ADHD from the Inside

Spinning in circles

My middle child is smart, funny and always active. She speaks 100 miles an hour and she can get really frustrated. Her thoughts are going faster and she tries to get it out, but her mouth can’t go that fast. She starts to spin and spin and spin, moving the whole body and the story keeps coming out better. (She thinks, at least!) Everything is moving fast for us and the story is getting muffled by all the movement.

All the movement is making me sick, I feel like I am on a rollercoaster. My head starts to spin, I feel my adrenaline rising. I want her to stop and for her to just say that damn story. But I can’t. I have to ground myself to support this spinning girl and her stories.

When I couldn’t handle it anymore, I took a comb and told her I wanted to try something.

This is where it all started.

My spinning girl stopped, sat down and let me comb her arm. Very lightly, gently, almost not touching – a feather-like touch.

We pick a part of her body – forearms, shoulders, neck, back. I spend about three minutes on each. Well, on the back she wants me to stay forever. She doesn’t want a strong massage, she needs the “feather” stimulation.

This is the funny part. A kid who is not suffering from hyperactivity would think this type of touch is tickling and would be feeling wired up. In this case, this touch is “combing” (calming?).

Guide:

Devote 5 minutes a day to massage. Put it on a calendar! (Children with hyperactivity like structure and routine.)

Make them choose the comb. ( It belongs to them only )

Start with the forearms. a) It’s easy to roll up the sleeve, and it isn’t the most vulnerable area. b) Your child has to get used to this form of touch if it is new to him/her. c) Keep asking how it feels! Keep asking about the pressure – harder, lighter, faster, slower… Kids are amazing in expressing themselves what they like.

Stick with it for 5 minutes, unless your kid really loves it. Then offer more.

Make a plan for the next time. I would suggest to start with forearms and then add a shoulder and the whole arm. Slow, longer strokes. To calm a child – go from top down.

Once your child gets used to this type of massage and you see the benefit, the sessions could be longer. 10 min plus.

Offering a stronger touch, with a lotion, would be the following step.

Every child is different. Every child likes different type of touch. If there are no other conditions, this really helped my kid. Every massage should come from a good place in your heart and mood. Never do it if you are angry. Massage – touch is a sacred sense. It connects you to your child. You will develop deeper understanding of their feelings. Connection on a deeper energy level can be amazing for not just the moment but for your future together.

Remember :

Never force it on your child. If you see that light feather touch is making your child uncomfortable, STOP! I am just offering what helps us.

Tickling

TICKLE MONSTER

“Run, run, run!” That’s what we hear from laughing and screaming kids. It sounds so sweet when children are having fun with a “Tickler”. Is it really fun though? Is it something that we, as parents, should watch/pay attention to more?

In my years of experience as a massage therapist, roughly 80% of my clients have said to me: Oh, don’t touch here or there, I am really ticklish.  Or they might say:  When I was a kid I was tickled really hard.

Let’s examine the tickling mechanism —

Kids are running around and screaming. They get caught and, while being tickled, they are being touched, roughly, and in vulnerable areas like the abdomen and under the arms. It’s not always just a light touch; it can be rough for a little body and it may be reapplied over and over and faster and longer.

What do their little bodies do?

Their little diaphragms get so contracted that, often, the children are unable to talk and, thus, express themselves clearly. They tighten up their muscles to the level that they can’t even feel the rough touch. With their muscles in spasm, it’s conceivable that patterns of muscle contraction are born. Even though we hear them laughing, at first, it is pain which they are feeling.

Usually the “tickle monster” doesn’t stop the tickling process because he sees the little ones laughing. But if the reaction would be a cry, he wouldn’t continue. Naturally, we stop when we hear or see the kids in pain. Unfortunately the reaction to rough tickling is a laugh – almost like hysteria. Tough tickling works on muscle fibers, stimulating the nervous system and a natural response is to protect and tighten.

I am not against light touch tickling. While feather-like touch can produce calmness, it is a useful tools in treating kids with ADHD.  (I’ll be discussing this at a later time.) However, a strong  tickle that makes people laugh is actually stimulating the part of the brain called the hypothalamus which is responsible for the fight or flight mechanism. Perhaps laughter induced by a harsh tickling is a self-defense mechanism and, in the past, it was an acknowledgment of defeat from a perpetrator.

You might be asking: Why do kids start to laugh and run when we just pretend to tickle them?

Tickling stimulate the unmyelinated nerve fibers that cause pain, which causes kids to contract their muscles. The body remembers this sensation and prepares itself as a protective/defense mechanism, and unconscious muscle memory forms.

So now, as an adult, when I’m trying to work around your extremely tight back, the reaction is involuntary muscle contraction.  In order to counter the muscle memory and achieve the results your body needs, I approach the area slowly and firmly, and just hold the muscles. It often takes many more treatments until my work no longer triggers the undesired sensory response. Ultimately, we are able to get rid of the tickle-induced anxiety and the residual tightness of the muscle. It takes time, but when it’s done, clients are free of pain which was a result of “damaged” contracted muscles and which was negatively affecting other connective tissues and causing imbalances.

Rules with Children

  1. Tickle lightly with attention to the child’s reaction
  2. Avoid harsh/rough/fast touch for a prolonged period of time. If someone else is doing this to your child, tell him to ask the kid if it is okay or, if too young, make them stop.
  3. Respect the child’s “NOs” and “STOPs”.

In following these rules, we may avoid future issues such as sensitivity to touch, insecurities, and a potential inability to be sexually-open in relationships.  In addition, simply ackowledging their requests reinforces that their words count and their desires are respected.

Why am I doing this?

I remember when I was a child, I ran to my grandma with my shirt up asking for a back rub. I could sit on her lap for hours….
I remember when my mom was crawling on her knees because her back was hurting so badly that she couldn’t stand up. I massaged her until the knot went away. I was always amazed by how that could help her to get up from the floor.
I remember getting really sick because I massaged her feet when she was feeling ill. Did I somehow take the illness upon me? Not sure.
Clearly, touch was part of my life since I was a little girl.
I grew up in Slovakia. I loved sports, tennis, basketball (I was way too short to be good), and running.  Running stuck with me until today. Somehow I didn’t go into professional sports, but into the performing arts as I studied at The Slovak Conservatory for Music And Drama. I absolutely loved theater and singing.  I was enchanted by the smell of the stage or a recording studio when I was able to do voice-overs for films in SlovakTV.  It was my life, and my passion. But, I finished school and I wanted more. Something was “calling” me.
I wanted to learn how to speak English and to move to the U.S.
English is my second language so please give me a pass. Let me make mistakes without being judged. Let me use some swear words (because it’s fun!).
This blog is for me to share my passion and years of working as a Licensed Massage Therapist. I have learned a lot along the way and I keep learning and exploring. I love figuring out the unique puzzle that is each human body.
I’m still amazed how much my work/touch can change people’s lives and by how important it is, whether you are young or old, happy or sad, healthy, sick or sore.  There are so many ways to help but so impresses me is what a little light touch can do for a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).  Or the value of hands-on caring for kids who can’t sleep, concentrate, kids who hurt from growing pains, kids who experience anger problems and tantrums.  Running is a big part of my life so I will be posting my new ideas, helpful thoughts other runners out there.

The focus of this blog will be on the benefits of touch, stretching and purposeful breathing on a child’s behavior and executive functioning.
I will try my best to help parents to learn simple methods of touch in order to create a calming effect in children who need it most (and the parents who need it, as well!)
Oh, don’t forget, English is my second language, NO JUDGING.
Welcome to my blog.