Today, my sister in law, Kathy, and I were talking about my nephew who has been diagnosed with ADHD. I asked her a few questions regarding Choice making versus impulse behaviors. Her answers are reflective of what many ADHD kids face including myself.
1) What areas of life/activites does he tend to think thru more about than just acting on impulse?
Kathy: Math, reading, and watching YouTube or other videos online is when you can see the concentration. He absolutely loves learning. Anything with school he will try his best to focus. It is difficult for him to sit still and therefore the impulse control is harder. He is extremely thoughtful and empathetic when he is has taken his medication. When he has not, then it is harder to see that in him. It is there, but you have to look for it. He bounces around. Many times physically touching other students. It has rarely been a threatening or harmful way. Usually it is him being overly “familiar” with a friend, such as high 5s or slaps to the back. He does talk a lot. Very quickly and many topics all at once. This is part of his brain that is running so far ahead of him that the rest of him can’t keep up.
Because of this he often gets very frustrated and has anxiety.
2) How do you know if he is acting on impulse or choosing to do something that you’ve told him not to do in the past?
Kathy: I can tell by the look in his eyes whether he is doing something to be defiant or if he is doing something he can’t control. When he has not had his medication 9/10 it is his lack of control that get him into trouble. He cannot physically help himself. He knows it is wrong and you can see the look in his eyes that he knows it wasn’t good to do this or that. He just can’t help it. He panicked.
3) What caused you to suspect a behavioral issue more than just a sin issue?
Kathy: I knew it was behavioral and not a sin issue early on. He physically could not sit still. He has a lot of energy. Colton is different at home than at school. At home he can run around and get the extra energy out. He can’t do that at school so it manifested differently. His teachers were great about him doing jumping jacks and walking around the classroom when he needed to move. It wasn’t enough. He needed more help.
He is a good kid, but not perfect. His acting out and throwing a temper tantrum is his sin nature coming out. While it may be exacerbated by the ADHD, there is a difference. The way the sin nature manifests itself is different that him not being able to sit still.
4) Does he tend to be more impulsive or thoughtful when he does things by himself compared to doing things that involve other people?
Kathy: He is quieter when he is alone. He usually gets engrossed in reading or Legos or something he enjoys doing. When he is around others he tends to act out more. His impulse control is lacking around others. He seems to have problems being able to adhere to the social norms and constructs put in place.
When there are other children around his own age they are off doing their own thing, but he can have problems processing what should happen. His brain is in so many places at once that he does something first without thinking of it or the consequences until it is too late. I have seen him do something wrong and then immediately his eyes get wide like he can’t believe he just did that. He gets embarrassed by it and frustrated that he can’t control himself at all times.