ADHD or Highly Creative? The similarities.
I have been tip-toeing around the topic of ADHD or highly creative for years now.
And I want to start this post by making clear, that I respect and recognize all the children and adults who have difficult and serious challenges. I know a few adults for whom being diagnosed ADHD, has been a relief.
My intention with writing this post is to highlight the symptoms of ADHD and how those "symptoms" are the same as those of a number of other personality factors.
The reason I am doing this is that I hope people will be enlightened and more informed before they turn to, the often dangerous, drugs that are Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, and Strattera.
There's also a personal reason ADHD is of interest to me.
Many people have contacted me through this blog and written personal letters to me.
These people have had hard times in their lives, and they all thought they had ADHD.
It turns out they didn't. They are "just" multi-passionate!
So, in this post, I want to look at the symptoms of ADHD and how similar those symptoms are to other challenges people have.
The symptoms of ADHD are:
have a hard time planning and executing an activity
forgetful and loses things
Having difficulty being still, sitting still
Having difficulty waiting on a turn
Can't control own feelings
Daydreams ignore what's around them
Similar symptoms as ADHD, but to other challenges :
If you have high tone it means your brain's "awakeness" is overactive and that makes it difficult to relax in your body and muscles.
Children with high tone are very active and they are often hyperactive.
These children have to be calm as opposed to children with low tone, who has to be "woken up".
High arousal in the brain stem.
This is similar to the high tone and these children are in constant movement. They are hyper, often speaks in a high-pitched voice.
It's hard for them to be calm
They are sensitive, overreacting to stimuli - they are missing filters to sort through senses
Are feeling - sound - light-sensitive
These children have difficulty concentrating
Highly creative mind
Someone with many interests. Jumps from interest to interest, job to job.
Active brain activity. Often described as having many "browsers" open at the same time.
They don't think linear.
A highly creative brain is good at making connections between different networks in the brain.
She thinks "out-of-the-box" and she is restless.
We don't like rules. We are often anti-establishment.
Having to choose just one direction in life, one interest, is not possible, but causes anxiety.
We rarely finish projects, but we are good at seeing the big picture.
Bad sleeping patterns
More and more studies show that lack of sleep has a huge effect on illness and quality of life, both for ordinary people as well as for people with an ADHD diagnosis.
A Danish study indicates that children with ADHD don't have good sleep patterns.
In the children's nursery, I work in, we see children as young as 1-year-old being asked questions such as, what jacket they want to wear, when they want to sleep, if they are ready to come home, etc.
It can easily become a habit to talk to your child in a way of questions.
I once counted how many questions a particular child got in the 10 minutes or so, it took her mom to drop her off at the nursery, take the packed lunched to the fridge and say goodbye.
Around 30 questions! In around 10 minutes!
You might think this is a rare case, but it's very easy to do.
"Do you want a sandwich, would you like peanut butter, what are you playing, will you get your coat etc.
If you have kids, especially young kids, try and notice how you speak to them. Do you speak in questions?
What happens when we ask ourselves or someone else a question, is we activate the amygdala in our brain. Our brain loves questions and it WILL try to come up with an answer.
This means, asking questions = brain: "I must come up with an answer" = activate stress levels
We stress our kids.
Image being asked 30 questions in 10 minutes. And then imagine not being able to answer them because you can't yet talk!
Setting healthy boundaries
Another side to the "lack of boundaries" problem is being overprotective.
Some people here in Denmark call it "curling children". Kids are being "wrapped in blankets".
Where this can lead to problems is if these children don't meet any resistance in their life.
If they don't get a "no".
One of the hardest things to learn is to receive a "no", being neutral about it, and then move on. Most adults find it hard too.
There are 3 ways we usually react when we get a "no" or meet resistance.
We blame ourselves. "It's all my fault. I'm no good. I always mess things up......."
We blame others. "It's his fault. He's an idiot. If only he'd listen to me...." (Sometimes this can cause aggressive behavior)
Staying neutral. "Ok, that didn't work. Never mind. I learned this...I'm moving on"
It's clear that option three is the reaction we want, and setting boundaries from an early age will help do that.
We'll meet a lot of "no's" in life. In one form or another, and learning how to deal with this in a mindful and realistic way, is huge for kids.
Not setting healthy boundaries and communicating in questions to out kids, sets them up for all kinds of difficulties.
The constant center of attention
And finally, children accustomed to being the center of attention all the time can find it hard to share the limelight, such as in a classroom setting.
Children who don't learn to not interrupt, or learn not having to be looked at constantly to feel "seen", crave attention.
Of course, we give our kids attention, pretty much always, but it's also ok to teach them, that sometimes, it's not about them.
Tactile sense challenged (feeling sense)
Our tactile sense is our biggest sense as it is in our skin all over our body and in our lymphatics.
We have an inner tactile sense, which is the one we use to investigate the world, and we have the outer tactile sense, which is in our skin. This is the one we use to protect ourselves.
Children who are challenged in their tactile sense, often feel they have "ants in their pants". They are also highly ticklish.
These children have a hard time sitting still and concentrating. Some children with this challenge can almost feel pain by touch, and so they protect themselves in any way they can from other people. It's hard for these kids to focus on learning when all their energy is used to keeping their body still.
It is very common to be challenged in our tactile sense. And children react in many ways to this.
I'm not an expert on this, but I have a colleague who is.
Are there other remedies other than medicine?
There are especially 2 really simple and inexpensive methods you can use.
With high tone, high arousal, hyper children, giving them a calming massage 3 times a day, for a time period as little as 3 months, can make a huge difference. The same goes for tactile sense challenged kids.
You know those electrical foot baths, that everybody used to have? Well, they are fantastic for these kids.
Massage and foot baths are so simple, it's easy to dismiss them as nonsense. Don't! Try them instead consistently for a period of 1-3 months.
An example of how simply giving a child massage can have a huge impact:
I have many examples where these 2 simple methods have worked for children at my nursery. I'll just share one:
We had a 2-year old who had high arousal in her brain stem. This girl was hyper, high-pitched, threw big temper tantrums and when she was about 2, she stopped sleeping at nap time. She couldn't relax and kept fidgeting.
But at just 2 years old, she needed her sleep.
So, we started to give her a calming massage before nap time every day, and she fell asleep. It was so obvious it worked because if we forgot one day, she'd lie awake.
A highly creative child is one to celebrate, not one to medicate.
And setting healthy boundaries is a lifelong practice that is good for you and your child. Regardless of ADHD symptoms or not.
ADHD or highly creative? Let's keep an open mind
There are many reasons why we act and react the way we do.
Again, I'm not here to say ADHD doesn't exist. I have looked for neurobiological proof that it is a brain disorder, both here in Denmark and in the USA, as ADHD is an American discovery.
But I haven't been able to find one.
I work with little kids, I have 3 kids, and they have school friends and other friends.
In my experience, those children who have been diagnosed with having ADHD, and those children having symptoms, that I and my colleagues could fear could become diagnosed, have not had a neurobiological fault. Not one of them.
High arousal, lack of healthy boundaries and challenged on their tactile sense, those are the top 3 reasons, the children I have come across, have had problems.
Those problems can carry into adulthood, but they can be solved without using medicine.
Please share this post with someone you know could benefit from it.
People's problems and challenges are real, and help has to be respectful. Families are going through such hard times, and I believe we all do the very best we can, with the knowledge we have.
P.S I would LOVE to hear from you. Did this information help you in any way? Perhaps you have other solutions to share.