Knitting Therapy for the ADHD Mom

I sometimes say, half-jokingly, that I have adult-onset ADHD. Maybe it's an occupational hazard of having many children. All those years of trying to keep track of where each child is and what he is up to, not to mention, what things I ought to be teaching him or the character issues I ought to be working with him on, seems to have left my brain permanently splintered. Even though I'm beyond the years of wondering what havoc the toddler is creating and where I've left the baby, I still spend time each day keeping track of everyone, only now the concerns take a different turn. ("Oh, I hope Andrew is having a productive meeting with the visiting team from Wright Patterson Air Force Base today! Sure hope his summer internship with them goes well. And Lord, please guide him to a good church in Ohio for the summer. And maybe he could meet a godly young lady." And that's just what's playing on Track #1 for the firstborn.) This, I think, accounts for the distracted part of the ADHD.

And then there's the hyperactive component. While I may have had seeds of this (I used to jump on our bed when Tim and I were first married), chasing after lots of little people for many years has brought it to the fore. I can't tell you how much I miss having a fussy baby to hold during church so I could stand at the back of the church and rock.

And here's the rub - homeschooling involves a good bit of sitting! (Not that it doesn't have plenty of activity, too, thankfully! With kids working on all three levels of our house, I find myself racing up and down stairs all day - hurrah!) Still, there are many times when I need to just sit down and work one-on-one or teach several at once. And with no baby to hold any longer, I get antsy!

Enter - therapeutic knitting! Keeping my hands busy with yarn has gone some way to helping me focus and sit still. Knitting works better for me than other type of handwork because it is easy to do just a little bit at a time, set it down, then pick it up again later. I can knit while sitting at the table working with a child or listening to a young one read. Also, knitting, unlike hand quilting, which I've tried, is much easier to accomplish while reading aloud to my children.

Here are some of the projects I've finished this year during school:

This is a dress for Kara and Collin's new baby, due in August. It's supposed to be 6 month size, but I think she may not fit into it until next spring or so.

 This fun yarn (same colorway in a variety of fibers) was a gift from one of my sisters-in-law. First I made a throw blanket

and then I made this shawl from the Angora yarn in the batch. (Aeolian shawl directions here.)

I ran out of the Angora yarn just as I was finishing, so I had to use up odds and ends of the little bits I had left over from the blanket. I was quite relieved when I reached the end with just tiny snippets to spare.

Ben loves anything warm and snugly, so I knit this sweater for him from a wool-blend. (Pattern from 99 Yarns and Counting by the Green Mountain Spinning Cooperative) 

And here's an Entrelac cover I made for my Kindle. (Directions here.)

Finally, I've discovered there's a whole subset of science knitters out there who have created some really cool, and some pretty strange, projects. (You can find patterns for microbes including H1N1 and salmonella!) I feel in love with this DNA model, ostensibly a baby toy. Paul, who loves all things science related, asked me to make him one, so this is his. I'm also working on a second DNA with a bit of a different color scheme for Kristen, who must be as warped as I am.

Knitting can be useful for more than just antsy moms. It, or other handwork, is a great way to help some children listen more easily when you are reading aloud. And it turns out that others believe knitting is good therapy for kids with ADHD. In an article on classroom knitting I found this:

I strongly support knitting as an activity for all children but I think that it has added benefit for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. For them, it can be very helpful to have a project going that they can be busy with between assignments. In fact, many with ADHD are actually able to listen better to lectures or classroom discussion if they are also knitting. This may not work for all students but over my years of work in both out-patient and residential programs I have learned that some people listen better when they are “using up” some of their hyperactivity. The soothing and
repetitive quality of knitting can occupy just enough of their attention so that they are not as distracted from listening. - James Krag, M.D.

I probably don't qualify as really having ADHD, though we have one son who would likely be so labeled. However, I sure can vouch for the benefits of having hand work going to help settle a body down or optimal listening.


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