Monday, April 07, 2008

ADHD: Gift or Curse?

As an expert in ADHD and someone who reads everything she can get her hands on about ADHD, I often run into the hardline approach. Either we need to "fix" ADHD kids, if not punish them, or we need to celebrate their genius. Give me a break. Isn't it a bit of both? Can't we reach a middle ground here?

As a person afflicted with ADHD--way better now than years ago but , as you can see, still suffering from "ADHD Desk"--I can tell you first hand, I didn't need to be punished. But I certainly appreciated every tool I could get my hands on the would "fix" it. A+ to Brain Gym for helping me. (Although the Brain Gym philosophy certain isn't about "fixing" anything.)

The self-esteem stuff never made me feel better. "Oh, MaryJo, you have such potential. You're
so wonderful."

Really? So how come I was just an hour late to a presentation? Got nothing done today because I couldn't focus? Couldn't find a speech outline because of the piles and piles on my desk? These things sure didn't feel wonderful, much less demonstrate potential.

And I'm certainly not a genius, an Indigo child elder, Crystal child elder, hunter-farmer, or any of these other feel good, raise self-esteem interpretations we've put out there for ADHD. Maybe ADHD kids are Indigo children or Crystal children, or have IQs of 170. And I'm not against raising self-esteem--my own and those of the children around us.

High self-esteem's essential, but without real tools, effective strategies, and "how-to's," those of us with ADHD, Indigo or not, would still be floundering around. Adults who can't hold down a job. Talk about low self-esteem.

Hold down a job? Good grief, some days in my past ADHD life, I couldn't go to the grocery store and come home with what was on my list, much less do it in less than a couple hours. Now tell me that wandering around the grocery store for hours, unable to focus, was fun, a sign of genius, something to celebrate? It was a real pain that wasted tons of time. Drove me and those around me crazy.

And how about kids who can't settle down long enough in school to learn to read? Can't control the impulse to hit another kid . . . every day, several times a day?

Admit it--these kids drive all of us crazy. Are they wonderful and loveable and deserve the very best? You bet. But deserving the best means stopping the "feel good" chatter long enough to give them real tools to change their brain patterns . . . without drugs. Now that raises self esteem.

O.K. enough of my soap box. Funny how passionate we can be when the subject's our own "stuff." (Yes, I was one of those ADHDers who did well in school. But by graduate school, what a struggle! I just kept at it. Lots of us ADHDers have ridiculous amounts of persistence! And that's a real gift.)

So if you, or a teacher or parent you know, are looking for dozens of non-drug ADHD tools and strategies (from an expert and somebody who's been there), it's not too late to sign up for the four 90-minute sessions ADHD TeleChat.

It's called "They're Driving Me Crazy: How to Manage ADHD at Home and in School," and comes with listen-at-your-convenience web audio recordings or every call. (Yes, teachers can get university credit for salary upgrade and recertification credit.)


P.S. And you can get free email ADHD NewsTips too.

1 comment:

Linda Jones said...

Great article. I'm not sure that I agree with absolutely everything but I loved reading it. As an ADHD adult...boy! Can I relate. I was considered extremely gifted as a child. My undiagnosed ADHD always left adults scratching their heads. The dichotemy was perplexing to the people around me. I tried to hide my differences but they manifested themselves none the less. I struggle as a child, an adolescent and I still struggle as an adult.

Two of my children live with ADHD. I realize now that as much as my eccentric dad was always my hero, he was sooo ADHD and still is.

I do believe that it has some benefits, although I'm not able to fully appreciate them. Amongst my daily torrent of thoughts, I have latched onto a few good ones. Putting the thoughts and ideas into practice in the real world is unbelievably difficult, of course. As I get older, I get more adept to coping and accepting 'the way it is'.

Although I am not nor have even been on medication for this, I tended to self medicate sometimes in my younger days. I haven't personally pursued it but I am all for a well rounded medical and social treatment method.

Just from my own musings, I do tend to believe that my giftedness and my ADHD were intrinsically linked. From an infantile age, I was always full of thoughts and observations. Unfortunately none of it spilled over to my housekeeping and bookkeeping skills. Either ADHD is counterproductive to giftedness or giftedness is counterproductive for getting the help you need when you are ADHD. I haven't decided yet.

Nonetheless, that was a stellar and thought provoking article.