Friday, July 18, 2008

More thoughts on anxiety and self regulation

I finally opened a library book I've had lying around for weeks: Scattered, by Gabor Mate´ M.D. The subtitle is How ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER Originates and What You Can Do About It.

This is not my first encounter with this book. I read parts of it back when Scott was a baby, not because he was showing any symptoms of ADHD, but because I found the subject added to my understanding of how the brain and mind work. There is something about that I find deeply satisfying, and this book fed that craving. This was the book that gave me the concept of "Fish in the Sea."

Now I'm revisiting the book, and from a position of personal need. Scott has a diagnosis, and I need education. I need to take the approach of a path with heart. I think this doctor's perspective holds that promise.

"Like Fish in the Sea" is the title of a chapter in Part Five: The ADD Child and Healing. It opens with the quote: "Parents who are faced with the development of children must constantly live up to a challenge. They must develop with them." Eric Erikson, Childhood and Society


Mate´ says: "self-regulation is the goal of development; the lack of it is the fundamental impairment in ADD. One way of describing self-regulation is to say that it is the ability to maintain the internal environment within a functional and safe range, regardless of external circumstance."

He uses cold-blooded and warm-blooded organisms as an analogy. The warm blooded animal can exist in a wide range of habitats because of its ability to self-regulate the temperature of its internal environment. The cold blooded animal is vulnerable to the fluctuations and extremes of the external environment...

{I once had a realization that parenting is characterized by being interrupted. If anyone ever asked me what advice I might have for new parents I was going to tell them to be prepared to be interrupted repeatedly for the next 18 years. Case in point: the phone rang as I wrote and I ignored it as usual. But it rang again, and since Connor was over at a friend's, I wondered if the call might be a rquest to spend the night or if it was time for me to pick him up. So I answered, and it was his friend. He said that Connor was 'injured.' I figured he'd gotten a bruise or two, the usual 'scars' he loves to display and brag over. But the friend's mother got on the phone, said he'd been going fast down a hill on his skateboard, got spooked when a car turned onto the street, tried to turn too quickly and was flung to the asphalt. Fortunately he was obeying me and wearing his helmet. She said he 'is pretty scratched up' in a tone that suggested an escalation over his usual war-wounds. Then I could hear him say, "It hurts" tearfully, which is extremely unusual for him. I said I'd come get him, but she offered to bring him home instead. I asked her to give him some ibuprofen.

20 minutes later he's here, with some pretty impressive road rash. The wounds all look superficial with the worst a gouge just above his hip, his right shoulder, and his right elbow beginning to swell. He's moving his elbow in all directions, and is using the arm to bear weight to relieve pressure on other sore areas so I don't think it's broken. I ran a bath, thinking that submerging him in water might be more humane than the trauma of using a washcloth on the abrasions. He tolerated that fairly well, except he couldn't stand dunking the shoulder. I tried letting him sit a while, to let the ibuprofen take more effect so he'd be better able to manage it. Applying gentle pressure with a washcloth gave him some relief so I tried having him submerge while applying pressure. He couldn't bear that either. I dredged up an old irrigation bottle and tried gently rinsing but that was too intense too. So I did what he could tolerate: kept re-wetting the washcloth with warm water and gently pressing it to the wound. I can still see the asphalt, the black stain, but the wound is very superficial, just the top layers. So I decided to content myself with less-than-pristine-clean, but watch it carefully. I might have him try to soak again a little later, and if he can do that maybe try standing under the shower. He's feeling much better and is nearly giddy from the relief of that. In fact, he's pretty darn grateful for my ministrations, which is nice. I'm hoping that a collateral benefit is a greater awareness of and respect for his limits.

Gary got to miss the excitement. He's up on Mt. Hood. It might be best that he wasn't here for this; he has a tendency to overreact.}

My original train of thought is completely derailed. Perhaps I'll return to the theme of self-regulation and homeostatic mechanisms and how they pertain to ADHD and the emotional climate of the home. I'll try another post in the future. Maybe I should wait until the kids are back in school, or until (oh joy) Gary takes them to visit his dad in Washington next weekend. (I wonder if he realizes I'm not going?)


Aunt Becky said...

I'm nodding my head about the constant interruption part of parenthood. My husband, The Daver, isn't home as much as I am and becomes slightly more annoyed by not being able to complete something as quickly as he'd like. It's funny to me, because I can't imagine this being something to cause annoyance. It's just life.

excavator said...

I'm irritated by my husband being undone by a few interruptions when he's here, and not taking the next step of imagining a whole day of blocked forward momentum and coming up with plans b, c, and d. And then not getting how being an hour later than expected (or 2, or 3, or more, as is happening right now, today) can be as distressing as it is.