Omgaan met ADHD bij volwassenen tijdens COVID-19juli 4, 2020
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The various COVID-19 restrictions, the still developing resurgence plans, and the as-yet uncertain future plans for work, school, and other facets of life have shaken up our lives like a snow globe. At the same time, we must carry on with the demands of day-to-day life. It is as though we are trying to lace up our sneakers while running full speed. In fact, some of my adult clients with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have observed that now others have a sense of what they deal with every day in terms of difficulties structuring and following through on plans.
Throughout the COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandates and in this early phase of business re-openings, adults with ADHD have struggled to manage their personal lives and household circumstances in this ongoing haze of uncertainty. Many of the typical coping strategies for managing ADHD are still relevant but must be adapted to the new demands of working, learning and/or teaching, and living at home during the Pandemic. Here are some of the foundational strategies that may require even more effort to maintain but are worth the effort.
Daily Schedule. Structuring unstructured days is a challenge for most people but especially for adults with ADHD. Losing the structure of the work and school days and their routines is a big loss for individuals and households with adults as well as for children and teens with ADHD.
There is no way around the fact that it is necessary to map out the plan for a day, both individual plans and a household plan. It is ideal to set out 15-30-minute blocks of time, the shorter the better for the most part. The 24 hours is the time we have to spend; the schedule is the budget for how we spend ourselves – our time, effort, and energy.
The externalization of this information in a visible and shared format helps all in the household to both locate where they are in the course of a day and what they are to be doing. Pictures can be used for young children, such as for morning routines, activities, or school tasks. The schedule is also a time machine that lets people look ahead and prepare what is upcoming. This visual map of time also allows household members to pace themselves to reach blocks of time devoted to breaks, fun activities, and, crucially during the Pandemic, ample unfettered down time to relax and simply recharge.
Implementation Plan. The very act of developing a schedule and sharing it with the members of a household sets the guidelines for how the day will go. This priming function is aided by having a brief implementation script for transitioning between tasks, such as a wrap up plan for one task blending into the onboarding plan for the next task.
Such implementation or scripting steps can take the form of “When I encounter (time or situation) X, the I will do (plan-focused behavior) Y,” or simply a “First this, then that” plan.
Even if many tasks will be performed in the same space, a break can be arranged to step away before returning to the space for whatever is next. These small steps provide an actionable way to transition and break up the tasks rather than diving right in.
Organization. At the end of a particular block of time and activity, such as studying, or at larger junctures in the schedule, such as an extended break or meal time, it is helpful to spend a little time organizing the physical space. This brief time for organization is devoted to re-setting the particular area one had been using, such as cleaning up from an art project, tidying up an at-home work station, or returning various items to their home bases.
Such organizational efforts serve a pragmatic purpose of making sure the limited space in the household is ready for whatever its next function will be. This step may also function as part of the transition plan, but it also keeps the household from falling prey to entropy and falling into a state of “sight pollution.”
Attitude. There is not much new in these coping suggestions but the fact that they are all happening at once and at home is a new variable. ADHD is not a knowledge problem but a performance problem, so it is really the implementation of these strategies that is key.
Thus, the final important factor is approaching these matters with a spirit of teamwork, compassion, asking for and accepting help, and recognizing that it is a stressful time for everybody. There is ample research on the benefits of being a “good enough” parent and this reminder can be useful in terms of approach other roles during this unprecedented situation.