Stimulation

Whilst impulsivity is undoubtedly a major reason why children with AD/HD engage in dangerous or seemingly antisocial activities, the need for stimulation is another reason.

Joe, like most other people with AD/HD, craves stimulation of some sort. He loves having people around him. He loves fast rides, scary movies, bright lights, loud music, different textures; he needs these things. Joe is ten now and (I have permission to tell his secret) still has a dummy. He says that he needs the feeling to calm his busy head at night time and it is like a massage in his mouth. He literally chews through his school jumpers and rips and shreds paper by the ream. All of these sensory stimuli help him to focus and calm his mind in order to function better in life.

Joe tells me that sometimes, when he is running and jumping and wildly hyperactive, it is because he has a nervous feeling (he describes it as the feeling in his tummy that he gets when the teacher is telling him off and he can't understand her words) and running, spinning and jumping helps to calm his 'buzzing' head. This description highlights the way in which schools often fail to understand and so inadvertently aggravate the problem and make things harder for both themselves and the child. Joe often has to stay in at break due to his AD/HD. He is punished for failing to concentrate, for being impulsive, for being disorganized or hyperactive. If such children can rid their heads of the 'buzzing' by running around and burning off some energy, then surely to force them to stay in and be still while all the other children are running around is counterproductive?

This craving for stimulus is one of the reasons why the incidence of AD/HD is so high in offenders, alcoholics, risk takers and drug takers. Joe was described in a recent assessment as a 'high risk' child. As much as it was devastating to hear the words spoken by a professional, it is important for all parents of children like Joe to recognize such dangers. I for one, intend to do everything I can to ensure that he proves the text books wrong and I am sure he will go on to do great things. At the moment, it is my job as his mum and advocate to make sure that he gets the best start in life. A very important part of that job is to ensure that he develops some self-awareness and understand why he acts and feels the way he does and how he can best overcome his difficulties.

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