ADHD ABC|I is for Intuition…and the Terrible Tale of My Twenties

the intuitive mind albert einstein

Intuition by Leah Piken KolidasThe intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.-Albert Einstein

For much of my twenties, I sped on a hell-bent mission to drown out my intuition. Almost whenever the still small voice inside me whispered that I shouldn’t go to certain soirees or establishments, I’d go anyway. Disaster usually ensued.

When I flew to Germany to interview for a telecommunications customer service manager job, the British interviewer did not meet me up at the airport like he said he would.

When I showed up for the interview at the appointed hour, I had a queasy feeling that this was not the workplace for me. The interviewer scrunched up his face while chain-smoking and making disparaging remarks about Americans.   In retrospect it seems odd that no one from the company took me out for coffee or a meal, especially since I had flown 5,080 miles (8175.47 km) across the Atlantic Ocean just to meet with them.

I was so determined to work in Germany at that moment in time that I ignored that feeling. I moved there two months later.   It ended up being one of the worst jobs EVER, EVER, EVER. On one of my last days there, he chased me down the hall, cigarette in hand, all the while shouting at me with his snotty British accent that if I quit he would hire a lawyer to hunt me down.

When I met my future ex in a bar, I had a gut feeling that I shouldn’t spend more time with him. Instead I started dating him.

After dating my ex-husband for a few months, my gut told me to break up with him. I eloped with him instead. When I tired of his shenanigans and verbal abuse, I wanted to divorce him. I got pregnant instead.  During the pregnancy, I could no longer ignore my intuition–I had another human being to consider- my yet unborn daughter.  When I was seven months pregnant, he became violent.  I left him and the country. When he pleaded with me to return, I listened to my intuition, and didn’t go back.

What Does this Terrible Tale of My Twenties Have to Do With ADHD?

ADHDers often have a gifted sensory system. It’s almost like we’re armed with prehistoric spidey senses, which came in handy dandy when our ancestors were off on a mammoth hunting expedition. Thanks to industrial noise, suppression of spirited children in the school system, and modern mistrust of anything non-scientific, ADHDers’ intuition gets suffocated and silenced.

Today so many people run around busy being busy, listening to the radio, watching TV, staring at their smart phones, or numbed out and dumbed out carbohydrates and prescriptive medication. How can you hear your intuition behind all that sensory overload?

How to Recharge Your Intuition

the intuitive mind albert einsteinDo you miss the still, small voice inside of you? Or do you think you’ve never heard from your intuition, and don’t believe in that poppycock? Listen–I’m not into that woo-woo New Age crapola at all and won’t tell you to wear purple robes in your basement or place crystals at strategic axes around your house. I am Christian, and definitely NOT of the Westboro Baptist ilk. I do believe that my intuition is a gift of the Holy Spirit (sometimes I call it the whoosh because that’s what it feels like inside of me).

Anyhow, instead of blasting off like a rocket in the morning and charging out of the house like an elephant on speed, consider rewinding a bit:

1. Go to bed earlier. Your senses will be heightened and you will be more aware of your surroundings.

2. Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier. Actually get UP when the alarm goes off.

3. Take 5 minutes to read a short, positive passage from the Bible (like Proverbs, or the book of Matthew) or a personal development book if you are not a person of faith (something by Dale Carnegie is a great way to start). If you are reading for more than 5 minutes, great! If you you HATE READING, think about it. Are you willing to do something for 5 minutes a day if it will improve your life?

4.  Keep the TV, radio, internet, and Smartphone off. This is non-negotiable.

5. Write down 10 things you’re grateful for in a journal. It doesn’t have to be a major manifesto. Are you grateful for the gift of sight, your health, hearing, your family. Sometimes I put down that I’m grateful for food, shelter, gas in our cars, and my dog! This little list goes a long way. Even Oprah swears by it.

Have you lost touch with the still, small voice inside of you? Or do you feel pretty in tune with your intuition? 



ADHD ABC|G is for Geography…Why Do More North American Kids Have ADHD?

World_upside_down.jpg ‎(800 × 400 pixels, file size: 50 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)

World_upside_down.jpg ‎(800 × 400 pixels, file size: 50 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)Geography of ADHD

I have this theory that ADHD could be higher in countries with giant groups of immigrants (like the United States, Canada, and Australia) than in the rest of the world. Our  hyper, dreamy ancestors left the Old Country to chase the American dream. Most Europeans don’t move around that much– a lot of my German friends have stayed in the same town or village for generations.

ADHD Stats in the USA

  • In the USA, about 11% of children aged 4-17  were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.
  • ADHD diagnosis rates vary from a nadir of 5.6% in Nevada to a whopping 18.7% in Kentucky.  Why would that be? (Some say that it varies because of high stakes testing. In some states, the scores of children with ADHD are not counted. Or do a bunch of ADHDers really reside in the South? Does eating grits cause ADHD? Or?! ).
  • Latino children are less likely to have parent-reported ADHD.

 ADHD Stats Internationally

  • Certain countries, such as Italy, Sweden, and Iceland may have a lower prevalence of ADHD symptoms.
  • In France, the prevalence of ADHD diagnosis is much lower. A mere 0.5% of children have a diagnosis of ADHD and are on medication for it.
  • In Brazil, doctors prescribe physical exercise over a pill for ADHD.

Dr. Polanczyk et al. reported some fascinating facts about ADHD worldwide in PsychiatryOnline:

  • The pooled prevalence of ADHD worldwide is 5.29%.
  • The reported rates of ADHD for Africa and the Middle East are significantly lower than North America.

I could be wrong, wrong, wrong with this theory…it’s something I wonder about though, when driving around. I mean, what about our ancestors who came here under duress, because they were forced, like escaping war refugees or Africans who were chained in the holds of the evil slave ships? Or do kids present ADHD-like symptoms more in North America because recess, PE, and the arts have been slashed in so many school districts?

Why does North America tend to have a higher rate of ADHD? What’s your theory?

ADHD ABC|A is for ADHD: FAQ about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Have you been wondering, “Do I have ADHD?” or “Does my husband/child/wife have ADHD?” Let’s start with little FAQ about ADHD.

It’s especially for those of you adults who are 97.3% sure that you have it, but you haven’t been officially diagnosed by a medical professional yet.

What is ADHD?

ADHD, also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders, affecting about 1-7% of the population. It’s characterized by significant problems of attention, impulsive actions, and behavior that are not age appropriate for the individual. To be diagnosed with the disorder, the symptoms must be present by ages six to twelve, and be present for at least six months. You can find a bunch of stuff from the National Institute of Mental Health on ADHD and its subtypes (mostly on ADHD in children).   Here’s more information Adult ADHD.

Is ADHD real? 

Yes. Next question.

What kinds of ADHD are there?

There are three main types of ADHD (some doctors say that there are even more):

  • ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type- mostly spacey, day dreaming, forgetful
  • ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: hyper, jumpy, impulsive, spontaneous
  • ADHD, Combined Type: This is the two for one meal deal, with a bevy of both hyperactive and inattentive types. This combo fun pack is what I got.  How about you?

Do I have ADHD? Can you tell me if I have ADHD?

I don’t know. All I know is I don’t play a doctor on TV. ADHD is a medical diagnosis that only doctors can provide. Check out this 30 second video with a short 5 question test by Dr. Daniel Amen and his wife, nurse Tana Amen.

Adult ADHDWhat does ADHD look like in adults?

It’s different than in kiddos.  With kids, it looks like spacing out in class, forgetting homework, getting up a lot in class and wandering around.  Adults will have a hard time paying attention in meetings at work, forget to pay bills,

Is ADHD heriditary?

It can be. Genetic and twin studies prove it. It can also be caused by environmental factors, prenatal exposure to drugs, alcohol, and/or tobacco.

Do I have to take medication if I have ADHD?

Not necessarily. There are many ways of helping ADHD, although certain medications can be helpful. Exercise, diet, and supplements can also be useful. Talk over your concerns with your doctor. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a “traditional” ADHD medication, like Adderall, Straterra, Vyvanse, or Ritalin, then don’t do it.  Be careful of quacks and quick fixes! There are unscrupulous grifters and “experts” out there who take advantage of an ADDer’s desperation.

Don’t more guys have ADHD than girls?

Nope. Boys tend to get diagnosed more as children. However, girls tend to be better at hiding disabilities, so they often don’t get diagnosed until they’re adults. (Hey, I didn’t find out until I was 30 years old!)

Can you get me some Adderall?

Absolutely not. I already told you–I don’t even play a doctor on TV.

Hey, Did I Tell You That You’re A Superstar?

gold star superstar

tying shoes shoelacesWhen I was about four years old, I returned to preschool after a bout with strep throat. My friends told me on the playground that we were having a tying our shoes test that day. After recess, we all sat in a circle on our bottoms with our legs crossed. The teacher and class watched each student tie their shoes. She put a star by each student’s name after they completed the task. Since I’d been out for a few days, I didn’t know how. My heart beat thump-thump as I watched each student tie their sneakers.

Upon my turn, I attempted to tie my shoes- the loops and ties confused me- I fumbled, it didn’t work. I felt the teacher’s and other kids’ eyes on me as I struggled to make sense of the laces. The painful seconds stretched out as I reddened and finally gave up. Then she announced to the class, “Everybody can tie their shoes. Everybody but Nancy. Everybody gets a star but Nancy.”

Today I can tie my shoes. I do it differently than most people. Who cares? I can tie them.

I felt so shamed by that teacher it really burned in my mind….I couldn’t fathom why I had this “everyone will succeed but me” block until I traced it back to this event as a preschooler.

In high school my dad would ask me why my A-s weren’t A’s etc. or if I got a C or something he’d be mad. He would always say how proud he was of me and give me attention for my good grades. He didn’t say he loved me until he was dying of prostate cancer when I was in my 20s. There was a lot of pressure to excel academically. In college I felt if I weren’t getting A’s that I was on the brink of flunking. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get A’s, even in college I wanted to please him academically. My brother, on the other hand, felt none of that pressure, got As, Bs, and Cs. We’ve talked about it- he had a totally different experience. I might just be more driven as a first born child.

In fifth or sixth grade, I accidentally blurted out the answer during a game in math class, and the teacher, Mrs. Collins, gritted at me through her teeth,”Nancy, you ruined the game. You said the answer!”

She glared at me with her beady, clumpy-mascara eyes. She didn’t throw me out of the room that day, like she usually did. I never knew why she propelled me out of the room with such zeal. She had me sit on the bench outside of class, and I would wait until allowed back in again. She didn’t discuss her reasons for exiting me, ever, before or after the incident. My father claimed she didn’t like bright girls. She favored the more average girls who thought that she might as well have been a peroxided Virgin Mary floating above the L.A. County smog.

When I Got My Star

When people have called me superstar as an adult, it really made me smile! A teacher friend named Angel (yes, that is his real name) once bopped into my room during class and said, “Hey, did I tell you that you’re a superstar?”

He gave me a post-it note with a star and SUPERSTAR written on it. Those words really spoke life into me. Angel gave me the star I didn’t get in preschool.

Teachers like Mrs. Collins and the preschool powertripper that have taught me to be very careful with words I use with my students and my own daughter- I don’t ever want to sow what that teacher did. I never ever wanted to treat students like Mrs. Collins or this preschool teacher treated me. Shame can sow deep and hurtful, soul-piercing seeds.

Today I have forgiven those teachers. They are just people who had poor communication skills. Who knows what was going on in the preschool teacher’s life? Maybe she had been up all night caring for a sick parent, maybe she had just gotten served with divorce papers? Who knows? The greatest gift I have now is that I am free of the saran wrap I felt that separated me from the rest of the world.

Would you like freedom for true healing? Don’t let a past memory shackle you from walking toward your divine destiny. How has forgiveness freed you? Do you have a fear or resentment you need to let go?

You, too, can be free!

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset: Understanding Autism

understanding autism

Today one in sixty-eight children is born with a form of autism. Advancements in treatment, communication strategies, activism to increase awareness and acceptance of autism, and scientific research have helped educate the public, as well as medical and educational professionals alike about autism. Despite greater autism awareness, some people still don’t understand autism.

My friend K. who has a child with autism said that there are two types of people in this world: people who “get” autism and people who still don’t. (Please note: she does not mean people who catch autism. She means people who understand, empathize, and take steps to accept people on the spectrum).

Among those who don’t understand autism there are two subtypes: people with a fixed, prideful mindset who think that they “get” it. There are also humble people with a growth mindset who don’t “get” it, yet they openly admit it and are willing to learn, like psychologist Carol Dweck’s Mindset.

Fixed Mindset
understanding autismK. states, “People who don’t “get” autism see kids with autism as behavior problems. People who don’t ‘get’ autism think more discipline would take care of ‘the problem.’ People who don’t ‘get’ autism think it is a parenting issue. People who don’t ‘get’ autism have not read a single book out of the hundreds available on the subject.

These people, often well-meaning educators, blame the parents, oftentimes the mother, for their child’s struggles with autism. They escalate kiddos with autism into TFM (total freakout mode– a very scientific term)- and mete out harsh, antiquated punishments to kiddos on the spectrum instead of using research-based de-escalation and crisis intervention strategies, such as Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI).

Such a toxic, fixed mindset and resulting actions harm students with autism. It can cost a rock-brained authoritarian educator his or her job. Worse yet, it could bring on a lawsuit for breaking federal and state laws protecting students with disabilities right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE)!

Growth Mindset
Fortunately, most educators today don’t possess such a fixed mindset.  They don’t “get” it and are open to learning more about autism- that’s a growth mindset. One of my accomplished teacher friends told me point blank that she didn’t “get” autism.

She asked me, the parents, and other professionals for input and suggestions for working with kiddos on the spectrum. When I provided her with strategies and approaches for working with students with autism, she would actually use them! She also communicated frequently with the parents, realized that she needed to differentiate instruction more than unusual and provided the student with advocacy strategies. She held students on the spectrum accountable to high, doable standards AND provided them with the accommodations they needed to succeed. This teacher’s growth mindset allowed her to morph this year into someone who does “get” autism.

People who “get” autism can think outside of the box. People who ‘get’ autism try things another way. People who ‘get’ autism are accepting. People who ‘get’ autism are flexible, patient, and caring,” added K.

If you've met one child with autism, you've met one child with autism.If you don’t “get” autism, that’s okay. Just admit it. That’s the first step. Autism can be complex- as speech language pathologist Michelle Garcia Winner, author of Socially Curious and Curiously Social: A Social Thinking Guidebook for Bright Teens and Young Adults, has said, “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.”

An Open Mind
Do you have a fixed or growth mindset?Want to understand autism better? Consider talking to the students’ special education teacher with an open mind. The speech language pathologist, school counselor, or school psychologist could likely also provide you with helpful input. Get to know students with autism. Adults with autism can also provide you with unique insights about the childhood autism. They are the experts on the autism experience!

If every time you speak to the student it seems that s/he spins out of control, consider learning de-escalation skills, or looking at what your own behavior is doing to provoke the student. Go to workshops on autism, read books like The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome or School Success for Kids With Asperger’s Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers. Check out and check out resources from reputable sites like or When you admit you that you’d like to understand autism better to other professionals, it’s likely that they would be delighted to share their own expertise and resources with you.

I still have a lot to learn about autism- even though I’ve worked with students on the spectrum for a few years now. In fact, the more I learn about anything, the more I realize I have to learn! I pray that I can keep a fresh growth mindset for years to come as I journey from principal intern to veteran administrator.


You are Good Enough: Be You and Step Forth

You are good enough

When I was little, I wished hard for straight hair and tried to brush it out so I could have flippy Farrah Fawcett hair. When I was in sixth grade, I wanted to be shorter. I was already five seven (173cm) and feared I wouldn’t stop growing. Then I’d be so tall that I’d never get married because I would tower all over them like the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk! In high school I wanted smaller bones and shoulders so I didn’t look like a prowrestler when I wore a strapless dress. When I was twenty-four, I made an appointment for a nose job so I could decrease the size of my Eastern European special (Polish from my mom and Czech from my dad). I wanted a tiny button doll nose. Now I like my scrunch-n-go curly hair. My nose is a hat-tip to my Slavic heritage.

After years of personal development, I accept who I am.  I know that I can’t be something I’m not. Duh. Now….I don’t understand former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal‘s racial fraud and identity fabrication.

She stated, “I consider myself to be Caucasian biologically” and then later to Matt Lauer on the TODAY show, “I identify as black.” Huh?!

I don’t understand why someone championing for social justice and equity could hide behind spraytan blackface, pretending to be somebody she’s not. I embrace my Eastern European, Germanic, and Northern European roots.

When we all stand together as who we are as a united multicultural team, we are stronger than if we are in separate tiny factions. In diversity, there is lightning strong unity. Before I knew about the school-to-prison pipeline, the dropout crisis, and racial disproportionality in school suspensions, I had an excuse not to participate in the solution. Now, as a teacher who has worked with long-term suspended students, youth at-risk, I cannot turn away. I have seen too much to hide in my little teacher box. I support equity and racial justice without pretending to be someone or something I am not.

Is there a problem in the world that bothers you? Maybe it’s something you just learned about. Maybe a still, small voice has nudged you for years to step up. Maybe it seems so awkward and doesn’t fit your paradigm. Maybe you saw something on CNN or YouTube or you were walking your cat and got an epiphany on the street corner. It doesn’t matter.

Be you and step forth into your cause. You are good enough.

Top 3 Reasons for Teachers to Join Twitter


facebook is a time sucker1. Because facebook is a time-sucking frenemy. I deactivated my facebook account about three weeks ago (for about the thirty-seventh time). I’m mega pleased with how much time I have back.

2. Twitter is an efficient way to build your professional learning network (PLN). In a matter of seconds, you can connect with other educators all over the world. It’s easy to hop off and on Twitter in a matter of seconds, pose a quick question, then check back in a few minutes to see who’s Join Twitter.answered. Twitter moves fast!

Twitter example

I met social studies Teacher Evin Shinn, aka @baritoneblogger, first via Twitter, and then in person at an #Edtech. When I met him live, it was like I already knew him. It’s also fun to go to education events and then connect with others there, especially if they are live tweeting right along with you.

3. Tech-savviness is a must in twenty-first century learning. How can a teacher educate students these days without a functional level technological literacy? When I hear curmudgeo teachers spout,”I don’t do technology,” I want to say, “Do you use a flush toilet?”

That super galactic high technology was invented ALMOST FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO by Sir John Harrington, Queen Elizabeth I’s godson. Would you rather use the outhouse instead, if you don’t do technology?

Sir John Harrington
Sir John Harrington invented the flush toilet in 1596.

Pencils were high-tech at one point, too. Technology is just a tool, like a hammer, a flint, or a toaster. Likewise, Twitter a way of lightspeed global networking without buying a plane ticket. Join the fun (and it’s free).

Feel free to ask me any Twitter-related questions. Follow me @nancycarroll.

Welcome in advance to Twitterlandia!

P.S. Think of something you’d like to persuade your most reluctant student to do, like pick up a book, write a short paragraph. You can do this!  Jet over to Twitter now.

Helping Parents with the Mysteries of the Teenage Brain

teenage brain

How can schools help parents decode the mysteries of the teenage mind? ​

Educational researchers ​Robbins and Searby (2013)​ ​found four common themes which helped schools in terms of parent involvement in the schools’ interdisciplinary teams. The teams “believe that parental involvement is essential to student success.” They “are open and approachable to parents, serve as a resource to the parents of adolescents,” and “approach problem-solving opportunities with parents as a team instead of individuals” (p.122)​.​

Successful schools meet parents where they are, just like how we meet a student where they are, and take the parents’ learning and involvement from there. Schools can act as a resource of information for adolescent development for parents. I have worked in a private school environment where we provided parents with lots of resources, including monthly lectures, a conference hosted by the school featuring famous doctors who wrote bestsellers​.​ (​T​his school was so fancy it was like teaching at a spa ;)).

However, my daughter’s schools (private Christian school and public high school) have never offered such events or information, even on a modest scale. I think most parents still are not aware of the newer research on adolescent brain development. Additionally, parenting teens can be very stressful, ​more difficult​ than parenting elementary school-aged children. I can say as a teacher and a mother that dealing with the mysteries of the adolescent brain as a parent is much different and harder than working with teens as a teacher.

On that note, what kinds of parent education activities do your school offer​, ​aside from parents attending sporting events​?​ What kinds of events or information for parents on their kiddo’s development ​do you think school administrators should offer​? Finally, if you’re a parent, has your child’s school ever provided any information or resources for you?

P.S.​ Here’s an​ intriguing, short snippet on NPR about a high school teacher’s challenges with parenting her own teenage son. She had thought it would be a snap since she’d worked with so many teens!

Top Ten List: A Few of My Favorite Things…Inventions

A Few of My favorite Things

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I’d like to give a big shout out to ten of my favorite things… favorite inventions. Here you go:

1. Air conditioning. What would life in southern California or Texas be like without it this? On a mercilessly hot summer day, the Arctic chill of a movie theater is pure bliss. (On a random side note, I also like those water misters they have at restaurants in Palm Springs. They’re almost as wonderful).
2. Contact lenses. I don’t like wearing glasses because looking out of the corner of my eye is blurry, plus they give me a headache and never seem to fit right. Yes, I have the right prescription.
3. Airplanes. I love the fact that I can fly nonstop to Reykjavik, Iceland in seven hours and fifteen minutes direct from Seattle. Before airplanes, such a journey would have taken months. I can’t wait until we can fly to another continent in 15 minutes or less. Whenever I fly internationally, I feel like Dr. Who, like I’ve jumped through a time and space wormhole.
4. Antibiotics have gotten a bad rap in the last years, probably because doctors doled them out like Skittles in the 1970s. Anyhow, I know they’ve save my life at least once from strep and staph.
5. The Internet. How else could you read this post right now?
6. Waterproof Mascara. If I could only bring one beauty item to a desert island, I would choose waterproof mascara. Just a few strokes of mascara and a woman’s look is completely changed. Plus if you cry with waterproof mascara on, it doesn’t streak as much as regular.
7. Wash machines. This has saved women (and men) nationwide from beating their clothes against rocks or using washboards.
8. Water heaters.The wash machine’s and shower’s BFF.
9. Glue sticks. Back when I was a little kid, we didn’t have glue sticks. I used messy Elmer’s glue that no matter how carefully or thin I spread it, the project turned out bucklely or bumpy. Sometimes even the colors would bleed or the paper would tear. I especially like purple and blue glue sticks–I’m so easily amused by office supplies.
10. Roller skates. Makes it seem like you’re not really exercising. It’s like flying really close to the ground.

P.S. I love Post-It notes that pop up out of a dispenser! What are some of your favorite inventions?


brave bold

Today is Epiphany, a celebration in honor of the arrival of the Magi to honor the infant Christ. When they came to see him, they had traveled from afar, using the high-tech GPS system called the North Star in the night sky. They had likely journeyed for weeks, walking and riding on their camels, just to see the holy little dude and bestow him with frankincense, myrrh, and gold.


Most of the time today people refer to epiphany as “a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.” (from Merriam- Webster- on a side note- great app I use on my phone). Its origin is probably hearkens way back to Late Greek epiphaneia, meaning manifestation or appearance.


My life’s epiphanies have appeared in two ways. Sometimes a flash, an a-ha moment or really cool idea, divine download springs up on me. And some epiphanies are slower, sneak up over time, or sit and wait patiently. Or they nudge me over and over until I take action. (Some people may argue that that’s not an epiphany because it’s not sudden). I am thankful for an epiphany I had to escape a dangerous situation.

brave bold


Epiphany Words

Sometimes I get epiphany words or phrases that leap into my head as mini epiphanies. The words “bold” and “brave” came to me as words for the year. I painted two little signs and plopped them on a bookshelf in my classroom.

This is not to pronounce myself as the Queen of Everything, yet to remind me and my kiddos to live boldly and victoriously and to kick out anxiety and fear.

What is your word for this year?