Learning About My Own Brain and Attention…

It was a sunny morning, the dew was just burning off the grass. I was 10 years old and I needed help with attention.

One of my older brothers was (and is still) really into the game of golf and he was practicing with his pitching wedge in the front yard of our parents farm house. I grabbed my baseball mitt and I stealthily snuck around the back side of the pole barn to make my way to the golf ball landing zone un-noticed. 

I knew I had to make a break for it as fast as I could after he hits the next ball high into the air. That was my chance to run out, as he would never have hit the ball with me out there otherwise. He swung his club down to connect and the ball soared into the air as I broke into a sprint to the middle of the back yard to get into outfielder’s position.  

At this age, I was definitely unable to anticipate consequences.  I simply did not have the full ability to process the future and how each decision would create good, bad, or otherwise.  I was stuck in the present moment, which often led me to situations like the rest of this story. 

As the tiny white ball started to reach it’s peak height, I reached my fielding position.  I could hear Andy yelling something, but I was hyper-focused on the ball which was starting it’s decent and simultaneous path directly into the light of the sun. As I took small steps forward to anticipate the catch, I realized I couldn’t see the ball through the sun.  Who knew that a golf ball would be difficult to track in those conditions… 

Not this kid.  

The ball finally plummeted to the grass about one foot in front of me just as I planned. I had aborted the original mission of catching the ball in the mitt due to the sun and was just going to run the ball back to my big brother after it landed in front of me. 

CRACK! 

I saw the ball land directly on a flat rock as it violently ricocheted back up directly into my face.  

I don’t recall the full details of what happened next, but Andy says it looked a bit like a backflip. The ball connected directly with the under side of my eyebrow and, after my back flip, I hit the ground I began to scream out in pain.  

You see, I suffered with something that is described as an “under aroused brain state”.  This term describes behavior occurring from autonomic nervous system function. I was sensory-seeking.  I craved danger, impulsivity, and sensory input. I see it in kids everyday in practice.  They NEED to behave in certain ways to get stimulation.  For me, acting impulsively was one of the symptoms of my under-aroused brain.  I also had many other symptoms that pointed to a brain state that was under-stimulated. After 8 years of neuroscience training I can see these correlations easily through examination of the children and questioning parents, but back then, we simply didn’t know as much about the brain.  

The Under Aroused Brain and Your Child’s Attention

If you are a parent of a child with attention deficits, you will relate to much of what I am about to share.  

I was that kid.  I am still that kid, if I don’t stay on track with my non-negotiable life decisions and wellness goals. 

Here is some food for thought from a neurologically based chiropractor, who is that kid.

The human brain is constantly buzzing with electrical signals and frequencies.  You will be familiar with this if you think about the EEG measurements, or Electroencephalograph, with all the leads and wires attached to the scalp which are measuring the output of this electricity.  We are measuring brain waves with these tests, which tells much about the overall state of the brain. 

This is well documented, we have known for many years now what is ideal electrical function and we know how it correlates with our ability to learn, store important memories, control a wide array of our emotions and reactions, and most importantly how we decide to ACT in the future. 

As children develop through early childhood and well into adolescence and adulthood, they will (slowly) develop the patterns associated with adult brainwave production as they age.  During this period we commonly see patterns that show certain children, many of which already have a diagnosis of attention deficits, aren’t able to produce enough of the higher frequency brain waves and commonly over-produce the lower slower ones.   

The problem for these children and many adults, myself included, is that we have what is referred to as an under aroused brain state.  Not just sometimes, most of the time. It can be part of the cause to many of the most problematic symptoms associated with that type of brain function.

It’s our default setting when we are under stress, especially with lack of proper sleep, hydration or nutrition. . This slower, lower energy brain state signals the body to do many things that are directly associated with the behavior and symptoms of these children who often have diagnosis like ADD/ADHD or attention deficits.  The under aroused brain also causes much of our “normal everyday” experiences to be forgotten if they don’t produce much emotional response. Think about how the brain is producing a dream-like state associated with these types of brainwaves that are present.

You are there, but may appear largely unaware compared to people who experience more “ideal” brain function. 

Does your child seem to need 1000 of the same reminders until you feel like you may never be able to request they follow your direction one…more..freakin…time…? 

This is a consequence made much worse by staying in an under aroused brain state when it’s not appropriate.  I would be willing to place a bet that these same children remember complex chains of actions involved with all of their favorite video games or outdoor activities/hobbies. That is because these activities and actions are emotionally stimulating to them, they get the brain fired up.  You see this with screen time and children’s behaviors associated with this technology.

View this chart below to wrap your head around what can happen after a brain develops a regular state of under-arousal. These are the kids who get diagnosed with attention deficits. 

Under Aroused: Poor Attention

From the medical scope of practice, it’s pretty easy to take these kid’s brains and get them boosted with the gold-standard stimulant medications.  The drug actions for these medications stimulates higher frequency brain function through neuro-chemical pathways which reduced the under-arousal type brain frequencies and calms the sensory seeking behavior we are used to seeing.  If your children take these meds, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Lots of stuff stops happening while the medication is actively effecting brain function, such as: tics, shaking of legs or bouncing, fidgeting, chewing on clothing, itching and scratching, impulsive behavior/actions, talking out of turn, nail biting, etc.  

Surprisingly to many, there are a multitude of ways to help your child learn to create this stimulation organically, or by themselves, in addition to or without medications. Some of the strategies are nutritional, some are activity based, and obviously I wouldn’t have become a brain-based wellness doctor if I didn’t also have a solution with my specific type of house call chiropractic care that is neurologically based. 

For my top 3 ways to produce focus every day, read my most popular blog HERE. 

If you are reading this and thinking “this is my kid” then let me help you make a plan to get your kid on the natural, drug-free approach to moving forward in life with a new focus-building tool kit. Anytime of the year is the right time to introduce your child to a house call appointment, life coaching, and specialty chiropractic care to help manage the stress of under aroused brain function.

Because of my own tendencies to have an under aroused brain state, it was an easy choice for me to ditch the office environment for house call appointments.  I couldn’t sit still in the office and I was becoming unhealthy because of it.  This is why I developed my house call practice back in 2016. 

I developed my type of care and appointments specifically for kids like me. 

I now drive to over 50 homes a month visiting families and changing children lives for the better.  You will most definitely have questions for me, which is why I offer the opportunity to have a free 15 minutes phone consultation with me prior to scheduling you or your children first visit.  

Know this: you are not alone.  Your kid is not broken. Your parenting will not be questioned or judged, you will only be guided to new information so you can make new choices.  

Use the form below to schedule your free phone call. 

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Dr. Cory St. Denis
Cory St. Denis, D.C. is a Brain Based Wellness Chiropractor| Co-Founder & Website Project Coordinator: The DCTree|Productivity Hacker & entrepreneur| Defeating ADHD and chasing his dreams has allowed him to help families and professionals with the stuff that matters most. He is passionate about bridging the gap between local Maine people and extraordinary Health.
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