I receive so many questions about Attention Deficit Disorder and I find that many parents are so frightened about it.
The BIG Mistake
The biggest mistake I see so many parents making when it comes to ADD/ADHD and other learning disabilities is thinking that diagnosis of a learning disability and labeling of a child with the name of a "disease" somehow helps in some way! To me that is as foolish as going to the doctor and having him tell you that your child has Strep Throat without doing anything to help the child get over the infection!
It seems to me to be a universal dilemma to find someone who has been diagnosed with ADD who has been given NO tools for coping with the diagnosis!
I meet kids and adults all the time who tell me, "I (or my child) has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD."
I always ask, "What is your number one strategy for dealing effectively with your situation?" Most everyone answers with a blank stare. Someone has diagnosed a problem but done little or nothing to teach compensation or adaptation skills!
A Clear Definition - Hard to Find
When I ask for a definition of ADD/ADHD from these parents who are scared of it, everyone seems to give me a different definition. Not many people have a clear picture of what they are dealing with. As a matter of fact, I spent three entire days on the Internet, trying to find a clear definition of ADD/ADHD. I found myself in the same fix I was in as a teacher. I saw an extremely vague label being used to make decisions about teaching children. I went to 33 websites dealing in various ways with the syndrome, and only one had a definition of ADD/ADHD I could use to identify whether a child had it.
It's not too surprising that this man offering a clear definition was also the one authority who had solid procedures for helping a child adapt to this unique way of perceiving the world. That one wonderful article helped me understand why so many people have trouble working with kids who are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.
I have since met that author, Dr. Ned Hallowell, who wrote the article, and Ned and I share many beliefs about raising self-sufficient, self-reliant kids. Dr. Hallowell has not only studied ADD/ADHD, he has it!
A Real Authority
So, to me, he's a real authority. He helped me to understand I was not wrong to think of ADD/ADHD as a unique level of talent and exceptional intelligence. In fact, the "disease" has been one of the major contributors to his success!
With his permission, I have included a link to his website where you can go to read about his amazingly successful work with children with ADD/ADHD. http://www.drhallowell.com/
The main point in today’s article is that before taking any action after suspecting that a child has ADD (or any learning disorders for that matter) you must decide what definition you are going to use to define what you are talking about.
Next, and of most importance, you must commit to never labeling any difficulty that you may perceive your child to be having, without finding some tools for teaching that child to deal with whatever you perceive to be a problem.
The Only Important Question
As a parent, the only important thing to establish is “How am I going to help my child to adapt and learn to use the abilities and capabilities that they have to be an independent and self-reliant and capable person!”
(I must go on record as saying that using drugs as a first approach borders upon irresponsibility. Drugs can have a role in treating some learning disabilities, but they ought to be used as a last resort and they must be carefully monitored. Often the side effects can be worse than any natural difficulty your child might be experiencing.)
Check back for my next article in this Blog, as I will offer some very specific techniques for teaching a child to use their special capabilities! (If you would like to read more please get my books, Parenting with Dignity, and Parenting with Dignity; The Early Years.