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Kid's Chapter:

What Is this ADHD Thing, Anyway?

Martin L. Kutscher, MD.  2002
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY.
See our patient offices in NY and NJ


Hey, What Happened to My Brakes?



Imagine this:  A kid is on a bicycle speeding downhill. The world is whizzing by.  He needs to avoid holes in the pavement. The road is curving. The wind buzzes in his ear, and makes his eyes tear.

Suddenly, there are rocks in the road. He goes to put on the brakes—but they don’t work!! As the bike speeds downhill, just staying on it seems overwhelming.  Too many obstacles call for the rider’s attention. So much seems out of control. Who has time to pay attention to the huge truck coming up?

That’s the life of someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  It all comes from difficulty “Putting on the Brakes,” to borrow the title of a wonderful book by Patricia Quinn and Judith Stern.

Here’s what’s happening.   Your brain’s “boss” is located just behind your forehead.  These frontal lobes figure out where you want to go, and the individual steps of how to get there.  Like any boss, a large part of their job is saying “no.”  For example, your parents are supposed to be the boss in your house.  Think how often their job is to say “no.”  They’re always saying things like, “Susan, do not have a fifth scoop of ice-cream,” or “Bob, stop playing Nintendo so that you can do your homework,” or “Jill, don’t stay out past 10PM.”  Unless something puts brakes on our actions, we would spin out of control.

Well, at least that is how it is supposed to work.  In ADHD kids, the front part of their brains—the boss—doesn’t do a good job of putting on the brakes. This means that these kids may:

No wonder things go out of control so often!


Why Don’t I See Problems Coming?


Let’s imagine another scene:   Jack is on a boat, happily fishing.  Reeling in the jiggling fish while still steering the boat captures all of his attention. 


This is what Jack sees:                                    This is what everyone else seems to notice:




Jack is so consumed by the experience of the moment (catching the fish) that he can’t look ahead to see the waterfall coming up. It’s not that he doesn’t care about the cliff. After all, he doesn’t want to fall off a cliff any more than anyone else.  It’s that he never gets the chance to see it. Just like the speeding bicyclist, ADHD kids often are stuck in the present moment. The future comes as a surprise. This is called a lack of “foresight.” So, people with ADHD:


What other Problems Are Common for ADHD Kids?

Teachers, parents, and friends may notice many other problems for kids who have ADHD. Often, these problems are not recognized as just being part of ADHD. These kids might also:


What Can We Do About It?

Hundreds of books have been written about helping ADHD. Here’s some of the best advice:

                 The Doctors of                                         Martin L. Kutscher, MD, PLLC
Pediatric Neurological Associates (PNA)                           Practice limited
              Providing care to                                              to behavioral neurology
the full range of pediatric neurology
                   such as ADHD, LD, Tics, Asperger's

   Bruce Roseman, M.D.                                             
   Robert  R. Wolff, M.D.                    Martin L. Kutscher, MD
 Ronald I. Jacobson, M.D.

                 New York (914) 997-1692                                                 New York (914) 232-1810
                White Plains, Nyack, Fishkill,                                                   Rye Brook, Middletown,
               Middletown, & Poughkeepsie.                                              Wappingers Falls, & Nyack.
                New Jersey (201) 568-8687

             Click for Directions to                                          Click for Directions to Dr. Kutscher 
  Drs. Roseman, Wolff, & Jacobson


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