ADHD Can Serve a Purpose (Part 2)
I wanted to take a mimute and clarfiy my last post about ADHD serving a purpose. In a discussion about it on the Homeschooling Creatively list, several people rightfully brought up the fact that ADHD can pose real challenges to children and adults alike. And I also received a comment with a link to this post called Does Having ADHD Mean Doing Poorly in School?
I do want to clarify that I was definitely not making an argument that ADHD kids do not have challenges or saying that it does not exist or that they never need our help. This is actually one of the reasons that I was drawn to my friend Cindy's take on right-brained kids...she does not overlook the fact that there can be challenging aspects to them. And she has had to work quite a bit on weak areas with several of her kids. But she also can see their wonderful strengths and completely values those aspects (and as it turns out, their stregnths and weaknesses are often two sides of the same coin). I think that too often, especially in school, it is only the challenging sides of their personality that get addressed and their wonderful creative sides are overlooked or downplayed.
And while there are real challenges that these kids face, there are also things that in school are often perceived as challenges that do not need to be. Such as not reading by age 6 or 7. Or "struggling" with spelling. Or not being able to "show your work" in math. Or even sitting still for long periods of time. These are things that are normal for right-brained kids and often will happen on a different timetable. Yet in school they are often seen as part of the "ADHD problem".
What is great about homeschooling and great about Cindy's Collaborative Learning Process is that it helps you see what is normal development. And then you can focus on the real issues while trusting that the normal stuff will work out. The Collaborative Learning Process has given me enough information so that I can trust and let some things go while Jason is younger, realizing that I can address many issues easier as he gets older (I especially love Cindy's 60-30-10 idea...as they get older they should spend 60% of their time on their passions, 30% on things that they might not be drawn to naturally (which we as parents can help introduce) and 10% on things that are challenges to them). So it is not just taking a completely hands-off approach, yet it also is completely respectful of the child and who they are...hence the title Collaborative Learning Process.
Weeding out the "struggles" that are really part of the normal development allows you to focus on what the true issues are. By seeing not only the struggles, but the wonderful creativity and future benefits that come with it, the child will have a better sense of his own gifts as well as a sense of his own areas he needs to work on. The beauty of it is that the child does not need to be defined by his weak areas. If the child knows that his passions and interests are respected and valued, he will be more willing to work with you on his weak points. It creates a atmosphere of trust, rather than one of conflict.
This is where I believe that most schools fall short (and what I was addressing in my original post)...there is very little value given to their creativity and they are too often sent the message that they are broken or not smart. Most of the time in school is spent in remediating their "weak areas". Schools just can not change the environment enough to adapt to their needs. It is not practical. But the great thing is that we as parents can and do value them, warts and all. And with homeschooling, we can adapt the environment as needed (which can eliminate some of the issues), celebrate and encourage their wonderful traits and work with them on their weaknesses.