ADHD and “Other Sensitivities”
When we explain to people that we work with preteens and teenagers with ADHD and other sensitivities, we are sometimes asked the question, “what do you mean by other sensitivities?”
Perhaps you have heard someone refer to their child as a “sensitive child”, often with the negative connotation that they are ill equipped to deal with the pressures of the modern world. Many of these children are told, “Don’t be so sensitive,” or “Get over it,” or “Stop being soooo sensitive”, essentially telling them that their sensitivity is a problem, or an inconvenience at the least.
When Earth Magic Academy refers to “other sensitivities”, we are referring to young people who have a heightened sense of awareness. This is in regards to, but not limited to, emotions, sounds, light, smells, chemicals, electro-magnetic frequencies, visual stimulation, and other unseen/unheard/felt phenomenon. Some of these children might have even been labeled “Highly Sensitive Children” or HSC.
These children experience the world very intensely and are aware of and/or affected by things on a deep level that go unnoticed by many.
Vehicle exhaust, heavy perfume smells, certain cleaning products, air “fresheners”, flickering fluorescent lights, certain advertisements, loud noises, course fabrics, hurtful comments, scary or intense movies/video games, too much wifi activity, crowds, and the sheer amount of movement in densely populated areas are just a few examples of things that can immediately cause headaches, nausea, and overwhelm. This can be confusing to parents who see their child suddenly go into a tailspin for no apparent reason.
Being that there is a tremendous amount of stimuli that we are all exposed to on a daily basis, it is only natural for children to respond to these stimuli. People, but especially children, are inundated with stimuli throughout their day with little or no time to process this information, release it, or have time for stillness and quiet.
I have seen this happen with my daughter. I do my best monitoring when she is tired, hungry, or upset on a daily basis. However, there are times when she is triggered by something that is beyond my awareness that she might not even be able to articulate until later on, if at all. It has been my wife’s and my responsibility, as sensitive people ourselves, to help her identify when this is happening and how to communicate about it without her having a fit on the floor.
For instance the other day, we were out in town, we were shopping for some fall clothes. We had been in the department store for an hour and she started to run around, not listen, and cause chaos in the luggage department. I looked at my wife and we were thinking the same thing! The downward spiral had begun and we needed to exit immediately. The air was stale, the fluorescent lights were humming, and there was a lot of activity in the store. As soon as we went outside, breathed fresh air and stood in the sunlight, she was able to communicate that she really didn’t feel good, had a headache and wanted to go home and have some peaceful time. Done. With a snack ☺
Sometimes, it has a much more subtle and cumulative effect on her psyche, and how she feels in her body. If left unchecked and the root cause is not able to be identified or communicated about, it develops into a larger issue. Being able to identify it, process is in a healthy manner, and release it gives her tools she will be able to use and be able to function in the world for the rest of her life.
Earth Magic Academy has seen a lot of young people who are highly sensitive with high levels of anxiety, hyperactivity, brain fog, depression, and bi-polar mood swings. Most conditions in children we have worked with have been symptoms of larger underlying issues related to their heightened sensitivities. We explain to parents that there are real causes, and it is not that these children are just creating problems that don’t exist outside of their minds.
These sensitivities, and the children who have them, are actually extraordinary gifts to the world. Sensitive children have certain types of awareness that allow them to notice very subtle details in the environment. That is an extremely valuable ability that can allow for great success in an individual, with whatever path they choose for their life. These children are pointing to the incongruencies in our world, whether they be environmental or societal, and as adults it would be wise, in these times, to pay attention to these sign posts and make certain corrections and adjustments accordingly.
While this shift is happening in our society, it is imperative that sensitive young people learn the importance of staying in their center and having tools to manage stressful situations when they feel overwhelmed or over-stimulated. It is time that sensitive young people are supported in learning and accepting they are true leaders and we need them to utilize their gifts in powerful ways. Their sensitivities and awarenesses are the pathways to visioning the future of our world. These children’s sensitivities are great allies, not curses.