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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘BA’

Grown Up And Still Struggling: Journal Of An Adult With Attention Deficit Disorder

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

I sometimes encourage the people I work with to keep a record of their progress. But when one client told me that she had actually started a journal shortly before she began seeing me, I was very pleased. I asked her to allow me to publish the entries that pertain to ADD, so that people in the community can identify themselves and learn from the coping techniques that helped her. The journal offers all readers a rare peek inside the life of an adult with ADD – and will help adults, parents and teachers recognize themselves, their children or their students so that they can get the help they need.

Monday, May 25

I’m starting a journal – and I must say that I am looking forward to writing down my thoughts and feelings. I’ve tried to keep a journal many times before, but somehow, as many times as I tried, it never lasted for long. My most successful journal has six entries. That is a record! The others mostly have one or two. I don’t know why I never actually kept at it, especially since I love writing. But I guess I can add my almost-empty journals to the list of other unfinished projects in my life – like the skirt I started to sew (it’s out of style by now), the letter I wrote to President Bush (I kept forgetting to buy stamps) and a thousand other things.

It’s worst when I get forgetful and abandon important projects, like studying for an exam or cleaning up after myself. Then I not only have to deal with my own ineptitude, but also with other people’s reactions.

But I’m rambling about this problem I have and that’s not really what I intended to do when I decided to keep a journal. Anyway, even if all of this is a bit embarrassing, it’s refreshing to look at myself objectively. I can do it in the pages of this journal, if only because it is so private.

Wednesday, May 27

Why am I such a scatterbrain?

Where in the world did I put my library card?

Why did I miss the bus?

I am absolutely frustrated and furious at myself. Does everyone forget where they put important things? Does everyone miss buses and appointments as often as I do? For the record, I am a perfectly normal, very intelligent woman. I have a BA in English and I am going for a Master’s Degree in Education. So why can’t I get my act together?

In retrospect, I never was able to get my act together. My childhood was marked by disorganization and clumsiness. I never had pens or loose leaf paper, my briefcase was always a mess and I was a chronic latecomer. I remember several particularly painful episodes.

Fourth Grade – We had to do a history project about the Pilgrims. I decided to make a puppet show, complete with scenery and props. First I spent three hours looking for my puppets. Then I bumped into the glue bottle and spilled glue all over the box. The whole thing was a mess. But the worst part of it was that I left the project instruction sheet in school, and didn’t know that the main requirement of the project was a written report. I didn’t do the report, the puppet show didn’t work out and I got a big red question mark on my paper instead of a real mark.

Seventh Grade – My teacher got married, and the class chipped in to buy her a beautiful engraved gift. The engraving shop was close to my house, so I volunteered to pick it up. But then I left the gift at home. My classmates were so mad; they spent the entire recess yelling at me and calling me names. I’ll never forget how awful and low I felt.

Ninth Grade – It was the beginning of high school and I was determined to do things right. One week into the school year, I needed to buy something in the morning. I gave myself five minutes for the errand. It took fifteen. I remember how shocked I was to realize that I was running late! By the end of the year, I had earned the dubious honor of being the girl who “sat detention the most in the grade.”

I thought I outgrew my problems, but after this morning’s hassle, I see I still have a major problem with organization and time management.

Thursday, May 28

More of the same.

I had to hand in a report and couldn’t find it. I thought I was going to pass out from shame. My professor stood at his desk and waited while I riffled through hundreds of papers. Why wasn’t it in my file folder? Why? Why? Why?

Thursday Night, 12:30 AM

I found my library card. It was in my cosmetic bag. I must have gotten distracted while I was putting it away and put it there without concentrating. I tend to get distracted very easily. I think that’s why I have a hard time finishing projects.

Tuesday, June 2

Reading over the past entries, I am beginning to see a pattern here. I think I have ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder. It makes sense, based on what I learned in my Psychology class about the condition. ADD is a neurological condition characterized by some of my typical behaviors.

- Difficulty sustaining attention

- Difficulty following instructions

- Losing things necessary for tasks

- Disorganization, surrounded by clutter

- Making careless mistakes

- Chronic daydreaming

- Difficulty complying with rules

I also learned that although ADD and its sister condition, ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – are usually associated with school age children, the condition does not pass with time. As a matter of fact, in order to be diagnosed with Adult ADD, symptoms must have begun in childhood. That makes sense, considering my history.

So now my problems have a name. That’s a bit of a comfort, because if I know the enemy, I can tackle it.

Tuesday, June 9

Over the past week, I’ve been reading everything I can about Adult ADD. I am positively certain that I have it. My history is so classic! Even the fact that my parents believed I outgrew my problems is typical.

All of the experts agree that ADD manifests itself very differently in adults than in children. That’s because adults are more socially conscious, so they make a greater effort to conform. For example, I may have been a bit messy as a child, but now I work very hard at looking neat and put together. Also, I would never look out of the window during a lecture, because I am more aware of outward appearances; but my mind can still be very far from the classroom. And I find time management and organization as challenging as ever.

I have to learn how to get around the way my brain is wired!

Sunday, June 14

I am going to get help with my ADD. ADD is impacting my life in a very major way, and I deserve to give myself the tools I need to cope with it. Today’s assignment – finding a counselor.

Wednesday, June 17

I found an excellent counselor, and made an appointment. Today she helped me understand that I am not lazy or inept at all – although over the years I definitely did get that feeling. She told me that there is no cure for ADD, but that she could teach me coping techniques to help me get around it. It felt good to be validated and understood.

We also discussed time management. It started because I was apologetic for being late to my appointment and she asked me if it happens often. Does it!

My counselor told me that one reason people with ADD have trouble with time management and organization is because they are not detail oriented, but are more focused on the “big picture.” Time is just a detail surrounding everything else in life. It is, however, a crucial detail.

For many years, people with ADD were advised to wear a watch and consult it often. But people with ADD are easily distracted and don’t remember to check their watches. My counselor suggested a watch with a buzzer or vibration feature, set at strategic times. We decided that I’m going to set my cell phone to ring in the morning at ten-minute intervals. That way, I’ll be able to pace myself, so that I don’t find myself lost in time. It might also help me develop a better sense of time that will carry over to the entire day.

Sunday, June 21

Organization is my big issue.

It always was. As a child, my briefcase was always a mess of papers. As an adult, it’s much worse. I can never find anything. I find myself buying duplicates and triplicates of things, just because I can’t find the one I’m looking for. It’s an expensive problem, and the funny thing is that sometimes, even when I have four of a given item, I can’t find one!

I discussed it with my counselor, and she gave me some coping techniques that might make a difference. They might sound obvious to most people, but for me, it was helpful to learn them.

Group like objects together. In my room, for instance, it means keeping all of my hair products in one place. That will be a change for me. Right now, I have one brush on the windowsill near my bed, one in the bathroom and others scattered around the house. (I actually had to look for them before I wrote this, because I wasn’t sure exactly where they were.) I also have hair bands in different places. This is a hallmark of ADD, because people like me are typically too distracted to think about where to put things. Personally, I usually just put things down wherever I am standing.

Create an address. Every item should have a place to “live.” It should return to that place whenever it is not in use. I was taken aback when I realized that I don’t know where my brushes belong. It is impossible to put things away if “away” doesn’t exist. I am going to sit down and create an address for everything I own.

Contain all objects. It’s not enough to keep objects together; they must be contained. That means that I need to buy containers that will keep things where they belong. For my hair implements, it means buying a clear box big enough for all my things. Also, I will label each container in big attention-getting letters. That should get through the ADD-fog I so often live in.

Monday, June 22

The skills I wrote about yesterday can be adapted to my class work.

I’m trying to think of something I use a lot and lose a lot. I think the best example would be a pen. Usually, when I need a pen, I have to fumble around my book bag. My notes are written in red ink, magic marker or pencil – depending on what writing implement I come across when I need to write. This has been an endless source of frustration to me.

But suppose I group all my pens, and give them an address – maybe the front pocket of my bag – and contain them in a case. Do you think I would always have a pen when I need one?

Thursday, June 25

The more I think about ADD, the more I realize that it’s not all bad. One of the reasons I usually get distracted is because I am thinking deep and profound thoughts. This correlates with research that shows that people with ADD are generally very intelligent and creative.

Subconsciously, people with ADD often feel that they just can’t be bothered with simplistic things like where to put a brush or a particular piece of paper. Of course, this belief is part of the ADD mindset. It is probably why Albert Einstein’s hair was always a mess. He couldn’t care for it while he was developing brilliant mathematical equations!

On a similar note, I read a story about a professor who met a student on a sprawling campus and asked him if he had noticed if he (the professor!) was coming from the direction of the dining hall or not. The student said that yes, the professor was coming from that direction. To which the professor responded – “good. Then I have eaten.”

Total distractibility; total genius!

So I will cheer myself for the resilience, intelligence, and creativity that come along with ADD, and make me who I am. But I will also do everything possible to stay on top of my ADD, so that I can have as much control over my life, my time, and my environment, as possible.

An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net.

True Role Models (Part Eight)

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

This is the eighth part of a series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years. This week is “Hashmonaim Community Week,” and all of these stories concern Hashmonaim residents.

Israel is center of the universe. What scientific evidence is there of this fact? Consider that Israel has a population of only a few million people and is smaller than almost every state in the Union. If you open any newspaper in the world, however, you will find two, three or four stories about Israel.

Few newspapers have daily stories of France or Italy or China. The media often ignores these huge, economically powerful countries. People are murdered, shops are burglarized, politicians are elected, governments fall, children are abducted, starvation is rampant, disease decimates populations, economic strains increase or recede in hundreds of nations around the world – but few newspapers cover these stories.

Yet, let one person be murdered, one politician be elected, one problem occur in Israel, and every newspaper in the world will report the event!! Unconsciously, everyone realizes the centrality of Israel. Read the papers, watch the news reports, and realize the importance of Israel to the world.

Judy and Ely Simon came on aliyah in 1996. Judy has a BA from Columbia University and a Masters degree in Computer Systems Engineering. She worked in New York and Maryland while Ely did his residency and research. Ely received his BA from Columbia in electrical engineering, his Masters in Biomedical Engineering and his MD, and did his residency in Neurology at Einstein. He received a fellowship from the National Institute of Health in basic neurophysiology [spinal cord] research.

When Ely arrived in Israel, he went to work for Ichilov Hospital in the Movement Disorder clinic and eventually began his own company, which develops computerized neurological testing. He is the CEO of NeuroTrax and sees patients both privately and in the Kupat Cholim Meuchedet clinic.

Ely’s company, NeuroTrax, provides physicians and allied healthcare professionals with real-time, objective measurements of patients’ cognitive function to aid diagnosis and treatment decisions. The Company’s Mindstreams(r) product line tests for the full range of cognitive domains and it provides physicians with a significant, breakthrough advantage in the diagnosis and treatment of dementia, including Alzheimers, in the elderly and others suffering from cognitive dysfunction due to a host of medical reasons. With the leading edge of the US baby boom generation about to enter its 60s, the need for such testing will continue to grow at a dramatic pace.

The current product line can be expanded to include cognitive testing for numerous applications such as driving safety assessment, pharmaceutical early detection trials, and school assessments. Each of these additional applications constitutes a very significant market unto itself.

Since 2003, NeuroTrax has installed Mindstreams in numerous U.S. and Israeli sites, including physician practices, US Navy diving centers, health funds, psychiatric departments, diagnostic centers, and mental health centers. Response has been so good that the company has already started generating revenues and demand for the product.

Judy was the webmaster for Neot Kedumim archeological park and now works for NeuroTrax and as a freelance consultant in computer graphics. Judy says, “My kids love it here and we only go back to the U.S. to visit family once every few years. When we visit, we can’t wait to get back to Israel where we have many friends, a nice home and a great community. Why would we ever want to give any of this up?”

* * *

Bryna Hartman lived in Baltimore, but the year before she came to Israel she was studying in Stern College and having a great time in NYC. In July 1974, at the age of 18, she took a leave of absence to go on an ulpan program in Kibbutz Be’erot Yitzchak for 6 months. This was after the Yom Kippur War, and the six-month plan turned into a year.

Bryna went back to the USA in the summer of 1975, but did not plan to remain. She left college, worked for 6 months, and then packed up all her worldly belongings and went back to volunteer on a kibbutz. Bryna eventually became an olah, met another oleh from the USA, Ira Hartman, and married him on kibbutz in July, 1977.

Bryna left behind her family, including a mother who was very upset at her leaving college. Both Ira and Bryna had no close family in Israel, and the kibbutz became their home and family. They were willing to settle for a very simple life at the time, without all the luxuries they had enjoyed back in America. They worked hard but thought that the most important thing in the world for a Jew to do was to live in Israel.

Bryna and Ira lived on Kibbutz until 1986, where Bryna studied early childhood education in Seminar Hakibbutzim and then worked as a teacher. Ira was in charge of the kibbutz cow barn. When they moved to Moshav Nechalim with their three children, they had practically no savings and it was not easy. Ira started a successful business importing laboratory equipment. In Jan. 1991, they moved to Hashmonaim.

They didn’t have the backing of Nefesh B’Nefesh when they came, and they did not fly back and forth to the States in those days to make a living as do many olim today. Ira served for a year and a half in the Israeli army, most of it during the first year they were married. He also was required to do many weeks of reserve duty each year, and he served during the Lebanon War.

In Hashmonaim, aside from his business, Ira became a volunteer ambulance driver and volunteers regularly with Magen David Adom whenever there is an emergency. Bryna works as the director of community activities and is very successful. They both feel that their biggest accomplishment in Israel was raising five children, who are good, observant Jews with good values, who serve in the army and Sherut Leumi, and contribute the building of the country.

* * *

Leiah and Elliot Jaffe made aliyah in 1994 from Pittsburgh, PA. Elliot had a BSc and Leiah had a Masters in Organic Chemistry, both of them from Carnegie Mellon. Elliot had worked for the previous five years in a high tech software company, which is now IBM Pittsburgh Labs. Leiah had started a Ph.D. program but stopped in order to raise their three boys.

When considering aliyah options, all of the official organizations told them that they would never find a well paying job in Israel, and that their standard of living would be significantly lower than what they were used to in Pittsburgh. Elliot, however, was offered a job with an Israeli company before he even left for his pilot trip.

Leiah and Elliot chose to live in Hashmonaim near relatives, and when they landed in Israel, they came directly into a duplex home that was 50% larger than the one they had in Pittsburgh.

Their first sabra son was born five months after their aliyah. Over the next five years, they added two more boys to their family, giving them enough sons to field a hockey team. One year after making aliyah, Elliot and two partners began a new start-up, which employed 50 people in Israel and was sold to Kodak in 2000. Since then, he has helped found a number of new startups and finished a Masters degree from Hebrew University.

Elliot is an elected member of the local council and a gabbai at the local synagogue. Leiah was a leader candidate in the Israel branch of the La Leche League and has studied for a number of years at the Machon Torani L’Nashim (Matan). The Jaffe family picture appears on this page.

* * *

Chana Koren, originally lived in a small town in Ohio, came to Israel from Chicago in 1979. After having been in Israel for a year of study, she fell in love with the country and decided to make it her home. In Israel, Chana found her husband and was married a year later. They were two of the twenty-eight founding members of Kibbutz Beit Rimon. The founding of a kibbutz was exciting and something that she would highly recommend for everyone to experience. She has become fully integrated into Israeli society and has never once been sorry that she came on aliyah, even during the toughest times.

Chana raised a large family, studied in the university, and held many jobs. The reasons for her aliyah were specifically ideological. Her ideology has not weakened, but rather has become stronger over the years. She has children who have no desire of ever leaving Israel, and she sees this as a completion of the cycle she started when she came on aliyah.

* * *

Judy and Bezalel Nachman made aliya in 1982 with three small children. They each have a BA from Brooklyn College; Bezalel in computers and Judy in Education. They lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan near Bezalel’s parents. Bezalel worked for five years in computers before coming to Israel.

As soon as Bezalel arrived in Israel, he found that he had a choice of jobs. He worked for Tadiran before starting at NDS Computer Company about 15 years ago. Today, Bezalel is a line manager with a very good salary and a company van. He travels worldwide to various NDS offices and customers and he enjoys his work tremendously.

Judy worked as a 1st grade teacher at MTJ on the East Side. She has been teaching English in Hashmonaim for the past 16 years. Judy and Bezalel have had four more children in Israel. Three of their children are married and they have five grandchildren. They built a beautiful home in a wonderful community and are very proud of their accomplishments and are proud to be living in Israel.

(To Be Continued)

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/true-role-models-part-eight/2005/01/26/

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