Back on the blog today we have Shannon Pluke explaining to us a little more about ADHD. She has so much insight into this topic, having dealt with her husband and son over the many years who are both who she affectionately describes as “Adders”. She has grown to love, understand and appreciate their way of thinking and she will, without a doubt, offer anyone hope who may find themselves in the same situation. If you missed her last introductory post about breaking the myths of ADHD in children, you can read it here.
Over to you Shannon!
Okay, so I’m not going to wax lyrical about medical points of view or academia around ADHD and how this beautiful brain works…I’m going to write it like I like to say it…in simple layman’s terms.
Our brains, as we know, are full of ‘wires’ – lots and lots of them all intertwined like overgrown thousand year old vines. They all have a part to play to make various parts of our bodies function properly and optimally. Research in Medicine tells us that ADHD brains are deficient in some neurotransmitters; dopamine and norepinephrine (these are the last big words I’ll use), they are basically the chemicals our brains use to pass on signals from cell to cell. If there aren’t enough of these chemicals, the bearer of this brain will experience deficits with focus and hyperactivity often with impulsivity. Other medicinal research shows that the electrical impulses required to release these chemicals, are ‘faulty’.
Our brains are designed to make executive decisions and to filter what tasks need to be done at once against temporarily shelving others. ADHD brains allow all information to come in and without a proper ‘filing’ system, gets scrambled and dealt with ‘if’ and ‘when’.
You might be wondering how the unique ways in which these chemicals operate, impact the ‘adder’ – I believe the most important one to note is that the ADHD brain will experience a delay developmentally. Example: a chronological 10 year old child (diagnosed with ADHD) may be functioning as a 6 or 7 year old. Why do I think this the most important? Because it effects the child’s behaviour. As parents or teachers, we might be having unrealistic expectations of ‘adders’ behavioural levels. (This is why they become so adept at life and learn to fight really hard to get ahead.) It’s a bit like learning to walk – each child eventually walks, they just don’t all start walking on exactly the same day.
This, by the way, has nothing to do with their intelligence. Interesting note to say to self: Albert Einstein, after much research and study is believed to have had ADHD, as have many other highly intelligent individuals with the condition.
The next important aspect to note is that ‘adders’ experience sensory information different to ‘non-adders’. My son for example couldn’t tolerate some fabrics against his skin. Woollen jerseys would make his skin ‘crawl’. He struggled to tolerate certain textures in food and would spit it all out despite its taste.
People who don’t understand these above traits are likely to either enforce ‘better behaviour’, information or food on ‘adders’ who simply won’t understand or accept it. There are other useful ways to get around the ‘adder’.
Work with them and get inside their worlds!
I have a client with a 10 year old gorgeous little girl who has been diagnosed with ADHD. She lives in ‘fairyland’. It’s wonderful to watch as this child believes she’s a fairy who has many other fairy friends who prance around the garden in pure fairy delight. When Mom got down and climbed into ‘fairyland’ with her, she learned what made her daughter tick. She no longer misunderstood her and instead understood why she did things differently.
It’s vital for a parent to get down to their child’s level in order for them to understand why they do the things they do. Instead of berating your child for something that has irritated you (and they’re going to irritate a lot), ask him/her why she did what she did. Follow through on the whole story until you discover what made your child make the decision she/he did, no matter how right or wrong. After a few times of doing this, you will begin to uncover the reasons for their behaviour (bad behaviour of which
is seldom intentional) and understand how their minds think. Parents can become a lot more forgiving and gracious towards their children when sharing this platform.
Never forget that when you, the mother or father of an ADHD child are not around to protect them, that they live in a world of peers, teachers and even other parents who often don’t understand them and that they in these instances experience much adversity in the form of being either berated, punished and even isolated as they sometimes can become ‘too much’ for their friends. This often causes them to learn to fight really hard to win everyone over. They have no qualms around becoming the ‘class clown’ for example, as this receives attention and they’re willing to compromise themselves in order to get ANY kind of attention.
I love Dr Jory Goodman’s approach to ADHD. He doesn’t believe it’s a ‘disorder’, but rather a ‘difference’. He goes on to interestingly say that: “the ADHD brain is a genetic adaptation found in populations that have had to adapt to difficult situations; (such as) migrate, survive. There is a lot of ADHD in groups of people e.g. Jews, Gypsies, American Irish etc. who have lived through being assailed and attacked throughout history and the survivors were the ones who could think on their feet, adapt and stay ahead of death. America has a high prevalence of ADHD because it is to America that the pioneers, resisters and survivors went.”
Stay with and ahead of your precious ‘adder’. He or she is going to surprise you one day in a way you could never have imagine.
Next time: Tools for teachers to use with ‘Adders’.
Remember yo can can go to her website Counselling You to make private appointments or go to her Facebook page for more information and weekly articles. You can also find Shannon on Twitter or mail her on firstname.lastname@example.org or call her directly on 0827885758.