November 5: You Aughta Know This Week

It’s a world gone mad: indictments filed, ADHD explained, Donna Brazile torpedos Democratic candidates in two major elections on Tuesday and Putin wins again.

This Week in ADHD

1. Struggling to explain your reality to a neurotypical loved one? Don’t lose hope. This article, ADHD 2.0, is not new, but it is new to me. I’m late to the diagnosis and late to this article as well.

Clinical data indicate that executive function impairments characteristic of ADHD are situationally-variable; each person with ADHD tends to have some specific activities or situations in which she has no difficulty in using executive functions that are significantly impaired for her in most other situations. Typically, these are activities in which the person with ADHD has a strong personal interest or about which he believes something very unpleasant will follow quickly if he does not take care of this task right now. Research findings indicate that intra-individual variability in performance from one context or time to another is the essence of ADHD. Multiple studies have shown that performance of persons with ADHD is highly sensitive to contextual factors — reward, nature of the task, and internal cognitive and physiological factors

I would say the explanation above does not quite convey something that is probably common amongst adults with ADHD–being told we can’t have ADHD because we do something specific very well, and our symptoms must be due to some variable that has been newly introduced in our life (mine was parenthood).

2. The article above led me to this article, Secrets of the ADHD Brain. Sometimes when you have trouble with something like ADHD, an article like this is life-changing.

ADHD is not a damaged or defective nervous system. It is a nervous system that works well using its own set of rules.

…The vast majority of adults with an ADHD nervous system are not overtly hyperactive. They are hyperactive internally.

…Those with the condition don’t have a shortage of attention. They pay too much attention to everything. Most people with unmedicated ADHD have four or five things going on in their minds at once. The hallmark of the ADHD nervous system is not attention deficit, but inconsistent attention.

…Neurotypical people use three different factors to decide what to do, how to get started on it, and to stick with it until it is completed:

1. the concept of importance (they think they should get it done).

2. the concept of secondary importance — they are motivated by the fact that their parents, teacher, boss, or someone they respect thinks the task is important to tackle and to complete.

3. the concept of rewards for doing a task and consequences/punishments for not doing it.

A person with an ADHD nervous system has never been able to use the idea of importance or rewards to start and do a task. They know what’s important, they like rewards, and they don’t like punishment. But for them, the things that motivate the rest of the world are merely nags.

The inability to use importance and rewards to get motivated has a lifelong impact on the lives of individuals with ADHD:

How can those diagnosed with the condition choose between multiple options if they can’t use the concepts of importance and financial rewards to motivate them?

How can they make major decisions if the concepts of importance and rewards are neither helpful in making a decision nor a motivation to do what they choose?

This understanding explains why none of the cognitive and behavioral therapies used to manage ADHD symptoms have a lasting benefit. Researchers view ADHD as stemming from a defective or deficit-based nervous system. I see ADHD stemming from a nervous system that works perfectly well by its own set of rules. Unfortunately, it does not work by any of the rules or techniques taught and encouraged in a neurotypical world.

…People with ADHD are disorganized, because just about every organizational system out there is built on two things — prioritization and time management — that individuals with ADHD do not do well.

…People with ADHD have a hard time choosing between alternatives, because everything has the same lack of importance. To them, all of the alternatives look the same.

Yes to all. I can remember saying things like the following for decades before I was diagnosed, “Who cares, why is that person so upset about that?”

We are not traditionally motivated NTs and we never will be. We don’t work like NTs. And this is why trying to turn us into NTs will consistently fail.

And, the same obviously can be said of trying to force autistic children to be NT.

This Week in Autism

3. Great article by a personal fave, Neurodivergent Rebel. It’s about finding ways to exercise our flexibility “muscles.” With all the fighting and messed up news items of the week, it was a great reminder that there are ways to make our own lives better. This is a personal weak spot for me so there were a lot of good tips.

This Week in Disability

4. Not autism-specific, but disgusting and wrong. GOP tax plan cuts credit for access to disabled people. Remember H.R. 620, legislation that would weaken A.D.A. provisions requiring business to be accessible?

This is a civil rights issue. I wrote about this earlier this year. Here is another good article from the A.C.L.U.

H.R. 620 would completely change the way in which a business is required to comply with the ADA. Instead of requiring that a business comply proactively, the bill would place the burden on the individual who is being denied access. This bill proposes that after an individual with a disability is denied access she must first notify the business owner, with exacting specificity, that her civil rights were violated, and then wait for six months to see if the business will make “substantial progress” toward access, before going to a court to order compliance.

You have to question why exactly there seems to be a concerted attack on the A.D.A. on behalf of an undetermined number of small business owners who are supposedly harmed by legislation passed in 1990. I don’t hear these businesspeople speaking out about specific problems with the law. However, I do frequently hear people who have been helped by the law talk about how important access is to their lives. These continued attacks on the disabled are indefensible.

5. On a different note, I’m a huge fan of Tilt Podcast. The host is a mom of an autistic and ADHD son, so usual disclaimers about the limits of what she can truly understand. That said, I have a massive case of the ADHDs and when I heard her homeschool program for her son on an episode from August, I had to stop the podcast and just drive and think for a few minutes.  What would life have been like for me if I could have been homeschooled in the age of the Internet? Asher, you lucky duck.

I don’t know what the future will hold for my autistic little man, but I feel much better about the prospect of homeschooling if that is an avenue we need to explore. However, any discussion of his schooling is quite premature. He’s two years old.

This Week in Dysfunctional Politics

6. For a week that started out with the former campaign chairman of the Trump campaign being indicted for, among other things, conspiracy, somehow it got worse.

This feels like a slow-moving nightmare. I simply can’t find words to describe it. Is this partisan? While Trump true believers may think that’s all it is, it’s more. It’s a threat to America.

Most of the time, I think there simply cannot be anything to the idea that Trump has been involved. He always seems like he is trolling us. But after his campaign manager is indicted, well, it’s pretty hard to understand why he would have hired Manafort in the first place. It’s hard to know what to make of the scenario of Trump pardoning Manafort after he’s convicted of conspiracy against the U.S. Who knows if the special prosecutor has the evidence necessary to convict. But it’s now getting ugly. Trump has been in the White House less than a year. Serious commentators, like these two former federal lawyers (Preet Bharara being the U.S. attorney very publicly fired by Trump), are already talking about the fact that the meeting with Manafort, Trump Jr., and Russians, after which Trump Jr. put out a White House-vetted press release, is going to be incredibly problematic for Trump and Trump Jr. to deal with from a legal standpoint. They won’t be able to reconcile their differing accounts of what transpired that day.

The larger issue is that at some point either we find out he knew, or we find out the campaign was too incompetent to properly screen high-ranking campaign staff. Neither of these are good options. Many on the left have been talking impeachment since before Inauguration Day. Yet, now, this is is not a witch hunt. This is not partisan. We are heading toward Russia having co-opted a sitting President. That’s game over. With all the talk of fascism and the resistance, this is the end of the republic by a foreign power. I don’t mean to sound alarmist. I’m not saying Trump or his Administration are taking orders from Moscow. At least I hope not. But if Manafort is convicted, how do we trust any Presidential candidate ever again?

7. Finally, I would like to write a longer post on this sometime in the future. But Donna Brazile’s bomb of an op-ed in conservative-leaning Politico, is the last thing Democrats needed less than a week before Election Day 2017. First of all, her op-ed is asinine and she knows it. What is her agenda in claiming Hillary Clinton rigged the primary? She knows it is not true.

Donna Brazile has been a major figure in the Party for decades. She stepped in to be the interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee after Debbie Wasserman-Schultz nuked the D.N.C. with favoritism toward Hillary Clinton during the primaries. I’m not sure Wasserman-Schultz coukd have rigged the primaries even if she wanted to.

Donna Brazile is not a blowhard. She’s the real deal. Why would she put out an op-ed and write a book where she claims, and later denies, that the primaries were rigged for Hillary Clinton?

While I left Washington, D.C. a few years ago, I still talk to contacts from my time in the District regularly. And while I lived there, I spent a fair amount of time in the halls of the Democratic National Committee. Brazile’s op-ed and exposure of the joint fundraising agreement is a big nothing. It is something that she obviously could have dismissed as inconsequential in ten seconds. For instance, the Communications Director who ended up quitting in the wake of the leaked-by-Russia D.N.C. emails, the person whom the agreement guaranteed Clinton’s campaign the right to veto employment at the D.N.C., was someone who had worked at the D.N.C. in the Communications Department in years prior to the 2016 primaries. They put in someone who had already worked at the D.N.C. That Clinton-approved Communications Director, like everyone else in D.C., knows Senator Sanders and his less than stellar reputation as a phenomenally shitty boss.

When I read the leaked D.N.C. emails, most of them sounded like jaded Democratic Party chatter in D.C. I asked several friends during the middle of primary season last year whether Sanders could win the nomination, and they all said no. This is what D.C. does. They predict what’s going to happen and everyone thinks he or she is an expert on politics. Now, did the emails have some shady references to potentially leaking damaging information about Sen. Sanders? Yes, they did. Who knows whether they actually did any of the things they mentioned. But the idea that the D.N.C., whose employees must remain neutral in primaries, would rig the primaries is laughable. Others far more connected than me have made the point more eloquently.

The real issue is simply what Brazile is hoping to accomplish, and I’ve yet to hear a good answer. Some suggested she is having money problems, so she needed a juicy bestseller. I don’t think that is true. Most likely, she is tired of business as usual in the Democratic Party, and she is beside herself that we lost the 2016 election. She doesn’t believe there could have been election tampering, so she’s engaging in the time-honored tradition on the left. It has a very ugly name, and my apologies to those who find this term upsetting. I wish I could think of another way to say it. The Democratic answer to am election loss is the circular firing squad.

Someone like Brazile, who has certainly been the target of attacks after the 2000 election (she was Al Gore’s campaign manager), may think this is how one addresses these sorts of issues.

What Brazile has done (and the D.N.C.’s weak response today) will not fix the Party. It isn’t the Party that is broken. Well, at least not our Party. It’s the Republican Party that needs to start thinking about what in the world they are doing with Putin’s puppet in the White House.

The larger issue that we face as a society is the complete and utter breakdown of civil discourse. We can’t have a fair debate about issues. We attack the other side and neither side wants to give. This is incredibly corrosive to our collective soul, and it is setting this country on a path that we won’t be able to escape soon.

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