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Ask anyone on the street if they have heard about ADHD, and I can all but guarantee you that 100% will say they have. Now ask these same people if they can identify ADHD in a person, and I am willing to bet that maybe 90% will describe you to a hyperactive child who doesn’t listen to his parents and seems to always be getting into trouble wherever they go.
On the surface, ADHD is a simple condition that most people have come to know as a childhood disorder best known for hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. But beyond the surface, these common symptoms don’t even come close to describing ADHD.
ADHD is a complex condition that has more or less lost its true meaning as a medical condition because of popular use and bad information that has made it one of the most misunderstood conditions of our time. Making things even more difficult is this concept that almost everyone with an opinion about ADHD feels entitled to share their thoughts with you.
As a parent of a child with ADHD, I urge to use caution when speaking with anyone about the condition, particularly the majority of professionals in the medical community. While most of us look to our physicians, psychiatrists, and therapists to make an accurate diagnosis, unfortunately most don’t know enough about ADHD to set the record straight. Worse yet, most of these professionals don’t know what they should tell you.
From where I stand, ADHD is a diagnosis that shouldn’t be… Or at least it shouldn’t carry the weight and significance that so many people see as a disorder or deficit. And that’s where most people go wrong.
When it is suggested that a child has ADHD, far too often this is done without considering what parents need to know first. By the time the stage has been set, most parents and families end up thinking the worst: My child is broken and needs to be fixed, and they will always struggle in life.
This is not the case. In fact, it has been my experience that children with ADHD have every chance of living a happy and successful life as any other child. The biggest problem is that these children tend to be misunderstood, and are usually asked to do things in a way that just won’t work with them or for them.
The best way to characterize ADHD is to focus on the differences in these children than in children who do not have ADHD. Think of ADHD has a different lens of taking in the world and making sense of what we see and experience. That’s it in a nutshell. But for some reason, so many people are under the impression that ADHD is a life-threatening condition with nothing good to come of it.
When I work with parents of children with ADHD, I start from the beginning. I want to go back and find out what they know about ADHD, how they understand their own (or their child’s own) differences, and what challenges they experience. The next step is to explain:
1. It’s Not Your Fault
2. You Are Not Alone
3. Your Child Can Succeed
Going one step further, I want to assure you that you already have all the skills, tools, and resources you need to support a child with ADHD…you have all you need to support a child who is different.
What You Really Need To Know
Most people I know get wrapped up in the details of ADHD and the common symptoms we tend to see. But very few people take the time to inform and educate patients and families about what is really going on. Your child is hyperactive because of something… Your son or daughter is impulsive because something is going on… There is something making your child have a difficult with focus and attention.
It’s rarely mentioned, but most challenges associated with ADHD are related to differences in the area of the brain responsible for executive function. Basically, your brains “CEO” marches to a different tune and because of this, your child will have a difficult time with tasks like organization, planning, decision making, focus, concentration, working memory, time management, and more. But nowhere am I saying that your child can’t do these things.
The reality is that your child can absolutely manage these activities. It’s just that your son or daughter is going to do them and manage them differently than most other people. Who is that a problem for? Is it a problem for the teachers? Or is it a problem for the child? Who really bears the brunt of how these challenges play out?
Consider the child who appears to be easily distracted in class and is constantly daydreaming or looking out the window. It’s not just enough to say he or she is inattentive because the underlying issue is that he or she is actually bored. This child is not being stimulated enough by what is going on and that’s why he or she is not paying attention. You see, ADHD has everything to do with “interest” in a particular activity.
Here’s What You Can (And Should) Do:
The most important piece of advice I can give any parent or caregiver of a child with ADHD is to start with strengths. Help your child, and the influential people in their life, understand that your child marches to a different drum. Your child likes to do things differently than the majority of the world, and we need to not just understand this, but we must also accept it and find ways to support them. The biggest mistake you can make is to try and get your child to be like everyone else.
The major dilemma in treating ADHD is that most people want to make your child become someone that he or she is not capable of being. Plain and simple! To succeed, your child needs to work with his or her symptoms and not fight them. We need to support your child with skills and strategies tailored to their specific learning style.
Children with ADHD need a lot of encouragement and a lot of support. They need to hear the positives of who they are, primarily because they will hear so much negative from the rest of the world. But, the real truth is that we all thrive from positive support and encouraging words.
In no way am I suggesting that positive words and encouragement will solve all of your child’s problems or alleviate their challenges. But this is a necessary foundation that most people never get a hold of because there are so many people fighting against you who just don’t really understand the condition.
Tags ADHD, solutions, The Listening Program
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