As noted by so many parents in the support group that I provide clinical advice, their most urgent issue is that first phone call or text message of the year from their child’s teacher! It may be a call from the principal’s office regarding a disciplinary issue or from a teacher who can no longer tolerate the twitching and running around the classroom and distracting other children from learning as well as her well developed lesson plan interrupted by that noisy child!
Every parent with an ADHD child prays that when they say farewell to their precious angel who is eagerly boarding the yellow school bus, this will be a good year. Some believe that their child has had a great, active summer and has outgrown that disruptive behavior that last years impatient teacher could no longer tolerate. Unfortunately, if a child has been clinically diagnosed as ADHD, this condition will accompany the eager, happy student on the school bus and into the classroom. An experienced teacher will immediately spot this over-energized child who cannot sit still or focus on the lesson being presented no matter how much the child seeks to please and win the admiration of this parent figure. Any form of teacher discipline or the denial of recess, which is the most ridiculous form of punishment since this child needs to release that restrained energy level, will change this classroom misbehavior. If this is a true seasoned teacher, inservice instruction and graduate studies should have provided a clear understanding of the symptoms of ADHD and how to instruct this child. Unfortunately our teacher education programs do not provide adequate training on learning differences and the attitude that prevails is that a teacher must focus on the other twenty-five students who are willing to learn and behave not a” problem ” child.
Hence, RING-A-DING ,the school alarm bell is contacting the parent to do something about this child who refuses to learn and pay attention! What does a parent do? Punish, spank this child who has embarrassed the family or home school the child and hope that this problem disappears? None of the above because both the parent and the school own this neurological problem. Your little angel did not come into this world to make so many people miserable, most of all himself! Yes, I am clinically attributing ADHD to the mis-fired neurons in the brain of these children. No, they are not brain damaged but,as in the color of their beautiful eyes, they inherited a neurology (neuro-chemical) that does require medicinal intervention to function, not unlike epilepsy. This is a genetic predisposition that the child’s father, mother, siblings and grandparents may have and, perhaps, never clinically diagnosed or treated. Indeed, ADHD is a neurological condition that a child does not outgrow but will ultimately learn to manage as a teen and an adult. Parents of ADHD children are in it for the long term and must learn all that they can about this condition. They must be a parent advocate in every grade level at school, educate teachers and administrators about their child’s needs and seek clinical and, at times, legal advocates to demand a proper education for their child. Most of all, these parents need to find and indulge in counseling support for themselves, a place to vent, find compassion and others in a support group. I can only provide my own experience as a licensed clinician and, most of all, a parent and grandparent of children and adults with ADHD. The benefits of giving birth to these little angels is that most ADHD children arrive with a high IQ, are not physically disabled or mentally retarded and do become loving family members if provided with unconditional love and nurturance.
I will continue this series on ADHD with more information on the next topic of school programs and learning strategies. Please do let me hear your voice and your questions .