Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most widely discussed, misunderstood, and controversial diagnoses today. With all of the advances science has to offer in terms of recognizing the chemistry and structure of the brain of a person with ADHD, we are still a long way from undoing the damage done by the lack of education and understanding regarding the true impact of ADHD on individuals and their families.
ADHD is no longer considered just a childhood disorder. We now recognize that it can impact an individual throughout the course of their life. We also know that is not only a deficit; rather there are tremendous benefits to having ADHD – as long as it’s impact is understood and managed. Simply look at the lives of people like Sir Richard Branson, David Neeleman and Henry Winkler who each speak about the advantages they have experienced by having ADHD. Creativity, risk taking, and out of the box thinking are all traits they share. While there is no cure, there are tremendous supports, strategies, and tools available to help someone not only succeed, but thrive.
In treating ADHD, it is important to view the child in the context of their family – for ADHD does not only impact the person with the unique profile. Recognizing that truly the entire family system is impacted allows parents to take a step back and observe each person’s role setting up a safe, productive, supportive environment. Treatment must always start with a recognition that no child chooses to have ADHD; any more than one chooses to have a learning disability or a physical disability. We must start from a place free of shame, blame and criticism so the child has the opportunity to focus on the real task – learning how to regulate their attention, their emotions, their time, and their actions.
Having ADHD also creates a vast array of challenges for the student at school. Not only is learning impacted, but also their social experience, their club involvement, and mostly their sense of themselves as learners relative to their peers. Therefore, treatment must also involve the teachers and the staff at school, both on an individual basis and in the culture of the school itself.
So what is involved in treatment? A coordinated, collaborative team. Parents and school can work together to create an environment where kids can learn how to be the best versions of themselves. Rounding out this team is often an expert medication manager, a coach to help parents and students learn specific strategies for tailoring communication, organization, time management, learning and studying techniques, and a therapist to strengthen coping skills and ease self image challenges. Help is also available through the supportive services of occupational therapy, educational therapy, and speech therapy.
Perhaps the most important parts of treatment are time, patience, compassion, and forgiveness. No child wakes up in the morning wanting to disappoint those around them. No parent wants to lose patience with the child they lovingly cradled in their arms. If you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, know that you are not alone – and reach out for help in creating your support team.
Written by Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC © 2013 PTS Coaching. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced or electronically distributed as long as attribution to PTS Coaching is maintained.