Dealing With Change

On November 6, 2018, L., our group member, presented to the group on dealing with change. Her presentation was based on the book Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. According to L., some people notice that change happens over time and adjust to it, others do not and can feel devastated when they eventually notice drastic change. Some people go with the flow and adapt, while others get stuck in wanting to keep things the way they always were.

Group members shared their responses to change, including dwelling on the past or looking for a solution in the present moment. L. pointed out that dealing with change involves letting go of things that no-longer served them or no-longer were available. Group members shared experience (and sometimes difficulty) letting go of the following things and situations:
  • being dependent on parents for problem-solving and self-care
  • having an image of a high-status professional 
  • career 
  • friendly managers
  • office job
Group members discussed new visions for themselves and discussed quotes from the book that they found helpful.

Benefits of Acupuncture for LD/ADHD & Wellness

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On October 30, 2018, Linda S Davis, Licensed Acupuncturist, presented to the group on the benefits of acupuncture for wellness. According to Linda, acupuncture is about helping you being in better shape by balancing your energy, or qi. Acupuncture does not add anything to your system but rather moves energy around. Acupuncture is a part of a traditional holistic health care system that is more than 3000 years old and includes herbal therapy, meditation, taichichuan & qigong, nutritional therapy, and massage (tuina). Acupuncture uses a number of tools and techniques, and needles are only one of them, along with cupping, moxa, etc. Acupuncture treatment is always personalized. Linda also practices tongren therapy, and uses tuning forks in her work.

In the State of Massachusetts, you need to be registered by the Board of Registration in Medicine, Committee on Acupuncture. Some professional organizations in the field of acupuncture are NCCAOM.org, AOMSM.org, ACAOM.org, and CCAOM.org. The training for the acupuncturist in MA takes about 3-4 years.

Community acupuncture is a nation-wide movement that focuses on making acupuncture affordable. The cost of a session is usually lower than the individual session that runs in the range of $60-100. According to Linda, the tradeoff is that the treatment might not be as individualized. To find out more about community acupuncture, go to pocacoop.com.


According to Linda, in general terms, acupuncture is a “root” treatment that balances and strengthens the foundation before remodeling. It is preventative. Linda states, Superior physician, cures disease before it develops. Often, acupuncturists get positive results even when acupuncture is tried after everything else.

How can acupuncture be used for LD/ADHD? Acupuncture organizes natural phenomena into 5 elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) and is based on explanatory systems of meridians, 8 principals, internal organs, and yin & yang. In Chinese medicine, we look at patterns, rather than discreet symptoms. From this perspective, many ADHD symptoms can be understood through the system of heart that, in Chinese medicine, houses the mind. The heart is related to fire element and season of summer. The acupuncturist might start by addressing the heart system if someone presents with ADHD symptomatology.

To find out more about Linda's work, go to www.InnerHarborAcupuncture.com.

Company Research for the Interview

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Group members discussed doing company research prior to interview or even applying for the job. Here are there suggestions:


The following website can be helpful in doing company research and preparing for the interview:
https://www.glassdoor.com. On the website, you can research average pay scale, questions asked at the interview, interviewees experiences with the company, etc.

Another resource for researching pay is https://www.payscale.com/

For jobs in retail, L. and A., group members recommend going to the store and paying attention to the following:
  • What does the store sell?
  • How does it look (organized and clean VS messy)
  • Do employees look happy?
  • Productive?
  • Professional?
  • Do they seem to like working there?
You can bring up your observations at the interview.

Other tips are:
  • Look at Yelp for customer satisfaction surveys
  • Read company's mission statement
  • Find out how the company started, its history

How to dress for the interview? Group members make the following suggestions:
  • Avoid sleeveless blouse
  • Avoid graphic t-shirts and jeans
  • Avoid sneakers
  • Be prudent with or avoid accessories and scents
  • Choose solid colors
  • Dress "a step above" from how current employees dress at the place

Schedule for October - December 2018

Photo by Caleb Wood, downloaded from pexels 9/30/18, free for personal and commercial use

October 2                   
Planning Skills: Setting Mid-Term Goals                                   
Setting 3-month goals and intention; presentation by group facilitator on time maps

October 9                   
Organizational Skills: Concentrating on Task at Hand                          
Group discussion

October 16                 
Job Skills: Job with the State and Job Fairs                                   
Guest Speaker: Juanita Allen, Human Resources Division/Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

October 23                 
Self-Regulation Skills: Getting Motivated        
Group discussion

October 30                 
Self-Care Skills: Benefits of Acupuncture                                   
Guest Speaker: Linda Davis, Licensed Acupuncturist, Inner Harbor Acupuncture

November 6                
Self-Regulation Skills: Dealing with Change                                   
Presentation by LR, group member; presentation is partially based on Who Moved My Cheese?

  November 13   
  Self-Regulation Skills: Dealing with Fear of Failure 
 Group discussion

November 20              
Interviewing skills                                
Group discussion

November 27              
  Organizational Skills: Mind Mapping    
 Presentation by LSL, group member

December 4                
Self-Regulation Skills: Focusing on Positive Aspects of ADHD       
Group discussion

December 11              
Wrapping Up, end of the cycle            
Overview of the goals, brainstorming ideas for the next cycle

December 18              
Holiday Potluck                                   
Annual denominational holiday potluck and talent show

Maintaining Productivity and Motivation

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On August 8, 2018, A., our group member, presented to the group on maintaining productivity and motivation.

According to A., motivation (reasons for behaving in a certain way) and productivity (quality of producing something) get hindered by negative thoughts. A. points out that negative thoughts often come from previous events, including those that go back to childhood. A. points out that children often internalize negative messages they might be receiving when they grow up, and as a result these messages become a part of what he refers to as "subconscious mind." These negative thoughts can show in actions and behavior, such as procrastinating on an important task, for example.

A. shared with the group some handouts he prepared for his presentation on positive mental attitudes and combating negative thinking. Group members shared their examples of "negative thoughts" and considered alternative - more balanced - views on the the situations.

A. shared his techniques and tools for maintaining productivity and motivation. Some of them include:
  • writing ideas for the book he is writing on note card and keeping all these note cards in a Ziploc bag for reference
  • using a pre-printed task pad to write down creative projects he wants to work on during the day and crossing them out when they get accomplished
  • meditation - A. states that it helps him to clear his mind
  • carrying with himself a small notebook where he puts his to-do items
  • using a planner with goals for the week and appointments
For further reading on motivation and productivity, A. recommends "You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero.

Everything I Need to Know About Social Interactions I Learned From Music

Photo by Bruce Mars
On August 7, 2018, Miles Wilcox, Music Teacher, presented to the group on the benefits of music-based exercises for developing social skills. Miles has extensive experience working with children and adults, both neurotypical and neurodiverse, including individuals with LD and ADHD. Miles works full time at one of the Charter schools in Dorchester as a music teacher. In addition, he conducts private and group lessons at the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs
(https://www.berklee.edu/berklee-institute-arts-education-and-special-needs).

Miles' undergraduate and graduate degrees are both in music. He says that at some point, he tried to pursue a degree in a more financially secure field, but realized that music is his true vocation, even if it does not pay well. He states, "I love what I do" and it certainly comes through his work.

Miles points out that he is a music teacher, not music therapist. Therefore, when he develops lesson plans, his goals as an instructor are musical. However, he notices that learning, practicing, and making music can also be therapeutic to many of his students.

Miles emphasizes the social aspect of music. He states, "Music is not something that I do in a vacuum or by myself. Even if I am the only one performing on stage, I am still interacting with my audience." For this reason, music can be such a powerful tool for many individuals who experience challenges in social areas, such as individuals with Autism, developmental disorder, LD, and ADHD.

Miles believes that musical skills mirror important social skills. He lead the group through a series of musical exercises that utilize those skills, including:
  1. Listening
  2. Turn-taking
  3. Balancing (Miles describes it as "listening to self enough so know what I am doing, but also listening to others")
  4. Regulating attention/impulsivity
  5. Improvisation
Miles elicited group feedback after each of the exercise. He values and models feedback that is delivered in a critical and kind way. He uses visually-based system for feedback:


Photo by Pixabay

Light bulb = I get an idea
Star = I liked it!
Stairs = I did not quite like it :(





 
One of the group members asked why "stairs" were used for something the students might not like. Miles response is that he encourages his students to develop a "growth mindset," which requires thinking flexibly. One of the features of the growth mindset is breaking habitual mental good/bad or black/white dichotomies and instead focusing on improving what might not be working for you at the time. He believes that nothing is 100% good or bad. If you do not feel comfortable with something, it often means that some adjustment needs to be made - not necessarily that the musical exercise you do not like should be avoided all together.

Miles also modeled for the group receiving critical feedback, changing and adjusting his approach and exercises as the group progressed. The group members had an opportunity to engage in fun music exercises, play with various musical instruments, and sing.

Miles encourages everyone to persevere and not give up, even when you think you are not as "good" as you want to be - and not only in music, but in other areas of life.

Brief Notes on Office Etiquette

As our group members often mention, understanding office etiquette can be difficult for someone with LD/ADHD because etiquette rules are unwritten and require reading between the lines. Group members suggest a simple of rule of "not offending 5 senses of others."

Here are some of the examples:
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Sight:
  • dress code - making sure you dress like other people in the office (i.e., formal, informal, etc.)
  • clutter on the desk - trying to keep it to minimum
  • cleaning after self in common areas
Smell:
  • avoid being a sources of odor
  • attending to personal hygiene
  • being easy on perfume
  • being aware of types of food eaten for lunch - avoiding those with strong smell
Touch:
  • use of touch - do people shake hands when greet each other? do they hug? slap each other on the back? If no-one does the above, might be a good idea to avoid personal touch
  • personal space - as a rule of thumb, one arm-length or a bit more can be comfortable for many people; however, it is very individual. If you notice a person moving backwards when you try to talk to him or her, the chances are he or she might need more personal space
 Hearing:
  • talking loud - can be distracting to others
  • talking about personal matters - might not be a good idea on the job as not everyone might want to know about your personal life
  • gossip - can be harmful
Taste:
  • food with low odor

Goals for July - September 2018

Photo retrieved from Pexels on 7/29/18,
marked as free for personal/commercial use
Group members set 3-month goals related to Work, Wellness, and Fun

AM
1. At least one sewing project
2. Gym 2 times/week, meditation 5 times/week
3. Plan birthday parties for Oct

LR
1. Have a job interview
2. Break away from "internet addiction"/ curb the desire to browse for countless hours
3. Make a morning run a set habit

DB
1. Learn more about Windows 10 and website
2. Do more outdoor performances
3. Wellness - POP shots for the hip

SB
1. Find a way to use new rhythm with other people
2. Look more into a trip to England
3. Remember to drink more H2O

H
1. Get a good job
2. Reducing sugar in a diet
3. Doing well at the internship



Schedule for July-August-September 2018

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July 10                        
Planning Skills: Setting Mid-Term Goals                                   
Setting 3-month goals and intention for the next 3 months; strategies for job search

July 17                        
Communication Skills: Giving and Receiving Feedback                   
Presentation by the group leader

July 24                        
Self-Regulation Skills: Dealing with Emotional Reactivity                   
Group discussion

July 31                        
Organizational Skills: Mentally Organizing Multiple Tasks                         
Group discussion

August 7                     
Communication Skills: Everything I Need to Know About Social Interactions I Learned From Music                                  
Guest Speaker: Miles Wilcox, Music Teacher

August 14                   
Organizational Skills: Maintaining Productivity and Motivation                  
Presentation by A., the group member

August 21                                           
Self-Care Skills: Mindfulness for Stress Management                                                        
Presentation by group facilitator

August 28                   
Job-Search Skills: Company Research Before the Interview                     
Group discussion

September 4               
Job Skills: Starting New Job on a “Good Foot”                                   
Guest Speaker: Jim Fratolillo, former Director of Statewide Employment Services, MRC

September 11             
Interviewing Skills: Answering Difficult Questions
Group discussion

September 18             
Self-Care Skills: Healthy Nutrition for LD/ADHD                                  
Guest Speaker: Jeannedarc Haddad

September 25             
Wrapping Up, end of the cycle            
Overview of the goals, brainstorming ideas for the next cycle

ADA and Self-Disclosure

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photographer: energepic.com

On June 19, 2018, our guest speaker, Mr. Rick Kugler, presented to the group on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and self-disclosure.

Rick has background working at the Club House program in Philadelphia, as well as providing basic benefits counseling, job coaching, and more recently - helping people with disabilities to self-advocate through the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston. 

Rick shared with the group his personal experience of looking for and interviewing for a job while dealing with a medical condition, which made it hard to engage in timely communication with the potential employer. At the time, Rick had to weigh the decision whether to self-disclose or not. Rick mentioned to the group that he ended up disclosing to the potential employer having the medical condition, which worked out fine. However, he acknowledged that it does not work out in all cases.

Group members shared their personal experiences of disclosing a disability at a workplace. They pointed out that self-disclosure is complicated. For example, C. disclosed having ADHD and her manager allowed her to stay at a more stable and less acute work setting, which worked out well. Similarly, L. had positive experience disclosing and getting accommodations on the job. H., on the other hand, had a more mixed experience. For 12 years she worked with the supervisor who was understanding of her disabilities. However, when a supervisor changed, he was not supportive of H. and fired her despite the self-disclosure and request for accommodations.

According to Rick who sites Otto Wahl's "Telling is Risky Business: Mental Health Consumers Confront Stigma," out of people with mental-health-related disabilities who self-disclose on the job, 25-30% get some kind of accommodations, 25-30% report having "bad experience" around self-disclosure and another 30% report that self-disclosure did not seem to make a difference one way or the other.

Rick believes that accommodation is more complex when the disability is invisible. According to him, from the employer's perspective, visible disability is quantifiable and therefore easier to address. The group echoed Rick's sentiment. For example, L states, "We behave in ways that perceived strange and inappropriate for the workplace. Employers often do not know how to help someone with social behaviors."

Rick makes a difference between self-disclosure and self-identification. The example of self-identification is an online job application that asks you whether you identify as a person with a disability or whether you need any accommodations to perform the job. Rick points out that self-identification on the online applications should be handled differently from the application itself. Your self-identification should not be connected to your job application. 

Self-identifying might be advantageous if the employer is looking to diversify. For example, under the Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, federal contractors, and sub-contracts committed to 7% of jobs being available to employees with disabilities. In Massachusetts, there are similar requirements for the State contractors and sub-contractors. If you are looking for an employment with one of them, self-identifying might be advantageous.

At the same time, Rick advises caution with self-identification and self-disclosure. He states, "Less is better than more, and later is better than sooner. Do not do the label. Disclose based on function."

Rick suggests to self-disclose if you struggle with performance and he advises self-disclosing before the employer takes disciplinary action. Rick points out that the employee does not always get what he or she asks for as an accommodation should be deemed "reasonable." For some examples of reasonable accommodations, Rick suggests consulting JAN - Searchable Online Accommodation Resource https://askjan.org/soar/.


Schedule for April-June 2018



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marked as free for personal and commercial use

April 3                         
Organizational Skills: Setting Mid-Term Goals                                   
Setting 3-month goals and intention for the next 3 months; overview of the new cycle

April 10                        
Assistive Technologies: Keeping Self Organized                                    
Guest Speaker: Catherine H. Bly, M.Ed., TVI, Assistive Technology Regional Center Program Manager, Easter Seals

April 17                        
Organizational Skills: Using Calendar for Scheduling                  
Group discussion on scheduling and being on time

April 24                        
Assistive Technologies: Combating Inertia with Exercise Apps             
Presentation by group facilitator, group discussion

May 1                          
Organizational Skills: Organizing Space         
Group discussion on organizing bedroom, room, and other spaces

May 8                          
Organizational Skill: Organizing Papers and Sticking with the Plan  
Group discussion on organizing folders and desk

May 15                        
Organizational Skills: Gamification for Motivation                                    
Presentaiton by group facilitator, group discussion on motivating self for tedious tasks

 May 22   
 Self-Care Skills: Healthy Nutrition        
 Guest Speaker: TBA

May 29                        
Self-Care Skills: Setting Up a Buddy System to Accomplish Tasks       
Group discussion

June 5                        
Self-Awareness Skills: Metacognition 
Presentaiton by group facilitator, group discussion

June 12                       
Self-Awareness Skills: Neuroplasticity and LD/ADHD                     
Group discussion

 June 19            
Job Skills: Working with LD/ADHD       
Guest Speaker: TBA

June 26                      
Wrapping Up, end of the cycle             
Overview of the goals, brainstorming ideas for the next cycle