Whether your child has been formerly diagnosed or not, this article will help you get a far better understanding of not just what the challenges with ADHD are (which you already well know, since you are living with it), but more importantly what's behind it all. We'll take a deep dive into common case history findings seen with ADHD-challenged kids over 11+ years of clinical practice, and also open the hood and dive a bit into the science and neurology behind it all.
There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about ADHD, and while this article cannot address each and every element, we'll start with the foundations and work from there.
This article is for you if you have a child who is constantly moving, constantly sensory seeking, impulsive, and wound up... or as we like to call it, constantly stuck on the "gas pedal" and fight or flight side of the nervous system. We have nicknamed these kids "Raging Bull" cases, since they are always just "on the go" and struggle to slow down, calm down, and relax.
The article will also be helpful to parents of children who don't necessarily have the "gas pedal" issues, but instead have a child struggling with focus, concentration, attention, and organization. The nickname we've created for these kiddos is "Drunken Bull" to illustrate that whether physical, academic, social, or emotional... they just struggle to keep it altogether.
And if you're like most families we meet, truth is once we unpack your child's challenges and dive deep, we see that most are a mix of both - Raging and Drunken bull.
The challenges with both types are truly rooted in neurology which we will dive even deeper into at our next Perfect Storm workshop.
For the Raging Bull kids, it's as if they have a Porsche engine with 500 horsepower and immense speed, but are unfortunately equipped with Ford Fiesta brakes more suited for a 4 cylinder engine. Meaning, they can't slow down when they need to, and they frequently spin out of control going around the corners (transitions, doing homework instead of playing, getting to bed, etc).
The Drunken Bull kids have all the pieces and parts they need to succeed, but it's as if the "wires" are crossed and there is a constant interference or disconnection between their brain, body, and environment.
In many ways, both cases struggle from what we term "busy brain syndrome" in that they can't quiet the noise that plays constantly in their brain and body. For some they then respond by constantly moving, constantly talking, constantly touching... as that actually helps calm their brain and body down (more explanation on how later).
Then for the Drunken Bull kids, the "busy brain" that's always buzzing is distracting and annoying, and doesn't allow them to stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand.
Having run thousands and thousands of neurological scans and exams on kids (and adults actually) struggling with ADHD, we've seen one common thread that connects virtually everyone of them together - an imbalanced, overstressed, and "stuck on" sympathetic nervous system.
The part of their nervous system that is supposed to be on only for a short time in emergency situations, is stuck on all the time, in every situation.
You've likely been told that your child has a "chemical imbalance" and that's why they struggle, but has any doctor ever really dug deep into what that means for you? Have they tested your child's "chemicals" that are imbalanced? Have they explained how it all works together?
Talking with tens of thousands of parents over my career, whether one-on-one in the practice, or one-on-many during my Perfect Storm lectures... it's clear that very few have. That's a major problem, because for these kids the chemicals are only part of the problem - the secondary part.
The chemicals we are told are imbalanced for our kids (or even for our own adult ADHD, anxiety, depression, etc.) are called neurotransmitters. Well, truth is you do not need to go to medical or chiropractic school for 8 years to be able to determine exactly what the job of those chemicals are - to transmit or carry messages for the nervous system.
Those chemicals "work for" the nervous system. A, then B.
The challenge with our current health care system is that we continue to treat B, and ignore A.
But not chiropractic. Chiropractic is obsessed with finding, measuring, and improving A... because we know then B has its best chance of improving as well.
You've heard the saying before, "Don't kill the messenger." Well in the world of ADHD, the chemicals are just the messenger. If we start (and stop) there, we don't address the whole picture. Not even close actually.
Take a look at these scan images children struggling with ADHD:
These are scans from 3 different kids all struggling with ADHD and Anxiety, and each of them at different ages. The first a 3 year old struggling mightily in preschool, the second 3rd grader getting in constant trouble and poor grades, and the third scan a teenager starting to move from being constantly stressed and wound up, to now being sad and struggling emotionally.
The first scan is a Thermal Scan which can be run on any child of any age (even infants to find the stress early), and measures Dysautonomia and its resultant imbalance and dysregulation.
The second scan is an EMG Scan, which looks for patterns and levels of Dysponesis, which is a condition of abnormal energy output and organization (a hallmark of ADHD and SPD).
The EMG scan is perhaps the most telling scan for ADHD cases, as it perfectly measures and illustrates how having all that tension and stress stuck in their spine and bodies leads to a "busy body" problem, that then feeds that noise and tension into the brain, even at rest.
And the third scan is an HRV Test, and this kid's white box being in the lower left quadrant shows what we see with almost all ADHD and Anxiety cases, a nervous system shifted to sympathetic dominance and also starting to wear out and become exhausted.
Alright, before I get your brain too wound up and stressed out from reading all this, let me put a wrap on this blog post by saying that what we just spelled out is what every parent knows to better understand ADHD at a far deeper level. But, we're still not completely done.
Now that we know this ongoing, excessive, and STUCK sympathetic nervous system setting (dysautonomia) is a hallmark of kids struggling with ADHD, no matter their age, type, or diagnosis or not... on the next blog I'll keep digging backwards to then help you understand what triggers and creates this neurological imbalance and issue in the first place.
That's what we truly call "The Perfect Storm" as it not only explains the neurology and physiology, but it finishes the "investigation" and shows us the common triggers seen in pregnancy, labor and delivery, infancy, and early childhood that then set the stage for these challenges later in life.
If you really want all the information, science, and studies that support this conversation, please attend one of our next live Perfect Storm workshops!
If this article has you wanting to just go ahead and talk to one of our doctors right away to dive into your child's case, don't hesitate to give us a call at 815.455.8213 and one of our Care Advocates will answer any questions you have!
To learn more, we'd love to meet you at our next Perfect Storm workshop.
God bless and be well,
Dr. Tony & The PWC Chiropractic Care Team