Worth Reposting: ADHD – Are you sure?

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:00 am by Administrator

Many, many kids with developmental trauma have a diagnosis of ADHD. A diagnosis of a child that truly has clinical ADHD is hard to come by because so much of it is based on anecdotal observations and observational checklist. I had some fabulous training from Dr. Ed Hamlin of the Pisgah institute in Asheville, NC. I’ve heard this same explanation backed up by the work of van der Kulk and Bruce Perry.

When children experience developmental trauma (DT) it fundamentally changes the blueprints / wiring of the brain. Both in the way the brain wires (mylination) and in the brain chemistry (neurotransmitters). The amygdala is like the watchdog of the brain and acts much like a filter for incoming signals. So the example I always use is, if you are sleeping, the amydala is always keeping watch for you and filtering out all the routine sounds in your house. If though, a window breaks in your house, then your amygdala is going to wake you up with all the fight, flight or freeze responses. You check out the problem and realize it was just a branch hitting your window, not a life-threatening situation. Your body eventually restores to homeostasis and you eventually go back to sleep.

For our kids with DT, they have lived for periods of time in fight, flight or freeze. Their brain then gets wired to stay in this state. So the brain is always “on” keeping watch, being in fight, flight, or freeze. They have lost the ability to return to homeostatis. This hyperaroused state is their normal. So this looks very much like ADHD because they are unable to be still and attend because of the hyperaroused state.

ADHD drugs primarily work on the neocortex (frontal lobe) to stimulate activity in the frontal lobe. Truly we could all take Ritalin (or whatever ADHD med) and perform better. BUT ADHD drugs do not reach the amydala and so therefore are not reaching the root cause of the issue.

Truly kids with DT must have neurotransmitter support (supplementation and diet), therapeutic parenting, processing of trauma at the body level, and time.

I hope this helps explain some of the mechanism of what is happening in the brain of kids with DT.


Melissa R.

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