ADHD, We Aren't in Kansas Anymore!Apr 07, 2021
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD) is not a behavior disorder, nor is it a lack of will-power. ADHD is a neuro-development, or brain, disorder that interferes with functions essential to self-management.
ADHD/ADD is a touchy subject among many parents. I know it was for me when my son was first diagnosed! Marked with all the signs of a "bad kid," I absolutely despised the word and would recoil at the mere suggestion.
Shame on those around me for presenting it as such! ADHD can be a truly magical gift. Think about it: endless energy, quick to forgive, larger-than-life imaginations. Imagine bottling up all that energy?!
So why the negative bias? Is it because ADHD kids predominantly present bad behavior? Is it because ADHD kids turn into ADHD adults who end up in prison? Or is it because we simply don't have any examples of ADHD success stories?
Let me give a quick background of ADHD to start.
ADHD Brains are Wired Differently
Yes, we agree that all children display moments where they simply don't pay attention, talk excessively, get over-excited, and may even act impulsively.
But for a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD), these behaviors persist and affect day-to-day functions. Bottom line is that a child with ADHD presents a greater intensity of sustained immaturity in comparison to his/her peer group.
ADHD is a Real Diagnosis
Oh, but it's true. ADHD is a real diagnosis. It is not a fancy "catch-all" for immaturity, impulsive behavior or defiance.
ADHD is not a behavior disorder, nor is it a lack of will-power. It is a neuro-development, or brain, disorder that interferes with functions essential to self-management.
There are three presentations of an ADHD diagnosis:
Predominantly Inattentive (formerly known as ADD)
Predominantly Hyperactive / Impulsive
- Combined Presentation of Inattentive and Hyperactive / Impulsive
And to further complicate the situation, up to 67 percent of children with ADHD also show signs and symptoms of sensory, anxiety, depression or learning disorders.
We're Not in Kansas Anymore
Let's be honest. We are long past the days when every family had to live up to hype of their neighbors. We are blessed to live in a world where non-typical is actually celebrated, if not the norm. So why does ADHD still get a bad rap?
For starters, it's complicated! ADHD and similar mental disorders often do not have clearly defined treatment strategy. There are certainly many approaches to traditional and non-traditional treatment, but because each child's system and environment is unique, the treatment plan must be unique as well.
Second, myths about ADHD are rampant! To better understand the bias, let's take a look at some of the ADHD myths.
Myth #1: ADHD is just a catch-all for bad behavior.
Yes, kids with ADHD tend to be louder and more intense, and/or they easily forget the rules, their homework and common sense on some days! But they are also creative, confident, social, and often quite gifted!
Unfortunately, if their challenges or weaknesses are not addressed, their gifts are dwarfed and often overlooked. This results in a negative feedback loop that generates a lower sense-of-self and an overall sense of failure.
Myth #2: ADHD children are destined for prison.
We know that if ADHD Symptoms persist and a negative feedback loop begins, it can create a downward spiral for children with ADHD. And yes, our prisons are filled with individuals presenting signs of ADHD who were either never treated or never diagnosed.
But, no, your ADHD child is not destined for prison anymore than he or she is destined to become an astronaut. Have you heard of the old saying that whatever field you water, will grow? The same applies to ADHD challenges and gifts. If you provide corrective tools, while simultaneously helping your child to channel their energy in positive ways, he or she will reach far beyond your expectations!
Myth 3: We don't have any truly successful ADHD role models.
Oh, but we do! And we should do a lot more to celebrate them and their unbelievable gifts!
Where do we begin? The list includes Michael Phelps (Olympic Gold Medalist), Lisa Ling (Award-Winning Producer), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO & Founder), Walt Disney (Cartoonist & Walt Disney Founder), and Audra McDonald (Singer & Actress), to name a few.
The sad reality is that many adults with ADHD either go undiagnosed or hide their diagnosis for fear of stigmatization from peers or in their career. Our job as parents is help our children learn to manage their symptoms and develop their strengths or gifts. And do not shy away from talking about or owning an ADHD diagnosis.
Addressing the negative bias of ADHD, Michael Phelps mother challenged the system. "The diagnosis made me want to prove everyone wrong. I knew that, if I collaborated with Michael, he could achieve anything he put his mind to."
And that he did, winning a record-setting 23 gold olympic medals!
ADHD Myths, Busted. Now what?
Rather your child has an official diagnosis, or you suspect your child may exhibit signs and symptoms of ADHD, there is no shame in the diagnosis! ADHD is chalked full of superpowers that simply need to be unleashed!
So how and where do you begin?
Get Back to Basics
Children today lack the daily exercise, sleep and nutrition that would naturally avert some of the symptoms of ADHD. Add the chemicals, food dyes, high-sugar diets, and high-technology lifestyles and you can see we've created a recipe for disaster!
Start with the basics: tone down the sugar, toss out the food dyes and processed food, and increase the protein and vegetables. And ensure your child is getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and eight hours of sleep each night.
Get in the Right Mindset
Focus on your child's strengths, not their challenges.
Begin by focusing on your child's positive behaviors and actions, and refrain from the negative feedback loop relating to behavior. We understand this may be difficult if you are in a high-stress behavior-related situation.
But the reality is that you are never going to solve everything at one time, so begin organizing your ADHD tool-kit and redirecting your own thinking patterns. It will take time, but step-by-step, you will see progress both in your mindset and your child's behavior!
Ivy Wild Kids is passionate about helping families embrace and organize the wild of ADHD, so children can realize their full potential and families can live happier and healthier lives!
We are so excited you found us and look forward to seeing you in our community!