ADHD super Power….Hyper Focus

Sitting here listening to the steady beat of the raindrops outside I am transported to a place of quiet and relaxation and harmony. Hang on a minute its the half term holidays!!!!! whats going on even when my other three children are outside playing my daughter with ADD is always about hanging on my every word, movement, talking non stop, being bored wether she is medicated or not as she does not cope well with the change in routine that is the school holidays.

 Panic stations creep in maybe she has gone outside without me knowing or maybe she is downstairs with the scissors for art and omg I left her unsupervised ARGH

Heart in mouth I literally leg it downstairs and then stop dead. When will I learn….its nothing bad. You see 30 minutes ago I came upstairs while she was starting another one of her art projects. Art is her passion she loves to draw and make and show. Biased mummy that I am I even have some of her pictures on the wall framed. So amongst the turbulent feelings that split second of realisation has caused I realise I left my daughter to do arts and crafts and as far as I know she is still there. Of course this does not stop the panic… having a child who is impulsive means hardly a minute goes by without me worrying what she is going to do next and even though she is nearly 11 that has not changed, factor in the memory, concentration and emotional factors of ADHD/ADD its hard to grasp this alien concept that means she can stay focussed and in one place for more than 5 minutes.

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Art is definitely a Focus….

Whats this I hear you say….shes’s sitting still, concentrating, focused on one thing instead a myriad of different tasks in a matter of minutes. Maybe the ADD / ADHD is not there? Maybe its a misdiagnosis well no its actually something that is real and quite amazing and known by some as an ADHD super power…. Its called Hyperfocus…

What is Hyperfocus?

A short definition from http://www.healthline.com is

“Hyper focus is the experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD. ADHD is not necessarily a deficit of attention, but rather a problem with regulating one’s attention span to desired tasks. So, while mundane tasks may be difficult to focus on, others may be completely absorbing”

I can see why this symptom of ADHD could be misinterpreted. Heck I didnt even know it existed until I started a course in ADHD awareness. I was never told by the ADHD nurse about Hyper focus. I spent moments grappling with my decision to medicate and attend appointment’s when this symptom popped up, was I wrong was she in fact fine and not have a neurodevelopment disorder??  I thought she was just being stubborn. Talk about learning something new everyday and giving your self a heart attack. There is no way I would have put Hyper focus as part of the ADHD.

What does Hyper focus mean for my daughter and us?

Firstly hyper focus affects us all. This peculiar symptom of ADHD can cause arguments and stress within the family. My daughter is so focussed on the task at hand that sometimes its a real struggle to get her to move onto something else. In the case of art work this is fine I don’t mind her doing art for as long as she likes as she is expressing herself and learning from the environment but its when the hyper focus gets stuck on things like the maths games on the laptop. Again you would not necessarily think that would be an issue but when she is so focussed on finishing first one level then the next and so on and so on it is very difficult to try and get her to relinquish the laptop so that she can do reading which is just as important for her to do as it builds her knowledge of language and aides her language skills. Plus she becomes completely shut of from the world around her and as the definition says very absorbed, yes she is quiet but she also can’t answer questions and can become angry and frustrated if the laptop is taken away as it is every evening at least an hour if not more before bed.

Hyper focus can be viewed by some as an amazing ability and it is when its in the right context and its something that empowers my daughter. The amazing confidence and love that she has for the art that she does is an amazing thing. There are times that I love to sit and watch the magic take hold of her. Watching a picture emerge and seeing the focus and dedication she gives the project to make it the best she can is amazing. But for those of us around a child or adult who has it its also frustrating, annoying, upsetting, it winds up siblings, it quite frankly winds me up sometimes. Nasty arguments that can start as a result of someone trying to join in with my daughter are not for the faint hearted. Its almost like she is startled out of a trance and that invokes all sorts of feelings to bubble up due to the interruption, her concentration is broken and it can feel like hell on earth.

So Super power or not?

I think that it is a super power if it can be directed in a positive way but as with everything there will be days when the super power strikes and its the villain not the hero who has come out to play and to be honest i am not sure how I really feel about that…..

take care

x leanne x

 

 

Learning to adapt and play

Play….such a simple, non threatening little four letter word but for me it can be like a volcano that’s waiting to erupt. As any parent of a child with ADD / ADHD knows finding an activity or toy that can provide even 10 minutes of concentration is like liquid gold. Concentration problems, memory issues, frustration, lack of understanding, impulsiveness can all case problems when it comes to play


Play is how our children learn and make sense of the world around them. From dolls and cars, games and building blocks, toys and games allow our children’s imaginations to run wild and learn. This is no different for a child with ADD. As a mum I am always on the look out for inexpensive fun and creative ideas of play. This has become harder the older my other children have gotten but it’s simple for my ADD daughter. Why, because it has taken me 5 years to work out her triggers, what amuses her (talking toys), what irritates her (board games) and what play activities are best to just completely avoid. 

There is no manual or written guide about this, it’s down to us as parents to discover unique and inspirational ways of entertaining our children. But with Christmas just round the corner maybe some idea’s here can help…….

  •  Play to your child’s strengths – for us this is our daughters artist side I always make sure to have on hand pens and paper, encourage their interests as this will give them much needed confidence.
  • Story massage – for us story massage is a family affair. The children can write their own stories and then massage each other using 10 simple moves. Story massage is an activity the whole family can get involved with and it can promote relaxation, imagination and confidence. (See previous blog for more info)
  • Try to avoid games and activities that you know can cause a negative reaction- for us this is board games, I got so fed up of them being thrown around the room I stopped buying them. Plus games that require more than 1 player can cause frustration, irritation, arguments, upset
  • Lego – Buy the bigger duplo sets – you may be told they are big and babyish but once the Lego has been played with and it’s time to put away, or if something happens and the legos gets thrown around the room….then the duplo is easier to find and clear up reducing your stress and frustration in having to find tiny bricks.
  • Outside – even in cold weather my daughter loves to be outside. This also allows her to let of steam so to speak as long as she is wrapped up warm she is outside discovering what a change in season does to the outside world around her and it gives you a 5 minute break so have a cuppa tea and breathe. 
  • Sensory toys – there is now a huge push for toys for disabled children which is great but when your child has an unseen disability this is hard. I have found that the cheap and inexpensive fiddle toys are invaluable. Stress balls (you can make your own) stretchy men anything that’s small (watch out for small parts) can entertain and keep little fingers busy.
  • Interactive toys – some of these last longer than others but I find with our daughter that if she can interact with a toy she is entertained for longer. Some toys now you can record messages on them which is great as kids respond to love and praise.
  • Wooden games/toys – the traditional wooden games and toys are more robust I feel for a child which may throw or have a habit of breaking. Food items for a shop, Wooden games such as Jenga can all withstand most things. 
  • Books – this was another hard one for me, to long and frustration would creep in and to boring I would get told to shut up 😡 pick books which your child is intrested in as it may hold their attention a little longer and do the funny voices….it keeps them entertain and allows a little longer before boredom creeps in. 
  • Allow for breakages – accidents wether intentional or not are going to happen. Yes it’s frustrating and yes you will feel angry and learning to accept this part is the hardest but working out a suitable punishment is key. I refuse to buy another once it’s gone it’s gone and while I still get shouted at my daughter knows this. 

For those who love to think outside the box diaryofaplayfulchild.wordpress.com has some great ideas that you can adapt for children with special needs and disabilities. We have adapted most of the ideas here and used them with an 10, 11, and 12 years olds with great effect. 

For us story massage, teddies and dolls bring the best play experiences. I have found that for toys my daughter is better fixed and focused on what she likes compared to her siblings. She can become almost obsessed by them though which can cause issues if it gets broken or goes missing. At the end of the day every child is different and are all into different things. My four are no different in this. 


Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or follow my blog http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

 Take care all 

X Leanne x

Its not fair….Siblings and ADD

There are some days when I feel at my worst and I don’t understand why my daughter has ADD, or why she suffers with anxiety or even why my children were born with a hearing loss so how can I expect my other children to understand?

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I have talked previously about the often turbulent and volatile relationship between siblings when one has ADD but after a week now of daily tip tapping, swearing and screaming I feel like I am at my wits end. My ADD daughter is the third of four children. All girls!! I will not say it’s an easy task raising girls but I try to do my best. What I mostly struggle with is the relationship my daughter has with her sisters. Some days I blame myself and find it hard to come to terms with the idea that my children have difficulties and other days I manage to brush myself down and get on with parenting but my other daughters find it hard to process their sisters behaviour and they can not understand why (L) is the way she is.

  • I make excuses like she can’t help it
  • I try and ignore the behaviour which mostly just fuels further arguments with my eldest daughters
  • I find myself shouting and screaming at the wrong child
  • I blame all bad behaviour on her disability when sometimes it isn’t
  • I cry and get angry which then upsets all my children

It’s on these darker days that the behaviour and symptoms of ADD become more apparent especially before the medication starts to work. For two hours before school there is arguing,shouting, screaming, objects flying and general put your hands over your ears din. Some mornings I do not even want to get out of bed. With three children trying to get ready for school and one who is being disruptive, its mayhem and can resemble a battle field…..Yes girls can fight like cats and dogs and its not a pretty sight!!!

I feel so emotionally shattered by the time my children walk into school other parents must wonder what a miserable women I am! 

The older the kids get, the harder it’s becoming to be a mum. Its harder to contain arguments, disagreements and fighting especially when two of your daughters are the same height as you…There is also no negotiating with a child who neither understands, remembers or processes what you say. My ADD daughter finds it increasingly difficult to navigate the sibling situation. She is either going of the deep end at them, annoying them or being mean to them or she gets upset because they don’t want to play with her. I can’t blame them (L) may have forgotten that book she threw at them this morning or the slap she gave them but my other three do not forget and they don’t seem to forgive either.  Some days I do all I can to limit the stress caused by them.

I have to split them up, give them different directions!!  I often feel like I am waving my arms around like an Orchestra Conductor.

The guilt sets in about how my other children are coping with having a sister with difficulties/disabilities. On the outside they seem to cope well but the signs are there like yelling at me that its not fair. Life isn’t fair its hard work as there is no rule book, guide book or instruction manual. Some top tips I have learnt along the way

  • Give all of your children at least 15 minutes in an evening by themselves either talk about their day or do some reading. I have found this makes them feel important its not easy as you may get interrupted but persevere.
  • cooking….I try to involve the older ones in cooking for everyone. It gets them out of the firing line for a while and makes them feel involved.
  • always hug and kiss your children anytime anywhere. Make sure they know even if they have been naughty that you love them
  • sleep overs / days out…for the siblings of a child with ADD/ADHD family life can be hard for them. If at all possible arrange a day out or a sleepover for them with friends or family. It will give them time out and an escape especially if its been a stressful week.
  • Find an activity that everyone can enjoy. We use Story Massage a lot in our house for almost every situation. Story massage promotes relaxation, fun, concentration and it can also calm and bring everybody together.
  • Go for a walk. I find even just going around the block can clear the air and relieve some excess energy.

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Phew now I have written it down I may go have a cry and then brush myself down do some breathing and release the Stress and tension.Even on a bad day I never hate my children or myself and neither should you. Feel free to get in touch with me

x Leanne X

http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

ADD….Playing to Learn

As a parent of a child with sensory and learning difficulties I am always on the look out for new and exciting play ideas. Being a parent and entertaining children of all ages can become difficult and stressful. Add in the special needs of ADD, Anxiety, Hearing loss and playtime can produce tantrums and tears born of frustration and lack of understanding. I sit and wonder some days what it must feel like when you think everything and everyone is against you and you don’t understand what you are suppose to be doing. Playtime is such an important part of a child’s life and education. Its how they learn from an early age about the world around them. So how do our children do it?  In my opinion its because they are amazing!!! These little individuals adapt to work around their disabilities.


All children can feel frustration, anger, upset, possessiveness while playing and socialising. I have found as a parent though especially at home that these feelings associated with ADD / ADHD  are heightened. Add in impulsiveness, an inability to wait their turn and short term memory loss, for us finding play ideas is always a challenge. While my daughter is 10 years old her level of understanding is impaired. She thinks differently. Harnessing my daughters strengths and interests is an important part of my roll as a parent and using these ideas can materialise into a myriad of play ideas and situations. We adapt what we have and make the best of it.

  • Story massage…This is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities and can be shared with the whole family. We use story massage to sing, play games, remember things, talk about things and to understand feelings. The children love to write their own stories and then show them to everyone. Check out http://www.storymassage.co.uk for more information
  • Sandpits….A really good wealth of play activities from seeking treasure, building sandcastles, writing, drawing, making shapes can all be achieved in a sandpit.
  • Arts & Crafts….We buy bargain’s from pound land or other similar shops and set up on the dining table or even outside. In the autumn we go for walks and make leafy collages from items she has picked up.
  • Role Play…we have a lot of role play toys from food items, dressing up clothes, dolls and teddies. For those of you with boys yes they can dress up and play along as well. My nephews love pushing pushchairs around. The great thing about role play is you can adapt it and you can play with them.
  • Dens….This is one I loved to do with my siblings when we were younger. Seek out an ideal place and put up sheets, quilts, blankets to make an amazing den. My girls will play in their dens for hours playing house.

With regards to play there are some things I have found its just easier to avoid. Puzzles and board games, these cause the most amounts of headaches, tears and tantrums. my daughter just can not cope with them. They cause anxiety and frustration. They can be thrown around in anger causing them to be launched at me or siblings (trust me having a hand full of little monopoly pieces flying at you is not funny). I just do not find the appeal anymore. Saying that a deck of cards is great for a round of snap!!!

So with all this in mind I recently joined my good friend and author of “Diary of a playful child” Pennie Powell. Pennie has two younger children and has for a while now being writing blogs all about the play ideas that she does with her children. I started reading them and started to see the potential for using her ideas with my daughter and its been great. Nearly all of Pennie’s ideas can be adapted to use with older children and I feel they are great to use with disabled/sensory impaired children. Check out her ideas at http://www.diaryofaplayfulchild.wordpress.com  

We got together at Pennies house and had a great morning playing with coloured spaghetti and food play items, foamy bubbles, and the Crunchy box. This last idea had to be my favourite. All it is just a plastic box filled with dried pasta, biscuits, cornflakes all mixed up. Pennie says “This is good for concentration, fine motor skills,distance judging, edible and its also great for touch,feel and sound and works with all ages.” My daughters spent ages separating all the ingredients into three separate piles. It took them ages and lots of concentration but it cost next to nothing and kept them entertained for a good couple of hours.

Have fun trying new ideas

X Leanne X

http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com