ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are more common with children today than ever before. I can see the trend increasing and will probably continue to get worse. We will probably see additional acronyms with more letters describing something that is a response to the environment rather than a disorder.
I personally see ADD and ADHD equivalent in many ways to the teenagers of the 60s when the Beatles were playing. The adults of the then “wise society” said horrible stuff about kids who listened to the trash kind of music the Beatles played. They called for prohibiting that kind of music, etc. Yet look at the Beatles generation today: totally normal, high functioning grandmas and grandpas with love and care who had great lives and jobs and many stories to tell. I happen to be in that generation.
So let’s get to ADD and ADHD. I brought the comparison to how adults reacted to youth listening to the Beatles while falling apart from joy and screaming by scaring adults to wits to that of adults today being scared to wits of kids with ADD and ADHD. It is interesting to note that few people ask why we have children with ADD and ADHD the first place. The obvious choice is to jump in and get rid of it like the music of the Beatles albums. Unfortunately this time the situation is different and the problem now is the adult society to which this is the response of the youth (perhaps getting the heads of those adults who criticize these disorders examined is more in order).
I know, I am heading up the current on the wrong side of the wind. I always do and always will do because common wisdom is common and it is often wrong.
Let’s visit an aboriginal group, or the nomads of Tibet, or the Eskimos, and count the number of ADD or ADHD kids. This will be a very easy job; no calculator needed. The number will be zero. Now get to a city that is buzzing with life, cars, TVs, movies, video games, computers, smart phones, tablets in small, medium, large so you can have one wherever you go. Add thousands of TV and radio channels with news and activity all day and all night. Add stores that are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Add lights that are always on. Also add into this epidural painless birth that stall and need to be induced that give contraction too fast for the baby to recover and rest between being squeezed out of the mom and now you have kids with damage from birth and an environment full of sensory over-stimulation 24/7. What is a kid to do to follow it all?
Before I suggest what to do without drugs, let me also tell you about the drugs they usually give: psychotics to dampen the brain’s activity.
You need to know that the human brain does not mature fully until the age of 35 for men and 32 for women. The last part to fully mature is the most important for making good decisions–hence it is the last to mature. Interrupt this maturation cycle by dampening brain activity and this maturation may never occur. A child’s brain all though his/her growth generates activities in new areas in the brain as the brain has the clock turning on to initiate certain hormonal actions. For example, the terrible 2’s are the age between 2-4. This coincides with the time the child’s brain starts to generate the myelin sheath around the axons of the neurons. Without myelin sheath there is not enough electricity (the sheath is like electrical insulation to keep the voltage going in one direction without leakage) and messages are not yet meaningful. Telling a 2-4 year old who is going through the terrible 2’s to stop being so silly or screaming or holding his breath until he turns purple and faints is about as useful as telling the same to a worm. Telling a 6-year old about consequences of his actions are as good as telling the 2-year old to do calculus.
Kids are not mini adults with the brain of an adult only smaller. A human child is a child in brain as well and not a mini adult. A child’s brain is just as incomplete as his teeth, as his sexual maturity, as his ignorance of the world. All of these are part of the brain’s lack of ability and not that the child wants to be ignorant.
Some kids are more sensitive to information overload than others; they are the ADD and ADHD kids. Many people (adults too!) are sensitive to information overload–in fact most of us are. The difference is that as adults, many of the things our brains are able to ignore because our brain is developed. A child’s brain is not yet developed and so it will pay attention to all things and will get overloaded faster than adults do.
What can you do if you have a child who has such sensory overload? The symptoms are given everywhere, here taken from Wikipedia:
“An individual with inattention may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
- Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task
- Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable
- Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
- Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
- Not seem to listen when spoken to
- Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
- Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
- Struggle to follow instructions
An individual with hyperactivity may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- Fidget and squirm in their seats
- Talk nonstop
- Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
- Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, doing homework, and story time
- Be constantly in motion
- Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities
These hyperactivity symptoms tend to go away with age and turn into “inner restlessness” in teens and adults with ADHD.
An individual with impulsivity may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- Be very impatient
- Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
- Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
- Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities”
Note the highlighted area also suggested in Wikipedia: these symptoms go away and turn into inner restlessness as the kids get older and become adults. Restlessness in adults does not equate with ADHD anymore, only with kids. Those who remain restless suddenly find themselves labeled with a new category of autism spectrum disorder and it is a spectrum since with cleverness one can put just about everyone into this spectrum. Most of us have some level of inner restlessness and fall somewhere in the zone of this autism spectrum that we now call a disorder.
Again, if you visit an aboriginal tribe, or the nomads of Tibet, or any culture that is not deep into noise, light, and motions stimulus 24 hours a day and you will not find any of this disorders or spectrum. These come with our society today as a result of who we are and what we have become.
What can you do with a child who was labeled with ADD or ADHD?
First, remove the label… it is silly. Second: activate the child to get rid of the built up stress that the over stimulation causes: heavy physical activity that gets rid of built up adrenaline, such as running, hiking, mountain climbing, etc. Do not give the child anything sweet (be it sugar or sugar substitutes!)–if you do, make sure it is on a weekend and let him bounce off the walls. That is what he is supposed to do so encourage him to do that! For breakfast give the child heavy meal: bacon and eggs will do great! If they are overactive in school, enroll them in a before-school running or swimming. Then in school the child will have no energy to be hyper and will more likely be able to focus with the proper foods as well. After school get him to exercise and play before his homework! That way he will be ready for homework as per his chemistry. Make sure he has no sugar (no juices, no sodas, no cupcakes, no candies, no desserts) after dinner. It is hard to tell a kid to eat a carrot if he craves sweets but not impossible. I have a 10-year old granddaughter. I know.
Comments are welcome!