Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 15, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 18, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heavy Metal, an Antidote to ADHD

My son, Weston is like the Energizer Bunny. He keeps going and going and going... everything at 90 mph.

We have visited with many specialists in an effort to help Weston calm his restless spirit. We've tried diets, exercise programs, supplements, behavior management programs, deep breathing/meditation techniques, and many other unique treatment programs. Some of these interventions have been helpful. Most have not.

As a caretaker of two children diagnosed with special needs (and a mother diagnosed with dementia), I have begun to develop my own list of unusual intervention techniques....

One of Weston's greatest difficulties is trying to focus. We sit down together as a family each night for dinner. It is a good time for us to bond together and share the events of the day. Sounds great right? Well, not for my son, Weston and not for my husband, Pete either.

When you think about it, dinner time is an extremely stressful time for an individual diagnosed with ADHD. You have to sit somewhat quietly for a long period of time and focus on eating the food from the plate put in front of you.

Easy for me, yes.
Easy for Nicholas, absolutely.
Easy for Weston and Pete? Absolutely NOT.

My husband Pete's technique for "getting through it" is to eat as fast as humanly possible so that he can get up from the table as soon as possible. Any extra time spent leisurely talking at the dinner table is actually physically painful for him. I can see it on his face. It took me many years to understand this strange behavior. It was not until I had a son diagnosed with ADHD that I began to better understand my husband.

Weston's dinner-time technique is somewhat different than Pete's.Weston prefers to putter around with his food, asks to be excused, so that he can go to the bathroom and bides his time until all of us are finished. Then, he goes back to his plate and painfully tries to finish at his own pace. The problem is....it takes forever. And on school nights, with lots of homework yet to do, this is a nightmare scenario.

The Special Needs Mom Extraordinary Solution?

Heavy Metal Music.

Weston loves hard, loud heavy metal music. The kind of music that gives most folks a headache. The kind of music that sounds more like noise than music. I used to think that it was just a teenage boy type of thing, until I discovered that my husband Pete loves it too. Now I wonder if it may be an ADHD thing too.

Last night, Pete. Nick and I had finished supper and as usual Weston was lagging, struggling to eat the last remaining morsels of his meal. He asked me if he could listen to his IPOD to help him focus.

Now, I know my mother, my sixth grade teacher and every therapist known to man would roll their eyes and tell me what a mistake that would be. They would proceed to tell me what a bad mother I am to even consider such a thing. They would tell me it will do nothing but rot my son's brain and turn him into a serial killer. All I could hear inside my brain was all of these voices.

But for some reason..............I thought why not?

Weston put on the headphones, his head started bopping and his chops started chomping. He proceeded to eat everything on his plate, down to the very last kernel of corn. He did it fast. He did it calmly and more importantly he did it without a struggle.

Hmmmm, I thought, do I have something here?

This morning as we were getting ready for school, another stressful time for Weston, I asked him to put on his head phones. I thought I would test the theory once again. Sure enough, the head started bopping as he calmly got dressed, brushed his teeth and put on his coat for school. No teasing the dog, his brother or me.

I think I have stumbled upon something big! Perhaps I should submit a paper to Psychology Today called: "Heavy Metal, an Antidote to ADHD".

There is a saying....

"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak." by William Congreve

You know....he never did say what kind of music it was!


Anonymous said...

I had a student who couldn't concentrate in Keyboarding. As soon as he put his headphones on, work got done. It's amazing what a little music and background noise can do.

Lisa said...

It really is amazing how much it helps some children (and adults) to concentrate. Thanks for your comment.

Kellie said...

I've noticed in a lot of observations I've done over the years in schools, especially in K5 classes where they are still doing group songs and dancing, that the child suspected of having ADHD is calm and still during the loud & active moments, and bouncing around during the quieter ones...guess the loudness and movement stimulates the brain and focuses them...for a while, at least :)

Lisa said...

Yes, I know it is true with Weston too...the louder the better!

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