Hildegard

ADD and yoga

18 posts in this topic

I was recently diagnosed with ADD. It came as something of a surprise, albeit one that makes perfect sense and helps me understand myself and the way my brain works better. I've started medication, but I'm also interested on finding out how my regular yoga practice can help me deal with my ADD. Being diagnosed as having ADD as an adult means that somehow I've come up with a number of tricks to counteract what I thought was my being absurdly absent minded (I write down everything), but that doesn't quite cut it.

I've done a number of online searches on the subject, but much to my frustration pretty much all the results involve ADHD (not the same diagnosis) and/or children - i.e.: how yoga helps ADHD children, which doesn't really answer my questions as I'm neither a child nor do I have ADHD. I already do yoga every day and try to meditate daily as well, but I'm interested on how other people deal with it. I was wondering if anyone here has had a similar experience or any insight on the subject.

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I think it's interesting in that you say you're not looking for articles on yoga and children. Some of the most helpful articles for me for helping me learn new tools to help with my autism has come from looking at articles for kids! They're often inventive, new and things not often thought of for adults.

Aspergers (which HF Autism, what I have, is sometimes referred as even though there is some differences) is often misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD. I go between looking at coping skills for HF autism, Aspergers and ADD. They all work for me. (Differences between Aspies and ADD: http://www.drhallowell.com/add-adhd/additional-addadhd-resources/what-is-the-difference-between-asperger’s-disorder-as-and-attention-deficit-disorder-add/)

Having HF Autism, I will say yoga isn't the only thing I do. I do horseback riding once a week to help keep me occupied. If I get stressed out (which happens because I have an 18-month nephew), I have a few ways to cope. I have peppermint oil to remind me to chill out (it's the scent that reminds me of my grams), I have crochet to physically force me to busy my hands and focus attention elsewhere than my stressor and I have what I call my tinker toys (what therapists call "fidgets.") The fidgets help keep my hands busy when I'm feeling anxious. I'm not sure if you've ever tried any, but fidgeting also helps keep you on task (unless you're me and get so into the fidgeting that fidgeting becomes the task.)

Here's a few of my favorite "fidgets" if you're interested:

https://www.therapyshoppe.com/category/P2070-tactile-tangle-toys-relax-tangle-therapy-calming-fidget-toys

This is the tangle therapy. I have the bigger one. (I had the smaller one. I HATED it.) Really good if you are waiting someplace and are super bored.

https://www.therapyshoppe.com/category/P2188-panic-pete-stress-relief-ball-fidgets-sensory-toys-office

My nephew loves this one.

https://www.therapyshoppe.com/category/P1462-mondo-inside-out-ball-tactile-fidget-toy-therapy-sensory-ball

My be-all-to-end-all favorite toy. It's so much fun.

I really want the nut and bolt twisty one. My other favorite fidget isn't actually a human toy at all. It's a plastic dog toy that has plastic nubs all over it. I love the texture. It reminds me of the big giant ball that House had but it's texturized and I love that.

I'm not sure if this is what you're exactly looking for, but while it does focus on children, it does talk about one person's journey.

http://yoganonymous.com/the-yoga-of-attention-deficit-disorder

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I don't have ADD, but am very good friends with a number of people who have it (as well as ADHD), so I feel I have a pretty good understanding as to what the disorder is and how it works.

I tripped across this video and thought it might prove useful in trying to help calm or settle one's mind (and racing thoughts).

 

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Does this ADD cause you unmanageable or serious problems in life? Sometimes the drugs are much worse than the problem.

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4 hours ago, Anahata said:

Does this ADD cause you unmanageable or serious problems in life? Sometimes the drugs are much worse than the problem.

Oh yes it does. I have little to no short term memory and have serious problems memorising (learning by heart, word by word) anything, which is a huge problem considering I soon will start preparing for my law degree examination. I'm very forgetful and I have huge problems finishing projects and terrible, if not downright non-existent, time perception. I've only been on medication for ADD for little over a month and I already feel more focused. The almost constant noise, the thoughts racing in my head have diminished to a more manageable level. I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I feel more at ease in my own skin.

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7 hours ago, LarryD517 said:

I don't have ADD, but am very good friends with a number of people who have it (as well as ADHD), so I feel I have a pretty good understanding as to what the disorder is and how it works.

I tripped across this video ...

Thank you! This is exactly what I had in mind when I made the post: something simple and helpful that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. I'll definitely give it a go and see how it works (or doesn't) for me.

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19 minutes ago, Hildegard said:

.... I've only been on medication for ADD for little over a month and I already feel more focused. The almost constant noise, the thoughts racing in my head have diminished to a more manageable level. I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I feel more at ease in my own skin.

From my experience with a friend as well as a co-worker who suffers, I can tell within ten seconds whether they took or missed their dosage. It's like night and day.

I actually helped diagnose my co-worker. Within a week of when I started working with her, I pulled her aside and asked her if she had ADD. She said she didn't know. I found a doctor for her. In a few weeks she showed remarkable improvement.

I'm happy that you've discovered something that, most likely, has been with you for a very long time

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16 hours ago, KateZena said:

I think it's interesting in that you say you're not looking for articles on yoga and children. Some of the most helpful articles for me for helping me learn new tools to help with my autism has come from looking at articles for kids! They're often inventive, new and things not often thought of for adults.

I believe this reaction comes from two places. First, reading lists of symptoms makes me wonder how no one noticed my ADD when I was a child, which would have saved me from countless stress and frustration. Sadly, back at the time, there was very little awareness of ADD in general, and most of it was focused on ADHD and how it presents on boys. It makes me wish I could go back in time, wave the checklists to my teachers and doctors and get a proper diagnosis decades ago. Secondly, I tend to have a hard time relating to anything that involves children. I avoid books or movies that have children as their protagonists because I just can't connect, almost as if they're an alien species.  It's a very weird, very visceral reaction.

 

16 hours ago, KateZena said:

Aspergers (which HF Autism, what I have, is sometimes referred as even though there is some differences) is often misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD. I go between looking at coping skills for HF autism, Aspergers and ADD. They all work for me. (Differences between Aspies and ADD: http://www.drhallowell.com/add-adhd/additional-addadhd-resources/what-is-the-difference-between-asperger’s-disorder-as-and-attention-deficit-disorder-add/)

My neurologist has hinted at a possible Aspergers diagnosis for a variety of reasons (eye contact doesn't come naturally to me at all), but we haven't focused on that. Now that you mention that it tends to be misdiagnosed as ADD, it makes sense. Maybe my brain kind of blurs the lines, but it's definitely something I should look into more thoroughly. There are certainly things in the article you linked that ring a bell (lots of bells, an entire bell tower's worth) for me.

I hadn't thought of fidget toys, but maybe I should go back to doodling. I definitely need help to stay focused. When I was in school teachers would always notice me doodling on the edges of my notebooks and call me on it, asking me to stop, because they were under the impression I wasn't paying attention when I was. On hindsight, the doodling allowed me to stay focused while the teacher repeated a point I was already clear on or was busy answering someone's questions.

I'd like to thank you for your very thorough and helpful answer. I really appreciate the effort that went into it :)

 

 

 

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@Hildegard My story mimics a lot of people with Autism in the 80s/90s. I was originally diagnosed when I was 3.5 years old as "moderate Autism with mild to moderate mental retardation." My mom laughed in his face and stormed out. My regular doctor, at the time, threw the diagnosis out and gave me the diagnosis of ADD, thus prescribing Ritalin (which did nothing except make me a little more temperamental.) I was taken off Ritalin when I was eight and I was put on a strong mood stabilizer when I was 10 called Lithobid which made me either a robot or a monster. I was put on many SSRIs too, but it was being put off the Lithobid (which is actually toxic to your system) and staying on my NSRI (called Cymbalta) that made me (as my mom puts it) "human." I'm on a "mood stabilizer" now, but it's for my seizures/migraines. It doesn't really affect me as a person. I was rediagnosed with HF Autism when I was 22 from the Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health (now Amita Health.) The testing took eight grueling hours. So, ADD/HF Autism (Aspies) misinterpretation is something I'm pretty familiar with.

Have you ever tried playing games to memorize things? My short term memory is a bunch of crap (you can't make me remember an appointment for crap, but I can remember a conversation word-for-word from a year ago), so I have had to make up games to help memorize for tests. I've done jumping rope and taken the beat to a way to memorize or given every vocab word a picture and memorized them via picture. I'm very pictorial (I'm an image-based autistic) so basing anything on images helps but for math I need to set it to music or beats as math is hard to set to an image. A jumping rope, a rhythm you set to your feet that you can silently repeat to yourself when you're sitting doing your test, a song you'd never forget, hoofbeats....easy ways I've found to memorize without forgetting anything! Some people find that making your brain sort of a internal RPG and making each subject a level that your love and the questions/answers treasure boxes/items have helped (that's too much for me.)

 

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On 04-08-2016 at 7:05 PM, KateZena said:

Have you ever tried playing games to memorize things? My short term memory is a bunch of crap (you can't make me remember an appointment for crap, but I can remember a conversation word-for-word from a year ago), so I have had to make up games to help memorize for tests. I've done jumping rope and taken the beat to a way to memorize or given every vocab word a picture and memorized them via picture. I'm very pictorial (I'm an image-based autistic) so basing anything on images helps but for math I need to set it to music or beats as math is hard to set to an image. A jumping rope, a rhythm you set to your feet that you can silently repeat to yourself when you're sitting doing your test, a song you'd never forget, hoofbeats....easy ways I've found to memorize without forgetting anything! Some people find that making your brain sort of a internal RPG and making each subject a level that your love and the questions/answers treasure boxes/items have helped (that's too much for me.)

 

I'm going to give that a go when the time comes, but for some reason I have a lot of issues when it comes to rhythm and tempo - I simply can't keep it. I'm rather tone deaf, too. I'm also tempted to try the RPG approach, but I fear it may be too much for me. Whenever I've tried mnemonics or something similar I end up remembering the mnemonic itself and I draw a complete blank on what it was supposed to help me remember.

Unfortunately, visualising is not an option as I've noticed my mind has the tendency to photoshop, if you will, my own memories. I can't trust that the image I'm seeing in my brain is the real deal and not something I came up with. I've done the experiment of trying to visualise my own full name on, say, a random book's typeface and sure enough, I can see it as if it'd been printed on the page. I noticed this particular quirk while presenting my university entrance exams and I was trying to remember some definition from my textbook and every possible answer I came up with looked right (they all looked like they had the right typeface, same paper texture, ink colour, etc). My brain is a master forger, for better or worse.

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@Hildegard I think you're misinterpreting the visual thing. For example, if I had to remember the word "dog" (we'll keep it simple), I would use a simple picture of a dog. Dog = dog. The root aqu (water) = a raindrop. The root word "man" means "hand" so a hand for "man" so "manhandle" for me is a the image of a hand and a door handle because that's what I think of when you say "handle."

If you've ever read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, my brain sort of works like the Golden Compass. It's all images, but many images might have multiple meanings. It's when I read that I'm able to combine and create the right meaning.

Interestingly, I find the brain interesting (not that I'd go and become a neurologist. No. Not that interested.) The brain isn't nearly as explored as the heart or other organs, so much of it is mysterious.

You might find this helpful. It's a Ted Talk on memory and the memory palace (which I used to know how to do; I need to watch this and learn how to redo):

 

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I'm not a psychologist (yet!) or a doctor, but perhaps some mindfulness meditations would help, because it helps you stay focused in the present moment. You could focus on observing something in your environment or observing your breath.

I think also maybe some balancing practices might be useful because they help you stay grounded and centered in the moment. Maybe try Candace's blindfolded practice?

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Thank you for posting this question! Your story seems so similar to mine--I was diagnosed with ADD a few months ago, and have noticed marked improvement with a low dosage (10 mg 2x/day) of medication. I haven't found anything that's really helped my practice other than that; however, I'm hoping that the coping mechanisms I'm (slowly) developing to help deal with my ADD in my "regular" life will help me to be more focused on the mat as well. If I do find anything helpful, I'll come back and share it.

I did recently make a mala as a way to hopefully help me focus during meditation. It's been helpful, but not a total fix. 

 

(As a side note, if you have an iPhone, the app "Productive" has been a godsend for me.)

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First and foremost, I'd like to apologise for taking so long to reply to the kind comments posted in this thread. Chronic depression did its thing once again, I'm afraid.

On 19-08-2016 at 10:54 AM, afriske said:

I'm not a psychologist (yet!) or a doctor, but perhaps some mindfulness meditations would help, because it helps you stay focused in the present moment. You could focus on observing something in your environment or observing your breath.

I think also maybe some balancing practices might be useful because they help you stay grounded and centered in the moment. Maybe try Candace's blindfolded practice?

 

I'll definitely try to incorporate more balancing poses to my practice. They're fun, and if I add the extra mindfulness component you mention, I think they'll prove to be even better for me. I tend to close my eyes more often than not during my practice, but now I'll do it with a sense of purpose.

I think that's my problem - and my question - comes down to how to bring that sense of focus and mindfulness I experience in my yoga practice and meditation into my daily life. 

kdemps: 

glad to hear my post resonates with you. I'm on a slightly higher dose of ADD medication, once a day. I'm also trying to find coping mechanisms for my daily life and it's a challenge. I'm going to try adding mala beads to my meditation and see how that goes. Some days my meditation goes well and I'm able to find more moments of peace, some other days it feels like my mind wanders constantly.

I haven't tried the productive app, but I'm going to check it out. So far I'm working with a bullet journal (basically a calendar + daily planner + to do list) and it's been quite helpful. As with so many things, it comes down to how much effort I put into it.

Edited by Hildegard

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@Hildegard I love bullet journaling. Mine is a bullet + scrapbook kind of a deal. I put ticket stubs, pretty flowers I've dried, interesting bits of articles (or I just end up stapling the whole article in the case of my NFP getting into the New York Times!) and other neat diddies in mine. Mine is really the representation of my brain. Wandering, full of pretty things, yet somehow organized.

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It's been a while since I've been on here. Came to rave about Namaslay and saw this post. I have ADD - diagnosed after my boys were diagnosed w/ ADHD - going over the checklist I was like - what, this isn't normal, lol. Anyway I've tried meds - some worked well for a time, others worked, the side effects were bad though - severe irritability, focusing on things that really weren't important. some stopped working over time. Yoga definitely has helped, but recently after stopping my meds I decided to try accupuncture for ibs and insomnia. Amazingly it helps my add more than most of the meds did, and with no side effects. 

 

Nadine

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22 minutes ago, nfenchak said:

... after stopping my meds I decided to try accupuncture for ibs and insomnia. Amazingly it helps my add more than most of the meds did, and with no side effects. ...

While that seems to be providing benefit to you, the lawyer side of me (I took a business law class in college in 1977) feels a medical disclaimer is in order...so here goes...to anyone reading this please consult with your trained professional medical practitioner before deciding to change or stop any medications and trying alternative therapies. One person's success may not necessarily provide the same results in another.

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2 hours ago, LarryD517 said:

While that seems to be providing benefit to you, the lawyer side of me (I took a business law class in college in 1977) feels a medical disclaimer is in order...so here goes...to anyone reading this please consult with your trained professional medical practitioner before deciding to change or stop any medications and trying alternative therapies. One person's success may not necessarily provide the same results in another.

Absolutely. meds help so many people, my kids are on them and wouldn't be able to pass school without them....I think for many people they work wonders - hope I'm not coming across as an anti medicine person. Accupuncture also is not a guaranteed alternative to medications. I started doing it under my drs recommendation to help me with my IBS. Ironically it didn't make the IBS better at first, but my anxiety and insomnia became remarkably better IMMEDIATELY and I noticed the ADD became better after a few weeks as well. But that is just my experience.

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