From something that years ago many people had never heard of, let alone recognize in themselves, or their children, and ascribed the symptoms to Â“something elseÂ” or being a brat, naughty, or badly behaved, for more than 25 years there has been a dramatic escalation into research regarding the phenomenon known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or A.D.H.D.
The Layman's Guide to the early recognition and understanding of ADHD
From something that years ago many people had never heard of, let alone recognize in themselves, or their children, and ascribed the symptoms to “something else” or being a brat, naughty, or badly behaved, for more than 25 years there has been a dramatic escalation into research regarding the phenomenon known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or A.D.H.D.
As the level of research has intensified, and scientists experience of working with the disorder increased, so it has become apparent that its impact on people’s daily lives is far greater than anybody had ever expected.
Whilst in the past it was thought that A.D.H.D. only interfered with learning and behaviour in children, it is now being confirmed that it can profoundly compromise how many people function throughout their lives!
Moreover, the research suggests that ADHD difficulties can lead to significant educational, occupational and family dysfunction, and is also a major contributor to a variety of health, social and economic problems – many of which simply were ascribed to other factors, or, worse still, swept under the carpet because they may have been an embarrassment.
Worldwide, ADHD has been estimated to have affected some 7% of children and 5% of adults. Using simple arithmetic, with the world population stated to be 6 billion, that figure suggests over 400 million people worldwide could display one or other of the symptoms of ADHD. Not something to be ignored if those figures are even close to being correct!
Coupled with the revelations of its prevalence, people have now become more aware of its potential impact, and as a result, increasing numbers of adults and parents are wondering if ADHD might be the underlying problem they, or their children are experiencing on a daily basis.
Paradoxically though, it is apparently, in many cases being both incorrectly diagnosed when it is NOT present, and under-diagnosed when it is present. The outcome is that it is simultaneously being either largely incorrectly treated, or undertreated.
So, whilst the cognitive (the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning) problems associated with ADHD are being better recognized, worldwide another puzzling thread in the ongoing mystery of the human brain has emerged: for as yet undetermined reasons, autism (an abnormal absorption with the self; marked by communication disorders and short attention span and inability to treat others as people) is being recognized in increasing numbers.
Of course, there is considerable controversy around the issue – but what is alarming is that where the cases diagnosed of Autism in the past was something like 1 in 2000, it has now escalated dramatically to 1 in 150 children. You may ask: “Why bring up the matter of seemingly unrelated Autism when we are discussing ADHD?” – the reason is simple, and something which I stumbled onto as part of my research into this subject: In her book The ADHD – Autism Connection” author Diane Kennedy offers a powerful, and cogent argument to show the similarities of the symptoms of ADHD and Autism.
She could not have been better placed for knowing the facts at first hand. Three of her children were textbook cases of ADHD! So, when her third son received a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), she already knew the drill. Her first two sons had the same thing. The family spent years caught in a maze of medical interventions, behavioural modification training, holistic remedies, and sessions with special educators and counselors.
To gain some insight into the malady, she looked at all the symptoms, and came across this interesting comparison between Autism and ADHD:
• DIFFICULTY MIXING WITH OTHER CHILDREN
• NO REAL FEAR OF DANGER
• TANTRUMS, DISPLAYS, EXTREME DISTRESS
• INAPPROPRIATE GIGGLING OR LAUGHING
• MAY NOT WANT CUDDLING
• NOTICEABLE PHYSICAL OVER/UNDERACTIVITY
• LITTLE OR NO EYE CONTACT
• WORKS IMPULSIVELY, CARELESS, SLOPPY
• UNEVEN GROSS/FINE MOTOR SKILLS
• CANNOT TALK/PLAY QUIETLY – DISRUPTS OTHERS WITH TALK OR ACTIONS
• IMPATIENT ABOUT WAITING TURN
• COURTS DANGEROUS ACTIVITIES
• LACK OF CAUTION
• SEVERE TEMPER TANTRUMS
• INTERRUPTS AND DISRUPTS
• CAN REJECT SOOTHING OR HOLDING
• ALWAYS ON THE MOVE (EVEN IN SLEEP)
• CARELESS MISTAKES
• UNEVEN GROSS/FINE MOTOR SKILLS
From the above, one is forced to conclude that there are apparently some remarkable similarities in the two conditions, which cannot simply be brushed away.
It is all very well for us to dwell on the symptoms, but it is just a waste of time if we do not look at ways of successfully treating these perplexing maladies, ways that perhaps can avoid the oft followed route of medication. So let us explore another possibility:
Whilst young, the human brain is highly “mouldable” and thus it inherently responds to sensory (impulses originating outside and passing toward the central nervous system) stimulation. Broadly, it has been found that using a powerful combination of bodily movement and specific types of therapeutic music – and this led to a very simple, but in hindsight, clever connection: the handwriting to brain connection. But now we are going to look at the connection in REVERSE. It has oft been quoted that “handwriting is brain writing.”
What we are looking at now, is what the movement, in a controlled, rhythmic way (using music of a certain genre) of the hand (and fingers) so that they impact on what happens in the brain. This is a subtle, but very exciting development – almost like switching a system on or off, without using any intrusive, and even harmful methodology. No less than the highly respected publication “The Scientific American” confirms this view by pointing out that: “music can be shown to engage with many areas of the brain” – In other words, the brain can undoubtedly be RETRAINED to overcome learning disabilities, including ADHD.
To follow this reasoning to its logical conclusion, it can be argued that the act of handwriting is a PRODUCT of our emotional brain, and as such has a physiological (consistent with an organism's normal functioning) and psychological (mental or emotional as opposed to physical in nature) link to the brain.
By moving the fingers rhythmically to music by writing, there is a reverse stimulatory effect on the frontal lobe sections of the brain – the part involved with IMPULSE CONTROL. The frontal lobes executive functions are common to both ADHD and Autism!
Why should anybody contemplate using this approach?
Simply because, never before have so many millions of children worldwide been diagnosed with the malady of ADHD and promptly placed on Ritalin – an amphetamine, which can be an addictive. A personal experience was somewhat alarming: a Psychologist colleague’s son, having been diagnosed as having ADHD, and then placed on Ritalin, very quickly overdosed to the point that he landed up, at the age of 16 in a rehab clinic to be weaned off his addiction.
School teachers who have been woken up as to how much damage accompanies the neglect of simple handwriting skills, actually PRAISE the veritable WAVE of calm in their classrooms when using the magic of music to accompany specifically designed handwriting exercises.
The bottom line? Simply this: until a child, perhaps YOUR child gains impulse control, which then dampens their EMOTIONAL brain, it naturally follows that their LEFT brain CANNOT pay attention! Hence the “A.D.” – ATTENTION DEFICIT of the population continues to mushroom in a shower of Ritalin, Adderal and Concerta with controversial results.