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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
In her book "Mapping the Mind" Rita Carter describes Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder as
"a condition marked by lack of concentration, short attention span and physical restlessness. It is usually diagnosed in children, many of whom are so disruptive that normal play and schooling is impossible for them. The condition is often blamed on bad parenting, or a "bad attitude", but brain imaging studies show clearly that children with this disorder have an underlying neurological dysfunction which almost certainly accounts for their behaviour. Essentially the problem is caused by a brain that has yet to come fully on-line."
Drugs have been used to treat this condition in the past but alternative therapies are also proving successful. One of these is through the use of Biofeedback (a way to train the body to alter biological functions using correcting signals).
The way that it works is that the child sits in front of a TV screen that displays coloured bars representing the child's actual brain activity. This activity is derived from harmless electrodes that are attached to the child's scalp so that he or she can see exactly what is going on in his/her brain. By following simple instructions, children can learn to control their level of brain activity by monitoring the TV screen and "controlling" the activity of the bars ie by actually guiding their inner processes. Essentially the child is learning to relax which is crucial as ADHD children have a chronically high level of stress which means even when sitting still their systems are hyper. Over time this chronic stress can wear down the body's defence and immune systems resulting in a higher incidence of illness.
Now not everyone affected by ADHD has access to Biofeedback technology but there are simple ways that children affected by this condition can be helped. Teaching the child to relax through breathing and concentration exercises will help considerably. I first came across this concept when Jason Alster from Israel told me about his book "Being in Control" that helps children suffering with ADHD. I have reviewed it this month but what I want to do is give you one of the exercises he recommends. Sitting down, make a fist and then hold it gently for 7 seconds. Then release the hand and feel the release of tension. Do this at least twice with both hands. If you do this with your child they will begin to understand the difference between tension and relaxation and will start to realise they can control that in their own bodies.
[please see also the Syndromes Links index page re ADHD]
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4th March 1998: