I’ve had the privilege over the years to meet a great many people with Attention Deficit Disorder, many of them young people still in school. These kids (they’re kids to me if they are 12 or 21) are often having a hard time with school, and with maintaining any sense of self-worth.
I have a number of things I always tell them. All of it is my own opinion, but I believe that much of it can be supported by scientific fact as well. I’ve seen more than one tough kid wipe away a tear when he thought I wasn’t looking after hearing what I had to say. That tells me more about truth than any study ever could. Here they are:
- People with Attention Deficit Disorder have extraordinary minds and great intelligence. They are highly creative and masters at thinking outside the box. Google “ADD & famous people” to see what kind of company you are in.
- Grades are not indicators of intelligence. In many schools these days, they are more often indicators of what I call the “Trained Monkey Syndrome”. Sorry – I know that’s offensive to all of you with the Honor Roll bumper stickers on your car. I’m not attacking your child, but rather the scan-tron, I’ll spit it out and you parrot it back to me methods that are being passed off as education these days. OK – I’ll get off my soapbox now and get back to the list…
- Grades are not indicators of future success in life. I know lots of people who did not do well in school and who are now very successful adults. Good grades can likely make that path to success shorter and easier to travel, but they aren’t the only way to acheive it.
- ADD is neither a deficit nor a disorder, but just a different kind of brain function, one that evolved thousands of years ago when humans were either hunters or farmers. I can’t take credit for this theory – it belongs to Thom Hartmann, who has written several books on the subject. His theory, by the way, has been proven scientifically. Check out his website, under links.
- Finally, school, for the most part, is not set up in a manner that is ADD friendly. Lecture style teaching methods are outdated and provide too many opportunites for wandering attention. Teachers have too many kids to keep track of, and as a result, have too little time to devote to any one in particular. Consider, too, that most teachers were successful students themselves, and therefore have no way to relate to a student who struggles, other than to assume that they are not trying hard enough.
I offer these opinions of mine because I believe that they are true, and that people struggling with ADD or ADHD need to hear them – to hear the good things about ADD, and to know that there are reasons for the not so good things. Those reasons are explanations for why we can (with some help), not excuses for why we cannot.