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News: Talk about how to cope with chronic illness, disability, and other health issues in the academic workplace.
 
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Author Topic: Faculty who have ADHD?  (Read 3270 times)
Anon
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« on: April 25, 2006, 5:06:34 PM »

I see a lot of talk here about students who have this problem, but what about academics?  I am a phd student who has been dealing with ADHD all my life.  I started my Phd program after several years of non-academic jobs, where I had mixed success.  Now, I feel like I'm constantly struggling and constantly behind, despite medication.

I'm wondering how people manage to write papers and books and dissertations while battling this problem?   If you are talking medication, he it helped or killed your creativity?

I'm hoping to hear from anyone else who is struggling with this, because I feel very alone.
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anonagain
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2006, 6:47:09 PM »

I'm not, but I know someone who did. I'll go ahead and identify him by name, because he is well known and has come out publicly with his struggle: Steven M. Stanley, professor of paleontology at Johns Hopkins, and a member of the American Academy of Sciences. Shoot him an e-mail. I'm serious about this. He is a nice guy and I'm sure he would offer you some words of encouragement, and hopefully some practical suggestions.

Best wishes to you.

[%sig%]
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Thundering Marshmallow
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2006, 7:51:22 PM »

That would be me, my friend. A component of it is OCD, and I find medication takes the edge off the compulsion to do everything to the nth degree and takes the anxiety out of making decisions. The challenge in writing is decision after decision, and the impulsivity to make and break decisions can create an absolute swamp. And it has downgraded me from ADHD to simply ADD or 'short attention span theatre'.

The fact that you made it into the program and have the self-awareness to recognize the difficulty is a strong indication of your capacity to analyze and your probability of success. Hang in there. Every grad student feels overwhelmed as the 'more you know what you didn't know' takes on gargantuan proportions. The ADHD triggers counterproductive behaviors and feelings that you must have especially rigorous strategies to mediate.

So, whatever has worked for you before when dealing with ambiguous but high stakes mandates, and when working with self-absorbed, competitive, and likewise anxiety-ridden colleagues (both fellow students and faculty) must be put to greater use, and you definitely need some trustworthy soul to debrief with so you do not overanalyze or overreact to the typical isolation and fatigue.

As with many of us, I alternate between oblivion (with a range of mood) and hypersensitive (with an equivalent range of mood) so it was enormously helpful for me to read up on emotional competence (see Saarni, 1997; Salovey & Schleuyter, also I think 1997; and of course Goleman who riffs on both of them).

At least, that's my take on it. However, I must say that because I know my tendency to over-multi-task and see too many layers and jump to conclusions, I have developed many ways to structure my perceptions as well as my responses. As a result, I am sometimes perceived as hyper-organized and the farthest from ADHD. The irony is that it has over the decades become not just a cloak of invisibility to cope with the surreal of ordinary life, but has become my ordinary identity.

One of my greatest struggles was to be patient and wait for the light to dawn. Being relatively bright, I had never had to cope with suspense in earlier schooling, and I would panic if it didn't make sense immediately. I found great calming effect in reading Schommer's (1990 and on) research using a multi-dimensional take on epistemology.

My most effective strategy: Divide and conquor. Analyze the task and find victories in small achievements.

And my most essential habit: ATFQ ATFQ ATFQ ATFQ

And the most crucial step: Acknoweldging the interplay of mind, body, spirit, and begin with the concrete/body. Eat. Sleep. Deal with aches and pains and teeth and eyes. Don't let the sun go down without a hug and a laugh and a view of someone else's life. A bit sappy, but works for me.

I won't wish you luck, because I don't think it's so random. I wish you strategies and trust and perspective. And many returns to this forum.
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To TM
Guest
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2006, 8:13:01 PM »

What does ATFQ stand for?

Thanks,
Fundulus
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Thundering Marshmallow
Guest
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2006, 8:43:23 PM »

ATFQ = Answer the F**ing question


And only the question
And all of the question
In the order of the question
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Fundulus
Guest
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2006, 9:02:54 PM »

And I thought I was learning a lot of acronyms working for the government this year...
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nerdasaurus
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2006, 6:11:55 AM »

To Anon:
I can sympathize with your alone feeling. I teach college students with ADHD and though the dissertation/PhD program situation is much more stressful than what mine deal with, I would bet that you have some similar issues.

One thing I suggest is working with a coach. There's been a lot in papers recently about people who are life coaches, but there are also folks trained specifically to coach people with ADHD and help them to prioritize their work, manage time, consider how long it will take to get things completed (people with ADHD tend to be terrible at knowing how time passes--Russell Barkley, I think, conducted a fascinating study about this), and organize materials. It might be a good chance for you to connect one on one with someone who can help you with the daily tasks that can seem so onerous.

I would also suggest connecting with someone in your office of student support or disability services. As a student, disability laws place the burden  on you to advocate for yourself and connect with your professors. Who might you speak with who can help you approach this issue with your professors and your advisor?

What is the extent of your testing background that gave you the ADHD diagnosis? Sometimes sitting down with someone who has a background in special education testing, and having that person help interpret your testing, will give you a better understanding of your own strengths. For instance, if you score really high on nonverbal tasks that ask you to put things together visually, that might mean that utilizing your visual strengths would be the best way to take notes or study. So, instead of trying to write all the words down from seminars, you might draw diagrams or pictures, or build models. Playing to your strengths will make you feel more confident.

Above all, try not to allow yourself to feel guilty or ashamed. As the ever-wise TM said, you got to this point through your intelligence and hard work. You will just need some extra assistance to make it through successfully--and everyone does.
Good luck!
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Gio
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2006, 6:28:19 AM »

I'm ABD.  Thanks for asking.
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Libs Lady
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2006, 9:03:00 AM »

I have a mild version of ADD, and some OCD problems; I think of myself as a grasshopper, and work at staying on one blade of grass at a time, rather than chomping holes in various leaves and moving on ( I always have more irons in the fire that I can deal with). I also have certain music CDs I put on when writing or working on something that needs a lof of concentration and time.. Winster Solstice III has, over the course of 10 or more years, gotten a lot of play. The piano music is something I have used to train myself to stay on that one task for the entire CD. When the CD ends, I play it again, if I have time, and keep working..... I am not sure why it works for me, and I discovered it by accident a long time ago, but there are two or three other music CDs that also work..just not as well.
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Thundering Marshmallow
Guest
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2006, 9:37:05 AM »

Libs Lady wrote:

> I have a mild version of ADD, and some OCD problems; I think of
> myself as a grasshopper, and work at staying on one blade of
> grass at a time, rather than chomping holes in various leaves
> and moving on ( I always have more irons in the fire that I can
> deal with).

**I love this image, Libs Lady.

(Tangent: I wonder if the ADD goes along with a global view and thus more metaphoric understanding. maybe it is part of the Aspberger-autism contuum, i.e., Temple Grandin's Thinking in pictures. But I digress.)**

> I also have certain music CDs I put on when writing
> or working on something that needs a lof of concentration and
> time.. Winster Solstice III has, over the course of 10 or more
> years, gotten a lot of play. The piano music is something I
> have used to train myself to stay on that one task for the
> entire CD. When the CD ends, I play it again, if I have time,
> and keep working..... I am not sure why it works for me, and I
> discovered it by accident a long time ago, but there are two or
> three other music CDs that also work..just not as well.

**Also true for me, Labs Lady. For some reason, Dulcimer Dan, French harp, Brandenberg concertos, rock anthems, the Moldau, and my son's indie rock CD. I, too, play the same one repeatedly, but usually while I am on one particular task. It is sort of a timer, maybe helping me stick with it, or setting an expectation of that long to focus and then stop. Thank heavens for CD players in PCs and relatively soundproof offices becaue I let it wail.

I've never had a CD walkman or an Ipod but I would think that works well. I can tell you that when teaching middle and high school, many students needed earphones to tune out the major distractions in order to concentrate on work. Also, as much as I hate gum, I would allow it and sometimes even provide it for ADHD kids. It creates white noise that helps them tune things out, and also helps them feel as if they are DOING something. I guess.

And now, having contributed two chatty messages, I am going to be very strict with myself and let a vaccuum occur that draws other people into the conversation. I do love to participate yet I know it's part of this whole syndrome to dominate to the point of exclusion. Again, part of the syndrome and yet another clue for monitoring my own behavior.
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PF
Guest
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2006, 5:31:20 PM »


ADHD is a phony illness dreamed up so students can get special advantages they're aren't entitled to thru the university disability student's office. I have yet to have a "so-called" ADHD student who was unable to finish an exam in the same time as the "normal" students.

ADHD is a con job.
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nerdasaurus
Guest
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2006, 7:01:03 AM »

I think you are not alone in this feeling.
However, the students I work with every day are struggling with something very real that impairs their time management, their organization, their work production efficiency, and all sorts of self-management tasks. There are a number of brain-imaging studies which indicate different levels of brain function in people with ADHD, specifically in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain necessary for high-level planning, motivation, and follow-through. As a teacher of these students I can't imagine what their lives are like and there is no way I would ever want to have ADHD. I don't think that there are many benefits from it, given the social condemnation they receive from their struggles with deadlines, social interaction, and academics.
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ABD
Guest
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2006, 7:23:03 AM »

To Thundering Marshmallow, what does ATFQ stand for?  Thanks!
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Thundering Marshmallow
Guest
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2006, 11:49:45 AM »

To ABD:
ATFQ = Answer the F**ing question


And only the question
And all of the question
In the order of the question


To PF:
Notice that none of my thoughts or anyone else's is asking for teachers to change their expectations. It simply identifies a syndrome, that is, a collection of predictable, observable thoughts, actions, and feelings that are common enough to warrant a) a name so people can talk about it and understand it better, and b) strategies for helping overcome difficulties functioning in normal society.

The con occurs by students who do not want to learn the strategies (using it as an excuse to avoid the heavy lifting of self-monitoring and investigation) and the con also occurs by teachers who do not want to learn how students learn  (using it as an excuse to avoid the heavy lifting of self-monitoring and investigation).

Connecting these two responses: A patient repetition is appropriate for a question that certainly has already been answered, yet many of our regular posters would jump all over ABD to point out the oversight. I have no idea if ABD suffers from a similar set of problems, but given the nature of the thread that might attract his or her attention, it is likely that the question was posed a bit impulsively without taking the time and concentration to read the other posts. Labeling the posts is helpful in order to direct attention to helpful information, and this is true not just for ADD people but for all people.

Connecting this all to being consistent to my own commitments: There I go again, sucked into the conversation that interests me so much. I can only hope that the lurkers chime in one way or the other. Another common dynamic for the compulsively expressive is to take on the role of speaking for the silent majority. This is not a matter of dominating the conversation but filling a vaccuum. So anyone out there with an opinion: weigh in, please, and welcome the thoughtful responses to your message. Just ignore the rest. If you focus on ATFQ the distractors dissolve.
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sounds silly
Guest
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2006, 5:50:36 AM »

Get a big fish tank.
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