Doodles from Inside: “ADHD Class”

April 2, 2015 in Blog, Doodles from Inside, Stories From Inside by Robin Stramp

Hello, ADHD Community!

This week, I’d like to stray a bit from our usual “Stories from Inside” series. Instead of highlighting a written story, I want to share a picture that one of our participants doodled during our ADHD group coaching sessions at Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, Delaware.

As you may know, there is a wide body of research demonstrating that doodling is a form of “fidgeting” that can increase any individual’s attention span and memory recall. There are a few theories that attempt to explain why this happens. According to Dr. Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth, doodling helps people focus and recall information because it demands just enough cognitive load to make daydreaming difficult, but not enough to prevent us from absorbing the information around us.

Dr. Andrade provides a potential explanation for the link among doodling, focus, and recall in individuals without ADHD, but the story gets even more interesting when we’re talking about individuals with the disorder. According to the dopamine theory of ADHD, individuals with ADHD have sub-optimal levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine circulating in brain pathways. This means that individuals with ADHD require higher levels of stimulation than individuals without it in order to achieve “normal” levels of dopamine. Since, among many other things, dopamine acts on receptors in the prefrontal cortex to regulate attention and activate executive functioning,  you can see how low levels of dopamine would play significant role in the presentation of ADHD! (Sidenote: The dopamine theory also explains why individuals with ADHD thrive in high-energy careers such as emergency response, medicine, and public safety.)

Stimulant ADHD medications such as Adderall and Ritalin help individuals focus by increasing activity of dopamine and another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine in the brain. Similar to these stimulant medications, doodling and other forms of fidgeting allow individuals with ADHD to self-regulate their dopamine levels. Doodling stimulates the normally under-aroused ADHD brain, and can bring dopamine circulation up to a level that allows for optimal functioning. In other words, doodling allows individuals with ADHD to give their brains an extra boost of activity that helps them maintain focus on external stimuli. With increased focus and attention, of course, comes the increased potential for the ADHD brain to absorb that information and recall it later.

Hopefully I haven’t talked your ear off with research! Without further ado, here is the first “Doodle from Inside,” doodled by an ADHD Corrections Project participant during our coaching sessions!

CM doodle

The artist chose not to explain the thought process behind his doodle. To me, though, the doodle is full of symbolism. I see the central figure as a sand timer. The anchor is weighing the timer down, much like negative thoughts could weigh down anyone’s mood while counting down the days until release from a correctional facility. The eye, though, represents the fresh perspective that our ADHD sessions (or class) bring to his attitude.

These observations, of course, only represent my own interpretation of the artist’s work. If you have any other ideas of what this doodle could mean, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to email your thoughts to rstramp@dcjustice.org, and I will check in with the artist to see if you’re on the right track!

Have a great week, and keep on doodling!

For more information about doodling and ADHD:

Andrade, J. (2009). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acp.1561

Rotz, R. & Wright, S. D. (2005). Fidget to focus: Outwit your boredom: Sensory strategies for living with ADD. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, Inc.

Kercood, Suneeta & Banda, D.R. (2012). The effects of added physical activity on performance during a listening performance during a listening comprehension task for students with and without attention problems. International Journal of Applied Educational Studies, 13(1). Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/77851825/effects-added-physical-activity-performance-during-listening-comprehension-task-students-without-attention-problems

 Schott, G.D. (2011). Doodling and the default network of the brain. The Lancet, 378(9797). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61496-7

SFI: “That Was a Light Bulb Moment”

March 18, 2015 in Blog, Stories From Inside by Robin Stramp

Hello, ADHD Community,

This week’s post comes courtesy of one of our most active participants. It’s been about a year since he participated in the group ADHD coaching sessions, but this gentleman still writes to us regularly to keep in touch and practice the skills he learned in our sessions. We are grateful for his thoughtful, introspective piece on his experiences with ADHD and the ADHD Corrections Project. The quotation marks and underlined text are reproduced as the in the original, but we have highlighted particularly eloquent phrases in red.

SFI 20 pt 1

SFI 20 pt 2

SFI 20 pt 3

“I would like to give my view and experiences on how the ADHD classes helped me understand and cope with having a disorder that for years has caused me problems that I didn’t understand. While sitting in the sessions I can recall talking about ‘impulsivity’ and coming to realize most of my decisions was made in a rush and not any forecasting going on in regards to the consequences or possible outcome that could be negative. As I set in the sessions and listen to others I realize that I wasn’t the only one in this boat and the tools was right in my head if I just slowed down and thought things through. It was called thinking it through.

I recall one of the coaches explaining every thing has a root cause. You have to tap into whats the root cause. But they didn’t leave us with that because you can know the root cause but not have the ‘tools’ to address the root cause which is what they gave us. Tools and ‘resources.’ So that helped me understand my self and ADHD better. To put it plainly, by learning my ways of thinking and addressing the root causes it helped me understand the situations that are presented to me and then make a conscious choice based on reasoning, logic, and of course, consequences, to have a better outcome. That was a light bulb moment.

One of the other important things I learned from the sessions and coaches I didn’t have to suffer in silence any more nor feel like something was wrong with me because I have ADHD. I now know I don’t have to cope with this alone. Thinking like that can be so far from the truth and very detrimental.

As far as when I shared in my sessions I didn’t realize how much I thought about certain things and how much I remembered them until I shared and talked about them. Wow! I didn’t realize how much I had been carrying. The brain stores you need to know that. My coaching sessions still has a positive affect on me today even after being out of the sessions for a while now. The coaching sessions made every one in the sessions feel like they mattered and was worth helping. I liked that because in being in recovery a sense of care and belonging is a vital component in recovery. Even though we didn’t always agree they didn’t let that come between helping us even when the sessions got tense. The care didn’t disappear.

In having a co-occuring disorder of mental health and substance abuse, I was able to receive informational tools to address both. Thanks to all my coaches. Big kudos.

I hope my message touches and reaches some one and helps some one to realize they are not alone.

One step further in the right direction.”

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Just as this participant writes, we hope you take something from this entry that gets you one step closer to where you want to be.

Please remember that if you’d like to receive email notifications when new posts are released, you can do so in the left sidebar!

 

SFI: “Diamonds”

March 4, 2015 in Blog, Stories From Inside by Robin Stramp

Hello, ADHD Community!

Today, we would like to share a special “Stories from Inside” entry with you. This entry was written back in the fall while the author was participating in our group ADHD coaching sessions, but we are publishing it now to coincide with his release from prison. Please join us in celebrating this participant’s release, and hoping that he has found tools, skills, and support in our coaching sessions that will help him make different choices in the weeks, months, and years to come.

SFI 19 image

“Have you ever wanted something so bad that you would do whatever to get it, and it seems that when your finally asking for help, nothing seems to work your way. It’s like you’ve been a let down or made a mistake more than once you’re a liability to some people. It’s like, there just asking how long will you last this time. But you can’t give up, refuse to walk around with your head down and accept failure as your trophy for success. I’ve been hurt more than happy living a certain way so what ever it takes to get rid of that feeling I will do. Now that I finally got your eye it’s time that you see what a true diamond shines like when you bring it from it’s rough natural resource and it goes through the reforming process, it becomes a bright, unbreakable, gift to someones life that remains firm in structure while symbolizing success.”

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We hope that this engrossing entry prompts you to think about how you perceive  individuals around you. You may think you are surrounded by rough carbon, but how long has it been since you looked closely at that carbon? Is it possible that it has been transformed into a “bright, unbreakable” diamond while you weren’t looking? All too often, both individuals with ADHD and individuals who have been incarcerated are pigeonholed into labeled boxes. We owe it to both those we are pigeonholing and to ourselves to periodically reconsider our perspectives. That diamond deserves to be recognized for the hard work he or she has put into the transformation process, and you never know what diamond you might have been writing off as a “rough natural resource.”

SFI: “Now it’s Starting to Make Sense”

February 20, 2015 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Robin Stramp

Hello, ADHD Community!

As promised, we’d like to share a  new “Stories from Inside” entry with you this week to kick off our blog’s return to activity. The author of this entry just completed our ADHD coaching curriculum in January of 2015. We found his revelations insightful and inspiring, and hope you do, as well.

Entry 18 Pt 1

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Before I got involved with the ADHD Corrections Project, I didn’t even know what ADHD was…All I knew was what I’d heard, that it was bad and an excuse to give medication to out of control teens. After working with the coaches and the other inmates who signed up for the class I realized it’s really not what everybody stereotypes it to be…It’s a chemical imbalance and it’s perfectly normal. Some of the world’s biggest celebrities and athletes have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Before I was even screened and tested to see if I had ADHD, I never saw myself as a possible candidate for diagnosis. Now it’s starting to make sense…Not that it’s an excuse for my actions that lead me to incarceration, it’s more of an explanation. I can look back and see where I messed up, and now I know why. All I have to do is learn from those past mistakes and prevent myself from repeating them over and over.

The best part about the project was the coaches…having a class full of inmates ages 18-46, who have all screened positive for ADHD can get a little crazy. They never complained, never turned one of us away or made us feel less than human because we were incarcerated. They gave us tools to cope with ADHD, and community resources we can use once we are released. They never gave up on us, and that means a lot.

I am grateful I got to participate in the ADHD Project and would recommend it for anybody struggling with the disorder.

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New Feature: Post Notifications

February 13, 2015 in Blog, Uncategorized by Robin Stramp

Hello, ADHD Community!

The blog has been quiet for a few months, but now we are back and ready to share more exciting content with you!

Next week, we will be releasing a powerful new “Stories from Inside” entry.  For those who may be new to this blog, “Stories from Inside” offers a platform for participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their experiences with ADHD and the criminal justice system. If you aren’t familiar with the ADHD Corrections Project, you can find more information here.

To help you know when these compelling stories and other posts are released, we are pleased to now offer post notifications. If you would like to receive an email when new posts are added to the ADHD Corrections Project blog, please fill out the short form on the left side of this page. If you’re anything like me and have trouble finding things on computer screens, here’s a picture of what you’re looking for:

post notifications

We hope you take advantage of this new feature, and please stay tuned for our next post next week!

 

 

ADHD Justice Preconference!

July 7, 2014 in Conference, Corrections, Justice, Q&A by Kyle Dopfel

Please consider joining us for the ADHD & the Justice System Preconference on July 24th, 2014 in Orlando, FL! 

Over the past several months, we’ve been working hard to organize a preconference session on ADHD and the Justice System. We have put together an engaging program and an impressive line-up of speakers. This event is going to be a great opportunity to learn more about the relationship between mental health and justice issues, as well as to network with some remarkable professionals. And yes, we will also be offering CE credits. We really hope you will consider attending this event, and of course  encourage you to share the information with anyone else you think may be interested. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

We hope you will take a minute to read the flyer below and check out the  program outline.
You can find even more information by clicking HERE.

ADDAJusticePreconference_Flyer

Stories from Inside: Part 17

May 12, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

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“Since I’ve been a participant in the ADHD class, and learning all about how deeply this disorder can affect those who are caught up in the justice system, as well of those who are living criminal lifestyles. From listening to what the life coach and the lady from the Department of justice have told me, I am quite interested in its finding out if I also suffer from ADHD as well. From what I’ve been informed of what the symptoms are of having the disorder, and after passing the ADHD screening for “A person very likely to have ADHD.” I am pretty certain that I have “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” ADHD too. With that being said, it leaves me wondering now if this could be the reason why I’ve been caught up in a life of crime for the past 12 years. I often act out of impulse and many of my crimes were wither committed out of impulsivity, or thru pleasure seeking. So now I’m curious to know if I were diagnosed with ADHD and treated for it earlier in my life, would things be different today? Could my poor decision’s and negative behaviors have been prevented? I wonder now if I were to had a life coach and be prescribed the proper medication’(s) would I be sitting in jail right now? Would my life be different today? Could simple treatment for a disorder have made a difference in the outcome of my life? Since I can’t change my past, what I can do is focus on my future. I have learned that people who have ADHD are more likely to return to jail, then people who don’t have ADHD. I also know that there is treatment out there that will help to reduce the effects caused by having ADHD. So what I intend on doing upon release “since the Department of Correction’s doesn’t” is go seek medical attention and find out if I also have ADHD, and get put onto the proper medication’s. If treating a disorder is what will help to keep me from acting impulsive and doing things that get me into trouble and placed in jail, then that is what I’ma do.”

Stories from Inside: Part 16

May 5, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

16“ADHD, Me and the Justice System”

I would like to say after many unknown reasons of why I found myself in particular situations I never knew ADHD played a part in those problems. Fex examples of why my impulsive decisions of not thinking it through has been damaging to my life that I can never get back. Especially out of my child life I can never get back. Also I can say that I have experienced my share of sensational seeking and turned to substance abuse, because nothing else brought me the attention as a drug high.

I never took the time to look at what I was putting at risk once again the consequences out-weighed the pleasure, eventually falling into the hands of the justice system. With short term pleasure with long term consequences. There is a tool that I’ve learned in ADHD class that works well for me. Think five time and act once which work wells for me. The ADHD Corrections Project has life saving information.

Stories from Inside: Part 15

April 21, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

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“This class has helped me to understand and no longer be unaware of people with ADHD and people without it. I think that I have learned the effects on ADHD, on people who find themselves in the justice system like myself. The impact that I got from experience is that I’m aware of something that I was ignorant of for years. And now I think that I understand ADHD and can point out ways to deal with kids and adults who has it. ADHD and the biggest impact it has had on me is that it now makes me want to learn more about it and be able to teach it the way that I learned it from my two teachers…”

Stories from Inside: Part 14

April 14, 2014 in Corrections, Justice, Pilot Project, Stories From Inside by Kyle Dopfel

We asked participants of the ADHD Corrections Project to share their stories of how ADHD has impacted their lives, and how this might relate to their experience with the criminal justice system. The resulting journal entries, written towards the close of their eight-week group coaching session, were remarkably thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling. While each inmate’s story is unique, we can also recognize in them some of the unfortunate experiences that are all too common among those with ADHD. With the permission of our anonymous authors, we’d now like to share with you these powerful first-person perspectives on the relationship between ADHD and the criminal justice system.

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  “ADHD impacted my whole adolescence growing up. Mischief played a big part in it as well. Growing up I wasn’t aware of everything like what would happen if I did this, where would I go if I take this car, steal this money, sell drugs, live? My thoughts honestly were of me making sure I had everything I needed to survive in this world. Quick to react to certain situations, not really paying close attention even when I’m trying my hardest. In and out of jail isn’t one, or few of my proudest moments but its something I can look back on and say to myself you’re really trying to take the next best step of making it back to your family.”