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Simple tips understanding how disorganization can be disruptive: comparing ADD and brain injury

11 Jan

Keeping organized is essential to recovery from brain injury.  Clutter overwhelms the brain and may cause “brain drain” or increase “brain fog”.   Changing life by teaching or learning organizational skills keeps these survivors improving and working on other essential skills. It’s hard to get past the basic points in life with your brain feeling cluttered.

Every injury is different.  Some individuals will need to learn these basic skills.  It takes time and patience to teach.  It also takes time and patience to learn.  So if you are the one teaching keep in mind the survivor is equally frustrated.

  • Organization is essential
  • Clutter overwhelms
  • Every injury is different
  • Time and patience to teach or learn
Organisation

Organisation (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

If you are learning new skills dealing with brain injury it is a difficult task and a process.  You will get better.  No one knows better than those who have gone down this road.  Never give up!  Others understand and are supportive.

  • Learning is a process
  • Learning is difficult
  • You get better
  • Never give up
  • Look for supportive people

This type of organization seems simplistic and it is.  It’s something most people learn as children.  For some it’s a re-learning process.  For others organization is a new concept.  For many disorganization doesn’t become a problem until after an injury.

  • New process
  • Re-learning process
  • Disorganization problematic after TBI
  • Organization of every faucet in life, becomes the only way of life after traumatic brain injury. You can compare it to those with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). There are many books and articles about traumatic brain injury, but try looking at those who have traveled this road in a different respect.
    • We can all learn things from the ADD groups.   I would suggest reading the book You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo to help with all areas of organization.  Also, I suggest visiting the on-line site addandsomuchmore.com.  For the higher level functioning TBI survivors another site I find helpful is brokenbrilliant.wordpress.com.

This is where TBI and ADD overlap.  We should be learning from the ways these individuals need to compensate throughout their lives.  The difference between traumatic brain injury and attention deficit disorder is that there is not the comparison of “before injury” and “after injury” personalities. Also, TBI affects every aspect of living, from the basic functions of breathing, personality changes, to extreme levels of fatigue. TBI affects the complete spirit.

  • Comparison of TBI and ADD
  • No “before” or “after” for TBI survivors
  • No significant event for ADD survivors
  • Similar compensation methods helpful
  • Learn from ADD survivors
Cover of "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid o...

Cover via Amazon

Resources

  • Book:  You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo
  • Book:  Conquering Chronic Disorganization, Judith Kohlberg
  • Book:  Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, Cindy Glovinsky
  • On-Line:  addandsomuchmore.com
  •               brokenbrilliant.wordpress.com
    • However, there was no significant event to pinpoint problems, the people with attention deficit may be dealing with struggles for years before receiving help.  They usually figure it out on their own.  This is similar to brain injury.
  • On the other hand, this does happen with traumatic brain injury as well.  Many times injury is considered trivial and people forget the event.  Sometimes it’s the lack of education, understanding or just pure ignorance of others to help.  Life goes on, and many are left to struggle on their own.
  • Disorganization and environmental clutter are things that make it difficult to move-on into one’s day.  Fatigue may occur quickly, and disorganization causes mental fatigue. Brain injury survivors may find it difficult to move past the clutter. Organization will help these survivors focus on areas that increase cognitive awareness and it decreases environmental stimuli.     

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) Survivors

  • No significant event
  • Struggles for years
  • Others don’t understand behaviors
  • Teachers recognize
  • Others minimize or dismiss problems
  • Prevents proper diagnosis and help
  • No “before” or “after”

 TBI-Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors

A100319_MAMC_TBI 1

A100319_MAMC_TBI 1 (Photo credit: Joint Base Lewis McChord)

  • Significant event
  • Struggles for lifetime, with or without help
  • Others don’t understand behaviors
  • Teachers recognize
  • Others minimize or dismiss problems
  • Prevents proper diagnosis and help
  • Comparison of “before injury” or “after injury” occurs

Few TBI patients receive proper rehabilitation.  Rehabilitation should be a life long process.  Recovery is possible with proper treatment.  When one develops complications resources should be available. Over the years the internet has evolved as place for resources.

Life changes, and problem solving is different in every phase of life.  Every aspect, every day, in every phase of life.  The control center of the entire body and mind are often damaged.  Survivors struggle to live with an unreliable control center.  In other words like an unreliable computer.

Broken control center 

  • Every aspect
  • Every day
  • Every phase of life

It’s not about moving-on! Everyone wishes it were that easy.   it’s simply about being more flexible, more patience, more unpredictable moments, and adapting constantly and that’s a daily-life long struggle!  Survivors of TBI are commended for their strength!  It’s the hardest job in the world in any lifetime! The families are commended that learn by experience.

Many families and friends are stifled by other factors and misconceptions.  It’s important to stay with supportive people and leave the vindictive, rude, and ignorant behind.  It’s also the strength within a person that is supportive.  What a beautiful character asset these supportive people carry.   The strongest survive; support and injured together!

Many times TBI survivors feel they’re barely surviving. Survival is difficult for many because they don’t have proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment.  They are barely surviving! Others die because the lack of educated healthcare professionals in TBI,  proper diagnosis, and delay in help.

Hence, every day may be unpredictable with TBI. Others with TBI recover without difficulty.  We need to learn from all TBI survivors, what works and what doesn’t! When you have an unreliable computer you trade it in, purchase another and the problem is fixed. Most of the time!  That’s similar to the higher functioning brain injury survivors.

  • What works?
  • What doesn’t work?
  • Adjustments?
  • Re-adjustments?
  • Adaptation?
  • Re-adaptation?
  • Over adjusted or Under adjusted?

Eventually they figure out what is working, what doesn’t work, adjustments, re-adjustments, adapting, and re-adapting … it’s all a process regardless of when, where or how the injury took place.  Either over adjusted or under adjusted!  Where’s the happy medium?  Also, the variables of every individual are  complex.  Still, there are all the things in between that fall within the cracks and keep their lives intermittently in turmoil.

Addendum:

Two other books highly recommended by ADD coaches are:

Conquering Chronic Disorganization, Judith Kohlberg

Conquering Chronic Disorganization, Judith Kohlberg

Conquering Chronic Disorganization, Judith Kohlberg
———————————————-
Kohlberg is well known for her work with disorganization. This is one of our favorites. A small book, it is loaded with ideas and a unique approach you won’t find anywhere else. It also has one of the most ADD-friendly formats we’ve seen.

Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, Cindy Glovinsky
———————————————-
This resource moves to the *REQUIRED* list beginning with the 2013 class.
Cindy effectively explores the challenge of Time/Space organization. She poses questions the ADD coach can use with clients to tease out their come-from regarding this Executive Functioning challenge and offers lots of great strategies.

Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, Cindy Glovinsky

Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, Cindy Glovinsky

Not her newest, we like this book primarily because it is a “systems” book, rather than a “tips and tricks” book. It encourages you to think of organizing in a manner that is very close to the way in which our ADD Coaches are taught to think about ADD Coaching.

What techniques have you found that work best for you?  What would you suggest most to those with traumatic brain injuries or their loved ones to help them achieve their optimal level of functioning?

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13 responses to “Simple tips understanding how disorganization can be disruptive: comparing ADD and brain injury

  1. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

    January 12, 2013 at 8:44 am

    GREAT article, Edie – I’ll be back again to say more – wanted to suggest a resource: Judith Kohlberg (founder of the National Study Group for the Chronically Disorganized) – especially her later books, once she passed on leadership of NSGCD. Two books I like especially are below:

    Text below cut & paste from the ADD in the Spirit Coach Training Booklist:
    =============================
    Conquering Chronic Disorganization, Judith Kohlberg
    ———————————————-
    Kohlberg is well known for her work with disorganization. This is one of our favorites. A small book, it is loaded with ideas and a unique approach you won’t find anywhere else. It also has one of the most ADD-friendly formats we’ve seen.

    Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, Cindy Glovinsky
    ———————————————-
    This resource moves to the *REQUIRED* list beginning with the 2013 class.
    Cindy effectively explores the challenge of Time/Space organization. She poses questions the ADD coach can use with clients to tease out their come-from regarding this Executive Functioning challenge and offers lots of great strategies.

    Not her newest, we like this book primarily because it is a “systems” book, rather than a “tips and tricks” book. It encourages you to think of organizing in a manner that is very close to the way in which our ADD Coaches are taught to think about ADD Coaching.

    xx,
    mgh

     
    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 12, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Thank you Madelyn, Do you suggest I put this information on the most recent post and add another post. I’m thinking of doing both so those that read the previous one will still get the information. I really appreciate your input and I’m helping myself along the way. Since there are so many levels of TBI we never know what is helpful and what is not to each individual. You know what that is like … it’s finding your own way! There is no map in this world when brain dysfunction occurs. We just know it’s different and usually not acceptable. Take care and stay safe, Edie

       
      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        January 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

        Madelyn, I added them to the published post and as I figured out … again!LOL how to link these books I will put another post out with links to all three books. Just can’t remember that right now! Thanks a million! We are all looking for ways to be successful and getting out from TBI books will be helpful to living our optimal levels of functioning! If only everyone realized how similar ADD and TBI are, everyone could benefit! Take care and stay safe, Edie

         
  2. brokenbrilliant

    January 14, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Reblogged this on Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind and commented:
    Great insight on a very sticky problem.

     
  3. philippinewanderer

    January 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    This is really true, I know firsthand because of the events that took place just yesterday but I’ve had a cluttered mind for weeks anytime one article was out of place. The walls seemed to be closing in on me. Then yesterday, it was all over; I’m glad I defended myself. Maybe for the head-injured it is the best way. When I told the judge that I voted mostly because of my disability, he asked “What disability” because I was only seen limping up in front of high bench. “A traumatic brain injury sir.” I then read to the judge something I had previously written and not for this trial because I did not think I would be defending myself, check it out at philippinewanderer.org in my monthly archive for January. I love your article and it is absolutely true. You really did an outstanding job with this one!

     
    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 26, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Brain injured survivors might need to defend themselves. So many things are never mentioned and you’ve gone through years of problems that were created by our political system. Congratulations on your successful day in court. I recommend everyone to visit your site at philippinewanderer@wordpress.com to see how you handled this situation, but also what happened and how you were held accountable for a mistake. Also check out realestatesevant.com about a nurse’s adult son in jail because he signed papers he wasn’t aware of because his TBI. Others need to learn what is happening and by understanding what you have experience will make their journey a little easier. Take care and stay safe.

       
  4. Maria Tatham (Elizabeth Ott)

    January 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Edie, this was helpful to me. I’m overwhelmed, disorganized, only able to ‘chip away at’ life. The reason? I’m not sure, but I certainly appreciate this and your tireless work to make life liveable and happy and more high functioning for others!
    God bless you and those you help!
    (Great new gravatar pic of you!)
    Maria

     
    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 26, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Maria, When anyone notices a change in performance on an ongoing basis such as you described it may be helpful to see their family physician for a referral to a neurologist, endocrinologist, neuropsychologist or other areas of speciality. Often there are easily fixable problems that blood work can detect. If your doctor is not listening or taking your complaints seriously … find someone who does! It’s your life, every life is precious … and no problems should be easily discounted.

      I decided to use the pic from our 40th anniversary! Happy you like it. Let me know how you are doing. Take care and stay safe. Edie

       
  5. kflickinger73

    January 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    The book “You Mean I Am Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy” is on my must read list! Mom, shared on WordPress, Twitter, and GooglePlus

     

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