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

 

 

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ADD; a run for the hills combination????

It was my daughters 10th birthday last week and for months in advance she had been begging to have a sleep over. Now sadly my daughter is one of those that does not get invited to many sleep overs / birthday parties. Wether its because she is not as popular at school as we are lead to believe or that parents knowing that she has “issues” just do not invite her, so baring this in mind and also in my new stance of trying to let her do as many normal things as possible (as I have let her sisters have sleep overs) and having the mind set that her disabilities should not hold her back, I eventually agreed to have a small number of friends who know her really well to stay over.

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the birthday girl

well…..

This was written at 2.45am the night of her sleepover…..

birthday sleep over and ADD; a run for the hills combination. over wrought over tired over excited every emotion going heightened and out of control when it gets to 2am and no sign of sleep what do you do

the only thing you can do so the guests can sleep is to move your ADD child and try and get them to calm and sleep back in their own bed

easy yes…. in our case its been 45 minutes and she has trashed her room screaming and swearing not a good combination especially as when she finally falls asleep she will wake up having forgotten what she has done.

I have come to the very stark realisation that even age 10 there are going to be limitations on what I can and can’t do with my daughter. For all that I want her to lead a normal life I have to accept that in some situations that is not going to happen. There is going to be times when I can’t let her have the independence she sees her sisters having. Having three so close in age (13 and 18 months between them) I really see the differences that disabilities have on my child. Its heart breaking!! I don’t want her to miss out!!!

These are the things they don’t tell us even when you get a diagnosis.

ADD is as much a learning curb as it is a disability. They tell us about the behaviours to expect, the drugs that can be used to help, parent courses to go on and so on. At the end of the day though there is no step by step guide to how to parent a child with ADD. Theres no written list of the do’s and don’ts. There is information on the symptoms and it is widely documented about all the bad disruptive parts of ADD and ADHD but alas I have yet to find a comprehensive manual or list that guides me through everyday life with my child. (will be waiting a lifetime as no two children/adults are the same)

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The girls

Very often I feel alone and alienated. Very often I feel like its all in my imagination, that surly she is not as bad as all that. I feel embarrassment… does that make me a bad mother? How hard can it be to throw your child a simple sleep over party when they are all the rage and everyone else is having them…surely her behaviour is no different to how it was when she was little except she is stronger, faster and when an object comes towards you it hurts. The screaming hasn’t gotten any louder, having sensorineural hearing loss on top has meant she has always been louder than her hearing sister. I can handle anything she throws at me…mentally and physically can’t I?

The thing is it has all changed. Disruptive behaviour at home or in the street wasn’t acceptable when she was little but up to age 6 she could be put in a pushchair or put on reins at least until she grew to big. Now when people see a tall 10 year old exhibiting behavioural problems they mutter and shake their heads. Heck I mutter and shake my head while inside I am fuming because I sometimes forget that she has this ‘illness’ and that she can’t help it but because I want her to be as normal as possible I do sometimes forget for a second that she is different, and yes as her mother I can say she is different because there is no way of getting away from it. She is unlike my other three daughters. Each different in their own way but so alarmingly different to their sister. If I was a bad parent surely they would all be like her?

So the sleepover…..

My daughters friends have sleep overs and maybe giggle the next time they are in school about how late they went to sleep but for us it was no giggle. The girls who stayed accept our daughter for who she is but even they struggled with her not being able to sleep. I felt pride at the way they tried to help her but in the end we had to remove her otherwise none of them would have slept. I had even tried to keep some of her routine at a much later bedtime and read to them plus she had her sleep medication but as mentioned, excited and anxiety played apart in making sleep disappear, we were left with running up and downstairs, shouting and screaming. I felt bad as a mother for taking her upstairs, making her sleep apart from her friends but when you are a household of 6, attached to another house sleep is very much needed by all. Needless to say the friends were asleep within 10 minutes of us removing her and didn’t wake till 9am the next morning.

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As for our daughter after she was spent from her tantrum she spent the rest of the night in our bed. She was very comfy!!! Me however spent time thinking and crying and wondering how much more we will come up against in the fight to give our daughter the chances and opportunities she deserves. Then again as parents thats what we do isn’t it? We give our children opportunities to grow and learn and we as parents also grow and learn. We learn the best way for us to cope / deal / parent our children. Its a huge learning curb being a parent and its a huge learning curb living with ADD. As the years go on no doubt I will learn more not only about ADD but also about myself and my family and especially about what our daughter will be able to achieve.

All I can say is never stop trying. There will always be good days and bad days, thats being a parent and we don’t always get it right. When it goes wrong cry, stamp your feet and let out the frustration and then start again fresh and new the next day. ADD for me is either a good day, a bad day or its sometimes like groundhog day…..

 

Take  care

x Leanne x

Going on Holiday……How we cope

Its that time of year again when school is winding down and my children are getting excited about the end of the school term and holidays. For weeks now I have been asked “what are we doing in the holidays mummy?” or ‘Can we do this mummy?” and we are not even at half term yet!!!
So far I have tried to not think about what having the children home for six weeks will mean but today I am facing facts.

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The six week holidays for us in previous years has been long and boring and arduous.

  • No routine – This can spell disaster. Anxiety, excitement, boredom all kick in
  • Food bills escalate – all parents wether they have disabled children or not must find this one of the biggest effects of school holidays
  • Trips out – unless throughly planned down to the last second can turn from fun to excruciating in seconds
  • Holidays – planning and packing with the children about….enough said
  • Car journeys – these are always the worse. Short trips I can get away with long journeys only if necessary
  • Holidaying on the doorstep – We use to go camping outside of Norfolk until a few years back. Camping on the doorstep where we can go home if we needed to or fetch something we forgot seemed such a better idea.
  • Sibling rivalry – In one word OUCH. The children can argue about everything and anything. It can drive me up the wall to the point of tears.
  • Money is another difficult part of the school holidays. Trips out, holidays they all cost money. Even a seemingly free trip to the beach can cost over £5 plus diesel getting there due to parking costs.

School days are easy the children know what they are doing where they are going and so on…. school holidays are a whole different kettle of fish.

Holidays

This year we decided to go to Scotland with the caravan in the Easter holidays….. But our daughter with ADD, Anxiety suspected ASD, Sensorineural hearing loss and OCD was not coping with the planning. She started to check the weather at every available moment. I would put my phone down and it would go missing. She would keep repeating when are we going? when are we coming back? What if I don’t like it?  What about my things I need mummy?

You see I had only given her a months notice that we were going and with the added issue of memory loss she was basically just freaking out. She was becoming Anxious and at one point worrying so much it was affecting her sleep. So we felt that we had to move the Scotland holiday until July. This has given us an extra 3 months in which to prepare her for a week somewhere away from home and to get use to the idea. We talk about the holiday all the time and have maps prepared and marked so she can see where we are going.

On a test run at the bank holiday weekend we went for three nights just down the road. Literally the next village from where we are!! Two seconds from the Grandparents house. I am not kidding that girl had more luggage then her Dad, Me and three siblings put together. What I found worked though at keeping the anxiety levels down was letting her pack her own bags. This helped her to cope with the fact we were going away from the home. She had a limit of two bags well ok three by the time she had convinced me of what she really needed to take. Items included

  • Teddy who she literally can not sleep without
  • Story Massage book
  • fairy book – we read a chapter every night after medication
  • colouring items
  • crochet bag
  • some other books
  • other assortment of toys that she promised would not get in the way
  • own pillow, sheet, quilt
  • two other cushions that she sleeps with
  • certain pjs that she had to have
  • Her clothes
  • shoes
  • coats
  • medication
  • snacks

By the time we had finished near enough her whole bedroom was in the caravan. Thank goodness for a fixed bunk bed and a 6 berth van.

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in the caravan
The weekend went well so I have high hopes for the actual week spent in Scotland….Maybe!!!

The night time routine was the hardest aspect. Luckily we shopped around before buying a caravan and made sure it had black out blinds to help with this. In our older vans we use to black out the widows using any means necessary including bin bags taped to the windows. We try to keep to the bedtime routine we use at home so that she has that continuity. Its difficult and there are downsides to camping but to what extent do you allow disabilities to encroach into family life. I hope when my children look back in years to come they realise on some level that everything i do and try to do is to maintain as normal a life of them as possible. Holidays abroad I must admit is not something i have considered doing as yet. The girls ask about going on a plane but for now I am just happy to try and show them what Britain has to offer. Even if its just a campsite a mile from home. Distance is not the be all its the family time spent together that really matters and the memories you make.

Travelling 

So our Scottish holiday entails the trip up there to start with. For that we will do what we did at christmas when we travelled to Yorkshire. I made all of my girls a snack bag up. Items included
fruit
biscuits
drink
colouring book
sticker books
cuddly toy
fiddle toys
scrap book

The bags were an instant hit and kept their hands busy for the majority of the trip there and back. Tip Tap was a game I remember playing in the back of the car as a child…. a very annoying game that can quickly escalate. Not something I want to experience as a parent 🙂

We also played eye spy, count the red cars and count the white vans. I sat in the rear with my daughter’s. That was an experience but one I felt was worth it. My ADD daughter loved that I was sitting with her and her sisters loved it even more because even when medicated she can turn a small crowded space in to battle ground. I was there with her keeping her calm and relaxed. I was able to use Story massage with her to keep her entertained and the calmer environment meant that Dad could concentrate better on the road and that her sisters didn’t all become stressed out as well. Plus I was able to divide my time between the four of them without craning my neck from the front seat.
After 5 hours on the road I can honestly say I was shattered. The constant entertaining and answering questions and singing meant that I really needed a break once we got there so straight away they went for a walk to burn of the excess energy. That week turned out to be a good week. With everything she needed our daughter mostly had a good time though she was very glad when we started to head home. The floods in York happened the week we were there and she was very scared that we would get trapped by the flood water and not get home. At the time we had a 4 x 4 which went some way to helping with her fear. Its not until you are away from home I think that you really get a sense of how scary having any sort of disability can be.

All I can do is hope for the best. I don’t want the children to miss out on going to new places and doing new things because of their disabilities. It just takes more planning and preparation and being to a degree able to change certain aspects at a drop the hat. We shall see….

x Leanne x

Massage for children… Any time any where 

As mentioned in previous blogs we use massage with our children as a relaxation, concentration, learning activity. We use massage morning, afternoon and night-times in lots of different situations and scenarios. Why? Because for us massage is a way of interacting with our children using a relaxing tool rather than shouting and getting annoyed with them which i previously did. It means less arguements, less tension and stress. It also means quiet time, creativity and respect.

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Story massage comes before hair brushing in our house

We have four daughter’s ranging from 12 years through to 6 years. On a daily basis as a family unit we live with sensorineural hearing loss and ADD. We are also currently living with two preteens full of hormonal changes, moods and frustration due to thinking they are ready for the adult world.
Primarily on my older two we use Indian head massage. This is a seated massage that is beneficial at the end of the day to calm and relax as well as spending some one to one time with my children. As a therapist I get asked how this works when parents bring their children for a massage? My answer is that attending a massage therapy session can feel daunting to children. They can become more tense and even scared as they do not know what is going to happen. I always work with a parent in the same room and if possible get mum or dad to have a massage first so that the child can see what is going to happen. I always tend to talk through the massage even with my own children so they do not startle when I move from the shoulders to the neck.

Obviously with children you have to adapt some of the massage techniques to take into account their smaller bones and muscles as well as nervousness and this is something I am always conscious off. I also adapt the massage to go with the child’s body language. My daughter with ADD some days just can not tolerate being touched. If her anxiety is particularly bad then no matter how patient I am massage just will not work so we sit and talk instead. You can see when an Indian head massage does start to work as after a few sessions relaxation sets in, fidgets decrease and children comment they have enjoyed their Indian head massage. Indian head massage is a perfect pick me up after a stressful day as well as being perfect for lunch breaks. Massage can last from 15 minutes to 30 minutes meaning it can fit in with almost any lifestyle.

At this time of year exams can place a lot of stress and tension on our children as young as 10. I have also found Indian head massage to be beneficial here. Children can feel stress as much as we can and so they too can benefit from relaxation. Indian head massage can also aide sleeplessness, headaches and eye strain which are common symptoms of revising and exam taking.

With my younger two children we use http://www.storymassage.co.uk

Story massage is a treatment you could say ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. It is a wonderful treatment blending 10 simple but effective massage moves with stories, nursery rhymes and songs in a variety of ways. This is a treatment that you as Parents can share with your children at any time of the day and dare I say it night. It is also a treatment you can get the whole family, carers,friends, teachers involved in and having fun.

Book available on amazon or via singing dragon publishers


So far we have used story massage

  • Bedtimes
  • bathtime
  • to explain a new situation
  • Tea times
  • Quiet time
  • Long car journeys
  • to celebrate a special occassion
  • On holiday
  • In the supermarket
  • Waiting for an appointment
  • To calm down an arguements
  • When waiting in a queue
  • Camping in the caravan

 

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story massage in the caravan…..excuse the mess

Story massage is really easy to learn and you can start enjoying it straight away. Since becoming an instructor I have personally used Story massage nearly everyday at home. My children love to write their own stories and then get mummy to put massage moves with it. It really brings out their creative side and gives the children a sense of achievement. Stories can be short and sweet or longer and there really is no right and wrong way to do it.  They all sit on the stairs and tell each other stories with massage. Its perfect for a rainy day activity or when those sibling arguments are starting to get on your nerves.

I have also found story massage to be really useful with coping with symptoms of ADD and Anxiety. Personalised stories reinforced with massage can aide concentration, raise self confidence and relax especially when there is difficult behaviour. This has been especially true for us at teatime when my daughter has refused to eat. During training I along with another participate wrote a story about a magical food unicorn. We still use this story even now to encourage my daughter to eat. I have found in my own personal experience that story massage can also reduce the feelings of anxiety. When my daughter is feeling particularly stressed and upset about something story massage gives her a positive to concentrate on. For example in a previous blog I wrote about a car journey and how Story massage helped to keep her calm and focused in a small space.

I offer Story massage sessions to families here in Norfolk.

  • fun and informal, relaxing learning approach with plenty of tea’s and coffees
  • A session typically lasts 2 hours either with just parents / carers or with the children as well.
  • You will learn more about story massage, the founders, history
  • get hands on practise learning the massage moves
  • be able to write your own personalised story massage for your child
  • feel confident in sharing story massage with your own children anytime anywhere

I am now of to do a 5 minute story massage as its the first day back after a long weekend which my ADD daughter has found confusing and is now starting to feel anxious. Keep in touch as always and look out for the next edition

 

Take care

x Leanne x