Adult ADHD - New Ideas Christchurch
Updated: Jul 5
Just recently I've had two friends who have been diagnosed with adult ADHD. They are women, both over 50 years of age and relieved to have got a diagnosis. I say relieved because of their inability to focus, poor concentration together with a need to be always "on the go" at the same time having a tendency be easily irritated.
Now these lifelong challenges may be recognised as having adult ADHD - making them think, that this diagnosis is a bit late! Welcome of course, but a bit late as it's now recognised that ADHD starts in childhood.
Educational Kinesiology Treatment Helped ADHD
Twenty years ago I first started working as an Educational Kinesiologist with children with what we now call ADHD. The children I treated had developmental delay, children that were not reaching the appropriate milestones in behaviour and learning, for their age.
"At that time there were two defined problems; attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)."
The difference was attributed to the difference in behaviour of the children and they certainly behaved differently in my consulting room.
Attention deficit disorder is more likely to be overlooked, as it is generally lack of attention. Behaviour tends to be daydreaming and quietly keeping themselves to themselves and not really bothering others.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder manifests in a very different way making it very difficult to overlook. The lack of attention or, seemingly attention to everything, and everyone around them is done in such an outgoing manner that caused disruption in the classroom.
Both, ADD and ADHD can interfere with learning and developing social skills that are needed in life. Is it no wonder that we are having a lot of adult ADHD that is causing many people to underachieve in their careers, relationships and their own sense of worth and well-being.
A quote from Harald Blomberg, co-founder of Rhythmic Movement Training
"For some reason the brain of the child has not received sufficient stimulation from the senses for the nerve nets to develop and the different parts of the brain to link together well" pg 12.
Fidgeting - those of us that have to move to pay attention
Paying attention can be difficult for many of us. Some of us can sit still, but can easily have our attention drift away all we can literally "nod off". This is more like the daydreaming and the not paying attention of ADD.
Some of us cannot sit still, we need to shuffle on our chair, fiddle with our hair or have something in our hands - small movements help us to pay attention. But with ADHD this hyperactivity, being more extreme, may disturb those around us.
There is an area in the brain stem called Reticular Activating System (RAS) that is responsible for sending signals to the cerebral cortex, which in effect brings more areas of the brain into use.
Then we are able to -
o Maintain attention and concentrate and not drift away.
o Be alert switched on to what is happening, be engaged and keep focussed.
"If you tell a "fidget" to sit still all their focus is on sitting still - not focus on listening or understanding what they are being told shown or told"
What Is Paying Attention?
It can be very difficult to tell if someone is actually paying attention and we are all very different in how we do pay attention. If we look and watch someone, how well will we be able to hear and attend to the words?
o Do you turn your head to one side, to facilitate your dominant ear?
o Do you need to lean forward to be more focussed and exclude surrounding noise?
o Do you need to close your eyes so you can focus on the words you are hearing?
o Do you just 'hear' or do you add your own imagery
Or do you do better with a podcast? In a podcast you can actually pay attention to the words without the distraction, the visual distraction of the person speaking or whatever their presentation is.
The work of Carla Hannaford on brain profiles gives an insight in our innate differences, more specifically how we learn in her interesting book 'Dominance Factors' (see references below)
Why I focus on treating adults with ADHD?
I distinctly remember the week I decided to stop working with children, not just those with ADHD but to change my practice to work with adults. There was a strong emotional reason for this decision.
On this particular day two parents, recent arrivals to Australia, moving from Newcastle in the North of England, brought in their son who was having problems learning at school. This nine-year-old, small, redheaded boy had a face covered in freckles and that soft lilting northern accent.
At the time half of my business was working with children with learning difficulties. That means children at school were struggling:
o to read, or stuck in a plodding, not understanding mechanical process,
o or write, especially legible writing and getting ideas in their head onto paper,
o or pay attention in class, understanding social cues and interaction,
o or be unable to follow instructions,
At this time I was also travelling around Western Australia training primary school teachers how to use Brain Gym® activities in their classrooms with pupils.
Brain gym activities used regularly in the class is great for:
o keeping pupils organised,
o calming the classroom,
o improving children's ability to learn, understand and remember,
o pupils to be happy and successful at school.
Overcoming learning difficulties - the children I didn't treat with Brain Gym
Returning to my new client, the nine-year-old boy from northern England. The description "cute as a button" matches him, ginger hair heaps of freckles and a lovely personality. We had a great session and I knew I could help him catch up in class, to be able to read, be able to write and learn if his parents enrolled in my Educational Kinesiology for a couple of months.
The work of Educational Kinesiologists in improving learning difficulties
My job was so rewarding. To change the life of a child, the prospect of getting an education instead of going through school unable to learn, understand and possibly lose his lovely personality as he grew older because of the challenges he would face as he moved through school.
After the session, including giving his parents some Brain Gym® activities to do at home, they booked to see me the following week.
But they cancelled and I didn't see this child again - so I wonder what lay ahead for him?
Adult ADHD - Where are the grown-up children with ADHD now?
This experience of not having the opportunity to work with a child had a lasting impression. Think of how many children with ADHD, if all had been trained with brain integrative and developmental activities, to improve the neural connections of their brains. How many children that are now adults are living with learning difficulties that could have been altered, and often altered easily, in a short amount of time?
More about rhythmic movement training for adult ADHD.
The philosophy behind Rhythmic Movement Training is based on the integration of childhood primitive reflexes. These primitive reflexes are evident when you have see a child making rolling, rocking and reaching movements as they develop his or her neural network.
Children move to grow their neural networks in their brains
During the time from fetal development and into infancy a child is "growing their brain". As they do this a variety of primitive reflexes are brought out and then integrated (no longer in action) and our body movements become automatic and fluid.
Rhythmic Movement Training builds neural networks in adult ADHD
We are continually building, reabsorbing (losing connections), and changing our neural networks throughout our lives. This means it's could be possible for some adults with ADHD to change their brain networks to work better and hence be more relaxed. As stress, as people with ADHD will acknowledge makes some or all of their symptoms worse.
Even people who have fully integrated their reflexes when they grew up can experience trauma that can cause primitive reflexes to become unintegrated, causing a variety of symptoms such as concentration, attention and organisation problems.
Is permanent medication the answer for adult ADHD?
I cannot finish this article without mentioning one of the solutions often used for ADHD and that is medication. There are now a lot of children medicated, given drugs because they can't sit still and pay attention in school. Some children can have improvements in their symptoms, as they grow older lessening the need for medication, but not all.
However, if we give medication to adults with ADHD will they have to take this medication permanently?
Are drugs the answer?
o All drugs have side effects - why are children given "drug holidays".
o More drugs were given to treat side-effects e.g. helping children get to sleep.
o Does medication solve the problem neural network connections.
o Do drugs cause permanent and beneficial changes to the neural network or are they detrimental to the brain (after years of medications in the future we will know the answer)?
NOTE: ADHD medications may reduce the effectiveness of remedial intentional movements to integrate childhood reflexes.
A story about my own retained childhood reflex
A reflex can be described as an automatic reaction, an unconscious movement of your body. My reflex automatic reaction is kind of dangerous. When riding my bicycle I want to look to the right to check behind me, so I turn my head to the right. Unfortunately, simultaneously I turn my handlebars to the right although I'm really planning to go straight ahead. This is a childhood reflex that has not been fully integrated.
I had to listen to my husband, when he instructed me to "use your side mirrors"!
Not too bad on a bicycle as I mostly just potter around the park. However this reflex also happens when I'm driving my car, and it's particularly noticeable driving along the freeway. So there I am checking the lane to my right, again up pops my primitive reflex and when I turn my head to the right unfortunately my hands on the steering wheel also turn the car to the right. Somewhat dangerous if you going 100 km/h and have a few other cars around!
Educational Kinesiology works to rewire the brain to improve ADHD symptoms.
There are many areas within the training for Educational Kinesiology that can help integrate primitive and postural childhood reflexes. In this area of adult ADHD I don't believe there is much research into the continued presence or unintegration of childhood reflexes. As explained above in the quote from Harald Blomberg when these childhood reflexes develop and are integrated they have a developmental effect on the neural network. Although with technology today people are looking at the differences in the brains of people who have ADHD and those people who do not using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI)
Women and girls ADHD often overlooked, in the past and the present
One final point that I think is important to bring to your attention. I found from my research on adults who have ADHD, is that we are now finding the women who have lived with ADHD. Those girls that had ADHD but weren't as disruptive as most of the boy who successfully got diagnosed with ADHD and hence received treatment. And we also need to remember that we are all siting on a continuum of talents, abilities and attitudes. Luckily, we are all unique
The information in this article is general in nature and in no way diagnoses any illness.
RMT for ADD/ADHD & RMT Movements by Dr. Harald Blomberg and Moira Dempsey (2011)
The Dominance Factor: How Knowing Your Dominant Eye, Ear, Brain, Hand & Foot Can Improve Your Learning (2011) by Carla Hannaford.
Brain Gym New Zealand
Rhythmic Movement Training
More information on childhood reflexes - Sally Goddard
Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour: A window into the Child's Mind by Sally Goddard (2002)