I got a great chance a couple of weeks ago to listen to Dr. Ned Hallowell teach a teleclass called “Unwrapping the Gift of the AD/HD Mind” at ADD Resources. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Hallowell is one of the foremost authorities in the country when it comes to Attention Deficit Disorder. He has written a number of books about ADHD, including the classic “Driven to Distraction“.
Of course, I learned a lot from the class, but one thing really caught my attention. Dr. Hallowell said that one “ADD moment” – where you’ve done something typically ADD that results in embarrassment – can lead to a cycle he calls SPIN. Shame>Pessimism>Isolation>No Creative Productive Outlet.
Dr. Hallowell’s solution for SPIN (and for AD/HD in general) is a few simple things:
- Social interaction
- Creative, productive outlets
I think what he’s saying makes perfect sense, and I bet you agree, at least when it comes to social interaction and exercise. We all know it’s good to get out and be with people, especially if you’re feeling bad about yourself, and there’s no denying that exercise is both valuable and important.
But what’s this about a creative, productive outlet? What does that mean? Well, simply put, it means allowing your child’s creative side to express itself once in a while. Actually, more than once in a while; on a regular basis.
Kids with AD/HD spend an awful lot of time on schoolwork and studying, probably more than their peers. They spend 6 or 7 hours a day at school and then a couple more at home each night doing homework. Imagine doing your job all day long and then having to come home most nights and spend a couple more hours doing more work related stuff. And while you’re at it, imagine not being able to do something you enjoyed because you had all this work to do. How would that make you feel?
Wow – I can almost hear you now – because that’s probably pretty much how you live your life, isn’t it? There’s never enough time to do all you need to do, much less to do something you’d enjoy. But you know what? That’s not the life any of us should be living. The dishes and the chores and the whatever will wait for us; they’ll still be there tomorrow. Aren’t they always? Do you really want to come to the end of your life and realize that the dishes were always clean but you never had much fun? Of course not. That’s why it’s so important to make time for doing something that you enjoy on a regular basis. It makes life more enjoyable and it refreshes and renews you, making those dishes a little bit easier to face.
You can see the value in that, can’t you? If you can, then can you also see how this same concept benefits your child? It’s important for them to work at learning, and to do the best they can in school, but it’s equally important to stop working so hard once in a while and have some fun. Help them indulge their creative side – whatever that might be.
I think that most people think of art supplies when they hear the word “creative”, but I think there are lots of ways that creativity can be expressed. Learning to cook, or perfecting a back swing can be creative, as can writing in a journal or learning to tie 16 different kinds of knots. I guess “creative, productive outlet” is just another way of saying “hobby”.
Whatever you call it, start making time for it on a regular basis – for you and your child. You’ll be glad you did.