ADHD affects many areas of the brain, but in this house there is one particular occurrence that we see time and time again.
As part of mine and kiddo’s ADHD, we have to control impulsive behaviour. Engaging in our impulses to run, shop, eat or in kiddo’s case do anything he knows he shouldn’t, gives us a huge hit of dopamine to the brain and makes us feeling amazing. For a very short amount of time.
We know that giving in to unhealthy or forbidden impulses isn’t going to make us feel better in the long run and so we try to control those impulses. Being restrained though has a whole other affect on us. It sends our sensory processing crazy.
I don’t experience this as intensely as kiddo. If I’m controlling impulses to shop or binge eat, I can feel very unbalanced and dysregulated. I’ve worked out that washing and styling my hair not only stops me engaging in the impulse but regulates my senses and helps me move on with my day.
Kiddo though has autism as well, so has far more sensory processing issues than I do and this is where he really struggles. When trying to resist an impulse to draw on the wall, go into a room he knows he’s not allowed in or play with something he shouldn’t, he can become so dysregulated that you can’t communicate with him. He has uncontrollable giggles, loses spacial awareness, becomes hugely anxious and can become aggressive and self harm. Amongst all of this he still tries to prevent himself from engaging in the impulsive behaviour.
Last week one of the door handles in his classroom was broken. He was safe and couldn’t leave the general area but what it meant was he couldn’t focus on anything that was happening in that room because he knew he could get out. His impulse to leave the room was so hard to control that he lost many of his functioning abilities, including communication.
Luckily his staff are amazing and knew that he wasn’t being naughty, he actually wanted to be good so much that he had become dysregulated in pretty much all his senses.
Thats how hard ADHDers find it to control impulses. It’s a chemical reaction in the brain that we are fighting. So if your child has tried to do something they shouldn’t and then becomes completing dysregulated, don’t punish them. Support them, because the fact they’re overloaded means they genuinely are trying to resist the things they know they shouldn’t do.