Tuesday, May 7, 2013

ADHD and Your Child's Education

Not too long ago the acronym ADHD was a dirty word.

The fact that someone in your family had it was a cause for secrecy. And with good reason; if parents knew your child had this neurobehavioral disorder they'd steer their children away from your's or give you a knowing look like, “This is why your child acts the way they do.” ADHD kids were thought of as stupid, and your parenting skills were certainly questioned.

I'm by no means an expert on this subject. What I can share is first-hand experience on living with my two peas, both whom have ADHD - it tends to run on my husband's side. I kept my son's condition a secret for the longest time because I didn't want him labeled; labeled as my husband was – he was tossed into a classroom with seriously mentally handicapped children and forgotten about until a substitute teacher realized how incredibly intelligent he was. I didn't want people to blame my son for everything because it was certainly easier to blame the kid with ADHD - they're not always in complete control of their emotions and actions. One parent I knew blamed my son for any argument between our kids even if hers were at fault: “It had to be your son; he's the one with the mental condition, and ADHD kids blurt out stuff without thinking how it's going to affect others.” Sometimes that is true, but it's true of most children, too.

The majority of people I know who have ADHD have a very high IQ, but channeling that intelligence into mainstream, conventional learning practices is a challenge in itself. All that most teachers see is a child that inhibits the learning of others, is fidgety, is inattentive, is unable to follow directions or the curriculum, and seemingly isn't interested in learning. If you're lucky you might get a teacher that sees the potential in your child, but even if they do they're unable to do much due to a class full of other students. So what can you do to bring out that creativity and know-how to show that your child is indeed above-average?

There's no simple answer.

Homeschooling is an option. It allows you and your child to discover what interests him or her. It allows for a more hands-on learning style; to touch, to create, to visualize rather than slapping worksheet after worksheet in front of them, which drives most kids insane let alone a child that finds focusing a true battle. But homeschooling isn't for everyone nor can some parents afford the time.

Another option is finding a private school which offers different approaches in learning, the kind where the teachers engage the students with lots of hands-on experiments; field trips; lots of sports to tire them out; a teaching style that makes kids think out of the box and applaud them for trying even though it may be incorrect. Again, not everyone can afford the cost of private school tuition even with financial aid.

As a parent you have to be your child's biggest advocate. You have to stay on top of what they're learning or not. You have to meet with teachers, you have to talk with the guidance counselor and you have to demand from the principal that your child gets the learning they deserve. And after all of that you have to have hope that in the long run your child will find their way.

A lot of times my house is crazy with energy, but that whirlwind are my peas doing what they do best: Creating, working, building, blogging, mapping out business projects, planning fundraisers … and that's just my 12yr old!


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