Saturday, November 27, 2010

I wonder if it's Connected?

I've been wondering lately about the overall perceived increase in ADHD and sensory seeking symptoms and the fact that our society has turned super safety conscious?  I teach.  I am frequently asked, "why is there so many cases of ADHD these days?"  I'm not a doctor or a researcher so I can only offer a standard, "I'm really not sure."  However, I do have a theory. 

Picture a bull at a rodeo.  Once they are harnessed and confined to a small space they become more agitated and enraged and fight harder to get out.  Once they get out and get that crazy human off their back, they start to settle down.  There are still boundaries,  but they are not imminently restrictive.  The ring allows them room to breath.

Now, picture an out-going, energetic child.  They are constantly being told, "don't do that, no you can't, you might get hurt, that's not allowed, get down..."  (are you picturing the trapped bull?)  Twenty, thirty, forty years ago kids were allowed to be rough and tumble kids.  They were allowed to play rough, climb trees, jump off things, roll and tumble, crash and bang.  If they got hurt, they learned, "oh maybe that was a little overboard." We don't let them learn that anymore.  In this day and age of suing everyone for everything, nobody thinks they are allowed to use common sense anymore.  Everyone might as well be covered in bubble wrap, so that it's not any one's fault! 

Sensory seeking and hyperactive kids never stood out this much before because everyone was allowed to play hard.  I'm not saying that we should be negligent parents and turn a blind eye to our children acting recklessly!  What I am saying is that it's our responsibility to find outlets for them to meet those vestibular and proprioceptive needs.  Helicopter parents need to give their kids some breathing space so they don't act out like caged bulls.  Let them run and jump, crash and bump in an appropriate environment.  The more you try to contain and restrict them, the more they are going to fight to get the activity they need. 

I am also not saying that these are not legitimate conditions.  I have two step girls with FASD and many ADHD symptoms and a son with ADHD and perhaps undiagnosed SPD.  They see doctors and are on medication and supplements.  I do believe in the benefits of medicating ADHD.  I have seen the astonishing results.  I do read up about everything that I can and learn as much as possible about each disorder.  But, I also let them be rough and tumble kids as often as possible.  I give them breathing space.  Consequently (I believe), they are on rather low doses of their meds. 

Here are a few of my kids favourite things:
  • slide down the (carpeted) stairs - on their butts, in their nylon sleeping bags to help them go faster (they don't get hurt, they don't hurt anything, they get to slide, bump, go fast, and laugh their butts off!)
  • TRAMPOLINE - ours is 14 feet with a big net around it, yes I let them on more than one at a time (uh oh I hope I don't sue me) because one of their favourite things to do is bring the big yoga ball on there with them (jump, bounce, bump, crash with the ball, laugh their butts off!)
  • karaoke concert - they are singing loud, acting silly, dancing, trying to break dance usually (they get to yell, head bang, roll, flip, jump, bounce, and laugh their butts off!)
  • run on my treadmill - they always want to see how fast they can go, I'm always nearby, there is a safety cord, and they always hold on (see, not negligent)
This is only a partial kids are very creative about how they burn their energy.  Luckily we have a house and a yard big enough for them.  Confinement, but plenty of room to breathe!

Now here is my disclaimer...see the irony?  I am not saying that anyone else should do these things.  I am not providing medical advice.  I have no medical training.  These are only my own humble thoughts and opinions, which are not based in any scientific research.  I have no studies to back up any of my theories.  I'm very sorry to say that the only thing I have used to support my argument is observation, old fashion logic and common sense.  I bad.

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