Colorful Minds: Mood Swings in Kids with Learning Disorders
What Is A Colorful Mind?
My colorful background... I'm a dyslexic mom with two learning disabled teens.
One child shares my dyslexia, and the other has what's called an auditory processing disorder and cerebral palsy.
We found that kids who have learning disorders, compensate in amazing ways to learn, love and lead an exceptional life.
While many of these abilities make living with the learning disabled a challenge... they also make our lives more colorful....because colorful minds have a unique perspective on everything.
In The Colorful Minds Hub Series...
You Will Find Helpful Tips For:
Parenting A Colorful Child
Creative Ways To Teach A Colorful Child
Understanding Your Colorful Kid's Mind
Learning the Complicated Language of Learning Disorders
Abbreviations List To Get You Through That First Evaluation
Getting The Right Diagnosis For You Colorful Kid
You can also request a Hub on a special topic...just click on request a hub by this author on the right of this article.
It's common for colorful kids to have mood swings. However, it's important for parents, teachers, and caregivers to look beyond the basic disability because not all behaviors are created equally.
What are the most common causes of short tempers and mood swings?
Lack Of Sleep
While some LD kids are boundless bundles of energy, their sleep requirements are the same as the general population in their age group.
Plus after school activities, homework, tutoring, and jobs often keep kids going until late in the evening.
School aged kids between the ages of 6-10 need 10 or more hours of sleep to function properly and many teens will bottom out with less than 9.5 hours of shut eye.
If activities mean putting off homework until 7 or 8 o'clock at night... the child is almost being set up for a meltdown. This is where sacrifices and schedule changes will need to be made.
How can your child get more sleep?
Mary Carskadon, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Brown University School of Medicine believes in the 12 hour rule for limiting after school activities.
Here's how the 12 hour rule works:
Think of your child's schedule in 12 hour shifts. If a child gets up at 7am for school they need to stop activities, have homework done, and start winding down at 7pm in the evening.
This doesn't mean banishing them to bed. You can all unwind with a family reading session, TV time, or games until the designated bedtime.
Scheduling a deceleration period helps kids get into an automatic slow down mode. If you are consistent, even on weekends, your child will begin to fall into a scheduled sleep cycle which will get them to sleep earlier and faster.
No kid wants to fail, so all kids are under a lot of stress to succeed.
Colorful kids also have to deal with issues beyond their control, and it's very stressful.
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It may not seem apparent, but
- kids with hyperactivity disorders strive to sit still,
- kids with attention deficits want to follow the lesson and...
- kids with reading issues want to read at the same level as their friends.
When kids are not able to accomplish their personal goals, they get frustrated.
Frustrated kids lash out at people they trust will understand and forgive their outbursts.
Here's an example:
Johnny, a 10 year-old very colorful kid will successfully get through a disciplined karate class without incident, then have a meltdown on mom at the grocery store on the way home.
This is stressful for mom... but for her sanity there's power in knowing her child feels secure enough in her love that he is able to vent his pent up frustration in her presence.
What can you do about stress?
Fortunately, stress related incidents usually follow a pattern.
As parents and caregivers we can learn to predict tantrums and make adjustments to prepare for them.
If like in the example above... Johnny acts out after karate class...forget about going to the store, and get him home where he can vent without embarrassing both of you.
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The Kids On The Block Are better in person… but here’s their new video…
In school... kids might have trouble settling down:
- after recess
- right after a tough lesson
- because they're too tired or too talked out
Look for patterns and take action to defuse the situation.
Watch, listen, document, and predict stress related behavior and you will prevent emotional explosions.
Medical conditions are commonly overlooked in the intervention and treatment of colorful kids since many of their behavior problems are assumed to be caused by their disorder or misdiagnosed as mental illness.
Fluctuations in blood sugar, thyroid issues, even prescription drugs in combination with certain foods can affect behavior in youngsters and teens.
What are some common medical culprits?
Blood Sugar Issues
Busy schedules and busy minds make it hard for some kids to maintain healthy eating habits.
Furthermore, a child could have a medical condition that affects the amount of sugar being used in the body.
The result hypoglycemia, aka low blood sugar, a very common cause for sudden moodiness.
Hypoglycemia causes irritability, anxiety, and confusion. So a skipped lunch or a lunch too high in sugar without enough protein to balance things out will cause behavioral changes.
Who Are The Kids On The Block?
The Kids s on the Block program was started in 1977 in direct response to US Public Law 94-142, which required that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment possible.
The program uses puppets of different abilities to introduce a variety of colorful characters with ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, and so much more.
You can invite The Kids to your school or program or you are invited to begin you own puppeteer troupe. can invite The Kids to your school or program or you are invited to begin you own puppeteer troupe.
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Thyroid conditions often make their first appearance when kids are teens.
Too much thyroid hormone will make a person irritable, moody, anxious, and it can mimic depressive type symptoms.
Too little thyroid hormone will cause sluggishness, depression, and a feeling of being tired all the time.
High or low, both of the above conditions can be easily diagnosed with blood work.
If you suspect that your child could have a medical condition on top of a learning disability....
you can ask your pediatrician or neurologist to check into it.
Some foods and over the counter medications don't allow proper absorption of prescription drugs.
Other foods and over the counter medications interact with prescription medication and cause negative effects, like increased hyperactivity and sleeplessness.
If your child is on medication for attention deficit or another reason, make sure you know what will alter the prescription.
You can ask the pharmacist for a drug interaction list...or give your prescribing physician a call to make sure you are following the guidelines and restrictions of the medication.
Tackling The Trauma
The best tools for tackling the trauma of a colorful life are patience and understanding.
Learn as much about learning disabilities as you can, and use that information to help the family, the child, and yourself through the rough patches.
Remember that...all kids want to thrive...they want to be happy...and they want to succeed...
And they are only held back when the adults in their lives give up on them.
Links To Colorful Learning
- Kids on the Block, Inc. - International Educational Puppets inColumbia, MD
Puppet characters and scripts by The Kids on the Block, Inc. teach children about disability, medical conditions and social issues.
- A StarGirl Reader's Guide
This is a great colorful learning tool! You can get more out of this book than a good read. This guide poses questions you can share with your family as you read the book together.
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