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AD(H)D or lazy, ill-mannered child?

Often parents, when they hear about Attention Deficit Syndrome, mistakenly believe that this is an attention deficit on their part, the parents.

No, Attention Deficit Disorder is, first of all, difficulties with controlling one’s own attention, with maintaining attention in a particular activity, difficulties with impulsivity, organisational skills, difficulties with perceiving information and social behaviour.

ADD(D) is also thought to affect mental abilities. But practice shows that people with this symptom can be very successful in what they are really interested in.

Where do these problems come from?

Just like people with dyslexia, (see my article “What is dyslexia: a gift or a problem?”) people with ADD(D) are imaginative thinkers and have unique creative abilities.

Their rich inner world is like a theatre! And they are often inside the production. Or as if inside a computer game with excellent graphics. And this magical world is very interesting: there objects can turn over and turn into others, they can be intricately combined or, on the contrary, divided... They can become part of a whole or be built into a system... The possibilities are unlimited!

And all this creative wealth causes problems with attention when completing school assignments.

If something causes confusion while performing a school task, then the imagination immediately turns on to help get rid of the confusion. This works for absolutely all people, AD(H)D or not. For example: you walk into the bathroom and see a fountain of water gushing straight from the floor. You understand that this pipe has burst, but what to do? You feel a feeling of confusion, which immediately activates your imagination and it begins to generate ideas: put a bucket of water, throw a rag, turn off the water, etc.

But for a person with ADD, ideas simply pour out of a cornucopia; fantasy immediately reveals the possibilities of transformation and manipulation, takes it along with it, leaving the original cause of confusion far in the past. For example: what kind of bucket and where to get it, is a garbage bucket suitable, and what kind of rag is it, and which one is better, and where are the rags, and which one is better of these two, is a dirty one suitable, will I get my hands dirty, I don’t like it, when your hands are dirty, you need to wash your hands... As a result, a person may completely forget about the original intention.

With all the rich inner three-dimensional world of an ADD student, the school education system uses two-dimensional symbols - letters, numbers, punctuation marks, mathematical symbols, Capital Letters, lined paper... And with all that, learning begins quite early, while the brain is not yet ready or not quite ready for this symbolic abstraction. Therefore, there are many reasons for confusion in the educational process! This is when the problem of maintaining attention on the subject begins, which intensifies over the years, as the child grows. And over time it becomes a persistent habit...

What about problems with organisational skills, punctuality, temper and impulsiveness, and social relationships? Where do they come from?

From the same habit, disorientation into your inner world. Orientation is when the focus of attention is directed to the outside world, and a person is aware of what is happening around him, he adequately perceives reality. Disorientation is when the focus of attention is more directed to the inner world, and then reality can be perceived with distortions, passing through the prism of the inner world.

Disorientation greatly affects punctuality and the internal sense of time: when a person with ADD is interested in something, time passes very quickly, but if he is bored, then time simply stretches indefinitely! As a result, there is no internal reference point for time; it is difficult to estimate how much time will be needed and how to plan it.

Also, due to disorientation, the person does not grasp certain concepts that more focused people perceive naturally by simply observing and participating in life.

For example, if a person with ADD wants to build a house in his imagination, he may start building it from the roof, then imagine windows, doors, and then the walls, but may not even think about the foundation! There are no rules in his inner world, everything happens the way he wants, there is no need to wait, no need to clean, he is always a star and the center of attention! Everything appears and disappears only at his request, without effort!

As a result, he misses the concepts that help us create structure, organize something: the concepts of change, consequences, cause-and-effect relationships, time, sequence, importance (priority), order and disorder.

When we try to explain problems in his behaviour to a child with ADD(G), we always rely on these concepts that he does not have. And he perceives information as a special case, and not a general rule. For example, a real case from my practice: child cannot take anything from the teacher’s desk without permission, the child repents of what he did and remembers, agrees. Next time he takes it from a classmate without permission.

With his own rules of the inner world, the child goes into the real world...

Where for some reason he is not immediately a star, but only one of many, and for some reason adults are not happy to greet his new ideas (especially when he needs to focus on completing a learning task), people around the child force him to do things that he does not want, they force him to follow meaningless rules, they scold him instead of praise, they don’t rush to implement his brilliant ideas...

This is where hot temper and impulsiveness, disorganization, and even sometimes aggression appear - from the discrepancy between reality and expectations, in attempts to protect oneself from the “unfair” outside world.

Davis's program suggests gaining control over this wonderful imagination using three self-control tools.

In my practice, two adults were afraid to carry out an attention correction program for fear of losing this wonderful creative gift. But let's look at an example: you got a puppy, a beautiful fluffy ball. And if you do not teach him to follow the rules, obey you, obey commands, respond to his name and go to the toilet in a certain place; then when he grows into a huge beast, will your life with him would be comfortable? An obedient dog brings a lot of pleasure to its owner, while a wild dog brings a lot of troubles. The same thing happens with the imagination: it is absolutely beautiful, but a little wild. By establishing control over imagination you can facilitate learning and make life more comfortable.

The Davis method is wonderful because it does not block or take away anything, but only gives: it gently teaches self-control and observation of self, self’s reactions. There is an understanding that the imagination has turned on, and, if necessary, you can switch to focus (orientation) mode by turning it off.

Next in the program is the practical application of the tools, as well as the elaboration of missed concepts, so that the child becomes more organised, punctual, and calm. All concepts are developed in three dimensions - sculpted from white plasticine and reinforced by real-life research.

And the final part of the program is the implementation of these concepts into life: exercises to establish order both in life and in behaviour.

© Copyright 2021, Elena Nikulina

Elena Nikulina, licensed specialist DDAI (Davis Dyslexia Association International) for the correction of dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Syndrome with or without Hypo/Hyperactivity, and other problems in training according to the author's method of Ronald Davis, director of the company Dyslexia Correction and Support Center , London, Great Britain.

More detailed information about the method of correcting dyslexia, ADD(D) and other learning problems can be found in the books by Ronald Davis, “The Gift of Dyslexia” and “The Gift of Learning.”

Photo: creating the concept of consequence: something happens as a result of something else. I fed the kitten and the kitten grew into an adult cat.

Video: My daughter created this video showing how easily her imagination can be activated. The flying ball becomes a dragon and turns back into a ball. A flashing idea.

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