Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity (AD/HD)
Many people are diagnosed with AD/HD (Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder), but what is really lying behind this label? It is useful to distinguish between Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity and Impulsive Behaviour. Many people that have difficulties paying attention are not hyperactive, while others are impulsive, but can pay attention. Furthermore, most people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) can pay excellent attention when engaged in something they like doing, such as computer games. If this is the case, then they can pay attention, but are likely to get easily distracted under certain circumstances. In such cases it is more accurate to describe the condition as a Distraction Disorder. It is useful to distinguish between these different modalities and to separate the possible underlying causes, in order to find solutions that are affective and long lasting.
- More about Attention Decifit Disorder (ADD)
- More about Hyperactivity
- More about Impulsive Behaviour
- More about Distractions
- Solutions to Attention, Hyperactivity and Impulsive Behaviour
In order to pay attention to what matters, we need to ignore everything that is not important. This is a major function of the brain, to filter and sort information and to divert everything that is not important away from what we need to concentrate on. More than 99% of everything we see, hear or receive through our other senses needs to be steered away from our conscious awareness in order to pay attention to the task at hand. The brain achieves this by comparing the signals from the right ear and field of vision, with those from the left ear and field of vision. In this way we can concentrate on a single sound source (for instance the voice of the teacher) and limit our visual awareness (for instance just to the book in front of us). If we are not so good at doing this, we will get easily distracted by other sounds or things we see or feel.
Improvements in synchronisation and coordination between the two sides of the brain often lead to a marked reduction in distraction and subsequent improvements in attention and concentration. Fortunately sounds from the right ear go mainly to the left and sounds from the left ear go mainly to the right side of the brain, and it is therefore possible to activate the brain in a controlled manner using special sounds through headphones. The SAS Methodology is based on these scientific principles and the specially recorded music, stories and tones will provide a mental workout with the aim to reduce distraction and instil lasting improvements in attention and concentration.
Many people are diagnosed with AD/HD (Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder), some find it difficult to sit still, while others are very impulsive in their behaviour. It is useful to distinguish between Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity. Hyperactive behaviour will make it more difficult to pay attention or concentrate, but this doesn't mean that people diagnosed with Hyperactivity can’t pay attention under the right circumstances. Many can concentrate when playing, for instance, computer games, especially the more active games. If this is the case, then they can pay attention, but their need to move interferes in traditional ‘sit still and concentrate’ environments.
Although the underlying causes of hyperactive behaviour can be manifold, it is important to determine what they are as this can provide the key to addressing the condition. The three of the most common causes are:
- an under-sensitive balance system;
- tactile (touch) sensitivities;
overly fast mental processing.
A single cause, or more often a combination of all three causes, may be at play at any one time.
Our sense of balance plays a key role in how we stand and move. If it is under-sensitive and does not accurately pick up small movements, the brain will compensate by instigating bigger movements to get the required feedback. A typical example is a child that seems to have very good balance playing football or doing ballet, but who finds it difficult to stand still.
Tactile sensitivities may also play a role as uncomfortable feelings of touch caused by clothes, labels or chairs may cause distraction and the need to adjust clothes or sitting position.
Our brain receives large amounts of information and we need to learn to filter this inflow efficiently in order to be able to pay attention to what matters. Insufficient filtering may lead to sensory processing overload and with it may come hyperactive or impulsive behaviour. Furthermore, our internal thinking is much faster than listening, reading, writing or speaking, and some people find it difficult to stay focussed on these slower forms of communication.
Impulsive behaviour may coincide with difficulties in paying attention or hyperactivity, but this is not always the case. Impulsive behaviour is often caused by one, or a combination of, the following three conditions:
- a poor concept of time;
- difficulties with planning;
difficulties with control.
Not being able to read a conventional clock or having difficulties in segmenting a whole day or one hour into equal slices of time are all indications of a poor concept of time. This will impact on the ability to plan and control our actions and will increase the chance of 'unexpected' events 'suddenly' occurring.
Planning requires more than just a good concept of time, as prioritising, sequencing and recognising interdependencies between actions all play a part.
Control is a delicate balancing act. A need to be overly controlling can lead to impulsive behaviour when external circumstances change beyond what was expected, while on the other hand a lack of control can also lead to sudden 'panic' behaviour.
All three conditions, Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity and Impulsive Behaviour are often linked to how we process and react to the sensory input we receive through our senses. It is obvious that in order to pay attention and remain concentrated we need to be able to switch off from distracting sounds or movements around us. If we get distracted, we may also react by starting to move about or suddenly switch to another point of focus.
More than 99% of everything we receive through our senses needs to be diverted in order for us to be able to pay attention to the task at hand. The brain achieves this by comparing the signals from the right ear and field of vision, with those from the left ear and field of vision. In this way we can concentrate on a single sound source (for instance the voice of the teacher) and limit our visual awareness (for instance just to the book in front of us). If we are not so good at doing this, we will get easily distracted by other sounds or things we see or feel.
By training the brain to make better and faster connections between the two sides, it is possible to improve attention and reduce hyperactive and impulsive behaviour and distractions.
Faster and more efficient processing, improvements in balance, a reduction in tactile sensitivities or learning to manage mental processing can all be achieved in just a few weeks of intensive neuro-sensory training. We offer a range of condition-specific courses at SAS Centres, through SAS Practitioners, or as a SAS At Home course. Tailor-made brain training that can make a real difference!
Home Help - here are some hints and tips you can try yourself at home:
- Study or work in a quiet room, facing a blank wall - minimising sounds and visual clutter helps the brain to focus.
- Vary the type of study or work - create a mix of reading, writing, internet research and use mind-maps.
- Break study or work time up in chunks of about 20 minutes, going for a short walk or having a drink or bite to eat in between.
- Use fidget objects or modelling clay to keep a hand busy and divert excess energy.
- Allow study or work to be done whilst standing up or walking about.
- Give deep hugs or gentle massage to calm the body and mind.
Make “To do” lists to stay focussed and on track.