Exploring Time Perception In Children With ADHD

Conversations on mental health have taken a drastic turn—possibly more dramatic and factual. The talks about this variable topic now include loads of lingua that portray it as a natural possibility, rather than a demonic cause.

More effort is put into creating awareness of the myriad of mental illnesses, disorders, and their probable solutions. And this does not only affect adults. According to Nami, 16.5% of children experienced mental illness in 2018 in the U.S. That is to say, no one is spared.

Children may face mental illnesses due to childhood experiences. Sometimes the cause is unknown. It might be a genetic disorder. It is mostly vague; the roots are not certain. Among the numerous lists of mental disorders, a study has estimated that 11% of children suffer from ADHD and 5% of adults in the U.S. ADHD affects how a patient perceives time. Time perception and ADHD are psychological conditions that tango with each other, the latter affects the former. However, before we can exhume how that is so, we have to understand both terms properly.

ADHD—Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder—is a disorder that renders the decision-making function of the brain impaired. People with ADHD find it hard to focus; they are oftentimes hyperactive, have poor skills in time management, an extremely short attention span, week impulse control, and sometimes drift away in their thoughts, in a daydream.

Most times the symptoms appear superficial. They are shallow, yet present. An infamous misconception of the disorder is that children are hyperactive, disoriented, unstoppable like a tornado. But it is otherwise complex. ADHD takes different forms in children as tornado personalities or silent dreamers who have symptoms that assume a subtle role while the patient drifts away, lost in eons of his thoughtfulness.

The subjective passage of time —psychological—perceived by a person is what is referred to as time perception. This is how a person recognizes the flow of time in the timeframe of his life. Gustav Theodore Fechner—one of the founders of modern experimental psychology—in the nineteenth century established a relationship between perceived and measured time.

As perceived time—subjective emotion etched on occurrences in the sequence of one’s life— goes further to assess a change over a period, measured time is objective; the telling of time we are acquainted with. How an individual perceives time varies since according to Foley, it resembles a “fleeting and invisible” abstract.

Time perception and ADHD affect the well being of children, likewise adults. Well, Rick Hodges of ADD Magazine notes that people with ADHD do not perceive time as a “sequence of events” but as a “diffuse collection of events.” A child with ADHD utilizes his intuition to determine the circumstances in his life. This intuition is culled from prominent experiences and people involved in his time span. They do not observe, rather they determine the details, emotions, and activities in a sort of insinuative way.

This is called “Time Blindness”. Although they can discern occurrences, placing them in the right time slot is difficult.

Time perception is a psychological, as well as neurological study. Plummer and Humphrey (2009) note that the basal ganglia, the right inferior parietal lobes, and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activates normally in healthy individuals poised with the task of distinguishing between two intervals.

However, the aforementioned parts of the brain in ADHD children do not activate properly. Hence, the time perception of ADHD children is somewhat dysfunctional. They are unable to properly discern past or present situations, thus, they depend on their intuitive ability which covers, in halves, the inability.

Unfortunately, ADHD children have a low view of the future. They do not possess distinct plans that will shape or mar the status quo. Their future goals—education, jobs, and aspirations—are clouded by fog, instead, they are more interested in the present; the current things that are happening. And sadly, they focus on the negatives of the past.

Since the source of the time perception is based on visceral activities, conversely, their thought process is very spontaneous, dynamic, and polarized.

Notwithstanding, this disorder has clinical implications that in the long run may affect future decisions. First, the child will have difficulties in planning and scheduling short-term goals. This disorder also impairs the processing speed of the child. Simple tasks may appear cumbersome and frustrating to the child or even adult.

Furthermore, studies show that children suffering from low-level symptoms of ADHD (Pseudo-ADHD) tend to exhibit similar symptoms conjunct with limited perceiving of time, but not as strong or high as children that have been diagnosed with high-level symptoms.

While the cause of ADHD remains unclear, there are therapies that children can participate in to reduce its long-term consequences. There are coaching therapies used in helping children that suffer from this. If they find a particular task challenging or overly demanding, offering rewards can help them follow through with it. It will encourage them to complete, and even perform to the fullest of their capacity. They can also learn from these coaching therapies how to manage time, the art of scheduling, and following up with assignments.

Time perception and ADHD are interrelated entities such that if left with no diagnosis, it will be calamitous to the child. Children with ADHD should be given adequate support. They should be treated with utmost patience, given that they are coached in ways that will help reduce the effects. Essentially, the impediment does not stop them from living wholesome lives. With proper care, they are bound to anticipate a future with clear-cut goals.

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