Impulsive ADHD. Unsafe at any Speed

When I read about children with ADHD having an increased risk of using drugs, flunking out of school, or landing in jail, I think about my two boys. When they were very small I had a friend that said the older son would be a lawyer and that the younger son would need a lawyer. The boys were two and four years old at the time but even then it was clear that my inattentive son would stay out of trouble and the baby would be another matter altogether. He was impulsive and fearless even as a two year old.

I believe that impulsivity is the where the ‘rubber meets the road’ for most people dealing with ADHD. Most of our households can adapt to hyperactive and inattentive kids. We can run the hyperactive kids around the block and nag the inattentive kids until they focus. These symptoms can be extremely disruptive to a person's potential but they do not disrupt the foundation of a household the way impulsivity does.

People with inattentive ADHD are, by and large, not impulsive. When you have an impulsive child with ADHD, you understand why this sub-type gets all the research dollars. These are the kids that, as a society, we really worry about.

I did not medicate my hyperactive son until I realized that this child had absolutely no physical control over his impulses. He was incapable of counting to 10 before he did something that he would later regret. Medication treats this symptom. His impulsivity has vanished. If we can give someone medication and the impulsivity is gone, it this not proof that there is some pathology in the brain that the medication is correcting??

I recently was reading a thread on one of the ADHD forums regarding punishing a child because he destroyed something precious while he was off his medication. They boy was confused and distraught over what he had done. The post asked how the child should pay for this destruction. I was quite torn while reading this post because I truly believe that my hyperactive/impulsive son, un-medicated, will do things that he has no control over.

Just a thought, let’s say that a child had Epilepsy and suffered a grand mal seizure where he hit a shelf, knocked down a precious vase and broke it. Would this child be responsible for replacing the vase??


  1. Why would anyone punish a child who already feels "confused and distraught" over what he did? Sounds completely devoid of compassion and understanding to me.

  2. Lisa, I agree completely. Sometimes, we as parents feel that a child "must learn a lesson". The problem with these kids is that the only lesson that they learn is that there is no hope or help for them.


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