Overactivity in children (and adults) is
a condition which has been snowballing since World War II, today
it is a relatively common condition. No ones knows exactly how many
children are classified as hyperkinetic. Authorities vary from a
high figure of approximately 5,000,000 to a low of around 1,000,000.
Undoubtedly there are many children who are hyperkinetic but have
never been diagnosed. There are specific reasons for the alarming
increase of hyperkinesis in children, as we shall see during our
discussion of this condition.
The hyperkinetic child is not just an overactive
youngster who cannot be controlled by his parents because they lack
parental authority and disciplinary ability. The hyperkinetic child
is actually at a neurologic disadvantage because of one or more
There are many characteristics that distinguish
hyperkinetic children. Some have several or most of these characteristics
all the time; others display only a few of the characteristics.
There is yet another variation; some hyperkinetic children show
considerable aggression or other symptoms during one part of the
day; yet they are very loving and calm at another time.
Boys are more often hyperkinetic than girls,
at a ratio of approximately 8 to 1. There is usually no familial
pattern to the condition; in fact, rarely is more than one child
in a family involved even though there may be siblings.
Hyperkinesis is often related to learning
disabilities, although the hyperkinetic child usually has a normal
or above normal IQ. The correlation with learning disabilities comes
from the child's inability to concentrate and perform adequately
in a classroom environment. Ultimately, if the hyperkinesis is left
untreated he will fail in school, even though his IQ is normal or
The hyperkinetic child can often be distinguished
from one who has poor parental guidance by the characteristics of
the hyperkinesis. Of course, before a child can be diagnosed as
hyperkinetic he must be evaluated by professional who works with
the condition. Observing a child for the following characteristics
will help determine whether professional consultation is necessary.
1. Movement is consistently excessive for
the activity being accomplished. The child's hands and legs are
constantly moving; he has a tendency to rock and dance, with constant
wiggles and jiggles. This overactivity is sometimes seen in very
early life when the child beats his crib, knocks his head, and/or
heavily rocks his crib.
2. Aggression toward his peer and parents
is the child's nature. He is compulsive in his disruption of other's
activities; when obviously causing an interruption, he cannot be
diverted from the action. He has a compulsion to touch everything
and everyone. His acts of aggression are often dangerous to his
own safety, but he is incapable of recognizing the danger.
3. Unpredictability. It is difficult to
determine how the child will react in specific situations. He is
impulsive and may react differently at different times. He is highly
excitable, especially when something does not go as he wishes.
4. Impatience. The hyperkinetic child has
many demands which must be met quickly. He sometimes cries for no
apparent reason and becomes frustrated very easily.
5. Short attention span, with inability
to concentrate. The hyperkinetic child rarely completes a project,
and his capability of sitting quietly through school, meals, or
TV programs is very limited, even though he may be enjoying the
activity. For example, the child may enjoying a TV program but he
cannot sit still and watch it. He gets up, moves to another chair,
sits down on the floor, goes back to his original seat - continually
moving about throughout the program.
6. Very poor coordination. The child is
often considered clumsy and inattentive to what he is doing; however,
closer observation shows that he cannot coordinate the right side
of his body with the left. Buttoning clothes and generally dressing
is difficult; he has difficulty in writing and drawing because his
eyes and hands fail to function together; he is poor in sports,
such as catching and throwing a ball. He will frequently bump into
Poor coordination extends also to the thought
processes. The child may mean one thing and say exactly the opposite.
He may be told to do something, yet he does exactly the opposite.
This is not failure to obey, but confusion within the thought processes.
7. Poor sleep habits. The child is usually
a restless sleeper who does not want to go to bed. He will wake
often through the night. Many hyperkinetic children cannot get enough
sleep for their bodies needs.
Many children diagnosed as hyperkinetic
have been given medication to bring the condition under manageable
control. There are two types of medication used - stimulant medication,
which paradoxically reduces the child's activity, and tranquilization.
Sometimes, both stimulants and tranquilizers are used on the same
As found in applied kinesiology diagnosis,
there are three basic reasons a child is hyperkinetic. When one
or more of these causative factors is found and subsequently treated,
the return to normal of hyperkinetic children is exceptionally good
without the use of drugs.
There are specific steps of
development through which the nervous system must go in order to
function at an optimal level. This development takes place step-by-step
throughout the maturation of the baby and young child.
There are stages during which bilaterality - the two sides of the
body working together - is developed, and finally the stage of right
or left dominance. This correlates with right handedness or the
left-handedness of the body. Sometimes there is interference with
these stages of development, causing the two sides of the body to
fail to function satisfactorily together and develop ultimate dominance.
When there is inadequate neurologic organization,
there are many factors of dysfunction which can contribute to hyperkinesis
in a child. His eyes may fail to function together normally to transmit
a visual image to his brain for correct interpretation. This can
cause difficulty in perceiving his environment, resulting in constant
confusion in the child. His extremities may not work together when
walking, running, catching a ball, and generally orienting his body
in space. Neurologic disorganization may also develop after an injury
or a severe illness. The symptomatic picture is very similar to
that of poor development of nerve organization in the first place.
When neurologic disorganization is present,
the nerve messages within the body are confused; consequently, they
are interpreted incorrectly by the brain. For this reason, children
with this problem will often say the exact opposite of what they
mean, or do the opposite of what they are told. The term "switching
is often applied to this nerve condition because of the characteristic
switching nature of the nerve messages.
The child who exhibits characteristic clumsiness,
inability to button a shirt, doing opposite of what is intended,
and poor reading and writing should be considered potentially neurologically
Blood Sugar Handling Stress
Another common cause of hyperkinesis
is the inability of the child's body to maintain blood sugar at
an optimum functioning level. This is especially important when
you consider that the nervous system - especially the brain - is
extremely dependent on normal blood sugar level for optimum function.
Blood sugar levels fluctuate with meals
and the type of activity being done by the individual. Because of
the constantly changing levels, there are times when this child's
blood sugar level is good and other times when it is poor. This
is the child who is hyperkinetic during one part of the day and
functions better during another part of the day. Mood changes usually
accompany the activity changes.
Blood sugar levels are regulated by glands
within the body; they are also very dependent upon the type of diet
eaten by the child. Treatment usually consists of nerve and energy
control of the glandular system, and probably dietary changes.
Some children are extremely
sensitive to certain food additives. This sensitivity is probably
genetic in nature, which is why some children are so sensitive and
others are not. Food coloring and preservatives are the additives
most commonly involved in hyperkinesis. It can be determined through
an applied kinesiology examination if the child is sensitive to
these items. The child will usually improve rapidly after these
items are removed from his diet; it is amazing to see how quickly
he goes back into hyperkinesis with even a slight dietary indiscretion.
Treatment of hyperkinesis with applied kinesiology
techniques usually produces favorable results in a very short time.
You must remember, however, that even though the physiologic reason
for the hyperkinesis is removed within a few weeks or a few months,
the child is still not completely free of the problem. Time is required
for total health to be reestablished because the initial damage
cause by hyperkinesis is still present. For example, if the child
was very aggressive toward his peers on the playground, they will
still expect him to be the same unrelenting bully he was previously.
Consequently, they will react to him and he will probably retaliate.
Until a new rapport is established in this situation, there will
still be problems although the proper steps for ultimate correction
have been taken.
It is important to treat hyperkinesis as
early as possible in order to avoid the many ramifications of the
condition. Children do not usually "grow out' of hyperkinesis.
The untreated hyperkinetic child is the juvenile delinquent today
and the adult who cannot adjust ti society tomorrow.