Post by rebeccapelletiere on May 19, 2021 5:49:31 GMT
Hi everybody, I am here as a mother of a 6 year old boy, Ari, who I believe has been daydreaming since he was 4 years old. I found out about maladaptive daydreaming recently and am very to understand more since my son has been tested for every disorder so far and nothing has been diagnosed. I am looking for guidance on how to help him through this and what I should do as his mom. He spends all of his free time daydreaming, during his daydreams he runs back and forth in his room and usually makes loud noises. He seems to really enjoy his daydreams, he calls them stories. Sometimes he will explain to me what they are about if I ask. The only reason that I am worried is because he is very behind in kindergarten and cannot focus on school due to his daydreams. I am looking for advice or just stories from other people who were daydreamers as a child. Thanks for reading!
Hi rebeccapelletiere Well, this is just my opinion with how much I understand about maladaptive daydreaming personally. I don't think your son is a maladaptive daydreamer, he is just daydreaming in free time which I think so every child does- even I used to do. Daydreaming in itself is not really any problem- it is basically just imagining freely. when i was young, i did the same. It became maladaptive when I relied on it to runaway from my daily life problems and emotional experiences. You can ask him about these things- or yourself track when exactly does he daydreams- maybe he does that only when he feels challenged while learning things. If that's the case then it might be concerning but if he daydreams just because he is bored, that is a tendency that every child has and that doesn't mean they will turn into maladaptive daydreamers as they grow up. as for his schoolwork and not being attentive- have you ever gotten him consulted for ADHD? It may also be nothing serious. I think you may not need to worry about it a lot.
Post by rebeccapelletiere on May 19, 2021 17:23:17 GMT
Thank you for your response! He has been tested for ADHD and was not diagnosed with it. It’s all very confusing for me. For more insight on this, he starts his daydreams the moment he wakes up in the morning and any moment that he is not occupied by something else. He will do this, running back and forth with his eyes closed and loudly mumbling and grunting, for hours if I let him. He also likes complete silence while he is daydreaming and sometimes it is hard to get him to stop or to focus on anything else. He has not had any trauma in his life that I am aware of and is a very happy kid in general. He hates school and starts his daydreams the moment I pick him up from school. Even if he doesn’t have MD, what is the best way to help him stop daydreaming so often? It seems compulsive for him.
Hello! Adding to this thread as the father of a 5 year old boy with a very similar pattern to that described above. Our wonderful son started daydreaming (we also call them his 'stories') when he was 3 years old. We can pinpoint the moment it started - after we let him watch his first Disney movie 'Cars'. He was utterly engrossed in the movie, reacting as if he was actually IN the movie as we watched it. Shortly after we noticed him zoning out at various times of the day. He makes delightful facial expressions, grunts/squeaks, occasionally slaps himself (playfully) on the head and often jumps around or up and down on a sofa/bed. Always smiling. After a few days he opened up that the stories were indeed about the move 'Cars' but we didn't get much more than that for months. He was very frustrated when we snapped him out of the dreams (which was quite tricky for a while, he was persistent!) and didn't like to be asked about them.
Fast forward nearly 2 years, he's almost 6 now and the stories have remained a big part of his life. He's now able to snap himself out of it immediately if we ask him, and he never drifts off if he's engaged in something else requiring intense focus (lego, drawing, writing, school tasks etc.) but in the absence of direct engagement e.g. loose social situations (school play time or free-flow, or at a friends birthday party) or at bed time or in the car, he will spend as long as he can in story-land. This was illustrated by his first school report which included the line "He has a vivid imagination and will often be seen acting out a story using actions and facial expressions. His favourite part of free flow is being allowed to enter this imaginative world for longer periods of time." When it's quiet (i.e. bed time or the middle of the night if he wakes up) the sessions can get extremely intense and last for an hour or more. You can see he is exhausted/depleted physically/emotionally when you stop him and if he hasn't been able to 'finish' the story he'll be very upset/frustrated.
As he grows up he seems to be more willing/able to articulate how it all works. Last night he told me he has a few different 'worlds' he visits and each world has different 'levels' to it. One world is from the movie Cars (still!! we literally only watched it that one time... he often asks me to remind him names of characters or what their voices are like so he can get it just right in his head), another is from a playstation videogame (Astro's playground) and another is from the movie 'Planes' (again watched once months ago). He tells me he knows the characters in his head aren't real and it seems something is taken away from the experience by sharing what's happening with others. He continues to be extremely stimulated by films/tv/videogames and gets utterly engrossed/immersed in them to the point where if bad/upsetting things happen he can hardly deal with the flood of emotions he feels. Particularly if a character is hard done by or treated unfairly, it's hard to describe just how overwhelming it can be for him.
We've also noticed his stories are enhanced enormously by certain songs he likes (sometimes part of the original stimulus movie etc or sometimes unrelated). There are 3 or 4 songs I could play that will immediately snap him into his world. He frequently asks to hear them either so he can initiate a story on the spot, or so he can get the song clearly remembered in his head so he can conjure it up later and go completely bananas in story-land. Music in general is another stimulus/trigger for him.. there is no such thing as 'background music' for this guy. If music is on he is intensely listening to it, visualizing stories, remembering and storing it for later etc.
So far in terms of dealing with it, we've made every effort not to shame him, and gently try to get him to share more with us about them. We've also asked that he doesn't do it at the dinner table and told him we prefer he does it in designated places (either his bedroom or his ThinkingChair in the playroom). If he's having a really intense/long one then I generally tell him I'd like him to stop but then allow him to go back in and 'wrap it up' because ending it early seems to be very distressful for him and he'll end up finishing it at a less appropriate time later or will just be 'out of sorts' all day.
We're also encouraging him to start writing/drawing about them and he's shown some interest in this (although no actual pen to paper yet!). His teachers are aware and we've asked they let us know if/when it interferes with his school work or relationships. So far this does not seem to be the case and we're hoping that once he's old enough to realise it 'looks a bit weird' he'll self-correct and conform by doing it less and less in social situations.
Having said that, we also worry it could get more intense or that he'll retreat from all the difficult social stuff we all go through growing up. Also he does have a tendency to do it while riding his bike or walking along... which can be genuinely dangerous. The other thing that worries me is when he's old enough to get into video-games we are going to struggle with addiction. We're preparing ourselves for this, trying to play them socially and sparingly with him but I sense they scratch the same 'itch' in him that his 'stories' do. He's also outrageously good at them for his age (give him any game for 10 minutes and he's totally mastered it).
Very interested to hear how Ari is getting on or if anyone else, either 'sufferers' themselves (although I hesitate to see it as suffering.. it looks wonderful) or parents of sufferers have any tips/strategies for parents working through this when it has developed at such an early age. Or just ideas for setting him up to be able to deal with it positively (even use it to his advantage) when he's growing up / grown up.