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Neurodiversity When ADHD is Normal

NEURODIVERSITY is all about accepting differences and then finding ways to work together. Accepting neurodiversity also helps us understand ourselves so we can develop strategies and methods for handling and controlling our ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) behavior, or the ADHD behavior of our children.

The hype around the term disorder gives the impression that this is a sickness. The behaviors are real, the conditions are real. The problems for the folks with ADHD, their spouses, parents, family and their friends are real. However this is not a sickness. It is part of the natural diversity within humanity. ADHD is not the problem, but it causes problems when it is not understood.

For really serious behavior problems like oppositional and defiant behavior behavioral training is the only long term answer. Medication is not for the long term, as the effects last only a few hours, but side effects last longer. Also studies show that the effectiveness of stimulant medication decreases, as the person gets older.

Understanding and accepting Neurodiversity is a major key to understanding the cause of bad ADHD behavior and can help people with ADHD understand their own behavior. It explains frustration, irritability and why parents or spouses misunderstand their loved ones with ADHD. A hyperactive or chronically daydreaming child does not understand why s/he gets irritated over small things, and can only be helped if a serious attempt is made to see the world from the child’s point of view. This is a vital insight for a parent of a difficult child to have.

Probably the main reason attention deficit people to fail is comparing themselves to “normal” people and trying to be “normal.” Often adolescents with ADHD leave school and enter adult life with a “disorder” label that gives a victim status to many. One survey showed that 87% of adults with ADHD felt life is hopeless. Using one’s energy to constantly adjust and trying to fit in prevents development of a healthy self-esteem. Accepting that we are different and think differently to the average person, but are not disordered, is a key step to taking control of our lives.

the average person's brain is wired for cognitive thinking, while the ADHD brain is wired for intuitive thinking. Recognising that we possess positive traits that balance our cognitive weakness gives us an insight into our strengths which we should utilize while developing strategies to overcome our weaknesses. Our strengths include an ability to hyperfocus, our unusually strong intuition, creative out-of-box thinking, gifted, enthusiasm, generousness and a sense of humor.

If we accept that there are two ways of thinking; cognitive for average people and intuitive for ADHD people, then we have explanations for a number of misunderstandings. To take two examples:

brain images showing alpha and theta brain states
  • ADHD processes thoughts differently.
    In brain scans attention deficit children are inclined to be in the Alpha or Theta brainwave state while average children doing the same task are in the beta brainwave mode. Alpha and Theta are both brainwave states that are associated with accelerated learning, meditation and intuitive creative thinking, while beta waves are associated with cognitive thinking.
  • Changing from an intuitive to a cognitive mindset requires an effort and some moments to adjust. When a child is hyperfocussing and in an intuitive mind state and a parent enters the room and gives a list of instructions, which is cognitive, the child needs time to adjust from intuitive to cognitive thinking. Not getting that time to adjust to a new mindset causes frustration and irritation, and consequently bad behavior.

Schools are at Fault

The Western schooling system, and ultimately our politicians, may be to blame for this. Most schools have only the resources to teach the average pupil and use teaching methods suiting the average child. Including more complex concepts in school syllabuses, as it is today, adds to the strain of any child who may be different than average. Schools geared for cognitive thinking overload children with too many details trying to cover too much, instead of building basic concepts that the children can then build on further themselves. Children who are different from the average child react as children under pressure do, by tuning out or acting out. They get labelled and leave school with a lowered self-esteem and a sense of being broken.

This is where a fundamental difference lies between the thinking processes of average people and people with ADHD, some forms of autism and some learning disabilities. Average people are cognitive linear thinkers, while people from these other groups think in a conceptual intuitive way.

The most important thing a parent can do for his/her child is to teach them to understand how they differ from average people and learn to accept that they are ADHD thinkers and then guide them in making decisions on what they are going to do about it. Bad behavior is never excusable, but understanding why the bad behavior happens can help to learn how to cope with then and eliminate that behavior.

If you or someone in your family has attention deficit, hyperactive or impulsivity problems, try a natural route with ADHD natural remedies as a first step. For the next step, developing strategies, there are helpful sites such as Dr. Anthony Kane's.

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