British psychiatrist R. D. Laing wrote somewhere that there are three things human beings are afraid of: death, other people and their own minds.
And so, it was reading the book Scattered shortly after my son’s ADHD diagnosis that I clicked. Author Gabor Mate, an adult with ADD, writes “Terrified of my mind, I had always dreaded spending a moment alone with it. There always had to be a book in my pocket as an emergency kit in case I was ever trapped waiting anywhere, even for one minute.”
You see my son is an avid reader! He always has a book close by. He reads while he walks, even across pedestrian crossings! (I see this every day after school). He reads in class when he is supposed to be doing other work. He reads when we go out for afternoon tea. When out shopping he’ll find a comfortable or not-so-comfortable spot to sit and read. And there is always a book (or three) in the car.
And he reads FAST! At age 9, he read the entire Harry Potter series in about three weeks over summer break. He read The Lord of the Rings in just over one week. Today he is working his way through The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. But his favourite series of all time is The Eragon Series; he did a speech about this series at school last week, with some very funny dragon puns included.
“Never at rest, the mind of [an ADHDer] flits about like some deranged bird that can light here or there for a while but is perched nowhere long enough to make a home” (Gabor Mate). I quite like the description of it being like having a race car brain with bicycle brakes – very difficult to live with.
And so my boy reads. It is his self-calming strategy. When he is anxious in unfamiliar territory and in social situations he finds difficult – but also to escape his busy ADHD and highly gifted mind. A fantasy world of elves and dragons, space travel and aliens, is a clearer picture than the library of continuously expanding, uncatalogued thoughts in his head.
This morning, DS10 asked if he could stay in church and read his book, instead of heading up to the intermediate school programme. And I said yes. And while I don’t say yes all the time I understand it’s just easier for him. I am grateful his school understands this too – they have even set a room aside for him to go to and read uninterrupted at break times.
It may not be the BEST strategy in the long term. But for now, it works.