More than 20 per cent of the world’s population have specific patterns of genes which make their responses to stress factors particularly pronounced. This is known as the Orchid Hypothesis. Children with this profile are so sensitive that lasting negative changes might result simply from excessive stress in pregnancy, a difficult birth, a viral infection or an unfortunate kindergarten experience. Sometimes people have no difficulty until they are affected by a traumatic experience much later in life.
Orchids tend to have high potential and in many cases excel at certain types of activities. They are sensitive, creative, right-brained and have an alternative way of looking at things. However, their particular genetic profile means that they produce a different balance of serotonin and dopamine – chemicals that affect how happy or sad we feel. This can make their reaction to stress factors much more marked and destabilising than in the rest of the population.
When Orchids become stressed, their sensitive systems become hypersensitive, leading to difficulties and developmental issues, some of which are listed below.
A lot of the symptoms are very easy to spot, especially in children, but girls respond in much more subtle ways than boys. Below you will find a list of the most common and obvious symptoms.
Advanced speech and interaction at home with adults but problems listening and interacting in the classroom; high verbal IQ but lower non-verbal IQ; good (but slow) reading ability; need to reread for full comprehension; strong tendency to fidget when concentration is required; daydreaming; poor sporting ability – but some Orchids excel!; messy or slow handwriting; problems with personal organisation and organisation of ideas in writing; poor time awareness – slow at getting ready for things, completing projects or in writing tasks; anxiety, insecurity, fear of the dark – constant need for reassurance; tendency to depression or oppositional behaviour; tics; trouble sleeping; tendency to overreact emotionally or reject logical thinking.
Some Orchids show just one or two symptoms, others show many, depending on the individual and the age at which problems develop. Girls tend to have particular problems with maths. Orchids quite often display enigmatic patterns of behaviour or difficulties which don’t fit traditional labels, or are misdiagnosed. They may show great promise which fails to materialise as their schooling goes on. Many show symptoms of anxiety, depression and obsessive behaviours, and have a tendency to focus exclusively on what interests them. Poor digestion and food intolerances are a further indicator and our experience shows that Orchid girls often present with stress disorders such as anorexia.
For many Orchids (and their parents or guardians) it is incredibly frustrating because they know that they have particular talents and abilities, but tend to feel blocked or unable to unlock their potential. The stress caused by this frustration only compounds the issue.
Counteracting the effects of stress factors is therefore vital because it can allow Orchids to fully exploit and develop the many skills that they are genetically disposed towards. From our work over the past 25 years, using a thorough system of assessments and reviews, we have seen that once the stress is neutralised, children can grow into strong, resilient, empathetic young people with a clear sense of purpose and exciting creative talents.
Our work with large numbers of Orchids has given a unique understanding of this profile, the full spectrum of underlying issues and the nature of the journey from dysfunction to the full expression of potential.
Find out how the Orchid programme could help you...