ADHD minds that are bored or understimulated may become restless and want quick gratification and additional stimulation. While you may think your child's fidgeting, noise, laughter, yelling, or conflict-inducing behaviors are improper and unsolicited, their under-stimulated brains are demanding stimulation.To work properly, the brain must be motivated, engaged, and attentive. The promise of a reward controls motivation. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released when the brain is exposed to a gratifying event. Motivation, positive reinforcement, and pleasure are all controlled by the dopamine reward system.
The internal and external stimulations that an average brain receives throughout the day are enough to keep it motivated. It can self-regulate, prioritize, manage time, and stay sufficiently challenged in order to confront and fulfill life's daily chores and responsibilities. However, the nervous system of those with ADHD need more.
Dopamine insufficiency and erratic focus The modest rewards of everyday activities, long-term fulfillment, and external duties that others perceive "essential" struggle to inspire the dopamine-deficient ADHD brain. This isn't a flaw in your character. It's also not a purposeful self-serving or reckless decision, despite what non-ADHD family members may think. The ADHD brain has been dubbed a "interest-based nervous system" because it seeks out high-stimulation circumstances, stronger incentives, and more immediate rewards, all of which cause a burst of dopamine and a surge of drive.
Hyperfocus. The brain's most powerful reward is dopamine. Many times a day, the ADHD nervous system might "get in the zone" of increased dopamine production and hyperfocus. When the ADHD brain is engaged with and pushed by an activity, drawn to a distinctive or unusual task, or placed in a competitive environment, attention and executive function deficits disappear. Pleasurable incentives (food, sex, exercise, competition, music), risky and extreme activities (fast driving, motorcycle riding, waterskiing, skydiving), high-risk and high-intensity careers (police officers, firefighters, ER and EMS personnel), and crises amplify dopamine production and motivate the brain to focus. The ADHD brain craves a dopamine surge, which is why it frequently procrastinates — it waits until the last minute, causing a crisis, in order to perform optimally in a short amount of time.
There's either not enough stimulus or there's too much stimulation. ADHD minds that are bored or understimulated may become restless and want quick gratification and additional stimulation. While you may think your child's fidgeting, noise, laughter, yelling, or conflict-inducing behaviors are improper and unsolicited, their under-stimulated brains are demanding stimulation. An over-aroused brain, on the other hand, can cause sensory overload, which manifests as an inability to moderate responses and a tearful, irritated, or aggressive "crash," as well as a sudden need to withdraw, tune-out, or spend time alone. It's a delicate balancing act for the nervous system.
Because what the ADHD nervous system wants and why is so different from what non-ADHD brains require, it is critical for family members to understand and respect what the ADHD nervous system wants and why. Many of your child's responses and behaviors will make more sense and generate acceptance and compassion rather than anger and resentment if previously incomprehensible behaviors are recognized as a neurological fight for self-regulation.