Sunday, May 19, 2013

ADHD: What we learned from 2 dogs, Piggie & Banks

Brady and Banks
I made a surprising discovery about Brady a year or so ago. We were with a friend who has two dogs. One is a big retriever, older, sweet, calm and steady. His name is Banks.

The other is a young, tiny pug named Piggie. Oh my word, Piggie is the opposite of Banks. She hops and yips and jumps and scampers and seems like a wind-up toy that never runs out of energy.

My discovery was this: Whichever dog Brady was with, he took on their behavior. When Piggie was out, Brady was hyper, running around, acting crazy. When Banks was out, it was the most amazing thing. His energy level came way down, he put his arm around Banks, sat down and was so calm.

It was the first time I realized just how literally and physically influenced he was by what was going on around him. For this reason, I try to keep our environment very calm and structured most of the time. I try to warn him when things will be unpredictable (no easy task). We "practice" what he will do after a school program or some other chaotic event, so he can fall back on that rather than take on the chaos of the atmosphere.

And of course I can't keep him away from active, high-energy, hyper things. It just means I know ahead of time he is likely to be influenced by it and I can warn him as well. It's no wonder he does better in the structure of a classroom and his problem areas tend to be transitions, the bus and other classes where things are not as rigid.

Just something to keep in mind when you have a child affected by ADHD, anxiety and other disorders. Their environment can affect their behavior as can the temperament of who they are with.

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