The Out-of-the-box Child Has ADHD
Most out-of-the-box children have ADD or
, which makes it extra fun to be the parent.
It can be combined with one or more other diagnosis’s, which is called having
co morbidity or coexisting conditions
. There are a host of possibilities. Some common examples of a co morbid condition in children (and adults) could be a learning disability, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, OCD, Autistic spectrum disorders, or other health issues.
ADD is short for Attention Deficit Disorder. ADHD factors in hyperactivity, or the need to be on the move (an energizer bunny).
The first thing you need to do is start reading! There are many good books out there, and I only mention a few of my favorites.
Traditionally, getting a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is not a time of celebration. Usually, it is viewed as a bad thing. It might be a time for shame, disappointment, and a sign of weak character or faulty parenting. That is based on research!
If you let it, the diagnosis of ADD or ADHD will wear you down.
Don’t be defeated by the diagnosis.
The Bad News
Here’s the bad news. Of course ADD or ADHD is going to have negative connotations… IN SCHOOL!
Everything a child needs to do in school is the antithesis of life for an ADD or ADHD child! So, yes, they’re going to get in trouble for impulsiveness, distractibility, and other symptoms that are characteristics of the disorder. Those things make it hard to perform well in school.
Schools are making tremendous progress.
The research published by
has unlocked a new way of thinking about how children learn called learning styles. It has caused schools to restructure their learning environments to better meet the needs of
multiple learning styles
Secondly, there are going to be days when you wonder if they will survive to adulthood. You may wonder if YOU will survive!
My daughter broke her arm on her seventh birthday hanging off the top bunk. It never entered her mind that her body might be in danger. It was fun, and she needed that particular angle to shoot her sister with a Nerf gun!
The bottom line for parents of an out-of-the-box child is that it is exhausting.
The Good News
Here’s the good news. When your child finally finishes school (and yes, they will make it through), those very characteristics that seemed so handicapping will make them amazing, remarkable adults! Properly identified and channeled, those symptoms can form a foundation for passionate living!
I am more convinced than ever, after reading books such as the
Gift of ADHD
, that ADD or ADHD a gift; an opportunity for your child to live a life filled with wonder and possibilities.
Does it make attending school any easier? No
Does it mean the symptoms will magically work for good in later life? No.
Everyone knows of adults who suffer “failure to launch” because they never learned to train and master their symptoms.
It does mean if symptoms are treated as challenges, and management behaviors are taught one at a time to the point of mastery, that your child will have that magical “later in life.”
My daughter with the broken arm? I knew she struggled with impulse control. I learned that we had to teach her that she had to ask herself the question, “Is it safe for my body?”
When I see her in potentially dangerous situations (which can happen in the blink of an eye), instead of yelling, I quickly ask her, “Are you keeping your body safe by doing that?” Then I explain, as I help her extradite herself from her latest mishap, how this situation might have hurt her body.
It was a happy day last week when she came to me and told me that she was thinking of climbing on top of the couch to reach the top shelf of the cabinets, but she realized her body might not be safe! It was hard to just smile and agree, but I did it.
So, what can we do?
The most important thing you can do when living with an ADD or ADHD child is to realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Getting through the school years is going to be a challenge, but they will make it. Educate yourself, and realize that a large part of ADD/ADHD is connected to
Executive Function can be taught!
Discover Your Child’s Learning Style
Find out how your child learns best. It is called their learning style. There are a couple of books,
Discover Your Child’s Learning Style
The Way They Learn
, that do a great job in explaining all of the different learning styles, and the first one includes a learning styles assessment that you can give to younger and older children.
I encourage you to use the assessment over a period of days.
Their learning styles represent their strengths. When you know their strengths, you can look for opportunities to let them shine. It can be a valuable tool in school too because teachers then know HOW your child learns best, and can begin to meet needs in that specific way.
It’s not hard to do IF YOU KNOW WHAT to do.
Re-Frame the Diagnosis
Think “different”, not “bad”.
A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is going to be a challenge, and then treat it that way. It doesn’t mean a life sentence of mediocrity. It doesn’t mean your child will be living in your basement when they’re 30.
It means that your child will have some important life lessons to learn that may come easier to other children. And, they may need to learn them in a different way. They even need to be
disciplined in a different way!
Focus on the Good
You have a choice. You can either focus on your child’s diagnosis as a bad thing, or you can learn to look at it as a good thing. On days that you feel like pulling out your hair (and there will be many), remind yourself of all of the good things associated with ADD/ADHD.
After much reading and researching,
I have compiled such a list
. The more frustrated I get, the more I need to refer to the list. Sometimes, pick one phrase and just repeat it over and over!
My favorite is, “Even Einstein got lost walking home from work.”
When my daughter is completely in left field, I repeat my quote, and it does change my perspective.
Other’s Have Survived
There are many famous people who are suspected or known to have had ADD/ADHD. Guess what? They were amazing and extraordinary people!!
You probably know people around you (or that sleep next to you) that have ADD/ADHD. They could be doing some amazing things. Look for how they have learned to manage the symptoms.
A friend of mine, who stays at home, forces herself to complete an unpleasant task (folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, or mopping floors) before she gets to her “favorite thing.” She has learned that she has a hard time with prioritization, and this is her modification!
There are many things to worry about in life. There are many things to appreciate. Don’t allow a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD to rob you of your appreciation of your child. Treat it as a challenge, not a worry, and form a game plan for working with your child to harness the power of an amazing mind!