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ADHD and a Winter Prison

Winter can be tough for children with ADHD, so parents need to find alternative ways to contain their child’s hyperactive energy.

Natalie and I took a walk in the moonlight Saturday night. Well, I walked-hands in my coat pockets, shoulders hunched against the cold wind. She zoomed ahead of me on her scooter — dressed in her winter coat, hat, and mittens.

Why were we out after dark on a cold, windy, wintry night? Because our house could no longer contain Natalie’s ADHD energy. We busted out like two prisoners leaving solitary confinement.

That’s what winter in Iowa must feel like to Natalie-like prison. It’s dark by 5:00 or 5:30. Even when the sun’s out, the cold temperatures, wind, snow, and ice keep us locked inside most of the time. To a kid with Natalie’s energy level, being forced to stay inside constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Yesterday, Natalie and her friend Harry braved the cold for a short time. They rode Nat’s scooter and bicycle for maybe 10 minutes before giving in and retreating back indoors. They spent quite a bit of the afternoon bundled up in sweatshirts in the relatively warm but drearily dark garage, building a rocket ship out of cardboard and duct tape — presumably to take them to a warmer planet —one with green grass, endless sidewalks, and outdoor swimming pools year round. (They called the planet Juniper. Harry’s dad speculated that the gin and tonics were probably excellent there!)

Even with this distraction, by 3:15, Don had developed a severe case of sympathetic cabin fever, and announced he was going to the McDonald’s Play Place. Did either of them want to come along? They were back before 5:00 — four more hours to fill before bedtime.

God help us. It’s only November.

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