Writer’s Name: Dominique Wilkins
Title: I Can do it! So you can too!
There has been a rapid increase in ADHD diagnosis in our youth today. Statistics and professionals show that there is a steady incline in the symptoms of an Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder youth. "The definition [of ADHD] has at its core three primary symptom areas: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity," says Michael Manos, PhD, head of the Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health at the Pediatric Institute of the Cleveland Clinic.
Personally, I remember being a new parent at 19 years old. I had a boy who was physically healthy and an overall normal child. Being a new parent, it takes some learning and experiments to determine what works and what does not in the parenting process for your unique child. Now imagine being new at such an important job and have done all of the research that you feel necessary to develop good results and find out all of the research that you’ve done will go out the window. You were studying up on how to be a good parent to a normal child. Not once did you think that you’d need to prepare for a physically healthy special needs child.
From pre-school to third grade, I would constantly get reports and complaints about how my son was a sweet child, who was very smart, but would often lose focus and be disruptive. “Please talk to your child about his behavior. We believe that if he could focus, that he has the potential to do great things. He just does not follow through with things.” The reports would say. I would talk to him, reprimand him, and pray to God to teach me how to communicate with my child and convince him to settle down. The older he got, the more the reports turned into complaints and conferences. The teachers began to turn their frustrations and accusations toward my parenting or “lack of” as they would imply. This did not create a good atmosphere for anyone. I became frustrated with my attempts to break through to my child not working. My son felt the frustration and would mistake it as “everyone hates me.” While the teacher, with a mission believes more and more that we are in her classroom simply to sabotage her efforts and prevent others from learning.
Sadly, this story is very common amongst many parents today. The teachers are the professionals, who we as innocent parents count on and trust their guidance in the educational realm. When the teacher who touches so many children throughout their careers, isn’t able to pick up on a child who may have a learning disorder, this becomes a problem - one that only gets bigger as they continue to turn a deaf ear on acknowledging the child’s possible handicap. These primary symptoms of ADHD may appear as distinct behavior patterns, like chronic forgetfulness, always being disorganized, unable to finish projects, and unable to sit still… the exact reports and complaints these same teachers should have been able to realize as they made their complaints and reports! What this means is: your very smart child can somehow manage to lose their homework assignment while walking from the car into the house. They will forget to bring the right books home from school. You can send them to their room to get ready for bed, and 30 minutes later find them in another part of the house intrigued by a book or a game. Are they just being willful and refusing to focus? No — they may have ADHD.
For people with ADHD, the directed attention is what's challenging. It's not that they don't try or don't want to do things that they know they need to do; they just simply can't do it and get easily distracted by something — anything — that's more interesting to them. A doctor once told me to understand the way their mind works - to imagine flipping the channels on the television. When you do that, how much understanding and enjoyment do you get out of it? He says that their minds are functioning the same way! There goes that “Ah ha” moment!
Dealing with it successfully requires medication such as Adderall, Ritalin or Concerta. The medication alone is not enough. In order to regain some peace of mind, you must find the correct dosage for you and the medicine of choice that gives you the least side effects.
Individuals with ADHD require many checks and balances to function. They CANNOT freestyle at all. Everything must be organized and structured in order for completion and peace. For example, my son has a daily checklist at 12years old. It includes even the simplest of things:
- Brush teeth/Wash up
- Put on appropriate clothes
- Make up your bed
- Put your book bag together and check for homework and correct supplies
- Comb/brush hair
These things seem like a “no brainer” to most people, but to an ADHD baby, this is very necessary to keep them grounded and on task. Even as they grow, the list does too. They unfortunately do not grow out of it; they simply learn to work with it. I’ve met some adults with ADHD that tell me that they know when something needs to be done at work or school, they are sure to take their medications and arm themselves with their schedules. As long as they follow them, life is manageable for them and those around them.
I do understand for teachers, who have 25-30 children in front of them, it can be overwhelming to constantly have to remind your child to follow the schedule and stay on task as an individual. Though to ignore it and choose to complain and make reports about it, only creates a non-productive environment that is toxic to all involved. One thing to know about people with ADHD, they are known for being very creative and intelligent. They are not lazy. They bore easily. With that said, don’t forget that Albert Einstein, Howie Mandel, Justin Timberlake and Solange Knowles have ADHD!