WATCH: Sitt Down: Special Education Attorney Adam Dyan and Dr David Sitt Discuss ADHD Refocused
Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney and host of the award-winning Curious Incident podcast for special needs families, recently had a “Sitt” down author talk with Dr. David Sitt, psychologist and author of ADHD Refocused: Bringing Clarity to the Chaos.
WATCH: Adam Dyan and Dr. David Sitt Discuss ADHD Refocused
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About Dr. David Sitt and ADHD Refocused: Bringing Clarity to the Chaos
David Sitt, PsyD, is among the growing number of adults diagnosed with ADHD later in life. Alongside those who carry the diagnosis from childhood, he understands the three-ringed experience of living with ADHD—as well as the empowering methods and mindsets that can turn that chaos into clarity. ADHD Refocused is packed with actionable tips and strategies to help you manage symptoms and achieve your goals!
Connect with Dr. Sitt here:
Do You Have Questions About Your Special Needs Child's Education? Your child's education is our #1 priority. If you have questions about your child's education, reach out to the Law Offices of Adam Dayan. Call (646) 866-7157 and request a consultation with our New York attorneys today.
Transcript: Sitt Down: Special Education Attorney Adam Dyan and Dr David Sitt Discuss ADHD Refocused
Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: I think we're live. Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us. My name is Adam Dayan. The name of my law firm is The Law Offices of Adam Dayan. We help children with special needs receive a quality education and long-term financial security. It's my pleasure to be here with Dr. David Sitt. Welcome. Dr. David Sitt: Very, very enjoy ... Looking forward to being here, I should say. Thank you, Adam. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: It's great to have you here. And let me just say what an honor it is to be having this author talk with you. I've known you for about 30 years, used to be my camp counselor, then my college professor and mentor all along the way. So it's really an honor to be having this conversation with you here today. Dr. David Sitt: Blink of an eye, Adam, a blink of an eye. Right? Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: Yeah. Absolutely. So let me just say, in our law practice, we focus on children who have ADHD and all kinds of special needs. However, there are some people who don't get diagnosed in childhood, and Dr. Sitt is going to talk about adults with ADHD. So I'm going to read question quick bio, so you know who this man is, and then we can jump into some questions, which I'm really excited to do. Sound good? Dr. David Sitt: Sounds good. Let's go. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: All right. Dr. David Sitt is a psychologist in New York with over 20 years experience as a therapist, consultant, and educator. Dr. Sitt is renowned for his engaging and stimulating presentations with professional audiences and educational institutions. He is on the faculty at Baruch College, my alma mater, where his passion for teaching has led to many accolades, including being ranked number eight nationwide on ratemyprofessor.com. In the clinical arena, Dr. Sitt specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults with ADHD, anxiety, and mood disorders through validated treatment modalities such as CBT and mindfulness based cognitive therapy. He has published multiple scholarly articles on adult ADHD and has been featured on platforms such as Vice Media and The Howard Stern Show. Today, we're speaking with Dr. Sitt about his new book, which is fantastic. I just finished it. It's called ADHD Refocused: Bringing Clarity to the Chaos. It's extremely informative and has loads of tips. There it is, looks great, loads of tips on how people with ADHD can manage their lives better. And I just want to say this is a short author talk about the book. If you want a fuller conversation with Dr. Sitt on the subject of managing life with ADHD, check out episode 12 of my firm's podcast called The Curious Incident Podcast, available wherever you listen to your podcasts. So let's jump into it. You ready? Dr. David Sitt: Let's go. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: David, your book focuses on adults with ADHD. What made you decide to focus your book specifically on adults with ADHD as opposed to taking a more child centered approach? Dr. David Sitt: That's a great question. I can trace it back to the origins of even my relationship with ADHD, which is that I was diagnosed as an adult. I was 22, 23 years old at the foot of graduate school when I hit a brick wall in a course that I was taking, and I was threatened ... There was a threat that I might be bounced out of the program because if you fail one class, and you're out. And my professor at the time was very caring and said, "You handed this project in late. It should fail, but I think you have something going on that has not been diagnosed. And you should go get evaluated for potentially ADHD." I did, I was diagnosed. And when I went to find resources to help me at the time, this is 20 plus years ago, there was really nothing available. And I saw that as an opportunity. I saw that as a void in the mental health space to help those like myself, or adults with ADHD, whether late life diagnosis or early life, but now grew into their adulthood. There was nothing there. And at the time, I said to myself, "I would be part of that community to provide resources for adults with ADHD." And that's why I focus my practice on the adult ADHD community. And this book naturally to me felt like a great evolution of that work so that I can take all that I learned in working on my own ADHD and working with the clients that over the years I've been privileged to work with and give these resources to a wider audience. And so that's why I took the adult approach. I might come back around and ... Actually, my son, and we've talked about it in our last episode, who's 10 years old, just last night said to me, "Dad, can we write a book together? Can we write a book about kids with ADHD?" Because he has ADHD and he's very conscientious young man, and he wants to get the child word out, so we'll see. But we started with this one. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: That's pretty cool. It sounds like that professor change the course of your life, helped you to know that you were struggling with ADHD yourself. And now here you are. So let me ask you, some adults who've struggled through life with undiagnosed ADHD may think, "I've made it this far. I can keep doing what I'm doing without getting help." Why should they take your book seriously and care about identifying and embracing their ADHD and learning to deal with it as this stage of their lives? Dr. David Sitt: I find that if you are an adult with ADHD, you typically have a known narrative of what has worked for you, what has gotten you by thus far, but you're also likely aware of the stumbling blocks, the patterns that you've fallen into that don't allow you to be at your best. And to be able to access a set of resources from a tried and tested expert and from knowledge base that I try to bring forward in this book, based on many, many hundreds of people over the years that I've worked with and tried to develop effective tools, it can be quite helpful to not have to start from scratch if you're an adult out there with ADHD. You might benefit from those who have already been through it. Don't reinvent the wheel, as they say. And the way I've written this book is to give people my tips and methods that they can open up right out of the box and apply, but also ways that you can overlay the concepts of how ADHD works onto maybe what you're already doing with some slight adjustments. So it behooves you to at least try, at least check out a resource, my book, or other books that can help you become more tuned in. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: And some small steps can make a big difference in the way you're managing your life. Let's talk about the emotional toll that people with ADHD struggle with. And in your book, you call it the emotional byproducts of ADHD. Can you discuss what kind of emotional toll it takes on people and what hope your book offers them in terms of learning to manage those emotions effectively? Dr. David Sitt: I think this conversation is really important because many people who come to, let's say see me in my practice, often arrive because they've gone through years of misdiagnosis because what was most apparent to them were these emotional byproducts of guilt and shame, the depression and anxiety that comes as a byproduct of struggling to launch and struggling to hit your deadlines, and struggling to get organized, or dropping the ball in work, or in relationships, et cetera, which if you have ADHD, these struggles are going to be steadily affecting you, but without knowing about the ADHD, you're only potentially going to feel the byproducts, like we listed earlier. And so again, many people show up into therapy because of the emotional pieces. What we're doing in this book is trying to frame your emotional challenges within the ADHD aspect of your life, if indeed that is part of your diagnosis. And the tools that we present are how to address, like we mentioned earlier, there are executive functions that we deal with in the book, time management. I talk about this three tier, two or three tier system, we did it at length in your other podcast, or using a timer. This is how much time is left in our talk today. This is an externalization tool. There are many tools that I talk about with ADHD. But the emotional piece, this is when we apply things like cognitive therapy, understanding the emotional ways of perceiving life and what you can do to shift the perceptions, how to control the anger, how to track the anxiety, and the emotional methods might be to welcome the emotions, invite them in like you're a bus driver, driving a bus, and you welcome on to the passengers of the bus. Hey there, anxiety, welcome onto my bus. I'm just going to let you know this is my bus. I'm driving the bus. You can't take it over. You might cause a lot of ruckus, but I acknowledge you. I recognize you. And just that perception, the shift of perspective of realizing the anxiety, the depression, the guilt, the shame are passengers in my bus, but they don't own the bus. They don't drive the bus. But if I don't acknowledge them, they could cause me to crash and get into difficulty. These methods can significantly help improve my relationship with myself, with my ADHD, bringing mindfulness to the fold is another crucial element that I talk about at length in the book. And these are just some ways that I help guide people to improve probabilities of succeeding with their life with ADHD. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: I think the analogy of the bus was a really powerful one. It really stood out to me. I think you do a good job in the book of showing the interconnection between the skills part, the time management, the task management, et cetera, and the emotional piece that needs attention, and all while showing yourself some self-compassion. Right? Do you want to speak a little bit about that part? Dr. David Sitt: I'm glad you picked up on that, Adam, because in my experience, without that wrapping of self-compassion, we will struggle in a much deeper way and in ways that will take a bad day and stretch it out to a bad week, and a bad week, and stretch it out to a terrible month. When we bring self-compassion in on a regular basis, a slow drip of self-compassion, so that I forgive myself that, okay, yesterday on my three tier system, I wrote 10 things down. I only got three done. If I don't remind myself that's okay, it's okay, I tried my best, I put my effort in, or maybe I did zero, but it's okay. I'm going to give myself a break, get to the next day, start again. That self-compassion is integral for the long game of living with ADHD, so I'm glad you pointed that piece out. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: Let's move on to the next question. In the book, you have two wonderful chapters devoted to what you refer to as techno ADD. What is techno ADD, and what challenges is it presenting for people in today's fast-paced society? Dr. David Sitt: Great question and great zooming in on an area that I think applies way beyond ADHD, and that's why I included it in this book. So most of us these days are tethered to various technological devices, whether their phones, laptops, or tablets, et cetera. And if you think about it, 15 years ago, we weren't as tethered. There was a limited number of devices. But with portable devices, our brains are now tethered to such devices in a way that is mimicking symptoms of ADHD for many of us. So we are as a society way more distracted. We are more inclined to be focusing on something, maybe it's a conversation with our children, and that phone pops up a notification, or we're working on something, we're trying to have a conversation with our kids, and we think we can multitask, pull out that phone and hold two things at once. And there's a degradation occurring to our ability to sustain focus through the technology. We might be more inclined to be impulsive with shopping, and we're more impulsive with viewing social media streams, just nonstop. We also have this loss of time that's typical of ADHD, the time blindness that an ADHD person experiences. Many other people can relate to that now because we get lost in streaming our various services and we lose track of time. Our listeners today, I imagine many people can relate to that from the technology side. So I couched this as techno ADD, it's a cousin of ADHD. And we're beginning to see the research, by the way, the exacerbation of bonafide ADHD by technology, and even there's inklings of research showing that people who did not have ADHD present in their life at all, suddenly in adulthood might show an emergence of ADHD, which is against all of what we thought could be with ADHD. But it's seemingly starting to pop up. We have a lot to figure out in the years ahead of this relationship between technology and our attention, focus, impulsivity, et cetera. And by the way, the techniques that I address in the book can apply just as well to someone with bonafide developmental ADHD as someone who is suffering because of technology's siphoning of their attention. And when I named the book ADHD Refocus, I contemplated. Can I name it in a way that addresses everybody? But I couldn't quite figure out a way to do that, so I wrote it for the ADHD community in hopes that maybe the word would spread that those even without it could benefit. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: I think that's absolutely right, it definitely applies more broadly. I like how you used the phrase relationship because you talk about this in your book that you have to acknowledge that it's a relationship that you have with your cell phone, with your technology. And you need to be mindful of that in order to start addressing this dependency that we have. And it's pretty frightening. I mean, I have four kids myself and I see the interaction with the cell phone, for example. You talk in your book about how it's two directional, it's different from a TV. It's designed to be more addicting and we've got to set boundaries. And also, just highlight phraseology I never came across before reading your book, native ... What was it? The natives versus- Dr. David Sitt: Digital natives. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: Digital natives versus digital immigrants. The digital natives being those who don't know any different because they've always had this technology in their lives, as opposed to you and me, digital immigrants. We remember what it was like before all this technology. Dr. David Sitt: Right, we moved over. Right? We arrived. We existed ... Adults, there's that cutoff, whatever those years were, where we remember what it was like without the tether. At most, we had television. We had video games, which at the time was all the concern of parents was video games, video games. What's the effect of video games? Which was concerning, but you can flip off that switch much easier with a video game. And it wasn't bidirectional and it wasn't the whole community experience to video games back then. It was you and the console and your friend next to you, and that was it. But today, technology has advanced. Everything is social and interactive and built into pulling the dopamine and then reinforcements, as you mentioned. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: Yeah. Pretty scary, but in the book, you address that well and you give great strategies and tools. So let's talk about strategies and tools. There's an abundance of them in the book. And as we just said, I was telling you off the record, I think that they're helpful for anybody, whether diagnosed with ADHD, or suffering from techno ADD, or what have you. But give people a glimpse of the strategies, techniques, and tools you discuss in your book that can help adults with ADHD manage their challenges and live a better, happier life. Dr. David Sitt: So I go through in the book several categories of tools. So imagine if you have a toolbox, and you have those ones that when you open up the toolbox, there are different tiers or different levels. So I provide tools on what you might call the behavioral front, things like how to manage tasks, how to organize tasks in an external way, getting it out of your mind, and getting it on to some structured system. I referenced already in our talk today my three tier system, and I teach it extensively in the book and on my website, drsitt.com. Under the ADHD Refocused tab, I provided tools there for free as well. And this is crucial about how to organize your life by categories. Each one of these columns is a category of my life. And I list at the beginning of the week all the things that I want to get done. And even for the months ahead, I get it out of my mind and I drop it on here, even if it's my winter vacation in December, I already have a reminder in January. I already have a reminder in here to think about it. I may not plan it for two months from now, but it's here. And from that categorized view, I then funnel down to my daily view, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, et cetera. And then I have an hourly view as well. So that's a behavioral system. And within that, I go into a lot of details about how to amplify and maximize these approaches to increase the probabilities that you'll have a good day. That's what it's all about for me is probabilities of success. I'm never going to be at 100. Rarely am I going to be at 100. I'm looking for 80% as my gold standard. And that's an example of a mindset. So I have methods like this, and then I suggest mindsets to shift into, to allow the symbiotic work of the methods to work their way through you. I go through techniques, as we mentioned, for mindfulness. I'm a big believer in mindfulness and meditation and becoming more aware of time, being more aware of my awareness itself. How do I feel now? What am I going through today? How do I go through this procrastination journey that comes up every single day of my life? So those are mindfulness techniques. I teach techniques that have to do with, we mentioned earlier, emotional management. I talk about exercise. I talk about ways of treating your body well. I talk about sleep, the value of sleep, communication tools that can help you in your relationships. And then finally, I go through kind of this ultimate philosophy called LMNOP. It's about living mindfully, noticing opportunities, and then channeling all of that effort to be very productive in your life, LMNOP. Those are just a sprinkling of what I go through in the book. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: I love that acronym and I love that whole section. So I want, before we wrap up, I want people to appreciate what went into this book for you. It was a painstaking effort, and there's so much there. Talk a little bit about what was the book writing process like for you as a person with ADHD. Dr. David Sitt: So getting this book out was, I jokingly comment that it was a project of love and procrastination, so it's a passion of love and procrastination. And it really took me a while to get it in motion. I started like I might any other thing in my ADHD world, I wrote a note, get this done, start the book, write a chapter. And it took me a long time until I finally realized it wasn't going to happen for me at that time without an external system to get me through it. And I chose to bring on a company that again, I don't need to reinvent the wheel, I want to use a system for getting this book in place with deadlines and accountability, which are variables that help ADHD people get things done. And I hired this company named Scribe, and we set up a team that I had someone that I had an accountability meeting every week. I would speak out my book. I would do all the research, get everything ready on the topics that we've discussed, and then I would speak out the book. And my Scribe that I worked with would take the transcript of what I spoke out, buff it up a little bit, send it over to me as a transcript. And from there, we went through the journey of getting chapters in place and getting all the content out. And it was arguably what could've taken me maybe a year to do took me five, took me five years to get this book done from the minute I started to the minute I finished. And all along, I kept on telling myself, "It's okay. Just bring love. It's okay. You'll get to it." And that was tough because there are many expectations that I put on myself. I want to get it done. My father had passed away let's say two years ago. I wanted to get it done before my father, my father could see it and have pride in it. But like all of that too, it's okay. I let them know. I spoke about it. It's okay. Get it done when it gets done. And so that was a bit of the process. And again, it's similar to what a lot of us go through. We have visions. We have dreams. If we let our emotions get in the way, we end up staying stuck. So I use the method to help me get unstuck, to externalize the process, to have accountability in place, but bring a lot of self-compassion so that I would get it done, in this case, in the time that I did. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: That's great, David. That's really great. I want to extend my congratulations again. It's a wonderful final product. Just want to check in with you. Those were the main points I wanted to make sure we address. Is there anything else you want people the know about your book? Dr. David Sitt: Only that it's available on Amazon. You can find it there and click your hard copy, there's a hard cover version, which I like it, it's nice. The design came out beautiful. There's a soft cover version. There's an eBook version. We have an audiobook coming out at some point. Anyone wants to learn more about me and connect about the work that I do on my website, if you want to get onto that website, you can check in with me, free 15-minute consults. I'm happy to talk to you about work that you'd like to try to do. And that's about it. I want to say one last thing, Adam. This design, I love. The reason why I love it is because I think this captures our life. We can feel very much jumbled, very much locked in entanglement. And the goal is to try to move from this chaotic experience into a sense of focus. And so I hope that our listeners today, whether they be parents of those with ADHD, or adults themselves with ADHD, might find through this book or other means some of that clarity. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: Excellent. We will conclude this author talk. Congrats on a wonderful achievement. I know it's going to be helpful to people with ADHD, people with techno ADD, and anybody who's trying to master time and task management, which let's be honest, is everyone in the human race. Thank you so much for joining me here, and for those who are attending, if you don't already have David's book, go out and get yourself a copy. You won't regret it. It's an excellent read. Dr. David Sitt: Thank you, Adam, always a pleasure. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: Same here, best of luck. Dr. David Sitt: Everyone, take care. Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney: Bye-bye.