I’m 38 years old now and I still feel sick to my stomach when I pass an elementary, middle, or high school. I have ADHD. When I was a child it was called “hyperactivity” and I was put on the drug Ritalin for two years until I was “cured”. Then when I was 28 and had already overcome, as an adult, the struggle of studying, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Although my childhood was less than picture perfect, I have to give a great deal of credit to my mother. She found the best pediatrician for my sister and I that she could, which is how she was able to have me diagnosed and minimally treated over thirty years ago. The first sign that something was wrong was when my loving mother took me, the child she had wanted more than anything in the world, at three years old to the pediatrician and said, “Linda and I cannot live in the same house together”. I laugh now, but luckily my doctor didn’t. If you are a parent and are reading this, then you can probably relate to my mother. Lucky for you we have come a long way since I was a child, however I must say that I think we still have a long way to go.
I think the things my mother did way back then still apply today, but before I end this article I will point you in the direction of current experts I think highly of. There is plenty of help out there now. But, my Mom did a lot for me and I’d like to pass her wisdom on to you.
She provided a great deal of structure for me. I got up at the same time every morning, went to bed at the same time every night, ate similar breakfasts every morning, etc… Structure is extremely important for children with ADHD. She made sure I always had regular and healthy meals, and she removed artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from my diet. She claims that helped. She also signed me up for every sport she could think of. She made sure I had a constructive outlet for my excess energy, and to this day that helps tremendously. I was much better at focusing after getting exercise. As for homework, I’ve helped kids with ADD and ADHD. All I had to do was sit with them and keep them focused on the task they were working on. We’re usually very smart, we just need help focusing. I can say from experience that yelling at us and isolating us in a room somewhere with homework we don’t want to do doesn’t work and never will. We need understanding and patient company, and that’s usually all it takes.
There are excellent resources for parents of children with ADHD, and adults with ADHD. CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is an excellent place to start. Their web site is www.chadd.org. They have up to date information and research on ADHD/ADD itself, where to go for help, and answers to questions you may have. The web site also has a page that can direct you to a local support group. There are also some wonderful books that should absolutely be read. “The bible” in the ADHD/ADD community is a book called “Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood” by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey. A few other books I’d recommend are “ADD Success Stories: A Guide to Fulfillment for Families with Attention Deficit Disorder” by Thom Hartman and John J. Ratey and “Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception” by Thom Hartmann and Edward M. Hallowell.
Back when I was a child my Mom was accused by my school of being a bad mother for standing up for me the way she did. My pediatrician had to go to my elementary school to explain “hyperactivity” to the Principal and my teachers. You may or may not being going through some version of that, but you certainly are going through a struggle if your child has ADHD. It’s hard to be a different child with excess energy in a germanic/anglican based school system, but if you get the right help for your child and hang in there with her or him you’ll be amazed at the wondrous life that will emerge. I don’t fall out of my chair anymore when I daydream, and now I’m free to write down all the wonderful stories in my head.