I need to make it clear from the outset in regard to this and my other article on the topic of ADHD, that I am not suggesting ADHD is a non-existent condition. What I do believe is that it is over or mis diagnosed, and subsequently over medicated. In my other article I touch on how modern day children are overstimulated and how they can react to that.
I don’t like labels per se as they confine and constrict and make us ‘fit in’ certain parameters, but sometimes it is a comfort to know you are not the only weird one alive!
That said, it is very possible some children labelled with ADHD are in fact HSP (highly sensitive person) but the two are entirely different, although there could be some overlap of behaviours.
I have always been HSP but didn’t know it. I was considered nervy or highly-strung at best, and overly dramatic at worst. It would seem, thanks to the research and work carried out by Eileen E. Aron, that 20% of us are HSP. This is not the same as being sensitive and empathetic. It is not an emotion. It is rather, a reaction to an overload of sensory input.
What HSP is Like to Live With
Certain noises and smells are unbearable to me. The beep of a mobile phone key being tapped sends me demented. I control it, but it is like a knife jabbed in my ear. I ‘switch off’ in crowded city centres. They are not frightening to me, but there is too much stimulation, so I go out of my head and float above it all, metaphorically speaking. I take in every nuance, vibe and atmospheric change, and I have acute peripheral vision.
Imagine this then, in a child who can’t articulate the effect of all the stimulation thrust at them in this mad modern day life.
I can’t work if someone is looking over my shoulder, and I literally can’t think. I go blank when asked a question on the spot, if all attention is on me. I hate being watched when doing anything, so no exercise classes for me (can’t concentrate on what I am supposed to be doing as my eyes and ears are on full alert) and I can’t work under pressure (how I passed my driving test, heck knows). All the above are standard reactions of an HSP.
These are a few examples of how a child may present these same feelings of ‘arrghhghhghghgh’ and yet not be able to articulate them.
HSP people need a lot of quiet time alone. I think we all have different triggers, as some HSP parents need to have breaks from their children, but this was never an issue for me. So that kind of noise is okay for me, but a tv or radio constantly playing in the background all the time – no can do.
Destroyed Attention Span
One of the things that struck me years back when schooled children came to play with my home educated ones, is that they could never stick at anything for more than a few minutes. No sooner were the scissors, paper, glue and glitter pens out and used once, than they were bored and wanted to do something else.
In other words the attention span of the school attenders was ruined. This is not natural to a child. Children become very absorbed in something that interests them and will stay with it if left to their own devices. I suggest many children are ‘nurtured’ into being attention deficit by society. This is normally labelled ADHD, but I feel that an understanding of what HSP is can sometimes bring you closer to the solution.
So this first of alternative treatments for ADHD is to know your stuff! If you suspect there are behavioural issues with your child and ADHD is being tossed about, read up on HSP.
As I remarked in the previous post on ADHD, you as a parent may have to change your lifestyle, and also the way you think and react. It is a deep subject and I am certainly not here to dictate or pretend that it is easy dealing with a child that has all the ADHD tendencies.
There is excellent help in the form of Dr. Gabor Mate who has lately written a book called ‘Scattered Minds,’ on the topic of ADHD. His expertise is in the field of behaviour and addiction, but his understanding of the condition is from personally living with ADHD. His wisdom on how to deal with a child is surely second to none. He has been through the Ritalin route and has this to say:
“I now think that physicians and prescriptions for drugs have come to play a lopsidedly exaggerated role in the treatment of ADD. What begins as a problem of society and human development has become almost exclusively defined as a medical ailment …the healing ADD calls for is not a process of recovery from some illness. It is a process of becoming whole – which, it so happens, is the original sense of the word healing.”
Hand on heart I had not read this quote I will be adding below before writing my earlier post on the topic, saying that the parent may have to change themselves rather than try to change the child!
Dr. Gabor continues: “Finally, as we consider the child’s needs for attention, the parents’ lifestyle has to be carefully examined. Over and over again I am struck by just how insane can be the lives of many parents whose children have ADD…
One and often both of the parents may work long hours. Morning is rush, rush, rush, and the evening is no different. The parent comes home depleted and must now put full energy into meeting the physical and emotional needs of a child who, for a whole day, may have been deprived of parental contact. And, if these were not enough, parents have often taken up other commitments – school committees, church bazaars, courses of various sorts, and so on. Such extracurricular activities magnify the parent’s level of preoccupation and stress, decreasing her/his patience with the child.
Even during the time one devotes to the child, the parent’s mind may be spinning with the events of the day and the chores yet to be done. Research shows that many parents spend virtually no more than five minutes, if that, of meaningful contact with their child. If that snippet of time is to grow, parents need to create some space around themselves, and in order to do so they may have to reconsider their lifestyle.”
My final advice in regard to implementing alternative treatments for ADHD is simple in words, but trickier as far as action is concerned. Be less busy. Give more time to your ADHD child. Slow them down to a pace they can cope with.
On a physical level, put Himalayan salt lamps in your home. Use as many as you can afford (but at the very least have one in your child’s bedroom), to create a feeling of calm and nurturing. Push the world out of your home and bring love and peace in. You will all benefit.
If you have any comments or questions, you are very welcome to add them below.