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Daily Archives: July 4, 2016

ADHD: The behaviours explained

Up until the day my son started kindergarten his preschool teachers had always described him as a lovely, kind, empathetic little boy. He wasn’t a biter, he rarely hit other children, and he had friends, lots of them. However, as soon as he entered kindergarten, he all of sudden exhibited behaviours detrimental to himself.

Three weeks into kindergarten, and the tables had turned. I was being told that my beautiful little angel, was apparently exhibiting out of control behaviour.

The teacher was talking about my son…..a child I thought I knew.

My child was refusing to, under any circumstances co-operate with his teacher. The teacher would ask him to do something, and he would just look her in the eye and say, ‘no thanks.’

He couldn’t complete a task, he refused to join in classroom activities, he was hitting other children, and, when pushed to co-operate, he would have an absolute meltdown.

”An extraordinary little monster had taken the place of my son.”

The problem?

My son was being asked to concentrate, something a child with serious ADHD cannot do. His brain isn’t wired in a way that enables him to concentrate. So, instead, he became a screaming, aggressive mess.

My son cannot sit still to complete tasks. He literally cannot stop moving, or talking throughout the entire process, unless medicated.

My son will stand up straight, lean over the table, begin to write one letter, maybe do a twist, and suddenly begin to ask me a million questions. When I persist, and make him sit down in his chair to continue on with the sentence, he will immediately get back up out of the chair and try to distract me. If I keep pushing, he will cry. It is almost as though his brain is in pain.

School is not a daycare. Unlike daycare, children don’t engage in fun activity after fun activity at school. Instead, a child is required to stick to a routine, and do some very mundane tasks. ADHD children hate mundane tasks.

My child, unless medicated, cannot stop. His brain controls him. He is too loud, too silly, too funny, and is constantly searching for fun, high risk activities.

He (along with the millions of other children who have ADHD) will walk into a room and immediately search for the funniest, most stimulating, high risk activity to do in that room.

Why? 

For a child with ADHD, the stimulation offered by mundane tasks can’t compete with the stimulation offered by highly stimulating experiences.

All brains must be aroused to function properly. Arousal enables a brain to become alert, and ready to learn. Non- ADHD brains are aroused by the stimulation of daily life. Regardless of the fluctuations in stimulation, these properly developed brains can still get the task done. These brains can remain in a state of alertness while being fuelled with neurotransmitters which will help to get the job done.

When somebody’s brain is functioning well, they are able to work towards goals.

ADHD brains, unlike non-ADHD brains, have lower levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. This major issue makes it harder for the owner’s of these brains to find, and to maintain necessary stimulation.

A brain lower in dopamine and norepinephrine will find a task like doing up shoe laces, or getting dressed, boring. These tasks do not arouse the ADHD brain, whereas they do arouse the non-ADHD brain, enough at least to get the job done.

ADHD brains are extremely motivated to find a balance of stimulation that will enable optimal arousal. Non- ADHD brains do not need to do this. They already have the right levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.

The ADHD brain is not concerned about the time it takes to complete a task, or the consequences of not getting the task completed.

While the owner of this brain is meant to be fulfilling a task, or a request, their brain will instead be looking for optimum arousal. This is the reason why the ADHD brains owner may suddenly pick a fight with their sibling, or run incredibly late for the bus.

This quest for the desired amount of optimum arousal is why the ADHD child suddenly ups the anti in a quiet situation, where moments ago there was no noise.

This continued desire for stimulation is why a lot of these children, including my son, always appear to want things to be faster, louder, bigger, funnier, or riskier. In mundane, low-stimulation environments, ADHD brains will require their owner to increase the intensity of the situation with noise, laughter, and as much chaos as possible.

The consequences of this behaviour is often low self-esteem, a poor social life with few friends, and low grades.

Before I made the difficult decision to place my son on medication, he would often tell me that he just felt like a bad boy. He would tell me frequently how stupid he was, or how he just felt like an idiot.

He was always in trouble, always being told to calm down, to stop the noise, or to just try to stop.

‘I felt sorry for my son. It just didn’t seem fair. How was he supposed to maintain friendships when he had no self control?’

My son wants to be a good person, which is what makes having ADHD so hard for him. He has a serious brain disorder that continually counteracts the good things that he is trying to do.  I just don’t think that it is fair.