Monday, 26 May 2014

Indigo Children - ASD/ADHD or just bad parenting?!

I've struggled with son number 2 for most of his 12 years. He does have a variety of diagnoses to his name including Autism and ADHD and I invariably notice similar traits all too easily in others, and in my other children also. That is not to say any of the other three would deserve similar diagnoses but since the Autism Spectrum is just that - a spectrum -  many of us share some of the aspects which combine to warrant a full blown diagnosis in those more profoundly affected.

What I also notice in my younger two in particular is how sensitive, aware and opinionated they are. They are old for their years in so many ways, bright and able yet certainly less socially adept than my eldest was at 8. They are intuitive and impatient with those less so, have their own agenda and can be alarmingly vocal about it. This is not an immaturity typical of a child a few years younger, exhibiting tantrums borne of communication difficulties. And unlike the child on the Autism Spectrum, who shares many characteristics with the so called "Indigo Children" my twins can tell you exactly what they need and want, communicate their feelings in great detail and are acutely aware of others' feelings also. They are far more self assured than I was at their age for sure, yet I have parented them in the same way as their older siblings!



I read The Indigo Children recently having been kindly sent a copy. To be perfectly honest, I'm more a science-based kind of girl, preferring Dawkins and Schrodinger to crystals and New Age theories. I prefer to view the world in all its complexity through the concepts of science and have absolutely no time for auras, the paranormal or synesthesia  which is how Wikipedia prefers to classify the Indigo concept. But the books I have read on Indigo Children are slightly unsettling - because they certainly do describe familiar traits which I see in my children. 

Many children labelled indigo by their parents are diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Tober and Carroll's book The Indigo Children linked the concept with diagnosis of ADHD. Their book makes the case that the children are a new stage of evolution rather than children with a medical diagnosis, and that they require special treatment rather than medications. This I can understand, some prefer to consider a "problem" as a desirable variant of "normal" . Certainly the number of children receiving a diagnosis of ADHD and/or Autism is on the increase and discussion of this generally accepted fact is frequently in the news and professionals are keen to determine whether this is better recognition of both conditions or an increase in their manifestation/occurrence which would be somewhat disturbing. Advocates of the concept of the "Indigo" child would respond that this is due to a surge of "old souls" (old before their time - self assured, confident, opinionated, not reincarnated) born since the 1970s who are misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

But I don't see ADHD in my younger two, some ASD traits yes but none more than your average 4 year old with a brother on the spectrum and I really don't feel comfortable with the "Indigo" label. Which leaves little else other than parenting style. As an historian with a keen interest in social history and in particular the social history of children I know the place of children in society has been revolutionised. From the early modern idea of children as essential, unavoidable and lower status providers to the family economy to the Victorian belief that well-off children should be "seen and not heard" (and poorer children merely an economic resource or an inconvenience) the lot of the child in history has - on the whole - been secondary to that of their parents and other adults. Many children never saw their first birthday, let alone their fifth and whilst loved and cherished by their mothers rarely attracted the attention we see today.

I see it everywhere, through the advertising of children's toys and luxuries, the play schemes and activities and in the attitude of many parents who live their lives through and for their children. I'm as guilty as the next in becoming caught up in the desire to give my children a good start, hoping for if not the best certainly a desirable close second in the many choices we make for them. I've resisted the rooms full of toys though, the luxury parties and excessive wardrobes of clothes but my four don't do badly! But I do expect respect and good behaviour from them and will not tolerate demands and tantrums. Yet despite our attitude at home the rapid elevation in society of children to a status far above that of their parents (at times) is infectious and has to have contributed in some way to the behaviour issues so many of us see so often today. 

The way we are encouraged to leap on every little issue, meet every single need at every level undermines core parenting instinct - and don't even get me started on the concept of "safeguarding" which has legitimised society-wide interference which further devalues parents. 

The pendulum seems to have swung too far the other way, precipitating a child-dominant culture which has nurtured and encouraged the Indigo type. I actually think the Indigo personality is a reality (I suspect I have two borderline Indigos here!) but I honestly believe this is a product of the social changes we have seen since our economic circumstances have enabled a radical remodelling of our children's role in society. Parents have been under fire for too long, for ignoring their child's needs at their own expense when a little balance would satisfy everyone's basic needs. Indigos are only here to stay if we perpetuate the necessary environment for them to flourish in. 



There is a HUGE difference between a smart, opinionated kid with an advanced awareness of their place in society and a child with ADHD and/or ASD and confusing the two does a huge disservice to the latter group. Indigos are a product of the social changes in recent decades in my opinion and different (rather than bad (or good)) parenting and a clear reminder of the direction we find the world heading in.




22 comments:

  1. I find alot of children have adhd a lot more than it used ot be recorded and some parents do try to use it as an excuse for their bad behaviour but who determines its real or not? I think a healthy happy lifestyle is better than putting a label on a childs behaviour x

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    1. Possibly, environment might have something to do with it. Certainly medication is a diagnosis in itself, a NON ADHD child on Ritalin would be high as a kite - it's amphetamine based, but an ADHD child calms right down on it as it STIMULATES the parts of the brain where there is a connection missing.

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    2. I agree with Lisa, I know quite a few people that have children that just misbehave due to poor parenting and a lack of rules and they blame it on conditions like ADHD (obviously not all as some do have ADHD though). I wonder if more children in today's society have ADHD, whether more parents are aware of the condition and take their children forward for diagnosis or whether normal child behvaiour can sometime be mis-diagnosed. x

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  2. I am finding more and more children being classed as ADHD, then years later getting another diagnosis. I think sometimes it is harder to see the underlying problem

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  3. Your post is very interesting and educational for new parents like myself.
    You have a gorgeous family and i bet there is never a dull moment in your house!

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  4. I think it's very easy these days to put a label on kids. I know parents trying really desperately label their kid with ADHD when it's actually more a behaviour and their parenting rather than ADHD (I know them well, they're part of the family, plus doctors told them it's not adhd)

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  5. Really interesting post Kate - thanks for sharing. My nephew was diagnosed with ADHD a little while ago so it's great to read a bit more x x

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  6. I built a website for a client, and she has an Indigo Child, I'd never heard of it before I met her, and now I'm reading about it again.

    It seems to me that there are so many varying traits on the spectrum, that 'labelling' is a hard thing to do. I have no experience with the things you are dealing with in your life, but I read your posts with fascination and learn a lot from them. Thanks for sharing x

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  7. I think some parents are too quick to label their children with whatever syndrome fits their child's behaviour rather than look at possible causes such as parenting styles, outside influences and possibly the child's natural personality. It does a disservice to those given labels unnecessarily and to those with a genuine condition that can get trivialised because it is rapidly becoming almost a trend to give labels rather than deal with the behaviour. I say this as a mother of an autistic child. Someone enquired whether my other son was also affected. No, the plane fact is that he is naughty and highly strung!

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  8. I find it so interesting reading your posts it is something I know little about so always nice to read a little more. x

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  9. Very interesting post. I do believe a lot of parents try and assume their child has a syndrome / label when they are playing up and just being kids. I know ADHD is a genuine condition but I definitely think that too much computer time has a early negative effect on my children and many others which can cause similar problems

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  10. my husband had adhd, i dont think it is "stamped" in other countries, at least in Russia it would be deemed as a naughty behavior, as far as i know my husband was treated with tablets, they didnt work as i would expect them not to

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  11. My daughter has so many problems , its hard subject I find /x

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  12. I had never heard of the term before so thanks for writing about it.

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  13. i feel bad that i have nothing to contribute, but just want to say this was an interesting and informative read :)

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  14. I think that a lot of parents are too quick to label their children if they behave badly and try to find excuses for maybe their parenting. I have never heard of indigo children. I always find your posts a really interesting read as I know very little about it x

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  15. Yes, we see many children with ADHD today and so often I wonder we didn't have these many a few years ago! This is very interesting post.

    #letkidsbekids

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  16. Very interesting post. I think can be easy to place a label on a child these days and use it as an excuse.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

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  17. Thank you for sharing. I dont know much about it myself although my friend recently had her child diagnosed. Took a long time and was a struggle to get the diagnosis

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  18. Good post and lots of information to take in. Thank you for sharing.

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  19. Interesting post, I think I need to read Indigo Child.

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Many thanks for taking the time to comment, I really value your responses.

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