list times can be in excess of 18 months after referral.

At your first appointment the specialist will ask you a series of questions about ADHD symptoms that you may have now, and that you may remember experiencing as a child. I actually took along my mum to the appointment so that she could answer questions about my childhood that I struggle to remember. You may also be asked to complete a number of questionnaires to aid the consultant in reaching a diagnosis.

In the case of a child referral to a Community Paediatrician is usually made rather than a specific ADHD specialist. This means shorter referral times and the Paediatrician will have a broad knowledge of a number of conditions which may exhibit similar symptoms to ADHD. It is usual for the school setting to be involved in diagnosis, the Paediatrician may carry out observations in the school setting and the school will be asked to fill out a questionnaire to assess the symptoms of the child. The same questionnaire will be given to the parents/carer to assess symptoms shown in the home setting and these will be compared.

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Family Day Out with my ADHD Kids to Walton Hall & Gardens

Big Day Out with Hoylake Chapel - Family Day Out Walton Hall & Gardens with my SEN Kids

Big Day Out from Hoylake Chapel – Family Day out to Walton Hall & Gardens, Warrington, UK

Saturday saw the first Big Day Out from Hoylake Chapel, my local church, and it was with some trepidation that we decided to take the children along. My husband owns a couple of buses so had volunteered to use the bus to transport families to the venue so it was really just a matter of deciding which children to take with us on the day. As my parents and my brother were also going on the trip, it really was a family day out, there was only one potential babysitter. As they were otherwise engaged the choice was made for us. Our eldest, V, and youngest child, G, would be coming with us (with our middle child, E, away on a school trip).

I am always filled with some apprehension and dread with family days out, for several reasons. As you know, my children all have autism and the two coming with us on the trip also have an ADHD diagnosis along with some chromosomal abnormalities. Planning any trip at all, particularly with more than one of them involved, can be complicated. I knew that both children would find it very difficult to be with people they didn’t know very well, for this reason I had taken my car along to where the bus was departing and after around 30 seconds on the bus it was obvious that the noise and the unfamiliar faces was going to be too overwhelming so we hopped back into our car and followed behind.

I had packed a bag of snacks for the journey which seemed to placate them and we actually had some good conversations around various television programs and YouTube shows. I was starting to run out of ‘if you could choose one character to go to ….. with, who would you choose?’ questions by the time we got there but we made it in reasonably good spirits.

We parked up in the car park, £3.50 for a Saturday, and headed into Walton Hall & Gardens. The entrance is a bit odd, immediately in front of us was a small area which is currently still being developed, but there was a nice big map so we could see which way to head.

We opted for the Cafe, it had WiFi and a warm drink and the weather had been a little bit rainy off and on during the journey. The Cafe was reasonable enough, nothing spectacular but did the job, and was light and spacious inside. Unfortunately there was one thing that I hadn’t checked before we set out, a family entered with a dog and my youngest immediately declared that he wanted to go home.

All three of my children are afraid of dogs which makes planning family days out incredibly difficult.

There turned out to be a lot of dogs out with their owners for a pleasant stroll through the grounds, but not all of them were on leads and this is something that G really cannot cope with. I hadn’t checked before coming out but I would have assumed that being on a lead was fairly normal for this kind of establishment, definitely a mistake in my planning and it would be one that would signal the beginning of the end of the day.

We left the Cafe and stepped out into a light shower of rain. With G now in a raised state of anxiety and V looking around and finding very little of interest we decided to split up for a bit, tensions between the two children were fairly obviously escalating.

As I took G towards Walton Hall itself the light shower became more of a heavy downpour and again, the anxiety levels were rising. We sheltered under a tree and I took some photographs to try to make it more fun until the rain eased off!

Family Day Out Walton Hall & Gardens

We headed to the play area indicated on the map. I was really impressed with the play area, there was a great variety of equipment, including some for older kids like a zip line and it was all in excellent condition. There were lots of children playing and best off all there were no dogs allowed within the fenced off area so it was perfect for my youngest to run off a bit of his anxiety. We met back up with my husband and V and spent a little time there as the sun broke through and dried off the equipment.

There is a petting zoo next to the play area so I took V around it, partly for something to do for him, and partly to assess it for G.

Family Day Out Walton Hall & Gardens

The zoo was bigger than I expected, there was a reasonable range of animals and birds, though not as many animals as you would expect in the size of the plot. Perhaps they were hiding in their enclosures, there seemed to be a few with just one animal in them which was a bit sad. There were a lot of peacocks though. They were like sentinels sitting on the fences around the footpaths, hence I knew that there was no way G was going to be walking around the petting zoo. It was a shame really but you can’t please everyone!

V started to feel sick, I suspect it is anxiety and tiredness that brings on these symptoms, and it was becoming more and more obvious that he wanted to go home. G alternated between enjoying the play area and demanding to go home because a dog walked past or because one of the other children on the trip tried to play with him.

We managed to get them on a little road train that was made up to look like Thomas the Tank Engine but at that point we knew we were just playing for time. It was about 2.00pm and we had been there for around two and a half hours. The events that were planned for the Big Day Out were scheduled to start at 2.30pm and in hindsight it was a mistake not to wait until after lunch before heading out. Had we arrived at around 2.00pm we would have been able to get involved a bit more, although I’m not sure V would have been any happier about it!

I tried to convince them that we could walk around the formal gardens and that they were probably really pretty but it was evident that they’d given what they had to give and needed to go back home. I left my husband with our friends and family, as he needed to stay to drive the bus back, and we set off home. It was far quicker than the journey there as we traveled directly home, driving to the bus and following it to the venue had been another mistake but one I can learn from.

There’s always a part of me that wonders why We Bother trying to take part in day trips.

I’m not sure if it’s just a selfish part of me knowing it inevitably will end in shouting and screaming, e.g. with a dog off it’s lead or with fighting between the kids, which it did several times as V really wanted to be left alone and when G gets worked up he starts to express it by hitting out or saying things to deliberately upset the other person. Those parts seem so big when they happen that they drown out the good bits.

I try really hard not to look at other families who seem to find a family day out to be a lovely, happy experience from start to end. There may be the odd upset over a dropped ice-cream but that can be smoothed out with a replacement one, whereas with E a replacement just wouldn’t be good enough because she’d need that same exact ice-cream through some feat of magic.

V didn’t want to be there, he really struggles with anxiety and with self-esteem issues and would rather have been in bed with his mobile phone than outside anywhere at all. G wanted to be part of it but was on the sidelines, wanting to take part but not feeling able to. He spent a lot of time playing by himself or watching the other children. I think part of the reason I dread family days out is that I hate seeing that. I can’t figure out a way to make it all better for any of the kids. Each trip is a reminder of just how different my children are, of how much they struggle to enjoy things that other kids seem to find so easy. I always feel disappointed and guilty that I couldn’t make it easier for them. I end up feeling that I’ve let the whole family down.

Family Day Out Walton Hall Gardens

Focus on the moments that make you smile

I only have to look at that picture of G to see that despite the frustration, the tears and the fighting he was enjoying himself. There were some real moments of laughter from both V and G during the day and it is those moments that make it all worth it. I have to accept that a family day out with my children may not run exactly the way I picture it in my head, that I may feel exasperated, frustrated, disappointed and at some times saddened, but those moments will be outweighed by seeing the kids smiling, hearing them talking and laughing together and looking back at the day to see how much they’ve tried. I’m so proud of my kids, I love them to bits and they deserve the same opportunities and experiences of any other child.

A day out looks different to every family, our family day out is unique to us and spending two hours at a great location with family and friends around isn’t a failure by any stretch.

Money Saving Tips – Curb Your ADHD Impulse Buys!

Adult ADHD Impulse Buying Managing Symptoms Saving Money

Shops want us to buy more stuff!

Shocking isn’t it? Well, no, of course not, but that’s the bottom line, and a lot of people with ADHD are prime candidates for seeing something new and shiny and on sale and just snapping it right up without really thinking it through.

How often do you go into a store, say, to pick up a few items from the supermarket on the way home, only to come out with a receipt showing 4 or 5 times what you had intended to spend. It may be that you decided to just go ahead and do the weekly shop while you were there, but most times, you’re so wound up trying to remember what you need that you look at everything. You notice a new product, or a product on sale, or a product you haven’t had in a while but you remember really liking it… It goes on and when you get to the checkout you look at the cashier and say ‘I only came in for a couple of things’ while you type in your PIN and hope that no-one asks how much you spent when you get home.

I have been there way too many times, I’ve been unpacking bags which take up all of the surfaces and spill onto the floor wondering where I’m going to actually put all this stuff. That’s why I’m going to give you some tips for cutting down on your spending, for curbing those little impulsive purchases and ultimately for saving money.

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Using Sand Timers as Part of Your Reward System for your ADHD Child

Sand Timer Reward System for SEN ADHD Child and Adult ADHD Parents

How can you use a sand timer as part of a reward system?

A couple of years ago I bought a set of three sand timers, each one is a different colour and lasts for a different length of time. There are a few different time intervals available but I chose 5, 15 and 30 minutes. The 30 minute timer, which is black, has become a firm favourite as part of our reward systems, not only for our youngest child, but also for my older two.

‘What kind of reward is a sand timer?’, you may be thinking. Well, it turns out it’s one of the most valuable gifts you can give your child. It’s your time.

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