create something saturday: neurodiversi-tree(?) | day 01/31

Neurodiversity Tree, inspired by my new blog layout for ADHD/LD Awareness Month

Sticking with the blog theme, here’s a tree I made today on Procreate for iPad.

Day 1 Challenge Update:
Plank:
 55 seconds. I could have held longer but my app counts down, not up. I’m going to use the “rest” days in the 30days app to instead see how long I can hold the plank.

Meditation: I don’t know if it counts for my yesterday meditation or my today meditation but at like midnight I did the Exploring the Breath meditation from Smiling Mind. 

adhd awareness month: my october challenge roadmap

Most people that know me are aware that three (and a half) years ago I was diagnosed with ADHD and learning issues primarily affecting my visual memory and processing speed. Since then, I’ve tried to engage with as many other adults with learning and attention issues as I can. For girls especially, it’s common that ADHD especially is missed, since we present differently than boys—more often we have the inattentive subtype, so we are less noticeably hyperactive!

October is ADHD and Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. You may also notice that things look a bit different around Kerri on the Prairies in celebration of neurodiversity—which is just the cool way of saying that everybody’s brain is different, whether you have ADHD, learning issues or autism… and that it’s okay to not be “neurotypical”! 

But hold up, that’s not all! A guy named Jesse d’Eça from Quebec is taking ADHD Awareness month one step further, and he and the Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC – don’t get thrown off, they probably existed before all ADD became ADHD) have come together to get Canadians doing things to raise awareness of what ADHD really looks like. Challenges can be whatever you dream up: CADDAC recommends: a) Something physical—like exercise, daily b) Something cerebral—like meditation or mindfulness practice for a predetermined amount of time once or twice per day, or c) something educational, like reading or writing.

Here’s my challenge:

Planking. Opting to follow Jesse’s lead, I’m going to be trying a plank challenge for October—the app I did the initial test on today (where I made it 55 seconds… just couldn’t make a minute!) claims I’ll be able to sustain a plank for 3 minutes and 25 seconds (or 205 seconds) by the end of the month. While I understand the whole rest day thing, I’m going to try to skip the ones the app requires taking because part of the whole challenge thing is to do something every day! Unless I like, injure myself.

Blogging. Hi there, people reading my blog. I’ll be here every day in October blogging for ADHD/LD awareness month. I even have a plan for this! Some days will be longer posts, some will just be pictures, but hopefully everything will share a bit of my story of living with ADHD.
I mean, look, random t-rex pictures? Yeah, that explains my ADHD life pretty well, right? 😉

Okay and you know what, since we’ve got column A – something physical and column C – something educational(ish) covered, let’s set the bar high.

Meditation. I meditate using the Smiling Mind app. The fact that they are led by an Australian dude does not hurt the app one bit. It’s something I’ve been trying to get into a habit about, so… Let’s do this. (I’ll give myself bonus points if I can manage to get in all 42 of the remaining meditations in the Adult track ;).)

Want to support the challenges I’ve set up, and support the Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada?
The site is quite non-intuitive, so you’ll have to go here, select your donation amount, and then search my name (Hi, I’m Kerri MacKay if we’ve never met and you’d like to donate money. Thanks! How are you?). Want to do something yourself? Register your challenge here.

And as always, have questions for me about my ADHD, the challenge, or about anything else? Drop me a comment or e-mail me at KerriOnThePrairies [at] gmail.com.

guest post! | kat’s story – neurodiversity: dyspraxia edition

Though I lacked a formal term in my lexicon, the concept of “neurodiversity” (though somewhat controversial) is one that I’ve appreciated since long before my own ADHD/LD diagnosis. Typically, neurodiversity is seen as a concept that seeks to portray a variety of neurologically based “disorders” simply as variations—these include ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and Tourette syndrome, as well as specific learning disabilitiesAnother condition under the umbrella is dyspraxia—one that is probably less generally understood than several others on the list. 

I connected with Katherine (whom I always refer to, in my head and out loud, as Kat) several years ago—we connected initially over asthma, but that’s a rarer discussion topic at this point! More often, we’re planning adventures, spending several hours on Skype telling stories, discussing school, or making mug cake (yes, we made mug cake together on Skype—the level of coaching I required was ridiculous, and Kat’s a good person who didn’t make fun of me—too much :).]

Today, Kat is sharing her perspective as an adult with dyspraxia—a developmental delay affecting motor coordination. Dyspraxia is seldom discussed in the context of adulthood, so I’m excited to have Kat here today!

———-

Hello, my name is Katherine and…

I am a computer programmer.

I am learning American Sign Language.

I am a knitter.

I am a book worm.

I am a condo owner.

I am a Cardinals baseball fan.

I am dyspraxic.

My story of life as a grown up is much the same as any other 25 year old female living in the midwestern United States. I do exciting things like go to work, cook dinner, hang out with friends, and explore diverse and varied interests. However, my brain and I occupy a different motor skills space than yours most likely does. In the early/mid 90’s when I was a preschooler/grade schooler I had motor skill developmental delays. At the time the doctors called it dysfunctional/disordered motor planning, at the time new politically correct version of “clumsy child syndrome” which is now commonly know as dyspraxia. Basically my neurons don’t always connect my muscles to my brain well. Sometimes the message gets through and my body works just fine, other times it gets lost along the way. My writing skills are slow, painful, and took exceedingly long to develop. PE was my least favorite class ever; they always passed me but noted a need for improvement of coordination in activities like running, skipping, and jump rope.

In some ways getting to high school, college, and now the “real world” is easier. I’m no longer graded on my penmanship, and no one expects me to write in cursive. Nor does socialization involve jumping double dutch, although walking in heels is equally perilous. The majority of my work and other written communication is keyed out on a qwerty keyboard of some sort. While learning to type was a challenge initially I’ve taken to keying by touch much better than I ever had to writing. You won’t hear many stories like mine because I’m from the US, seemingly few dyspraxics exist Stateside (UK seems to have cornered the market). Also much more common in males for whatever reason. I’m a grown adult who has found a successful contributory place in society.

The voice of adults with developmental delays is seemingly nonexistent. Not because we aren’t here, and no, we didn’t outgrow it. Turning 18, 21 or any other arbitrary age doesn’t magically catch you up to your peers. Some of it is that we’ve learned how to adapt our lifestyles to avoid skills we haven’t mastered. My cooking has never been dinner party elegant but it tastes just dandy. I’ve found cooking implements that don’t require lots of coordination to work (OXO make some real winners at least for me). I drive a stick shift car of the same brand as i first learned on (so it has the same sized gear box with a clutch that “grabs” similarly). If I’m tired or have a mentally stimulating day ahead of me I don’t drive. Quite simply, while I can drive it takes quite a bit of mental concentration to drive, follow the assigned route and otherwise be attentive to my surroundings. Somedays this is more than I should really take on. I know my limits and live close to a transit loop. My life looks like that of the neurotypical adult because pick surroundings and activities that suit my needs and abilities.

Life is learning and growing and changing the world around you to make it work. Taking it in stride when you trip over your own feet stone cold sober in trainers.

—–

Kat has a degree in computer science and works as a programmer—she is pursuing American Sign Language as a personal interest (but in the very ambitious form of evening university classes—and watching the videos for my Disability Studies class in the Fall). Kat’s “diverse and varied interests” include several different fitness pursuits (running, cycling, swimming . . . ahem, triathlon :] . . .), making me jealous as she goes to Chicago, and crafty stuff like knitting and—though, I think this has culminated—having all sorts of condo do-it-yourself shenanigans.  

Kat can be found on Twitter as @kat314159 […yes. That is pi there. No, not that kind of pie].