What are impressions

What are "impressions" and what are "stimuli"?

One of our behavioral educators, Gerhard Spitzer, put it this way: "ADHD is not only a special attitude towards life, but above all a constant tightrope walk between impressions and stimuli." KONZENTRUM wants to make this point of view clear in the best possible way using two case studies.

Case study: »climbing frames«

Ten-year-old Jakob was suspended from school twice last year. It was that time again a month ago. Jacob's class teacher was quite upset: “I'm sorry, Ms. Schubert, your son's hyperactivity can hardly be stopped. Yesterday he interrupted the class so long and so loudly that we sent him home. Obviously, the boy has a massive physical deficit. Start doing regular sporting activities with him from now on. Otherwise he will unfortunately have to leave school. "

After this conversation, Ms. Schubert immediately bought a season ticket for a large indoor play park for Jakob, who is severely affected by ADHD. Jakob had wanted that for a long time anyway. There he can let off steam on numerous climbing towers, run around freely, play with other children, take part in the animated children's dance every full hour and bump, tumble, bump, run after ... all to the loud sound of the latest hits.

Three weeks later, after seven visits to the huge play park, there is now a clear effect: Jakob can no longer be stopped. Often things get going in the classroom if he just has to sit quietly for a few minutes: he is even more fidgety than before, blares loudly more often, and his sudden short "hikes" during the lesson have become even more numerous. Now they want to expel Jakob from school once and for all ...

Case example: "Climber Maxe"

Maximilian is also allowed to climb. He is eleven years old and, just like Jakob, had been noticed unpleasantly at school for a long time due to his fidgety. He also has ADHD, that's for sure. And not only that: He is also threatened with merciless suspension if something does not change quickly. The school director makes a very similar urgent recommendation for the boy to do sport.

Max has learned to climb with his father all summer long. Outside on a quiet steep wall, they hang on the ropes almost every third day and concentrate on their next step; after all, a lot depends on that. This challenge alone impresses the boy very much.

At the top of the ridge of the rock face, another special impression awaits him every time: A panorama of special beauty….

When school starts again in September, Maximilian is immediately noticed positively: He is still the little, restless Zappler that everyone knows him as. But it hardly disturbs the lesson, seems much more concentrated and is otherwise quite tolerable. There is no longer any talk of sanctions or even a suspension.

Obviously, an intensive climbing therapy can be successful for Fidgety Philip and Co. If it doesn't happen to the sound of the latest hits ...

Little difference?

Both children in the case studies were able to satisfy their urge to move equally by climbing. Shouldn't they both have a similar improvement in their attention spans, or simply in their general behavior?

The difference on which these examples are based can be clearly seen:

Jakob moved a lot and enough, but was exposed to constant overstimulation in the noisy indoor playground environment, which is flooded with music and frequented by hundreds of children. Rapidly changing activities, constant new noises and a number of other superimposed sensory stimuli more than negate the otherwise certainly helpful and sometimes even therapeutic effect of physical activities for ADHD symptoms. Most of these strong stimuli have nothing to do with exercise, or as the scientists call it: the "main storyline", which should, however, matter. Jakob therefore pays much more attention to these "foreign" stimuli and is thus not just busy, rather overexcited and totally as an ADHD affected child Overwhelmed.

Maximilian, on the other hand, is mainly only experiencing one Overall impression. That's why he is impressed. He has time to perceive and to concentrate on a single goal-oriented activity with all available senses, although or precisely because this activity demands the highest level of commitment: coordination, body control, planned action, but also a decent level of stamina combine here a single, impressive experience. Reaching the summit is also the highlight of this impressive experience: the panoramic view down into the valley.

Total overload

Since the perception of people with ADHD is influenced by a disturbance of the impulse control anyway, even a very low exposure to visual, acoustic and other stimuli can already reach the level of total overload.

An affected brain can no longer process the received stimuli and information sensibly from a certain extent, which also suppresses impressions with actually positive effects, such as calming down, promoting concentration, physical relaxation through movement.

So the well-intentioned movement therapy, as it was intended for Jacob's relaxation, has become a permanent overstimulation that only increased Jacob's fidgety.

Jacob's case is certainly special, but illustrates what we at KONZENTRUM consider essential with regard to the subject of overstimulation.

Strong stimuli - weak stimuli

So a distinction must first be made between impressions and stimuli - if we recognize this, we can do a little more against the total overwhelming demands of ADHD sufferers.

If you, dear parents, want to heed the following top tips from Philipp, then you should also understand three different modes of action of stimuli.

Stimulus intensity: We pay more attention to a bright or colorful object than if it is gray, for example. A "colorful stimulus" is therefore to the same extent stronger than a "gray monotony" as that of a loud call compared to a quiet murmur.

Stimulus affiliation: If an external stimulus has nothing to do with what we are dealing with, it distracts our attention much more than a sensory perception that matches the activity.

Stimulus reference: The more a stimulus affects us personally, the stronger it is.