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Kid with ADHD? Mom Win

A good friend of mine was telling me her nightmare story about her son and the school, and the push for medication of her newly labeled "ADHD" child. Well, actually they labeled him "ADD" which really irks me, because anyone with the training to actual give this qualification to a child would know it's ADHD and then a specified type (inattentive, hyperactive, combined).

The school had decided he didn't fit in with the other kids, because he couldn't "focus" and that medication was the only, and best option. She's a holistic style mom, who sees all the amazing qualities of her child, and his incredible ability to focus when it's something that interests him.

I can't tell you how many mom's bring their kids to see me with the same complaint.

I will preface this blog to say that there are kids who can truly benefit from medication, and whatever you choose, is right for your family, but I am a therapist, not a prescription prescribing medical doctor, and tend to try other methods first. I believe first arming the parents with all the tools they need to make an educated decision on how to proceed. Secondly, I believe in aligning with the parents on their struggles, but also showing them the wonderful things that come out of a quality like this.

The school had decided he couldn't focus, and needed medication...

So, with that said, here's the history on ADHD from a cave man standpoint...

Back in the day, ADHD was necessary for survival. Multi-tasking was critical, and the ability to switch gears quickly, see stimulus from the wild in all directions, constantly scanning the territory/land was crucial. Sitting in one place for 8 hours and listening to someone talk, just wasn't how human's learned, it wasn't how they survived. They learned by being active, life experiences and fairly constant movement.

Here's what happens in the brain to someone with ADHD in the most simplest (now mind you there is a complex picture involving neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and epinephrine that work with this to cause this to happen, but for the sake of this blog, lets use something simple) ...picture a glass half full of dopamine. That's the amount "most" of us have. The glass for someone with ADHD has less. They are constantly operating in a state where they are trying to boost their dopamine to feel "normal."

Now, you with your glass half full, imagine when someone in a car flips you off and you start to realize they are still following you, and you begin to be more on guard, you begin to get a small boost of adrenaline to prepare you for what might be a life or death/fight situation.

The kid with ADHD would just start to feel like you did 5 minutes before the event occurred, thus life seems less interesting at times, and is why the "create" situations for arousal...or situations that will boost their dopamine to where the rest of us are all the time.

But here's the wonderful thing about kids with ADHD. Because they function "normally" where most of us function in emergency response times, they go on to make great war pilots, they are the people who jump out of helicopters into the Bering Sea at night and they are ER doctors, among many other things. They are at their finest when the rest of us are passed out, or frozen in fear.

They are at their finest when the rest of us are passed out, or frozen in fear.

The New York Times published a great article a few years back on this idea. It incorporates the notion of both medication and natural solutions.

If you have a child with this great gift, here are some great resources for learning an unorthodox approach to ADHD. To arm you with the confidence to say "I love this quality about my child," and to make an educated move towards the school system and the idea of medication.

The first and best I recommend is a book called "The Edison Gene, ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child." Read it.

There are a lot of tools these days that kids can have in class (such as the fidget cube, or thinking putty). How these work, is subconsciously they allow the brain to stay busy, so the child can focus on the "boring" topics of school.

Remember often these children are searching for more excitement and stimulation, and while our modern classrooms are wonderful places for the masses, they simply can't reach the entire spectrum of needs that each child has. They do the best they can to create an environment that works for MOST, not ALL.

This is where you as a parent can inform yourself, and tweak the system (by working with teachers and administrators) to make sure that your child has the resources he or she needs to attend school.

Lastly, find something that your child truly enjoys and allow them to get involved (thinking archery, mine craft building, etc). Someone with ADHD can often focus for hours on something they love to do.

More importantly than anything, talk with them about their wonderful talents, and how special and unique this makes them. Give examples of hero's who likely also shared this wonderful gene (the firefighters who ran into the weakened Twin Towers) and help them embrace their incredible gift.