I watched as Jesse fidgeted at the art table. I offered him some tools with which to draw and he chose the colored chalk. A few moments later, I stepped across the room to grab a game and in that 30 second period, Jesse managed to tear some big holes in the paper and draw on the table. Deciding against the board game, I suggested a more active game. Minutes later I was involved in “extreme” ping pong, the likes of which I had never played before. Jesse’s parents complained that he couldn’t concentrate and was destructive in class. I was beginning to get a feel for exactly what they meant.
The next time we got together, I was prepared. I had all kinds of materials available which Jesse could destroy. From cutting up an apple, to tearing up an old phone book, to breaking up pencils into little bits, we thrashed, spindled and mutilated. By the time we were finished, Jesse had begun to relax, a smile on his face. The rest of our time together was “normal,” and I was able to help Jesse refocus his energy quite easily.
It is important that children with ADHD be allowed ample opportunities to expend energy. Destructive behaviors can result when energy has nowhere to go. Counselors, teachers and parents may misinterpret what is going on and assume that a child is angry when they are not. Jesse is not really angry, he just needs a variety of outlets in which to channel his energy.