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ADHD: Calming the Storm

Today there are a lot of kids running around with the diagnosis of ADHD. One or more might even be one of your kiddos. ADHD is of course a short hand way of saying "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder". However I would argue that this is neither a "deficit" nor a "disorder" but rather a brain and central nervous system (CNS) that has a "Ferrari engine" but "bicycle brakes". The kid gets going fast but can't stop or even slow down! This leaves the child in a constant state of sympathetic dominance(fight or flight mode). The sympathetic side of our CNS is the fight/flight side where hyperactivity, fidgeting, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and other similar things show up. We call this side of our CNS (or ANS for Autonomic Nervous System, as 99.9% of all of this is subconscious) as the "gas pedal".

It's actually a really good system but one that was not meant for the long term. Let me paint a picture for you: Years and years ago there was a caveman named Ugh (yea, I know this is good...). Ugh is hanging out by the watering hole getting a drink when suddenly a saber toothed tiger hops out looking to make Ugh his next meal. What's Ugh to do? Here's where Ugh's sympathetic nervous system kicks in and he has to decided whether he is going to hang around and try to fight off this tiger or if he is going to cut his losses and run like crazy. So, weighing his options wisely, Ugh decides to run. While running, Ugh is not worried about stopping to eat or drink. He is not stopping to use the bathroom. And he is most certainly not currently worried about any potential "germ" hanging around that could make him sick. His entire focus is on getting away from this tiger and surviving. Let's cut back to current day. See how useful that sympathetic nervous system is? It helps you escape situations that endanger your survival.

However, we were not designed by God to constantly be running from tigers (or insert horrible situation here). This was only meant to be temporary. There is however, a counterpart to the sympathetic nervous system and that is called the parasympathetic nervous system. That's the "brake pedal" that is responsible for growth, relaxation, digestion and development. That's where real LIVING happens and not just survival. Our parasympathetic system is how we rest, digest, heal, and learn better. When an adjustment is given, it increases activity with the parasympathetic system( The Brakes) and decreases activity in the sympathetic system (fight or flight).

So when kids with the label of ADHD come into our office, we test them using our amazing technology and we find that lo and behold, they are chronically stuck in this fight/flight mode.

So their bodies are constantly trying to fight or run from a tiger so to speak. And that is the most common component we see with ADHD-excessive sympathetic dominance. This is WHERE the hyper energy, impulse, and behavior issues can stem from. We call this the "Raging Bull" type.

Another component we see is the attention/confusion/organization component and that is these kids CNS/brain/ANS is also poorly organized and integrated. Somewhere along the way, their sensory processing and integration (organization) development got off track and this is where things get overlooked with ADHD.

One way to look at it is as these kids go through life and development they are in "overdrive" and "spinning so fast" that when developmental things in life come along (social, physical, emotional, academic, behavioral, etc) and try to "stick" and integrate, they are spinning so fast that everything just "pings off" and never fully processes and integrates. So the second component is a poorly organized nervous system. We call this the "Drunken bull" type.

So what am I getting at? Anything that you do to try and help these kids must FIRST address these two issues and in that order. If you don't calm down and organize the ANS, then everything else from nutritional therapy to psychological to behavioral therapy is just one huge uphill battle. BUT, if you first slow down and balance that ANS, EVERYTHING else becomes easier to improve. Chiropractic is key to helping these kids.

Back to Chiropractic. I know that the general perception of chiropractors is that of back pain and headaches, but few people (even 95% of medical doctors) realize the connection between the spine and function/health of the brain and CNS. So try not to think of the spine as "just a bunch of bones, muscles and ligaments" but instead as a neurological "organ" that is key to proper communication between the brain and body.

If this sounds like your kid, you could understand how they might be compared to a thunderstorm, beautiful yet dangerous and sometimes destructive. Realize that extra input from the sympathetic nerves is like your kid living with heavy metal turned up all the time. Chiropractic care turns down the volume and gets these kids focused and healing, learning, and resting better. Get checked and if need be adjusted in order to calm the storm of ADHD.

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