ADHD book review: 'PLAYDHD' by Dr Kirsten Milliken

Image Description: The front cover of the book ‘Play DHD’.

PLAYDHD is a book for adults with ADHD (diagnosed, undiagnosed, or self-diagnosed) by Dr Kirsten Milliken a Psychologist and ADHD coach. The book is about using ‘play’ to better manage ADHD traits and to alleviate some of the challenges we face.

PlayDHD is the first ADHD book I’ve read. I don’t have the best track record of completing books so this is a win for me! Overall, I think its a good actionable self-help book and I’ve managed to take away some useful tips from it. Other people who have read the book might have a different view, but that’s the beauty of the ADHD community, we’re all diverse in our own way. Somethings might work well for others but might not work for you.

The concept of play

Dr Milliken writes about the connection between ADHD and play. The concept of play is usually associated with something we did as kids or playing sports as a hobby like Netball, Football or Tennis. We don’t often make the connection of how play could help us to achieve a task or help us develop and engage our executive functioning skills which Dr Milliken explains in the book.

When you are playing, your brain gets a rush of dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmiiter. This is the primary neurotransmitter linked to ADHD. Dopamine production that accompanies a playful mood leads to improved executive functioning, including increased attention, motivation, ability to persever, and improved problem solving and resilience. - Dr Kirsten Milliken

Play and ADHD

Image Description: Image of a brain with arms and legs, kicking a football.

So how might play help with managing our ADHD traits? Dr Milliken mentions that a playful approach to a task might make it more interesting and fun.

Quite often, before I approach a task, I get distracted, I procrastinate for a while or I feel an overwhelming sense of paralysis. In this scenario, I’ve applied the concept of ‘productive procrastination’ which I’ve been introduced to in the book. The term ‘productive procrastination’ refers to ‘doing stuff to keep you busy while avoiding what really needs doing.’ For example, rather than endlessly staring at my screen trying to drum up the willpower to send an email, I switch gears and play an online quiz or I turn on some music and start dancing, fun!

You are putting off sitting unproductively in favor of doing something that will activate your brain so that you can come come back and be productive. - Dr Kirsten Milliken

If this concept is also new to you, try an apply productive procrastination when you find yourself procrastinating. You might be able to get through most of your to-do list!

Play Personalities

So how do we turn this into action? Something that we will deliberately try to make happens? The book highlights the importance of doing what works for you. Knowing and applying your preferred way of ‘playing’ is important to ensure that the strategy of play and ADHD works for you. A new thing I learned from reading the book is my ‘play personality’.

The book includes Play Personalities based on Dr Stuart Browns book ‘Play, How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul’. I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll mention 3 out of the 8 play personalities.

The Kinesthete

Image description: Image of two hands placed on a sheet of paper. There is one hand holding a pen which is placed on a piece of paper with a flower drawn on it. Around the sheet of paper, there are pencils, pens, a stack of rectangle papers and another sheet of paper with an unknown drawing.
  • These are people who learn by doing. I think this speaks to my hyperactive side, in the classroom I preferred to be up on my feet learning, role-playing and moving around. At previous workplaces, I preferred to get up and use a whiteboard to explain my thinking.

The Competitor

Image description: Image of four people holding pieces to a puzzle to insert into the other complete pieces.

  • These are people who enjoy a challenge and competitive games. If this is you, gamifying tasks you dread might be key to accomplishing tasks. For instance, each time you complete a task, you can assign yourself reward points.

The Collector

Image description: A Retweet by @AdultingADHD which reads ‘ADHDers, keen to know what you’re a hoarder of? I hoard old documents/letters #askADHD’
  • These are people who like to collect interesting objects and things for fun. I think might just be most of us ADHDers!?

  • I think might tie into why some of us ADHDers impulse buy as we might naturally ‘be collectors’. I need to put more thought into this.

Social Play

There’s a chapter in the book called ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’. I can’t lie, this caught me off guard, but I kept reading anyway. Dr Milliken explains how sex could involve challenge, risk, and motivation. For couples and people who are dating, things can become pretty routine like and monotonous. A great suggestion in the book:

To activate the dopamine and reignite the ‘spark’, shaking things up with adventurous date nights or role play in the bedroom could be helpful to the success of your relationship.

I think I can somewhat relate to this. I went through a phase where I was a ‘serial dater’, I liked the thrill of getting to know people and observing peoples behaviours and their body languages. This didn’t last long but it was fun! Dating didn’t feel like a chore and I didn’t feel any pressure to ‘find the one’.

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I hope you all enjoyed the book summary and learned something new! I purchased the book on Amazon if anyone is interested! If you want to keep the conversation going. Tweet me on Twitter (@AdultingADHD) including the hashtag #PlayDHD

Rach, with ADHD.