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11 Things You Should Never Say To Someone With Hyperactivity

What you shouldn’t say to someone who is hyper:

1. “Slow down” - When people are experiencing hyperactivity, they may feel like they need more stimulation and may feel restless, these feelings can cause someone to rush around and do things very quickly. As well as this, people's thoughts may race and people can feel as if they have extra energy, this can also contribute to someone rushing about and seeming quite ‘chaotic’. Going slower is incredibly uncomfortable for a person with hyperactivity, and maybe we are meant to be an energetic, sprightly and fast paced individual in some ways? Telling someone to “slow down” can be upsetting to the individual as they know that that isn’t what is best for them and it may make them feel ashamed of the way they do things.

2. “Stop changing the subject” - People who are hyper may change the subject quite a lot, and some people may find this confusing or irritating, but this is just what we do. When we are hyper, trying to stick to one topic at the time seems incredibly boring and tedious. As well as this, our train of thought is likely different to others. Whilst most people's train of thought would gradually move from one topic to another, ours bounces around a little more and make some different links between topics. We may also forget what we have just said and this causes us to bring something else up, and sometimes we may quickly think of another thing which needs to be said and we may blurt it out before we forget. It is very difficult for us not to keep changing the subject, so please be accepting of our spontaneity and randomness.

3. “Just try harder” - Those who are hyper or those who have any form of neurological / neurodevelopmental difference are likely already trying harder than their peers to get the same results. Doing tasks when you crave more stimulation or when your thoughts are racing so much that it’s impossible for you to see through them and focus on the task at hand is exceedingly difficult. Trying harder isn’t going to change our neurology, trying harder isn’t going to ‘cure’ us. We need support and accommodations to give us an equal chance and to be able to stay on par with our neurotypical peers.

4. “Learn to focus” - The issue isn’t that we have never learnt to focus, it is that we have a neurological / neurodevelopmental condition that makes focusing on a specific task difficult. ‘Learning to focus’ isn’t as simple as it may sound, and I can assure you that we have tried to focus many times before, to no avail.

5. “Do one thing at a time” - Sometimes those of us with hyperactivity may seem quite chaotic in our actions and we may multitask quite a lot. Not everyone does this as some people may find it easier to do one thing at a time, but some of us may struggle to do one thing at a time as it seems irksome to us and doesn’t give us the stimulation we need, so please don’t make us feel bad for multitasking, even if it may not be the most efficient way of doing things.

6. “Sit with the discomfort until you can stay still” - Suppressing our hyperactivity only serves to make things worse, we need to move about and release this hyperactivity otherwise it can come back worse in rebounds. The more we have to stay still and focus, the more antsy we get and the more hyper we feel afterwards, this is one of the reasons why so many kids with hyperactivity have meltdowns when they come home from school. Instead of trying to make us be still and do something that is uncomfortable and counterproductive for us, let us move around, be active and do things in a way that works for us.

7. “You're annoying” - This is a very rude thing to say and can harm someone's self-esteem. Unfortunately, many people with hyperactivity do face many negative comments, even if we do seem annoying to you, we are not the problem as we are just the way we are. It’s even more annoying for us when people treat us like less of a person for something we cannot control.

8. “Stop thinking so much” - Those of us with hyperactivity sometimes have racing, jumbled and random thoughts, we struggle to shut our brain off like others which is why we can appear quite absent minded, and it can be uncomfortable for us if we try to slow our thoughts down. If that is all it took then we would have stopped thinking so much a long time ago.

9. “Calm down” - Again, if this is all it took then we would have ‘calmed down’ a long time ago, we don’t have the choice whether to be hyper or not, our brain decides for us.

10. “Why are you so absent minded!?” - Many people with hyperactivity already feel bad enough for making mistakes, forgetting things and appearing absent minded, so please don’t berate an individual for this. They are likely trying their best, they just really struggle to focus and instead of expressing annoyance towards this individual, think about how you can help them and offer them support which may make things easier for them.

11. "It's not that hard" - Dealing with hyperactivity can make certain things difficult, and others may struggle to understand this, and this makes sense because someone who has never experienced hyperactivity before may find it difficult to know what it's like to live with, but I can assure you that it does make things difficult. Saying that something 'isn't that hard' can be very invalidating for someone with hyperactivity and can make them feel like it's their fault that they are struggling to do something.

What helps to say to people with hyperactivity:

1. "You can move about as much as you want when you are with me."

2." I love your uniqueness."

3. "I’m here if you need any help."

4. "I cannot fix things for you and it can help to take responsibility for your actions even if it they can be the result of hyperactivity, know that I love you unconditionally and I am always here to support you. "

5. "You do what works for you and what is best for your wellbeing."

6. "I can remind you of that if you forget."

7. "There's nothing wrong with you as a person."

8. "I love your enthusiasm / passion / energy / spontaneity etc."

9. "You can take a break if you feel that would help."

10."I can see how hard you are trying."

PS: This is just based on my own personal experience with hyperactivity stemming from PANDAS syndrome, but everyone is different.

A faded image of a robin perching on a tree branch. The black text reads 'hyperactivity'

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