ADD / ADHD COACHING
Full disclosure. I have ADHD. I know how it feels to space out during each and one of the classes at school, to be constantly late and have 20+ amazingly balanced piles of stuff everywhere in my bedroom. That being said, I also know how it feels to be on the other side: to successfully pursue a Doctorate degree when English is my third language, to run multiple businesses simultaneously, to have a clean and relaxing living space, and to be (almost) constantly on time. And the best of all, I get to help others to do the same. So trust me, if I can do it, you can do it!
You might be thinking:
Everyone struggles with these issues a little bit. Is ADHD even real?
Can I do this without medication?
Medication helps but doesn’t solve everything.
I’m smart and talented but I still have trouble creating a career I’m happy with.
I quickly get discouraged and just give up.
I keep procrastinating.
I keep starting things without finishing.
Maybe I’m just lazy.
Basic things are so easy for others but so difficult for me.
Something is wrong with me.
I feel lonely; No one understands me.
I’m constantly rushing but still being late all the time.
Random tasks and ideas steal my attention and I forget about the important things.
I get easily distracted.
My email inbox will forever be a huge mess.
If you're reading this, I know that this is not your first rodeo with the challenges of ADHD. You have to understand, your life can be better, and should be better, and the best time to start is now!
In ADHD coaching we get underneath the surface issues. My clients have found that our work together has helped them to master time management, procrastination, organization and focus difficulties to name a few. They were able to create clarity, to plan and to reach previously unachievable goals, and find a deeper excitement than ever before about their lives. They have learned to view ADHD in new ways while creating a balanced lifestyle. They made the positive changes to use ADHD to their benefit in their career, personal relationships, and self-development and you can too.
When I work with my clients on using ADHD gifts instead of suffering from it, I notice that they are struggling with many of the same issues:
Difficulties with planning.
Problems with focusing for long periods of time on boring things.
Balance in life.
Lack of support.
We will work collaboratively to face these issues head on to make them your strengths! By utilizing cutting-edge research-based techniques of working with one’s own brain chemistry, we address the challenges that come with ADHD around attention and action regulation in a very effective way beyond relying on medication alone.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD or not, or whether you’re taking prescription medication or not, ADHD coaching will be a strong catalyst for improving your life not just in your career or school but also outside of it!
In order to start using your unique gifts (such as creativity and ability to hyper-focus on things that are interesting) and cope successfully with the challenges of ADHD, we will do a powerful work in five major areas:
1. Vision: We’ll identify exactly what’s happening to you and finally give your situation the time and attention that it’s always needed.
2. Strategy: We’ll create a clear plan to help you get from your current habits and lifestyle to the one that you really want.
3. Mindset: The process you’ll have to face won’t always be easy! ADHD coaching gives you consistent support during the process, so you can maintain your commitment, excitement, and air out doubts and problems as they come up.
4. Skillset: We’ll make sure that you acquire exactly the skills you need to reach your goals. You will learn cutting-edge research-based techniques for coping with ADHD. You’ll get stronger, faster, and smarter at all the areas that you’re struggling - just like in athletic coaching!
5. Energy: I’ll help you identify what gives you energy and what drains it: take out everything from your life everything that contributes to your difficulties with ADHD, and add things that will nurture your unique gifts, and watch your dream life unfold around you!
You’re a deeply intelligent being. You are full of enormous potential to give, create, and innovate. It’s time to embrace the gifts that come with your ADHD! You deserve the happiness of success.
Take the next step!
I went to Sasha because I suspected I had ADD. I was feeling overwhelmed, stuck on small issues, and dissatisfied with what I was accomplishing. Sasha was very easy to talk to, and he gave me small achievable goals. After the first session, I was more effectively managing one corner of my life. Sasha continued to help me explore what was getting in my way, suggested ways to address my focus issues, and gave me goals to help me move forward. After five sessions I was working steadily on three big personal projects, one of which I had only intermittently been tackling, and two of which I had procrastinated on for nearly a year. Not only am I accomplishing more, I feel I'm getting more control over my life, and as a byproduct I'm developing a more positive outlook about myself and what I can accomplish
Sasha Raskin exceeded my expectations. I managed to understand and to make a profound change in my relationships with friends and colleagues at work, and discovered spontaneity and creativity. I highly recommend that you go through the process with Sasha, a unique and professional coach who, with a great deal of caring and support, has enabled me to reach many insights and changes in my life in such a short time.
Esther Ashkenazi, Embassy of Mexico
Sasha Raskin is a coach who knows how to listen to what is said and beyond. Sasha's non-judgmental listening gives the trainee comfort and openness, helping to reach groundbreaking insights and change. Sasha, thank you very much. Keep it up.
Segev Rosenstadt, bank executive
Sasha gave me many great tools, tips and advice. One of the tools was to the ability to identify my real priorities - not such a simple thing when you face so many tasks and factors in everyday life. Another thing that was challenging for me was time management, for which Sasha suggested a number of things that were extremely helpful. Sasha is a very interesting and compassionate person.
Maxim Michaeli, tourism business owner
I really enjoyed my sessions with Sasha. There was a sense of flow because of Sasha's high sensitivity, his intelligence, his ability to facilitate change, stay focused, and challenge efficiently.
Navit Tashach, The Institute for Democratic Education
The saying ‘ordinary people can do extraordinary things’ describes what Sasha helps to achieve really well. We all want to be happy and successful, satisfied with life, and even rich, but it's no secret that most of us don't get there. Not because we can’t but simply because we are not always willing to pay the price of leaving our comfort zone. I was able to realize a dream but I could not do it alone. Sasha was there for me, didn’t give up and encouraged me to act. Sasha knew what was stopping me and what was keeping me in the comfort zone. Coaching with Sasha helped me start doing and today I have a private business and I make other people smile.
Osnat Gershon, event planner
I managed to open up to people and to look at life a from a different angle. It gave me the tools to deal with the things I wanted to work on and the goals I wanted to achieve.
The experience of coaching with Sasha was crucial for me. Sasha is a very sensitive and insightful person, which makes him an excellent coach. Thank you Sasha!
Hillel Reiner, music producer
I experienced a sense of safe space when Sasha welcomed my feelings and fears that prevented me from realizing the changes I wanted to see in my life, and he motivated me as well. He has an ability to really listen and concentrate on the things that are said and an ability to reflect back to me my challenges. I recommend him warmly to all those who are willing and believe in working towards the fulfillment of their goals. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for Sasha.
Or Yehuda, coach
My sense of self-confidence improved, my optimism got bigger and my sense of personal value soared. You have a personal charm, the ability to hold space, an ease that calms and you allow a pleasant sense of safety. I had the pleasure of knowing you and learning from you.
Guy, commercial real estate marketer
Below, you will find an interview I did with Joe Castellano, where we provide important information on ADD and ADHD, as well as how to work with it.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Hi, everyone. This is Sasha Raskin. And we're going to talk about ADHD today. We'll explore what ADD and ADHD are, and debunk some myths. I'm a coach and a therapist that works with ADHD, mostly in adults, and with families, and with couples. And we're doing some executive coaching and leadership coaching with people. Many entrepreneurs and people who run start-ups have ADHD, which is important to talk about as well because ADHD is being pathologized a lot in our culture, and it actually comes with lots of awesome gifts, and if those are mastered maybe it can be a gift not just a challenge.
And I'm very excited to talk to you, Joe Castellano, today, because you're probably one of the biggest experts that I know on ADHD, both in terms of your understanding of it, a deep understanding, on a neurological level as well. And you actually know how to help people in a short period of time to overcome the challenges of ADHD by doing some brain magic. So I will let you introduce yourself in a few sentences, and then we can talk about what ADHD is, isn't, and what can be done about it.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Great. Well, thank you, Sasha, for having me. Great, so thanks, Sasha, for the introduction. Yes, I'm Joe Castellano. I do qEEG analysis and neurofeedback. I'm also a counselor, and I do an extensive amount of work with ADHD, both behaviorally and primarily through neurofeedback, so training neural networks to behave differently.
I'm an LPCC here in Colorado, a board-certified neurofeedback clinician, and also certified as a mentor so I'm certified to teach the work that I do, and I'm happy to talk to you about what ADHD is and what it isn't and see where the conversation takes us.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Great. And I have ADHD, so there was a personal angle for me. And I have been struggling with it in school, and I remember just completely zoning out in classes. Being able to definitely compensate very well by studying for the exams at night, one day before the exam, and all that good stuff, so I think this is an example that people can be very successful with ADHD and learn some strategies overcoming it.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): That's true.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Oh, so that's a personal angle for you too, so yeah, just sharing maybe some of your adventures with ADHD.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Well, similar to what you just described I lived with ADHD my whole life and I was a good enough student for most of that. And through a roundabout way in an internship for grad school I got introduced in neurofeedback, doing neurofeedback and found that it was incredibly helpful for my ADHD, and that led to me going down this whole career path of getting certified in neurofeedback and getting my master's degree in counseling.
And there are certain things that ADHD brains are quite good at, and certain things that it's really quite challenged with. Generally people who are smart enough kind of can get by quite a bit. And the outcomes for folks who don't have that horsepower intellectually is a little bit scarier, more concerning.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yeah. Let's talk about what ADHD is. So there's a lot of information and misinformation out there, right? ADHD basically it's a statistical ... the kind of common knowledge of ADHD is based on a definition from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual from the Psychiatric Community here in the US, right? So it's very cultural. And it's back from 2013, it hasn't been updated since, and it's an acronym for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so both ADD and ADHD will combine into this umbrella of ADHD. So that's kind of the basis for the definition.
I would let you expand on that. And I might contribute some of the information that I see working with clients doing ADHD coaching here in Boulder, Colorado, and around the world as well.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Well, if we look at the DSM's definition, ADHD or ADD for the DSM is split into three categories. You have inattentive, hyperactive, and combined. And based on these inattentive ... I can actually share that. So you can now see my screen and me?
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): I can see you, but not your screen yet. And now I can see your screen, perfect.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Okay, so in the inattentive difficulty sustaining attention, lectures, conversations, reading, difficulty following through on tasks, organizing tasks, difficulty prioritizing, losing items, easily distractible. So this is the inattentive side of this. And hyperactive, you have fidgety, tapping feet, squirming, restlessness, climbs and jumps on things in socially inappropriate ways, difficulty remaining still, etcetera, and a combination or a combined diagnosed. This is a mix of the two.
Now there's of the ADD that I see and looking at it from what's really happening in the brain, like consistent the DSM lists it as a neurodevelopmental disorder.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Which means?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): That there is some sort of neurological developmental challenge that is causing these behaviors. And in your intro you said that it's often pathologized, and that's been my experience as well. And let's clarify what we mean by that, like often people who have ADHD, and let's just use that as our umbrella term, are treated by institution, school systems, family systems as though their behavior is pathological, that there is some amount of maladaptive bad intentionality to their behavior.
And when you actually look at the neurology of it, you see that it's not really so much it is driven by choice as what's going on in the brain. And the behaviors that we see are actually quite predictable, that there are developmental issues. I'll get it down here a little bit here, and this comes from the work of Russell Barkley of is it essentially a developmental deficit or developmental delay in executive functioning, and we'll simply define executive functioning for our purposes - as the ability to organize tasks across time and everything that gets involved in that. So short sightedness to the future, and when people have a short sightedness to future consequences their behavior tends to be very present moment to the extreme, to the extent of being impulsive.
So we do find people who are successful in entrepreneurial ventures and business development and sales because they're willing to take risks that a lot of other people will sit and deliberate and say, no, I don't want to do that, all these things could happen. The person with ADHD is likely just going to take action and not be as present moment aware that this behavior could have consequences for them.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yes.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): In Barkley's model he looked at that there's chronological age, when you were born, how old you are. Physiological age, what is your developmental trajectory. An executive function age, which is that we see with people with ADHD there, particularly in adolescence, their executive functions lag by a couple of years behind their peer group, so if you're dealing with a 14 or 16-year old chronologically their physiological age may or may not be highly correlated to this, but their executive function is likely to be more like a 12 or a 14-year old.
So when you're interacting with and giving responsibilities and tasks to an adolescent in particular with ADHD, it's important to have some perspective on what are they really capable of and in what ways is this impacting their behavior.
Because it is neurodevelopmental, we can talk to people about behaving differently and point out to them when has been being impulsive, when has being hyperactive, when has poor time management really helped you. And to this, we appeal to our own logical sense, rationality, that like if we just explain it clearly enough to them they're going to get it. And it's about as constructive at times as telling somebody they should be taller. That you have to understand this is this person's talents and this is what they're good at and these other tasks they're struggling with, and there are neurological underpinnings to that struggle. And no matter how well you explain to them that it should be different, you're not going to get a different outcome until you modify the behavior of the brain.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yes. So yeah, I love how you define it and how you break it down. And executive functioning is huge. The challenges that I see as an ADHD coach is adults in different ages and kids struggle with basically time and space, right?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Uh-hmm.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Organization of time, what do I do, when do I do it, and actually sometimes forcing myself to do things that feel more complicated and that will require more energy. And even if there's a longer term reward, if there is no short-term reward it just feels sometimes impossible with ADHD to do tasks that are more mundane and more difficult.
And the same with space, sometimes organizing space, I remember myself in high school I went to an art school that was a boarding school as well, and I remember having huge piles of clothes everywhere. And instead of organizing them I would ... Actually, do you mind stopping sharing the screen just for ...
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): I'm just about to do that, let me ...
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Because I'm not sure if I'm ... my video camera is visible.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Yep, video. Where's the stop sharing screen?
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): It's at the top of your ... Okay, yeah, exactly. Thanks.
So I remember having those piles of clothes and instead of organizing it I would just make sure that it doesn't fall, which is kind of a ridiculous behavior, but it felt like it's impossible for me to find the time or just make the mental effort of actually organizing.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): That's important to understand, that one of the issues with ADHD, and certainly orientation to time was pretty well-documented in the existence of it, and how well we understand those neural networks is a little bit murkier. But we do understand that people with ADHD have challenges with working memory, and it's really quite common for people with ADHD, much as you just described, in my own closet at my house I have shelves without drawers and everything is visible and open, and therefore I know where things are.
And oftentimes people with ADHD ... I mean, you described it as difficulty organizing space, and if you go under ... take a look at the brain, the brain has difficulty organizing things once they're outside the field of vision. So people with ADHD tend to organize their space such that their keys, their wallets, their important documents are all visible. They put things on whiteboards, they use post-it notes, which to a lot of non-ADHD folks, that could be teachers, parents, employers, they say, "Look, your space is a mess. I can't take looking at it, it bothers me." And for a person with ADHD, "This is how I keep track of my stuff. I keep it where I can see it."
And I think it's important for people with ADHD to get clear about how to play to their strengths and how to have strategies around certain tasks.
I mean, if you were to take a look around my office there's a big whiteboard, my to-do list, there's ... You can see all of my electrodes behind me in plain sight where I can see them. If you looked at my desk and my wall folders, I keep things in my visual field and I write my to-do list down on my whiteboard, and that keeps me from getting too far off track.
And for people with ADHD it's very common that if they put things away in drawers, if they put things away in closets, they functionally don't keep track of where these things went, which causes them an incredible amount of stress. And there's this incongruence, and again, it gets treated like this is pathological when in fact it's really a compensatory strategy for a neurological disorder.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yeah, so you're talking about different strategies of actually working with those challenges and playing to the strengths. It's interesting. My strategy with organizing space is completely removing any clutter so I won't get distracted. I can't show my office as well. So it's just very, very, very clean in terms of there's nothing that not doing a function. And I think it really helps with my ADHD coaching clients, because we can sit and we can focus on the conversation versus looking at different things that are not helpful.
So let's talk about these things, let's do this conversation in a different way, not just talk about the challenges of ADHD, but for you what do you think are some of the strengths that people with ADHD have?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): One, people with ADHD, and we're specifically if we're talking about the hyperactive presentation of that, tend to have a lot of creative thought processes, they see things and patterns that a lot of other people don't. So they can be highly creative, they often have incredible amounts of energy if it's hardest. So you see very high rates of prevalence of ADHD in executives and athletes, which is a double-edged situation because here are the people who can really have a vision and then take action and have an incredible amount of energy to see it through, but often leave paths of chaos along the way.
And sometimes having an ADHD coach that helps with the organizational piece, having strategies, that's often helpful. But they tend to be people who are very tapped in the present moment experience, so in the age of mindfulness.
People with ADHD are often to a bit of a fall in the present moment, they're not as often attached to what are events of the past and how do I learn from that and what are the things that in the future I'm going to have to take care of, so let me get started on that. But if they're given tasks, particularly ones they find interesting, captivating, stimulating, they can do some pretty amazing things.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Those are great points. Another amazing benefit of ADHD is hyper focus, the ability to zone in for sometimes for hours on something that is of an interest and feels easy, right? And I think that's where the definition of ADHD as being attention deficit disorder is misleading.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): The whole label is misleading.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yeah. In a way for people with ADHD, not that there is no deficit in attention, they can actually focus more deeply and for longer periods of time than people without ADHD.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Well, in one way in which this can show up is, and this is half a joke, do with it what you will, that people with ADHD or high functioning people with ADHD often use OCD to balance it out.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): OCD being?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): It's an acronym joke, but it's fairly common that people with ADHD can lock on to a task and ...
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Obsessive compulsive disorder.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Yes, that they can be obsessive compulsive to a task and hyper focus and really commit for very long periods of time at the detriment in letting other things in their lives hit the floor. So it's important to realize that this inconsistency of attention can show up on the other side of the spectrum as well.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yes.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): That they can be really hyper focused on a task, a project, to the detriment of other things they should be responsible for keeping track of, but they let it hit the floor because they're super hyper focused on this paper, this project, this initiative.
And as an ADHD coach yourself, I mean, sometimes helping people realize like how much time are you going to spend on that. Maybe you need to put time on your calendar and make it physical, so it's not in the abstract, you're saying for this two-hour period of time I'm going to work on this thing. And at the end of that two-hour period of time I'm going to move on to the next thing, and realize that that transition may be something that an ADHD person struggles with.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yes. And I'm just looking for the name of the book that I think would shed a lot of light on ... So it's called Transforming ADHD, Effective Attention and Action Regulation Skills to Help You Focus and Succeed. And it's written by Greg Cosby and Tonya K. Lippert, and the thing there ... and Greg Cosby, I've trained with him, he is a world expert on ADHD. And I love how Greg and Tonya explained this paradox.
So they say that there is no deficit in attention, it's not that that part is lacking. It's that the challenge is with attention and action regulation. And the four S's, the letter S of attention and action regulation - starting a task, sustaining the attention, shifting to something else, and then stopping, right? So you're talking about the compulsive need to actually continue doing something that you're very interested in on the account of other things that need to be done, right?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Yes.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Different people have different challenges with specific parts of attention and action regulation. The most common one that I see is starting, basically procrastination. And according to the latest research on procrastination it's not really about time management, it's about difficulty managing difficult emotions like anxiety, right? And the anxiety can come because let's say I have a paper to write in a week from now and it feels just so ridiculously difficult with so many steps, right? And it would take forever to write it. And dealing with the anxiety of thinking about it can be very difficult. So what people with ADHD might do is procrastinate, put it off for later, and just for right now why don't I watch Netflix maybe for 3 to 4 hours, right? So there's a temporary relief.
But what happens next time that I'm thinking about doing the paper? Well, I already have a strategy, to relax, right? I'm going to watch Netflix again, until time comes and I have a paper to write at night, right?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Well, there's a couple things going on here. So one people with ADHD tend to be short-sighted to the future. That's a direct quote from Russell Barkley who's written papers on this topic than anyone, and some really fantastic research, and has great YouTube videos. For clinicians I would really recommend familiarizing yourself with Barkley's theories on ADHD. And Barkley himself was part of DSM initiative around the DSM 3 when emotional regulation was relegated to being an associated feature and not considered part of the core symptomology of the condition. And Barkley himself said, "Look, I was part of this, and we got it wrong, like emotional dysregulation is a fundamental part of this disorder."
We also now understand that sleep disorders and circadian rhythm disruption are also part of this, and that there's a relationship between the regulation of our sleep cycle and our attentional networks. So people with ADHD tend to have difficulty with sleep onset, they stay up later than most, and have difficulty resetting their circadian rhythm.
So let's bring this back to this example that you're speaking to of getting started on this big paper and dealing with the emotional dysregulation around it. And so often there is difficulty around the getting started with projects, and that's something where people with ADHD often can use a bit of support, of what is this project, when is it due. That could be for school or for work, and actually some support about, "Look, you need to back yourself out of this." How many pages does it need to be? How many references does it need? How much research is involved? What is my approximation of how many hours this is going to take?
And then this is where an ADHD coach or a caring parent, I would caution parents to not therapize their children, it doesn't typically go super well, which is a challenging thing to be supportive but not therapize your kids.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yep.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): But some assistance around breaking these things down and realizing like, "Wow, this big project is going to take 25 hours, is my best guess." Most people with ADHD are going to underestimate this consistently and go through this Groundhog Day exercise again and again and again, and the whole world expects different results, and yet when we don't get them we get frustrated and we pathologize this without understanding this is just how their brain works.
But being able to actually help them get to a calendar and say, "Look, I'm going to put two hours of side on Tuesdays and two hours aside on Friday mornings, and I'm going to just start working on this. I'm going to just start. And wherever I am a project I'm going to spend this two hours focused on this thing."
And it will help overtime start to create a more accurate perception for a person with ADHD of, "Oh, wow, to not end up pulling an all-nighter to finish this paper, I need to have started six weeks ago, eight weeks ago." And starting to approach it like much like a sports scientist or a sports psychologist would of what is my plan to get from where I am to where I need to go. And even if eight weeks out, I'm going to spend two hours it doesn't feel like I'm getting anywhere and I'd rather watch Netflix or I'd rather go for a hike or go see a friend, but this hour, this period of time is dedicated to this task.
And taking some of the choice out of that and saying, "Yeah, okay, like I'm going to commit this time to start this process such that eight weeks out, six weeks out, four weeks out, two weeks out you've chipped away of this." And then when you get to like where somebody who has shortsightedness to the future, now looks at the task and goes, "Oh, my God, this is due in two weeks. Oh, I have my research done, I have an outline, I have a general idea what this paper's going to do. I can still execute this without completely stressing myself out or going into this incredible hyper focus mode where everything else in my life hits the floor because now I'm in a crisis to get this task done," which the ADHD folks tend to do well in the crisis to get the thing done, but it's stressful on them and everybody around them.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Another book that I really recommend to my ADD coaching clients is Your Life Can Be Better, Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD by Douglas A. Puryear, and he's an MD, a very funny one actually. And I love how he talks about time, understanding for people with ADHD which is basically I as a person with ADHD I don't view time as past, present, future, I see it as now and not now.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): That's very accurate. There is now and then there's not now.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): And if I have a meeting at five and right now is 4:45, it's just not now right now. So of course I can do ten different projects before it starts, of course I can learn everything from Wikipedia about the history of cats and humans, and just all those amazing things that I can get done. Or at night before I go to sleep, for some people with ADHD going to sleep feels like death, like a death sentence, because there are all those awesome things that I can do at night, right? Why would I lose all this amazing time on sleep, right?
Until now becomes now, and then until 5:00PM comes, and then my meeting already started but I'm not ready yet, right? So the not now becoming now is always a surprise for people with ADHD.
I have a friend with ADHD who's constantly late and she's ... I love how she talks about that, she's saying, "People think that I'm just taking my time all the time, and that I don't care about being on time, and they get upset. But actually I'm constantly rushing all my life," right?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Yes.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): So it's not that people don't care.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): I am not sure exactly who's going to be listening to this, but I think you're hitting a really important ... this would be the third time we sort of circled back to this short-sightedness to time, and the now and not now. So culturally, socially, if somebody says I have a terrible sense of direction, just see how that feels when you hear it. And most people go, oh, okay this person ... and you go, okay, well, we live in Colorado and the Sun rises in the east and it sets in the west, and the mountains are west so therefore north is that way and south is where the Sun moves across the sky, how could ...
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): That means nothing to me.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): It's so easy but yet we were okay with that as a culture. But when people say like, "I have issues orienting to time and appointments on my calendar," we pathologize that, we treat these people like they're very intentionally disrespecting our time without recognizing that much like someone who has an impaired sense of direction we're dealing with people who have impaired senses of time, and there is no amount of guilt or shame that fixes this.
There are strategies you can put in place, you have an appointment at 10:00, why don't you put it in your calendar for 10:40, why don't you set reminders that tell you, hey, I need to leave an hour early so I can be on time knowing that you're not going to leave an hour early.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Well, let me ask you a coaching question about that, why not? Why don't people do it? People with ADHD that have been hearing from ...
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Oh, here's where the rub, Sasha, is that kind of like Groundhog Day, people with ADHD often try to convince themselves, "This time it's going to be different, this time I'm not going to forget the appointment that didn't go in my calendar." And then they get a phone call that says, "Hey, are we meeting today?" And they're all hiking going like, "Oh, my God, I have this really important meeting and I completely forgot." They keep having this idea that they're going to remember, they're going to have this orientation.
And the reality is the orientation of time is something that neurologically we don't understand as well as the attentional networks and the sleep onset. And I mean, I have research slides here that I could share as well, that in places that have more sunlight people get more natural assistants in the reset of their circadian rhythm and rates of ADHD go down. I mean, if I ... here you go.
So this goes research that was done by [unclear 33:58] in the Netherlands, a prominent ADHD researcher. I really recommend that folks who aren't familiar with his work look it up. And this study shows prevalence of ADHD, and there are a couple of interesting outliers that we don't quite ...
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): That's so interesting.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): But the rates of ADHD down here in the sunny part of the country are considerably lower, and we get to areas that are gray and cloudy ADHD rates go up.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): That's why I like sunshine so much, that's why I love both Boulder with its 300 days of sunshine. And I get depress in areas where it's so cloudy all the time.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): And get increasingly disoriented to time. And these things are not isolated; they're related to each other. And this study was actually repeated in Europe, and they found the same pattern, that ADHD rates in Spain and Italy and Greece were considerably lower than in the northern and eastern parts of Europe.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): So it's not nurture versus nature, right? It's both. It's both neurological challenges with ADHD, so internal brain structures that might be different, and as well as how environment affects people with ADHD, right?
And in my mind as a family therapist as well, it's also a systemic challenge, right? It's for example parents that like you said are trying to shame their kids into why didn't you do your home work, you don't care about me, you don't care about school. Well, for some people with ADHD tasks that are difficult for other people can seem impossible.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Yes. Well, so the sleep piece is part of all of that. And for folks who have this tendency to pathologize the behavior, I'm going to share my screen again here, so we're not going to go too deep into reading brainwaves and neural networks and things like that, but it was 2013 that the FDA approved a device for measuring theta beta ratios and the diagnosis of ADHD.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): A device that you use in your work?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Yes. These are devices that we have here. Now if you can see my screen here, this is a qEEG report through Neuro Guide, normative ...
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): qEEG meaning?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): ... brain. I'm assuming you can see my screen right now.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yeah, I can.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Okay, so delta is sleep waves and white being normative. Theta, which you're talking often about an excess in theta.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): So just to if I slow us down, the circles are actually ...
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Heads.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Heads from the top.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Left ear, right ear, and we're looking at absolute power and relative power which may be something you and I address in a future conversation. I'd be happy to get into this in detail. But this is a normative brain, and I specifically used normative not normal, because defines normal is a Pandora's box of a question. But nevertheless white is normative, and as we get to warmer colors they're one, two, three standard deviations above normative, and cooler colors are one, two, three standard deviations below normative.
And here is the eyes open brain of a very healthy 40-year old male, non-ADHD. And you can look at this. Now when we look at the brain of a classic ADHD brain that has excess frontal theta, do these things look the same?
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Oh, very different colors.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Very different colors. And this person has actually like four and a half standard deviations above the norm. So red is as hot as it gets.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Which means what? So what does that mean for performance?
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): This person would likely excel at creative thinking and art, but also has a lot of difficulty sustaining attention. We also see elevation in theta when people are tired, groggy, sleep-deprived. So the conversation around circadian rhythms and sleep patterns and attentional networks all start to get woven together. This person is going to have a difficult time paying attention to a task that doesn't grab their interest.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yes.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Now they also have some excess beta which is kind of helping balance that out for them. But normative, three plus standard deviations above this normative database. You're not going to talk this person into having a different neurological presentation. There's no amount of logic that's going to change that.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yeah. And in our next conversation I would love to actually talk about your work in neurofeedback and actually what can be done, what can be changed, and how long it takes, what are some research-based ways of working with ADHD. I can share about coaching ADHD in Boulder, Colorado and online. It doesn't really matter so much how coaching is being done.
You're doing neurofeedback in Boulder, Colorado. By the way, how would people find you if they would like to do ...
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Well, my name is Joe Castellano, I'm on LinkedIn, you can certainly also search NeurOptimize which is the company I work for. And I run their Boulder office. Neuroptimizeco.com, you'll find my profile there. And certainly if you contact Sasha, he can pass my contact information along.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Yes.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): And the neurofeedback approach to ADHD is something that we have really a mountain of evidence to support. And this isn't something where the research is two, three, five years old. Some of this research is 40 years old.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Beautiful, so I'd love to hear more from you next time and going deeper into ... I think it's an incredible work. And thank you so much for today. By the way, if anyone who's listening would like to talk about how ADHD coaching looks like, you can just contact me and we'll do 20 minutes free phone consultation. And I can share with you how you can make your life better. Just go to truenextstep.com, you can do online ADHD tests as well, and you can schedule a free consultation with me. And I'll provide links to your website, Joe.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Thanks, Sasha.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): And to my website as well. I'm looking forward to our next conversation.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Sounds great. Look forward to it.
Sasha Raskin (ADD / ADHD Coach in Boulder, CO and worldwide): Thanks so much.
Joe Castellano (Neurofeedback Specialist and an ADD / ADHD Expert): Take care, Sasha.