What Bothers You The Most?
If I were on a quiz show, and someone asked, What bothers you the most about your son’s ADHD?… I would think about the disorganization, the forgetting, the failing of classes, and the need to constantly repeat myself.
But what bothers me the most is Dylan’s use of other humans as a brain stimulation tool – particularly when he uses his brother.
The way Dylan’s brain works, information doesn’t flow readily from one section of his brain to the other. It goes so slowly, sometimes it doesn’t get there at all. It’s like a broken electrical circuit. And one thing that speeds up the process – just a tad – is doing something physical. That’s why he’s so incredibly bouncy. Stress balls are a great tool, except that he does tend to throw them. He jumps up and down, spins around, dances and throws things all so he can assist his brain in functioning.
But sometimes, there are no stress balls to be had. He picks up whatever is close by – and quite often, what he finds is his little brother. He uses Shane to stimulate his brain.
He grabs Shane and hugs him. He tosses him around like they’re doing the tango. He pushes him, pats him, squeezes him, pulls him, drags him and rolls on him. They wrestle like animals and Dylan is twice Shane’s size.
Surprisingy Shane, who doesn’t even like me to put my arm around him, takes all of this in good humor. He giggles and laughs and acts as though it is all in good fun. When Shane gets hurt – and he often gets scraped or scratched – he is always the first one to defend his brother, claiming that it was really just an accident.
So I suppose I shouldn’t be so bothered by the dragging and pushing and tossing. But Shane is my baby, too. I want him to be safe and unharmed.
Before Shane was even born, I read a book in preparation called Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live So You Can Live Too.
I wanted to be prepared. I didn’t realize, at the time, that I was going to have two drastically different personality types, or that Dylan wasn’t a typical three-year-old child. I just didn’t want them to hate each other.
The thing I remember most from the book is that, as long as the kids aren’t in serious physical danger, I should back off and let them do their own thing. And I have done this, to the best of my ability, since the day Shane was born. Partially as a result of that, the two of them are now very close.
Dylan isn’t really dangerous. He can be rough, but not the kind of rough that breaks limbs or causes hospital visits. His shoves are tiny, his gallumphing more of a dance than a wrestle. He’s very bouncy and ridiculously hyper on occasion, but he cares more about other people than he does himself. (He can work on this aspect of his personality in therapy when he reaches adulthood, if he’d like.) Meanwhile, he really does not intend to harm Shane.
But Dylan does intend to use Shane as a brain stimulant, whether or not Dylan is warned, threatened and even physically removed from the situation. He is constantly hanging on Shane – unless he has some other mental form of stimulation.
The only thing I can do to keep Dylan off of Shane is to keep his brain otherwise occupied. When Dylan is building, inventing, creating, designing, or researching something that really interests him, he is absolutely mellow. Playing a mental game that he loves, for example, particularly if it’s a game he invented, takes away all that physical angst. He becomes almost adult in his behavior, and his brain is firing on all cylinders. It’s amazing.
Of course, that’s when Shane ends up entertaining himself by writing or making a movie – which is also awesome, and a story for another day.