This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Katharine Leslie seminar - ADHD

Katharine quoted a study (I didn't write down the details!) about children with ADHD. She said that the study took a group of children with ADHD, half of whom were on Ritalin and the other half did 20 or 30 minutes (I don't remember which) of exercise every morning that "bounced" their brains in an up and down manner (like jogging or trampolines). {this is my horribly inaccurate recitation BTW, do not blame Katharine for it please!). Both sets of children were sent to school and the teachers could not tell the difference! The exercise lasts a little less time than the medicine, but how great for Bear, for whom ADHD meds cause too many side effects for him to use?! The problem would be getting him up 30 minutes earlier for school. It would have to be on the treadmill too since he can't be trusted outside.

  • Mini tramp
  • Jogging
  • Jump Rope
  • Jumping Jacks

Why Stimulants Work

I've always wondered why giving a kid with ADHD the equivalent of speed seems to calm them down when it makes everyone else so hyper. Katharine explains it in terms I think I understand.

ADHD increases a person's impulsivity and causes them to hyperfocus on everything. Our frontal lobe normally is supposed to be saying, "Stop that!" It controls our actions. When we take speed it speeds up the frontal lobe so it catches up to the ADHD brain and can think before it acts! So the meds aren't slowing ADHD kids down, it's speeding up the rest of the brain.

ADD/ ADHD Behavior Characteristics
  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli 
  • Often does not follow through on instructions
  • Often interrupts/intrudes 
  • Often engages in activities without considering possible consequences 
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks & activities 
  • No impulse controls, acts hyperactive
  • Emotionally volatile, often exhibit wide mood swings
  • Depression develops, often in teen years
  • Over/under-responsive to stimuli 
  • Difficulty initiating, following through
  • Manage time poorly/lack of comprehension of time 
  • Often blames others for his or her mistakes 

PTSD or ADHD or Both?

We saw a lot of overlap in behavior characteristics between ADD/ADHD and PTSD.  When Kitty first came to us (at age 11) she showed signs of extreme ADHD (she was diagnosed at age 4).  She couldn't sit still for more than a few minutes.  Meals were torture for all of us if we insisted that she stay through the whole meal.  We assumed it was because her ADHD was unmedicated, and quickly had her put on medication.  Her academic skills improved greatly (went from 2nd grade level work to testing at 4th grade level almost immediately).  Her behavior at other times (especially dinner time) didn't improve much, but we blamed it on other things (meds wore off by evening, ADHD meds tend to kill the appetite, she wasn't used to sitting at the table and having conversations...).

PTSD causes issues with hypervigilance (very similar to the hyperfocus you see in ADD/ ADHD) and when you're feeling like you're living in a "war zone," you have a lot of trouble focusing and using other executive functions.  In other words, most of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.  Both my children had QEEG testing which determined that they do have ADD (Bear) and ADHD (Kitty), but they also both have Complex PTSD and it wasn't until there was some improvement with their trauma that we began to see more of the "ADHD" symptoms lessening.


GB's Mom said...

Makes sense!

Corey said...

Mini-tramps! Wal-mart, about $30. I use them with my RAD kids.

I don't know as they do any good, but I know I have heard they are supposed to. (And it sounds like this concurs.)