More Purpose Driven ADHD



Sorry for the post title...I guess that I have politics on my mind...

It seems as if my post About that ADHD Serving a Purpose Thing really hit a chord (thanks to those of you who StumbledUpon it and welcome to those of you who are new here!) I was going to respond in the comments to some of the interesting points brought up, but they got long so I decided to start a whole new post.

Doc wrote:

His mother's description matches what my oldest son's k-2 teachers said about him, except they also started demanding I medicate him. I chose to homeschool instead. Today, at 24, my son is a rising executive in a large corporation, and they value his "intense drive", which also served him well in the Navy and college.

This was actually the point of my initial post about ADHD Can Serve a Purpose. That while these traits may not be overly conducive to sitting in school, they might actually have some value in the "real world." I cited a report that said that a higher number of dyslexics go on to own their own business. I also have a feeling that many of these types of kids will wind up with different but perfectly rewarding jobs (I have one friend whose son I am convinced will become one of those white water tour guides or some sort of other outdoorsy active career).

I have often said (only partly joking) that one of our main jobs is to help Jason use his intensity for good rather than evil. And I have found that if I project a skill that he has into his adulthood, I can learn to appreciate it easier now. I have no doubt in my mind that Jason will be perfectly able to advocate and look out for himself as an adult. My challenge is to help him see that advocating for others is a good thing as well. So it is not about eliminating these tendencies by saying they are wrong, it is about tempering them.

I saw a great example of this in an interview I saw with Michael and his coach. Basically the main reason that Michael said he was so good was because he just absolutely hates to loose. And his coach said that this competitiveness in everything (not just swimming) was one of the things that made him think that at 11 year old Michael could go on to become an Olympian. This can be a challenging trait in a young child (speaking from experience!) but again, if it is funneled into a positive outlet, it can be a good thing.

In another interview I saw, Deborah Phelps talks about how finding swimming really saved Michael because it gave him an outlet and a passion. And self-esteem because it sounds as if he was picked on somewhat as a kid. She also talked about how ADHD kids are so creative and passionate that they need this type of outlet on which to focus their energies. So the question is, how do we help kids find their passions, in and out of school?

Sabrina T wrote:

What does this say about our teachers? Still not getting the message, you can not medicate a child into conforming!

To be honest with you, I do not blame the teachers for this. That is too easy an answer. I really think that the biggest problem is that the current school model is not set up to handle teaching multiple learning styles and individual children. I have a lot of sympathy for teachers...if I had to teach 30+ kids each with their own unique learning styles and individual needs and be accountable to the school officials and lawmakers and parents while being worried about whether there was going to be enough money for my next pay raise or for school programs for that matter, I think I would go crazy. It is hard enough for me to meet the needs of two kids and I don't have to worry about state standards or having to cut through bureaucracy to get them what they need (thank goodness).

With the current school model, crowd control is important. You really can't teach a large amount of kids with an overly wiggly child. I have mentioned before that when Jason was younger, he would literally fling himself on the bed, jump up and down and run to the other side of the room and then fling himself again...all while I was reading out loud. He had a lot of energy that needed to come out. Even now at 11, when he is really thinking about something, he paces back and forth. We have both an indoor and outdoor trampoline that gets a lot of use and helps him to center. Accommodating this need is just not practical in a school setting.

I also believe that while there is more of a push for medication of ADHD kids in school, this does not mean that all teachers feel they need to go that route. There are a lot of good teachers out there who are doing great work. And there are some children for whom school is a safe haven and a godsend. I personally loved school and got a lot out of it and had some wonderfully fun and inspiring teachers. The problem comes, however, if you do not fit into that school (often left-brained) model.

Which leads us to SwitchedOnMom's (who I am lucky to know in real life and whose original link to the interview started this whole conversation) comment:

As always, your points about the flexibility of homeschooling for kids who don't quite fit the model are spot on. But as a mom who has had her feet in both the homeschooling and schooling worlds, I can't stop wondering about the thousands upon thousands of kids who for whatever reasons can't homeschool. What can be done to change the school experience so that it works for more kids? I don't have the answers but I have to think that there has to be a way to change the way kids are being educated.

This is the 64 million dollar question. And one which I think I will save for for the next post since this post is getting long and I need to get something accomplished this evening!