Blogging takes me more time

When I was 12 years old, I had been taking piano lessons for six years.  I was still playing at an early intermediate level.  My parents, finally wearied of nagging me to practice each day.  They allowed me to quit.  “He must have other strengths,” they said.
Why did I make no progress?  Many years later I learned the reason.  I wasn’t lazy.  I wasn’t stupid.  I had a learning disability which prevented me from gaining traction.
Today I cannot play the piano.  I wasted six years.
But it was not a waste.  I learned about myself.  And I can still read music when I sing.

Also, I have ADHD.  Severe ADHD.  And a few other brain issues.  So writing a blog post sounds like this:

“Today’s topic—-what should I eat for lunch?——the topic is important—-—maybe a sandwich——-so, as I was starting to say——peanut butter or humus——-What is today’s weather———I’m going to try this later.  Wait. . . humus on a sandwich?”

The process takes a long time.

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Should I eat blueberries as brain food?

Not a big problem.  To create, everyone must spend more time and energy than expected.  I might take a little longer than some people, but I am able to overcome my disabilities and eventually create.  I might I have other strengths which enhance the finished product.

ADHD people are like David Banner and the Incredible Hulk.  You know you have a superpower, but you cannot rely on when it will be available.  You might need your creative abilities during a brainstorming session or when sitting down to design.  But the Hulk might stay dormant.  The late that night, when it is time to sleep, creativity forces explode. 

Do you have weaknesses that must be overcome before you can create?  Feel free to share with me.  One strategy: focus on building your strengths first.

 


What are you trying to learn?  What are your struggles?  What issues would you like me to address?  How exactly can I help you?  I would like to hear from you.  Either leave a comment, or confidentially contact me at Brock@BrockStout.org.

Seven Crucial Tips to overcome learning challenges

When I was in the third grade, I suddenly switched from top of my school class to the bottom.  My ADHD turned on.

I had long believed the trigger was from trauma I had recently experienced.  But it was simply because of my age.  ADHD symptoms typically show in children during third grade.

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This article contains both tips and resources (click on hyperlinks).  It is for those with ADHD.  But I have seen some of these hints work for people with dyslexia and dyscalculia.  And, really, all of us can benefit: most people have someone in their lives with these challenges.

Some of the suggestions are simple.  Some require complete restructuring of your life and relationships.

I.  Chop tasks into smaller chunks

In the past, I did scientific research in social sciences.  But my papers made no sense, because the writing did not flow.  The research and theories were solid.  But editors could understand what I wrote.  So I developed an 8-step process:

  1. type a first draft and print it.
  2. cut each sentence out of the pages with scissors.
  3. place each individual sentence slip on a large table in a quiet part of the university library.
  4. rearrange the slips until the paragraph made sense.
  5. tape it all together with cellophane tape, and take it back to my office.
  6. in the office, edit the soft copy to match the new structure.
  7. edit sentences, which is easier after the paragraphs are understandable.
  8. if necessary: print, cut with scissors, and rearrange again.

This might seem excessive, but it was key to my moving forward.

Do you struggle to complete tasks?  Is logical flow difficult?  Then chop up your tasks into smaller sub-tasks.

Is writing a speech difficult?  Then don’t write a speech.  Just write an amazing introduction to a speech.  Then write down 3 sub-topics, and write a short speech for each of them.  Then write a one-sentence summary of each of those sub-topics.  Put those one-sentence summaries together, and you have a conclusion.  Then, ask for help with transitions and with other sentences to fill out the structure.

II.  Create an environment of support

If someone in your life cannot be patient with your unique work style, throw that person out.  If a person does not value your strengths, walk away.  Toss out all prejudiced professionals and educators.  The following articles share some insights:

Examples of negative issues found in the blog world: attitudes of education authorities in the UK are worrying many people.  And some people describe ADHD as a mental illness rather than as a learning challenge, because children with ADHD often act up.  This worries me.  Stigmatizing ADHD merely makes the situation more difficult for those who are challenged.

Another idea: you might need a job with more structure, as with this young woman.

III.  Develop a growth mindset

Carol Dweck’s research has now become famous.  I read her book about 7 years ago, and now teach my children in a completely different way.

Apparently some people believe their success is based on innate ability.  This is called a fixed mindset.

Others believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training, and grit.  This is called a growth mindset.

Fixed-mindset people dread failure because it will expose their basic inabilities. (People will realize the person is not as talented as claimed.)  Growth mindset individuals, however, don’t mind failure.  They realize performance can be improved.  They realize learning comes from failure.

Your personal learning challenge might be either inborn or might result from injury.  But you can view your challenge as an opportunity and commit to grow with it.

Many extremely creative people, such as serial entrepreneur Dave Neeleman, are grateful for their learning challenges.  They believe that learning challenges enhance their abilities.

Learning challenges are not disabilities.  They are ASSETS.

IV.  Consider medication (as a last resort)

Parents and health care providers often agonize over whether to medicate or not.  A good article can be found here.  The article is written by people who prescribe medication, but addresses the wrestle.  As mentioned above, some prefer to keep their challenge. Some people believe their learning challenges makes them function better.  They refuse medication.

V.  Improve brain function as much as possible

A. Eat right

We have long believed that the brain can affect your digestive system.  But more recent research indicates the opposite is also true.  The situation in your gut can affect mood, such depression.  Johns Hopkins researchers have been studying the issue.  Others postulate that not only mood, but brain function, can be improved by eating right to improve the digestive system. Probiotics and prebiotics are recommended.

B. Fast

A potential shift may come from research on intermittent fasting.  Research is still early, but it seems that fasting promotes the growth of nerves in the brain, and encourages BDNF stands for Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a protein that enhances brain health.

B. Get more sleep

Sleep time is when the brain heals.  See this article.

C. Strive to heal PTSD, which is common among those with learning challenges.  EMDR is a treatment endorsed by the U.S. government for combat veterans.

We now know that PTSD shrinks the hippocampus part of the brain, making it hard to distinguish between past and present memories.  We also know that aerobic exercise increases the function of the hippocampus.  So perhaps anyone with PTSD shuld immediately start an exercise program.   Even brisk walking can help.

VI.  Consider that you might have two or more challenges

Apparently 40% of dyslexics have ADHD.

If you do face multiple challenges, the compound effect of both challenges might require more workarounds.  But you might have more opportunity with your creative mind.  Finding the challenges is a challenge, however.  ADHD is extremely difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms can be caused by many other things.

VII.  Lay off electronics

Use of electronics such as smartphones can increase risk of developing ADHD symptoms, according to research by Adam Leventhal at USC.

So I have been a bit contradictory: ADHD is good, but you should try to overcome it, etc.  So to conclude, this is my belief: learning challenges should be overcome as much as possible, without obliterating them through medication.  This is because they have benefit.  Embrace but curb the challenge.  The struggle to overcome itself builds competencies.

You are a little crazy, and that is good

Today I address a sensitive topic:  ADHD.

They call it Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  But I don’t like the word disorder.  You are not broken.  You just process differently.  In a good way.   Maybe not the way your boss at work understands.  But in a good way.

I hope you realize ten things

Dr. Edward Hallowell used to say that people with ADHD have a Ferrari engine for a brain, and bicycle brakes.  Your brain is amazing, almost constantly racing, but you need to develop better brakes.

Here are some hints.

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  1. You might suffer from PTSD.  When you were a child, adults may have said and done cruel things to you.  They were very frustrated by your behavior.  Maybe they were trying to manage 30 other kids in a classroom.  Please forgive them.  But also realize that it did hurt.  You might be suffering from an actual disorder, affecting your behavior.

For example, ADHD makes it difficult to do difficult things.  So you might avoid them.  And because of  a history of public shaming, doing difficult things is even more difficult.

(Recently, PTSD became a term that people throw around to describe a stressful event.  That is unfortunate.  It is a serious condition so we should not treat it flippantly.)

  1. Don’t give in or give up.  Don’t say “this is just the way I am.”  That ignores your potential.  The world needs your awesomeness.
  2. Don’t try to mimic the work flow of a non-ADHD person.  I spent years trying to be a person I admired.  He was so organized and orderly.  I was disappointed in myself when I couldn’t be the same way.  That made me unhappy.
  3. You don’t need to be the class clown anymore.  In the past, maybe, you developed a role to cope with your weaknesses.  Maybe it was a cover.  But now you can take off the class clown hat.  Toss it aside.
  4. Seek advice from others who have been down the same road.  Other people have similar experiences, and they can share coping mechanisms.
  5. Be nice to yourself.  ADHD is both a weakness and a strength.  Remember the way adults used to talk to you as a disorganized child.  Are you talking to yourself that way?
  6. Find your strengths.  This is a super difficult task.  But it is the most important thing you can do.
  7. Marry a patient person.  Don’t marry someone like your third grade teacher, who was always frustrated with you.  Find someone who will do the tasks you can’t do.  Find someone who helps you focus on your strengths.
  8. Read more about ADHD.  Dr. Hallowell’s website (www.drhallowell.com) has some good topics.  Or you could read one of his books.

Keep fighting.  Stay in the game.  But play by your rules.


:::  Be fierce.  Be kind.  Be knowledge-hungry  :::


My name is Brock.  I teach principles of self-directed learning to help all adults, I focus on those with learning challenges (ADHD, dyslexia, language barriers, Auditory Processing Disorder, etc.).  I teach you how to teach yourself to succeed.

People with learning challenges want to make a unique contribution to the world.  They are often super smart.

But they can be exhausted by a lifetime of completing tasks by sheer willpower.  A lifetime of belittling by teachers, parents, and bosses can leave them traumatized.

I combine research, personal experience, and interview output.  Leave a comment and push me if I forget a source reference.

I try to keep sentences short.  But warning: the language alternates between academic and gritty.

My intention is not to sell you vitamin supplements or to recruit you into my MLM group.  I just want you to reach your potential.