My actual experience during an exam:
I show up to the exam in a hurry because I thought I had more time to print something out, then walk to class. But now I only have one minute to get to class and about a quarter mile to walk before I get there. Great.
I walk in and everyone already has their head down and pens up rapidly writing their open response. My professor hands me the exam with a judgemental look and I feel even worse for being late.
I go to my seat, sit down and start reading the prompt. Then I read it again, and again. I realize I am not going to be able to comprehend the whole thing so I just start writing based on the first instruction.
Great, now I have some words jotted down, so I can go back to the prompt.
Crap. I am heading in a completely different direction than what my professor is asking for. Now I have to think about how I can fix this.
I look off into space so I can think.
My professor looks up from his book and right at me with an accusing look.
Great, he thinks I am cheating because I am the only person with my head up. I put my head down so he doesn't assume I am cheating.
Someone three rows up is tapping their foot uncontrollably. I can't stop looking at it.
Uh oh, how much time do I have left? I am definitely going to run out of time.. Maybe I should’ve requested more time through Disability Services.. but I’m not that bad right? Well I guess I am if I am thinking about this during my exam and running out of time.
I write down three more paragraphs. Then hear, "You have twenty minutes left"
Oh wow, I can definitely finish in that amount of time.
Ten minutes go by (at least ten ADHD minutes) and I hear "Okay, time is up. Finish what you are writing and hand in your papers."
I jot down as much as I possibly can and hand in my exam.
I walk out the door and hope for a miracle.
1. Pictures in magazines are severely photoshopped.
You can not compare yourself to a women in a magazine or commercial. All of these images are photoshopped to the extreme. If you don't believe me, just look at a Victoria's Secret catalogue, their models have ended up with missing limbs after photoshop.
2. Thigh gaps are genetic.
Whether or not you have a thigh gap completely depends on the bone structure of your hips, it has nothing to do with your weight or attractiveness.
3. Sizes of clothing means nothing.
I have walked in to one store and been a size 6 in jeans, then walked into another and been a size 10. The sizing of women's clothing has nothing, I repeat, NOTHING to do with the actual size of your body. Even the same store can be inaccurate in sizing. So the next time you are shopping and you have to go up a size, try not to feel bad about yourself but rather be frustrated that large retail companies are that incompetent in doing a simple task.
4. No one knows your pant size.
So buy one you are comfortable in. I can remember crying during back to school shopping because I didn't want to buy my actual size for fear that someone would make fun of me, but no one knows what size you are, so buy what feels comfortable! And the average dress size of an American women is a 12-14, not a 00 like Abercrombie & Fitch wants you to believe. (BUT, if you are naturally a 00, that is awesome and you should be proud of your body too).
5. It is okay to accept compliments.
I always used to find myself finding an explanation, or just straight up shooting down a compliment. Someone would say "you are really pretty" and I would say "no, I am just having a good hair day" or "I don't think so, but thanks''. But guess what, IT IS OKAY TO LIKE YOURSELF. It is even encouraged!
6. Take care of your body for non-aesthetic reasons.
A healthy diet is so much more important than just losing weight. Eat meat to fuel your muscles, eat fats to fuel your mind and eat carbs to give you energy throughout the day. Eat healthy because it makes you feel healthy, not because it makes you look the way you want.
7. Your body is YOURS.
In middle school girls were constantly being asked for "pictures" meaning nude or semi nude photos that were being sent to boys. Not only is this illegal, but it is unnecessary. Your body is yours, and yours only. In adolescence it can be confusing to like someone while understanding it is okay to say no. But I promise you, it is always okay to say no to something you are not comfortable with.
8. Your weight and your BMI mean nothing.
It is true, your weight and your BMI mean very little about your overall health because they can not calculate for muscle mass and the weight of your organs. A good measurement of your health is your body fat percentage and this should only be taken by a professional.
9. Every single women's body looks different.
I can remember seeing girls change in the locker room or at a friends house and thinking that my breasts or my "down there", must be strange because they didn't look the same as the women I was seeing. But guess what, vaginas and breasts are like snowflakes, no one's look the same! So be proud of whatever your body looks like.
10. Look up to someone realistic.
If you are looking up to someone like Kim Kardashian, you will always find yourself falling short because Kim Kardashian and other celebrities spend thousands of dollars on training, nutritionists, plastic surgery, hair, make up, etc. Look up to someone that is realistic, for better reasons than just aesthetic ones. Look up to your soccer coach because of how great her kick is, or your teacher for her kind heart. These are the types of role models you need.
11. Last but not least, LOVE YOURSELF.
You are an amazing human being. Believe that you are smart. Believe that you are beautiful. Believe that you deserve the world. Because you have the world at your feet and you can achieve anything.
When you chose to pursue this relationship, you did not know all of the baggage that came with me. You were attracted to my free spirit and my love of life. But eventually, as time progressed you may have realized the free spirit you fell in love with was a facade reflecting the way I wish I felt. But you stuck with me anyway because you know that there is so much more to me. I know that this relationship has not been the easiest, no relationship ever is. But you deserve to be recognized for being my rock, my best friend and my partner through all of the dark times. So thank you.
Thank you for understanding that my anxiety and depression are not reflections of you or our relationship, these feelings are out of my control.
Thank you for understanding that sometimes I don't want to go out, because the social anxiety is too great.
Thank you for knowing when you need to push me out of bed and into the shower, because it seems too hard to do on my own.
Thank you for putting your life on hold and being there for me when I am having a panic attack.
Thank you for sitting next to me even when I don't want to be touched or talk, just so I know that I am not alone.
Thank you for understanding that even though my thoughts are irrational, they are very real to me.
Thank you for understanding that sometimes you can't see my anxiety and other times I will be crying curled up into a ball.
Thank you for understanding that I can't always tell you "what is wrong" because sometimes I don't know.
Thank you for not telling me to "just relax" "suck it up" or "just get over it", because you know it's not that simple.
Thank you for accepting me the way I am, and knowing that this will always be a part of our lives.
Thank you for telling me I can still achieve anything I want.
Most of all, thank you for sticking around to enjoy this journey with me. It might not always be sunshine and rainbows, but having you makes it a whole lot better. You truly are a keeper.
10 Tools for ADHDers, from an ADHDer.
1. Sticky Notes
These little things have been an absolute god sent to me. When you have ADHD, or Executive Functioning problems, your brain can jump around so fast that you completely forget a great idea you had. By using sticky notes, you can avoid this!
2. The Fidget Cube
I have heard mixed reviews about this little cube. Personally, I really like this tool for when I am at work or in class (a place where I don't want it to be noticeable that I am fidgeting). The cube is actually pretty small and has a different fidget on every side, so it can meet all of your fidgeting needs --but, it is not always silent like the original company claimed. If this is a tool you think could be useful to you, I would try it out and see for yourself. You can get one on amazon for a good price and they come in all different colors!
3. Mini Coloring Pages
I have always been a notorious doodler. I find that when I am doodling, I can actually comprehend what someone is saying to me, instead of my mind jumping all over the place. So my sweet mom bought me some of these miniature coloring pages. These little things are just three inches tall, so you can color without it being completely obvious to everyone in the room. And their size allows you to finish them in a short time span, yay! (We all know ADHDers are known for not finishing long projects).
4. Google Keep
Google Keep is my new favorite thing! You can write complete lists, notes to file away, or just write a quick "sticky note" type of message and it will automatically be saved to your google keep which you can access through your google account or through the Google Keep app. And if you didn't notice, you can color code too!
5. Play Dough
Okay, so maybe I just like playing with play dough . . but I swear this really works! When I am reading a few chapters, or trying to focus on a movie, I just open one of these little containers and start molding. The best thing about this is it makes no noise! But the down side is the bright colors that make the dough stand out. Plus, this is typically used by children so I have gotten the "why do you have play dough in your bag?" question a few times. Luckily for me, I work with little kiddos so it's no big deal, but this might not be the best option if you are trying to fly under the radar. (You can get a pack of six at the dollar store, BTW).
6. Sensory Ball
I actually discovered this one by accident. I have one of these in my bag just in case one of the kids I work with needs some sensory input, but one day I thought hey.. maybe this could work for me too. So I started squeezing the ball whenever I was trying to focus or felt like I had a lot of built up frustration and it works well. Plus, this was only $1 at the dollar store!
7. How to ADHD Videos
Jessica and her crew are absolutely amazing! Jessica has ADHD herself and makes a lot of how to videos for people with ADHD. The videos are super interesting and quirky, so you don't have to worry about your mind wondering! And most importantly, Jessica takes her channel very seriously and only makes videos after she has consulted with other specialists about complex topics. Highly recommend! Their channel can be found here.
So I will admit, I have never been the best at keeping a planner. But, I realized you need to find what works for YOU. So maybe I will never carry around a small planner, or remember to put dates in my phone, but I do like having a desk calendar. Right when I get a new syllabus or client schedule, I fill it out for months in advance and color code along the way. But, this is what works for me, there are so many other ways to keep yourself organized. There will probably be a future blog post just about this!
9. Gel Highlighters
Okay, so they don't have to be gel highlighters, but I highly recommend these highlighters from target because they don't bleed through paper, they roll up so you have a lot of ink, and they have inspirational messages on them! But any highlighter will work. These are a great idea for those that have executive functioning (EF) problems. By using highlighters, you are helping your mind group things together more easily and that can help with comprehension/recall of information.
10. Things To Do
Last but not least, I recommend having a "things to do" folder or list. This tool really helps me with procrastination. Since I am such a procrastinator I can get really overwhelmed with all of the things I have to do. By writing them down, it not only gives me a plan of attack, but I get a sense of accomplishment as I cross things off my list.
JUST A NOTE: Always find what works for YOU and things that YOU like. As you may have noticed, all of my tools (the Things To Do folder, my sticky notes, etc.) are pretty girly, because this is the type of stuff I am attracted to. Find what draws you in and what YOU can stick to. Good luck and if you have any of your own unique tips, please share them!
Yup, that's right, we are NOT all equal.
Even though we live in the United States and have the notion that everyone is born with an equal chance to succeed in life, this simply is not the case. Today in a group, we were discussing the large portion of African American and Hispanic individuals imprisoned in the U.S. (58% in 2008). When my professor asked "why do you think that is?" someone replied "because they chose to commit a crime". While this may be true, what led to the imprisonment of these individuals is much larger than a simple decision between right and wrong. This imprisonment rate is due to racial and ethnic inequality in our country and before you claim it is a "personal choice" think about if this was your life:
Birth - You were born to a Hispanic, low income family. Although you have just been born, the area your parents live in is highly polluted because of the factories, so they worry about how the teratogens may have effected your development.
One Year - Your parents bring you to regular appointments even though it is difficult because of transportation. They can hardly communicate with the doctor because of the language barrier, so they can not discuss your development and needs as well as other parents can with their pediatrician.
Three Years - You are being educated by your mom during the day while your dad works twelve hour days to keep food on the table. By this age, you have already heard 30 million less words than a child from a wealthy family. (Read more about this here.)
Five Years - You have been labeled the "bad" kid by your teachers in your kindergarten class because you have trouble communicating and get violent because of your frustration.
Nine Years - You are still learning to read, but you should be able to read well enough to start using textbooks as tools for learning. You quickly start falling behind in academics.
Eleven Years - The "bad" kid label followed you through elementary school. You were the bad kid in first grade, the bad kid in second grade, the bad kid in third grade, the bad kid in fourth grade, and the bad kid in fifth grade. Why would sixth grade be any different? So you accept your identity as a bad kid and a bad student. (This is called learned helplessness and you can learn more here.) As you are walking home, a local drug dealer sees your raggy shoes and the next day buys you a new pair.
Fourteen Years - Your mom and dad need you to get a job to help support the family. You get a job at a local fast food restaurant being paid minimum wage. You work thirty hours a week, but your family can still barely afford rent this month because your dad had been injured and couldn't work for a week. The landlord says he will evict your family if he doesn't get his money. Your boss can't give any more hours because business is slow, but your friend has been selling marijuana and prescription drugs and making a lot of cash. You ask if you can help sell the drugs to keep your family in the apartment. Oh, and you are failing out of school because of all the hours you have been working.
Sixteen Years - You have been selling drugs for two years now. Your mom says "for the first time, she feels like everything will be okay". Your distributor says that you can make enough money to send your sister to college, but you will have to quit school so you can work on the streets all day.
Eighteen Years - You were able to send your sister to college and she is about to have her associates in nursing. This will mean there will be a good paying, stable income for the first time in your household. You plan on getting your GED after she is done with school, but while you are making a deal, police officers stop you and find an unregistered weapon and illegal drugs.
Let me ask you, did any of this sound like a choice? (And this is only the first eighteen years). Want to know what you might do? Click here.
Disabilities can be difficult for parents to explain to young children, but it doesn’t have to be. In this Daniel Tiger episode, a new child enters Daniel’s class, but Daniel is confused by the braces the girl uses to walk. The girl simply explains that she needs them to walk because of an unspecified disability. The children begin to talk about other ways they are different with a positive spin, pointing out that Prince Wednesday has glasses to help him see and Daniel has a tail unlike the other children. This episode makes it easy for children to understand that as Daniel says, “We are more alike than different”. And that it is okay to have differences, that is what makes everyone so interesting!
While working with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I have had the chance to befriend quiet a few amazing parents. During conversations with these parents, they have voiced a few phrases people commonly use when talking about their child that can be hurtful. These comments usually come from a place of curiosity and love, so here are a few ways that they could be rephrased.
1. “I don’t know how you do it”
This is probably the most common complaint I have heard from parents. The reason for this is that the parent does not have a choice, plus this comment makes it seem like being a parent to their child is aversive and unenjoyable. They love and support their child just as any parent would.
What you could say: “You are such a great Mom/Dad.”
2. “My sister-in-law’s neighbor’s child has Autism and they tried ___ treatment.”
When people hear a parent say their child has Autism, they want to be able to relate to them in some way, so this comment is completely understandable. However, individuals on the Autism Spectrum are just like anyone else in that no two people are alike. Even though your sister-in-law’s neighbor’s child tried ___ treatment, it does not mean it will work for every child.
What you could say: “Tell me more about your son/daughter.”
3. “Let me know if you need anything”
I have said this myself quite a few times because I truthfully mean I will give support in any way the family may need it but am unsure how to help. The reason this phrase is harmful is that this puts a lot of pressure on the parent. No parent ever wants to ask for help with their own child and they certainly do not want to be a burden.
What you could say: “I would love to babysit and spend some time with ____” or “How can I support you?”
4. “What is wrong with your child?”
The fault in this comment seems inherently obvious, nothing is “wrong” with an individual with Autism. It may be considered a disability, but individuals with Autism are just a different Neurotype and Neuro diversity makes the world interesting.
What you could say: Nothing, if a parent wants to share their child’s diagnosis with you, let them do it when they feel comfortable.
5. “Are they high or low functioning?”
The person saying this comment really just wants to learn more about the child. The issue with the labels “high” and “low” functioning is that they tell you NOTHING about the individual. A great example is, what if an individual is extremely intelligent, but is non-verbal. Are they high or low functioning?
What you could say: “What are their strengths/challenges?
6. “But they seem so normal.”
This is meant to be a compliment, but for a person with Autism their behaviors are constantly being changed so they can appear normal. And appearing normal can be extremely exhausting to an individual with Autism because social norms like eye contact can be challenging. And what is normal anyway?
What you could say: “___ is so bright” or “I love talking to ___”
Hopefully these tips help!
According to the dictionary, normal is “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”.
Being in the field of psychology, we are exhaustively taught about abnormal behaviors. Unfortunately, the word abnormal comes with a negative stigma. But what is so bad about being abnormal? Many household names were considered “abnormal” during their life. Galileo’s work in physics was under appreciated, Henry David Thoreau was thought to be obscure, and Edgar Allan Poe could not sell any of his work. These names have made being “abnormal” more acceptable for typically developing individuals, but for some reason we hold individuals on the Autism Spectrum to a different set of standards.
Think of an abnormal, perhaps self-stimulatory behavior that you exhibit. We all have them, whether it be twirling our hair or bouncing our leg. Now think about if people were constantly staring at you for it, pointing it out to you and punishing you for it. I know as someone that bounces their leg, if anyone points out my leg bouncing I become hyper-aware of my behavior which causes me to be self conscious, anxious and distracted. So why do we do this to individuals with Autism?
Instead of teaching individuals with Autism to conform to society’s standards and stop their “abnormal” behaviors, we need to encourage acceptance. I know many professionals will disagree with my stance and I have even been taught to discourage stim behaviors during my studies. However, I think the problem is not with one’s stimming, but with our disgust of such a natural human behavior. If someone was constantly punishing me for my leg shaking behavior, this would be considered bullying.
Don’t get me wrong, some stimming can be destructive, such as self injurious behaviors or ones that severely inhibit daily functioning. But if a child or adult’s behavior is not hurting anyone, I don't think it is our place to tell them to stop. These behaviors are used to self regulate whether it be emotional, sensory or other. By taking away this positive stimulation for the individual, it is making the negative stimulation they were trying to avoid even worse and telling them that they should be ashamed of their natural behavior. Which could possibly breed another psychological issue like anxiety.
Maybe you disagree, but I urge you to try to think openly.