Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Daydreaming: ADD or intellectual thought process?

Esme Grace, my fidgety 5yo, suffers from poor concentration. It has always been that way. 




Take for example, story time at the library, when she was about 18mo. All the other children sat in laps the entire time, Esme would last five minutes before wandering the library, pulling books off the shelves as she went.

In so many ways Esme is bright. Talkative? Goodness, I was having full blown conversations with her before she was two.

Interestingly, she only learnt to play by herself in the last six months, and in many respects, that's been challenging. 

Esme has always been easily distracted. Unless she is doing art which is the one thing that holds her attention.

Now in Year 1, her teacher is labelling her as having poor concentration. I ought to add here that Esme has an incredible imagination. Simon and I will often comment that she is back in 'Esme world' again... So should it really come as any surprise when recently at parents evening, the teacher told Simon and I that it is not unusual for Esme to be somewhere else altogether in a daydream?

For example, when the teacher talked to the entire class on the carpet, asking the different groups of children in turn to move on to set activities, eventually only Esme remained on the mat, completely zoned out. Unaware even that the other kids had moved on. Indeed, she was quite bewildered when she realised they had. 

However, when the teacher asked Esme what her group had been asked to do, she knew exactly what had been asked of her. This somewhat staggered the teacher as she felt sure Esme had not been paying any attention.

Esme's lack of concentration is not to the detriment of any other child. Or even herself it would appear. 

Esme's teacher told us how she has also observed Esme in solitary play; happier to play alone a lot of the time. 

Should alarm bells be ringing? 

Before I carry on, I have to remind myself that Esme only turned five years old at the very end of August. Therefore there are children that have just started reception that are already the same age as her. I also have to remind myself, that at the age of just five, daydreaming is part of Esme's physiology.

When I typed 'daydreaming is part of a child's physiology' into the search engine, here's what I found...

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daydream
Other recent research has also shown that daydreaming, much like nighttime dreaming, is a time when the brain consolidates learning. Daydreaming may also help people to sort through problems and achieve success. Research with fMRI shows that brain areas associated with complex problem-solving become activated during daydreaming episodes.

2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2329420

Primary disorder of vigilance: a novel explanation of inattentiveness, daydreaming, boredom, restlessness, and sleepiness.

Source

Department of Neurology, University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Abstract

We present a novel condition, designated as a primary disorder of vigilance, that has symptoms which overlap those of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Vigilance is the state of being watchful, awake, and alert. When vigilance is lost, the individual has difficulty sustaining attention. The most obvious evidence of lowered vigilance is motor restlessness (fidgeting and moving about, yawning and stretching, talkativeness, or a combination of these) to improve alertness when sitting or standing still or when involved in tasks requiring continuous mental performance. When prevented from being active to stay awake, persons with lowered vigilance will stare off, daydream, show minor hyperactivity, and finally may fall asleep. They will also have decreasing attention to current activities and usually avoid or lose interest in structured or repetitive activities (complaining of boredom and monotony). The primary disorder of vigilance (for which criteria have been established) is a dominantly inherited condition with onset in early childhood and worsening symptoms with age. Persons with the primary disorder of vigilance have a remarkably kind and caring temperament. When untreated this disorder can cause chronic failure at school and work, but when properly recognized it responds well to treatment with stimulant medication and schedules that avoid sameness and repetition.

Clearly two very different schools of thought.

As a ten minute slot on parents evening was neither long enough, or the right time to chat in detail about our girl's lack of concentration, Simon and I are meeting Esme's teacher to talk it all through this afternoon.

I'm keeping a very open mind.