The ADHD Circuit® (Article 8): “EVERYTHING Is Wrong With My Kid!”
I must admit that I’ve become a little obsessed with researching the brain lately. I always considered myself a semi-expert in understanding how the brain works for learning, but I have never dug this deep into the biology before.
At the same time, I am trying hard not to learn too much. I think that the fact that I don’t have the patience to follow and comprehend some of the super-medical/technical reports I am finding is an advantage. It keeps my questions and understanding grounded towards my purpose, which is to understand what I need to understand to help myself, my son, and many others who simply want to improve their everyday life.
Jean, an ADHD Circuit® subscriber, sent a gracious note to our office last week. She wrote, “I love this clear explanation of a simple task like the 23 steps to getting Mark a cup of milk. I am going to use this article to help my son better understand his own ADHD. The psychologist can’t do what Susan does well.”
Of course, I’m flattered and grateful for Jean’s comment, but in this case, the psychologist has a disadvantage…she knows too much! She has spent many years and thousands of dollars on her education. She has immersed herself into psychology and the brain and memorized every last 10-syallable medical word about every part and function of the brain.
This is good stuff in many situations. But, it becomes a challenge when you have to explain it to a young student who doesn’t have the first clue what is going on inside his body. All he wants to do is stop feeling unsuccessful and get a handle on his life.
I certainly don’t mean to insult or devalue the years and years of detailed study into the biology of the brain. I hope it goes without saying that every person who has devoted themselves to a greater discovery and understanding of the brain has my utmost respect! Anything I present in The ADHD Circuit® ultimately comes from their hard work. But, intentional ignorance is bliss. At least for the moment.
In that spirit, I will share another observation that keeps resurfacing. Please understand this is merely an observation and verbal “I wonder” moment. Many people who have ADHD have “comorbid” conditions like: auditory processing disorder, sensory disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, learning disabilities, Tourette’s syndrome, and more. It appears that medical diagnoses are focused on labeling symptoms rather than “causes.”
I realize this is likely because we first identify symptoms and often do not understand what causes them for many years. But, it seems likely to me that the same root cause of ADHD – inefficient neuron connections – could explain the root cause of an auditory processing disorder, other sensory disorders, anxiety, etc.
Of course, I know there are finite details that differentiate each of these conditions from each other, but this awareness can provide some comfort in realizing that there are not 10 things wrong with your kid…or you. Maybe just one thing…with ten different implications. Perhaps if you can improve that one thing, you can see improvement in all areas.
Why Is This Important?
I spent the better part of eighteen months trying to identify my son’s challenges so we could get him proper help. We heard and/or considered a dozen different “labels” as possible explanations for his challenges. Each label was a distraction. Fortunately, my husband and I were able to stick to our guns (based 49% on continued research and 51% on parental intuition) and pressed for all of our healthcare providers to address ADHD first. We felt certain that we needed to address ADHD before anything else would be valuable. So far, that has proven to be the case.
Last week, I spoke with a long-time friend for the first time in almost a year. She was exasperated over challenges with one of her children. She listed several different diagnoses she had received for him, all in the same family of conditions I just listed. “Practically everything is wrong with him!” she said in a totally deflated tone.
She is clearly overwhelmed and feeling very distraught. “Perhaps there is one underlying cause that is contributing to all of his challenges,” I suggested. That seemed to give her a new perspective. Hopefully, that perspective can make the process less daunting.
We are programmed to complicate our lives and it can be a real challenge to keep things simple. When thinking about ADHD and the variety of “comorbid” conditions that often go along with it (or vice versa), it makes sense that all of these conditions would be caused by inefficient and/or ineffective electrical connections since the brain is nothing but one giant web of neurons.
Of course, we owe it ourselves, our children, and healthcare providers to dig deeper to better communicate and treat all symptoms. But, understanding that having many symptoms does not necessarily mean “many things wrong” can really help you – and your child – become less overwhelmed!
Other ADHD Circuit® articles can be found here: