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How To Help Your Child Celebrate ADHD

Updated on July 12, 2013
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Deonne Anderson is a retired Child and Family Therapist, Free Lance Writer, and Motivational Speaker who lives in Florence, SC.

ADHD - The Disorder

adhd disorder??
adhd disorder?? | Source

Girl with ADHD Having Difficulty Studying

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ADHD Can Be A Blessing For Your Child

In order for you to help your child embrace and celebrate his or her Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, it is necessary for you to have a good understanding as to what ADHD is and how it may affect your child.

It is not necessary for your child to go into the details of ADHD as you do, but a basic understanding of ADHD and what it means fo him is imperative. In order for you to empower and support your child, you must first become aware of the historical negatives associated with ADHD as well as the positives or what renown psychiatrist and ADHD expert Dr. Ned Hallowell calls "the gifts of ADHD."

It is important for you and your child to know that your situation is not unique and that you are not alone. Millions of parents and children are right where you are today and are meeting the challenge of ADHD successfully.

As I stated in a previous post, before the 1990's Mental Health Professionals and educators were unaware that children and adults with ADHD were indeed special as well as different....that we needed to focus on the child's strengths, talents and gifts as opposed to focusing on all of the negatives associated with ADHD. http://ladydeonne.hubpages.com/hub/Thousands-of-Adults-In-America-Will-Lose-Their-Jobs-Because-OF-Adult-ADHD-in-April-2013.

It was psychiatrists Ned Hallowell and John Ratey who initially spread the word that ADHD was a blessing, not a curse ...that those individuals with the condition could use their ADHD traits and symptoms to their advantage and lead successful lives....that ADHD is not a DISORDER but a way of life for some individuals.

By way of review, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects an individual's ability to regulate behavior and attention. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder encompasses three components, inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is usually not diagnosed in children before age 5 because most young children seem unfocused or hyper from time to time. In order to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, these behaviors have to be extreme and occur in multiple environments, i.e., school, home, community, church, play ground, etc.

Children with ADHD are often fidgety, they move ....run....jump around a lot. They squirm in their seats, they tap on their desks, they swing and/or shake their legs. They have difficulty staying on task....their minds tend to wander....they day dream a lot and lose focus when involved with tasks that do not stimulate them or that they are not interested in. They often do things without thinking. They do not always consider the consequences of their behaviors.

The National Institute of Mental Health lists the following symptoms of each component mentioned.

INATTENTION

  • easily distracted
    flit from one task or activity to another
  • difficulty with focusing on one thing at a time
  • bored with tasks or activities after a few minutes
  • difficulty with learning new things
  • poor organization skills
  • difficulty with task and home work completion
  • often losing time or miscalculating the time it takes to do a task
  • often losing things, i.e. toys, books, assignments, home work
  • tendency to day dream...wander...move slowly
  • problems with processing information as quickly as others
  • difficulty with following instructions
  • miss details

IMPULSIVITY

  • very impatient
  • blurt out inappropriate comments
  • interrupt conversations or activities
  • difficulty waiting for things
  • Acting without thinking about consequences

HYPERACTIVITY

  • fidgets and squirms in seat
  • taps on desk or table
  • walking, running, jumping around and touching or playing with everything in sight
  • trouble sitting still
  • difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities

Before the 1990's it was believed that ADHD symptoms ended after puberty or during the teen years. We later learned that children continue to have symptoms as they enter adolescence. Mostly children with the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD continue to experience the symptoms because they are not disruptive at school or in the home. They begin to attract the attention of teachers as academic demands and responsibility increases.

If your child has been experiencing any or all of the behaviors mentioned above, these are the things you need to do.

Secure An Evaluation and Diagnosis

If your child is exhibiting some or all of the above listed behaviors, an evaluation by a Mental Health Professional or Psychiatrist is the initial step. Your child should be told that because you love him,and want him to do his very best in all areas, you are scheduling him to meet with someone who will be able to help figure out why he is experiencing difficulty in the affected areas.

You also need to explain that the Mental Health Professional will be able to find out why he has problems as well as recommend some ways he can better handle them.

Explain the need for a diagnostic evaluation in a calm and non intimidating way as you want your child to know that the situation is not a unique or dire one, but one that can be managed and treated.

Telling Your Child

Upon learning that your child has ADHD, it is imperative that you, along with the Mental Health Professional, meet with him in order to disclose the diagnosis to him. Don't give into the temptation to try and protect your child. Hiding the fact that he has ADHD from him denotes that there is something dark, bad, embarrassing, or shameful about having ADHD.

Telling him outright that he has ADHD lets him know that you trust him enough to tell him the truth and gives him a sense of control and responsibility. Assure him that you will work with and support him to deal with the challenges he may face and assure him that it is possible for him to experience the success he so much desires if he is willing to work at it and not give up.

There is no need for you to go into the anatomy of ADHD. Dr Hallowell, in his book,"'Driven From Distraction" gives this example of what he tells younger children when the diagnosis is ADHD.

"You've come here a couple of times, Jed, and you've answered lots of questions and played some funny games. Now I'm going to tell you what we've found out. Would you like to know?" Jed nods. "Well," I say, "I have great news. You have an awesome mind. You are one cool dude. Your brain is just spectacular."

Jed has never heard this before. He usually hears just the opposite.

"You have something called ADD," I continue. "And guess what? I have it, too. ADD means you have a race-car brain. Do you know what a turbocharged engine is?" Jed nods. I don't know if he really knows what it means - I certainly don't. But like me, he's heard the term and he can guess.

"Well, Jed, you have a turbocharged brain. It can go really, really fast. The only problem is that sometimes it goes too fast. And it needs special motor oil so it won't overheat. But with the right brakes and oil, it wins lots of races."

Intrigued, Jed eyes me. He wants to hear more.

"You know how you sometimes have trouble paying attention in school?" Jed nods. "That's because your mind is zipping around all over the place, bursting with new ideas. And that's great! That's why you'll do amazing things and have fun all your life. But you need help taking care of your race-car brain, so I'm going to teach you how to put on the brakes."

Please note that Dr. Hallowell told Jed that he had an awesome mind, a spectacular brain and that he was a cool dude. He turned the once perceived negatives of having a racing mind into a positive...."you have an awesome mind....and that's great! .....you'll do amazing things and have fun all your life."

Dr. Hallowell made Jed feel like the awesome and amazing kid that he is. He planted the seed for him to begin embracing and celebrating his ADHD.

Reaffirmation

Make it a practice to tell your child that you love and support him, that he is awesome and that he will do amazing things with his life and have fun. Let him know that you have faith and believe in him. Encourage him to feel free to talk to you or some other adult he trusts if he has problems or if he is feeling "less than".

Empower your child

Knowledge is power. Kathleen Naudeau, Ph.D suggests that you tell your child about ADHD on his level....that you help him discover his gifts. She further advises that you talk about ADHD as a challenge, not as an excuse, and that you help the child learn to focus on his strengths citing that one of the risks of growing up with untreated ADHD is low self-esteem.

Learn along with your child about the many famous and highly successful individuals who achieved their dreams despite and sometimes because of their Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. In a later post we will provide some information on famous and often wealthy individuals who used their gifts of ADHD and achieved immense success and fame.

Let your child know the real characteristics of an individual with ADHD. Drs. Hallowell and Ratey in their book, 'Driven From Distraction' lists the following gifts.

Children with ADHD are:

  • highly creative - mind manipulates information it receives differently
  • unique - dance to own drum, independent thinkers, leaders, not followers
  • insightful - in using information differently,develops significant and useful insights
  • direct - direct and to the point, no frills
  • Quick to act - do not over analyze or plan or strategize - get right down to business
  • every ADHD brain has genius in it - exceptional and natural capacity of intellect ...original work in mathematics, science, art, music, etc.
  • High or low IQ - ALL have capacity for genius

Let us now look at the 3 tenants of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and how you can help your child best use his symptoms in a creative and productive manner.

INATTENTION

Individuals who shift their attention from one thing to another are often giving their attention to thoughts and things in the environment that interest them....they may be thinking of a new invention that will solve a problem, words to a poem, a plot for a new book, or a new symphony. They are unable to focus on mundane things or those things for which they lack interest. This tendency to direct one's thoughts and feelings to those things that call out to them is part of the creative process.

Children with ADHD can multi-task. They can hear what the teacher is saying, what their fellow students are doing, or what's going on in the hallways or even outside of the building.

Dr Hallowell tells us that with the strength based model of ADHD, inattention translates into a path of greater thinking and creativity.

HYPERACTIVITY

Individuals with hyperactivity are like the energizer bunny, they just keep going and going, often without getting tired. Outside of the class room, high levels of energy are deeply valued especially on some jobs or careers.

Dr Ned Hallowell tells us that hyperactiity translates into passion and enthusiam.

IMPULSIVITY

Dr Hallowell tells us that with the strength based model, impulsivity translates into ithe desire to do new things....the desire to think in a new way.....an ability to think outside the box....to become bored with what everyone else is doing....to tread upon new waters and to solve problems that afect all of mankind.

Impulsiity also translates into being able to be spontaneous, to act without thinking.....to make spur of the moment decisions.

So you can see that when you do a paradigm shift and focus on the positives and the up sides of ADHD, the symptoms become blessings, not a curse as we originally believed.

Other ways you can help your child

  • Be present. - let your child know that "I am here for you"....that you are always available and willing to help in any way needed.
  • Focus on what your child does right, not dwell upon the things that he does wrong. Let him know when he's doing or has done a good job.
  • Tell and show your child how much you love and appreciate him.
  • Be a good role model for your child. Model the behaviors you expect of him.
  • Take advantage of community resources for help with managing your child's ADHD symptoms and making life easier for him and your entire family. Reach out to help others as well as to learn from and to secure assistance and support for you,your family and your child with ADHD.
  • Make it a joint project to do research and learn along with your child from and about individuals who have ADHD and who have used their ADHD symptoms to make the planet earth a better place as well as to achieve lasting fame and sometimes fortune.
  • Be happy and grateful for your child with ADHD as he will surely do great things and make a valuable contribution to the world.

Telling your child that he has been diagnosed as one with ADHD does not have to be a dreaded or bad affair. Armed with your new knowledge about ADHD and after experiencing a paradigm shift in how you view individuals with the condition, explaining the diagnosis to your child should be less harrowing and dreaded. Your child will feel pride upon learning that he is gifted and blessed...thet he can use his ADHD symptoms to change his community and to change the world.




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Child Does Not Appear To be Listening

"I don't want to hear it!"
"I don't want to hear it!"

Dr. Ned Hallowell - ADHD Psychiatrist and Expert

Dr. Ned Hallowell was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.
Dr. Ned Hallowell was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. | Source

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love the title...celebrate your uniqueness. I had quite a few students with ADHD when I was teaching, and they struggled mightily...and the message we always gave them is that they need to be happy with who they are and embrace their gifts and not mourn their differences. Great message here my friend.

    • ladydeonne profile image
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      Deonne Anderson 4 years ago from Florence, SC

      billybuc,

      I know in my heart that you were a great and involved teacher. So many children with ADHD are made to feel "less than", or dumb by our teachers as well as their peers. Knowing that your brain is akin to that of such greats as Einstein who had LD, the Wright Brothers, Michael Phelps, DaVinci, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jordan, et al, is empowering and motivating for children and youths. Thanks for reading my hub.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Thank you Lady for providing thought-provoking and encouraging writing about ADHD. My son has Autism and ADHD. When my son was in pre-K, he was banned from the graduation ceremony because he was "not obedient" according to the private school director. Instead of embracing his strengths, she banned him from graduating pre-k. Who does that? Anyway, thank you! I enjoyed reading this very much.

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