Front Range ADD/ADHD of Colorado Message Board › Creative, Sensitive, Smart, ADD-ADHD people may be more sensitive to trauma
Do you find that you, your family or friends with ADD are being more impacted by the recent violence in Aurora than are your "normal" friends? That would not be unusual, as many people with ADD & ADHD are also creative, super-sensitive and intense reactors. These characteristics are great and wonderful, but also carry with them the down-side of making us more vulnerable to the effects of trauma, tragedy and violence, even if we are not directly involved. For those of us who lived in the Denver area in 1999, it also may take you back to the Columbine shootings. For others, it is likely to take you back to other traumas, tragedies or losses in your life.
Six weeks before the Columbine shooting, my family moved into the Columbine neighborhood. Our teenage son continued to attend his previous high school, rather than transfer to Columbine, less than a mile from our house. Still, it had a huge impact on us. The night after the shooting there, I could not sleep. Instead, I wrote this. I share it again, hoping that it will help.
Some children are more sensitive than others. You know if you have a highly sensitive one. She gets mad at you and may even cry when you squish a spider with your shoe or swat a fly with a flyswatter. He tries to keep up with his friends or siblings, but when they watch scary movies, he has nightmares. She picks her clothes more by which ones are comfortable, instead of what looks good. Clothes with scratchy labels or seams are out. Old shoes are preferred over new ones, because they feel good to wear. And these kids are traumatized by news stories about tragedies that nobody else in the family even notices.
What do you do when this child is traumatized by tragedy? It may not matter if it is something that has happened to your child, your family or community, or if it is on the other side of the country or the world. It also may be something that happens to them at school may hurt their feelings so much that in your opinion, they are grossly over-reacting. They may cry, mope around, worry, not be able to sleep or concentrate on school work or chores, or they may be irritable all the time, preoccupied about what is happening to the people in the midst of the tragedy.
It's important to know that highly sensitive people--adults and children--comprise about 10-20% of the population. What seems like an over-reaction to you, is normal and perfectly OK for a highly sensitive person. It can also be helpful to know what a normal reaction to trauma is. Trauma is defined as any life-threatening experience that is outside the range of normal human experience.
A trauma response can occur to anyone who has been in a life-threatening event. And anyone who has seen it, in person, on TV, in a movie, or has heard others talk about it, can experience what is called vicarious traumatization or trauma exposure. CASIGYs--creative, acutely aware, highly sensitive, intense, bright or gifted kids--especially ones who have active imaginations--are prime subjects for it.
Anyone who experiences trauma is, and feels, helpless in the face of what has happened. Trauma also brings loss, for things are not the same as they were before the traumatic incident. People are injured; property is destroyed. People die. Because of this, we lose our sense of safety, our trust in other people, our beliefs about control, predictability, and on and on. This profound loss of the familiar is a hallmark of trauma. This is more upsetting to a child than to an adult, even if it is 'only' vicarious traumatization.
To read the rest of this article, you can find it on my website:
Coping with Trauma
Feel free to message, email or call me with any questions, comments, or if I can be of help with this in any ways.
Sharon M. Barnes, MSSW, LCSW, ACHP-SW
Creative Transformation Specialist.