Author Archives: addvantages

Feel Like a Giant in the Workplace and a Midget at Home?

Feel Like a Giant in the Workplace and a Midget at Home?

As published on

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head that you can’t get rid of it?  The other day I saw a commercial for Green Giant™ vegetables and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get this tune out of my head.  Over and over again I caught myself thinking, humming, and singing “Ho, Ho, Ho, Green Giant.”  You know the old saying, if you can’t beat em’ join em’?  So I went with it and thought about green giants to trick my mind into thinking about something else.   Lo and behold, somewhere in between my strategy and the quick rapid firing thoughts of an ADD’er I made a connection from giants to failing at my attempt to growing my own vegetable garden.   It’s no secret to friends and family I am a Betty Crocker – Donna Reed wanna be with little to no success.

I began to ponder how it is I can be a competent business owner and founder of a learning center for kids and adults with ADHD and yet be a hapless home diva that can’t put a meal together without burning it!   Now I know I am not the only ADDa Girl facing this dilemma of running circles at work but yet can’t seem to get the house clean or face those dirty dishes and mind numbing chores.    What I realized is I am not comparing apples to apples.   Work and home are two very different environments.  We are required to perform at work and held accountable for our actions.  This in itself increases our adrenaline like a gun to the head.  We must be prepared for the meeting, arrive on time, and so on.  We are given immediate feedback and measured on our achievements or lack of.  At home we are left to our own devices.  There is no structure to get our frontal brain lobes in gear to do mindless boring tasks.   The key to home success is to recreate an environment that simulates work.  Set up your time hour by hour of what needs to be done.  Hold yourself accountable by reporting to someone what you have accomplished.  Make deals with family members and trade off tasks that are harder for you to do. 


Realize it’s not trying harder but working smarter.   Don’t compare yourself to others.  Give yourself permission to do what is reasonable for you and take shortcuts.  Allow yourself to make those cut and slice cookies instead of from scratch!  Accept you are doing the best you can despite a  brain that is not working up to full capacity.  Would you expect a paralyzed person to walk?  Give yourself a break and know you have a medical neurobiological based disorder.  You may not be a domestic goddess but you have many other talents and positive attributes.  As I say this to you I reaffirm for myself it’s okay to boil frozen Green Giant ™ vegetables instead of growing my own vegetable garden!    So say goodbye to Martha Stewart and embrace your ADDa Girl.  Remember, you’re amazing, dynamic, determined women with ADHD! 

ADDa Girl™


How Can I Get My ADHD Child to Clean His Room?

Q.  I was wondering if anyone has any tips or tricks for getting  my 7 year old son to clean his room or clean up after himself. I pretty much just clean his room myself because telling him to clean his room is a SURE FIRE trigger to a major melt down (on meds or not) and since he shares a room with his younger brother it is fair that he never has to clean up after himself. I have just always done it to avoid the meltdown which always leads to my own melt down!

A.  Children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) need lots of structure and strategies to accomplish tasks that may seem ‘easy’ or ‘common sense’ to others.  Many children with ADHD often ‘shut down’ when overwhelmed and often ‘act out’ when confronted with meeting parental expectations, like cleaning their room, as they have no idea how to start and finish.   By cleaning his room for him to avoid a meltdown you are actually reinforcing and rewarding your child for inappropriate behaviors.  Of course this is not your intention, but the cost of ‘keeping the peace’ backfires in the long run.   It is better to be prepared to endure the ‘meltdown burst’ to teach your child life-long skills to manage himself and the expectations of others towards becoming an independent adult. 

No worries, your child can learn how to clean his room with consistent practice.  First you need to define what ‘cleaning your room’ means to your child.  Break down what is to be done in order by creating a list on poster board and placing in his room.   Laminate the poster board so your child can use a wipe off marker after he completes each step.  Practice with your child by showing him how to do for each item on the list.  For example, if you want him to put his clothes in the laundry place two baskets in his room. He will put all the whites in the white basket and the darks in the dark basket.  If you would like him to pick up his shoes place a plastic shoe holder that is hung over his bedroom door to put them in.   Assess your child’s belongings and provide a ‘home’ for them his room.  One child I worked with loved baseball cards, he knew exactly where they were, strewn all over his bedroom floor!  I worked with his mother to devise a system of placing them in plastic card holders and organizing them in binders by leagues, teams, hall of famers, and positions. The child was proud of ability to manage his cards as was his mother.   Break down each task and practice with your child until he masters each one independently, and the next time you say ‘clean your room’ your child will know exactly what to do! 

To set up a system for chores read my article exclusive web article on at


ADHD CHADD Conference Highlights

Lunch with Dr. Ned Hallowell, author of Driven to DistractionLunch with Dr. Ned Hallowell, author of Driven to DistractionAs the coordinator of CHADD of SJ Chapter I attend the conference each year and return inspired from my experience and participation. This year I had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Ned Hallowel, author of ‘Driven to Distraction.”  Dr. Hallowell is a international expert in the field of ADHD.   Dr. Hallowell graciously shared his in-depth knowledge and talked about how he is in the business of unwrapping the gifts of ADHD.  He noted ADHD is not a gift but people with ADHD have gifts just like others do without ADHD.

 Highlights of CHADD Conference


Creating Better Tomorrows moving forward to help those impacted by ADHD and surrounding issues. 

Opening Keynote:

Timothy Wilens, MD, Harvard Medical School discussed the challenges of youth with ADHD, ages 15 -26, and brain growth during these years based on a study of young adults.  The study indicated the frontal lobes of the brain showed large changes up to the age of 30, this is great news!  Parents, in time your children will develop  ‘executive functioning skills’ which are crucial to life success and independence.  As your child continues to develop and move through this phase there is an increase of risk taking behaviors and substance abuse.  However, with the proper medication, coaching, and treatment these behaviors can be decreased with ongoing support.

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Alarm Clocks for Kids with ADHD/ADD Children who Have Difficulty Waking Up

Alarm Clocks for Kids with ADHD/ADD Children who Have Difficulty Waking Up

Many children with ADHD/ADD have difficulty getting up in the morning.  Many parents are at their wit’s end trying to get their children up and to school on time.  This is due to the fact many with ADHD/ADD have hypersomnia caused by the difficulty with the brains ability to shifting from the sleep state to the awake state.  A few of my favorite helpful alarm clocks are as follows:

Puzzle Alarm Clock

This clocks wakes children up by firing four puzzle pieces in the air.  The child must put them back in the alarm clock to turn it off, requiring physical activity is the key to get kids up and moving.  You can purchase this at

KuKu Alarm Clock

This clock crows and lays eggs.  It won’t stop chirping until you’ve returned the eggs .  To view this alarm and more go to

What are your Strategies for Getting Your Child Up in the Morning?



Linda Karanzalis, M.S., is an adult with ADD/ADHD, a learning specialist, the founder of ADDvantages Learning Center, and an ADD/ADHD coach who specializes in helping both children and adults with ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities to reach their potential.You have permission to republish this article as long as it retains this information box and the link.




Because I Said So! ADHD Motivation Tips

How to end the bickering and nagging, and motivate your ADHD child to finish his boring-but-oh-so-important chores.

by Linda Karanzalis  (re-published with permission from

Quick word-association game: When you hear “chores,” you think “stimulating,” “fascinating,” and “creative,” right? Fat chance.

Even for people without attention deficit (ADD/ADHD), chores are nothing short of torture. But they also help lay the groundwork for success in life — forcing us to clear the clutter, establish priorities, and be held accountable to family, friends, and colleagues.

In fact, research conducted recently at the University of Minnesota concluded that the best predictor of young-adult success is not IQ or even internal motivation, but rather chores. The earlier a child starts doing chores, the more successful he will be.

Now, here’s the problem: ADHD brains don’t produce enough of the neurotransmitters needed to maintain sustained focus. This chemical imbalance makes it tough for children with attention deficit to complete anything, let alone boring chores that provide none of the stimulation or feedback that engages an ADD mind.

Thus the “chore wars” — a daily reality in many ADHD and non-ADHD households. As parents, we know that chores help our kids develop the life skills they need to become independent adults. But we also know that the fight can be exhausting — sometimes more exhausting than just doing the work ourselves.

But this stuff is important, and behavior modification can help. So here are some tips and pointers that will help you (along with a lot of perseverance) implement a consistent, accountable routine of chores in your household.

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Motivate ADHD Children-Activities

Motivate ADHD Children-Activities

Motivation for ADHD Children

How to Reward Behavior Without Technology

By Linda Karanzalis (re published with permission from

Screen Time

“The thing that motivates my 11-year-old son with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is screen time — whether on the computer or watching TV,” one reader tells us. “He gets one hour a day during the week and two hours a day on the weekend. Unfortunately, it’s about the only thing that motivates him. I wish I could find something new.”

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) crave stimulation and immediate feedback, feeding into the use of technology. Both kids with ADD/ADHD and their neurotypical peers need to spend less time on the computer and more time in the real world interacting and communicating with others. The amount of time you have allotted for screen time is good. However, your child needs to earn this time.

Other Activities

The good news is you can find additional activities for your child to enjoy that do not include the use of a computer. He may feel more comfortable on the computer than interacting with others. To work on changing this, give your child tools to succeed in interpersonal relationships by enrolling him in a social skills training class to learn how to make and keep friends.

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ADHD Help for Parents

ADHD Help for Parent

ADHD Help for Parents
Schedule for ADHD Children of Working Moms and Dads

By Linda Karanzalis (re published with permission from

“I know ADHD kids need consistent routines, but what can working parents or parents with inconsistent schedules do to help their children?” one parent of an ADHD child asks.

Being consistent with schedules, instructions, and discipline as parents to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is hard enough for parents who work regular hours, so I understand your dilemma, but hopefully my experiences as an adult with ADD/ADHD and as a special education teacher and ADD/ADHD coach will help.

Just because your schedule is inconsistent doesn’t mean the basic structure that ADD/ADHD children need on a daily basis has to be. If you can incorporate the following routine-builders — even at varying hours of the day or with help from a partner or another adult caregiver — your child will benefit.

Because children sometimes have the comorbid condition of sensory processing disorder, I recommend that you set up a scheduling system based on visual and tactile input. If you have non-ADD/ADHD children, they will benefit as well. Putting everyone on the same system creates a smoothly running household, and your child with ADD/ADHD will be more likely to participate if he doesn’t feel singled out.

The scheduling system can be tailored to the age and needs of each child. To be effective, it needs to be simple so that you can actually maintain the schedule along with other aspects of your hectic home life.

Here are suggestions to create a visual, tactile system to structure your ADD/ADHD child’s daily schedule:

  • Decide on the activities you would like your child to do on a daily basis. Start with getting up in the morning and end with bedtime. Be sure to break down each task.
  • Adjust activities to the age of your child. Remember, even if your child is older, children with ADD/ADHD are usually three years behind in maturity in scattered areas when compared to their peers.
  • Take photos or find pictures online to represent what your child needs to do. Find a photo of a bed for when your child should make his or use a drawing of a toothbrush to remind your child to brush his teeth. You can also incorporate after-school activities like homework, snacks, and chores.
  • Include your child in the process of gathering pictures to increase compliance, personal ownership, and long-term success.
  • Cut pictures to the same size and laminate.
  • Laminate a piece of poster board.
  • Place a long piece of Velcro on the left side of the poster board and another on the right side.
  • Place Velcro on the back of the pictures so they will stick to the Velcro on the poster board.
  • Place pictures in order of your child’s schedule.
  • As each activity is completed, have your child move the picture from the left side to the right side.
  • Add pictures of places you go and the people you visit to use with your schedule.
  • Put the schedule somewhere your child will see it every morning and have easy access to it. This could be in her bedroom or on the refrigerator in the kitchen.

A consistent, structured method will allow your child to better learn how to manage time, how to pre-plan, and how to transition, which are often the root causes of behavior problems. This system develops independence, creates less stress, and improves self-esteem. Instead of repeating yourself over and over, you can simply say, “Check your schedule.” When your child is ready, you can add time breakdowns to the schedule.

Once your child has mastered the system, you can also add a behavior-management component. This can be accomplished by setting up a reward system based on completing tasks each day. Some examples of rewards or privileges your child may earn through good behavior are time to watch TV, surf the Internet, and listen to their favorite music. For example, if he completes all activities, he gets all privileges. If you have 10 activities on the schedule and he only completes between six and nine of them, he will receive fewer privileges.

You can also change the rewards and privileges that can be earned each day, which will offer different unpredictable opportunities for your child to work on completing tasks on his best behavior.



Linda Karanzalis, M.S., is an adult with ADD/ADHD, a learning specialist, the founder of ADDvantages Learning Center, and an ADD/ADHD coach who specializes in helping both children and adults with ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities to reach their potential.You have permission to republish this article as long as it retains this information box and the link.



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