Dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder
By DeAnne Joy, MPNLP, LCSW
Experts estimate that between 4-10% of our
youth are now diagnosed as having Attention
Deficit Disorder. It can be frustrating and
discouraging to deal with symptoms of ADD.
Here's the good news: there is nothing "wrong"
with your child or with you as the parent;
there is nothing that needs to be "fixed".
You and your child have ALL of the resources
within you to experience success in school,
at home and in the world. If your child is
not succeeding in school or at home, it simply
means that she doesn't have effective tools
for doing so. Once she learns the right skills,
she will succeed.
A diagnosis can be helpful in providing a
framework for understanding the reasoning
behind the challenging behaviors or poor school
performance. You can understand the behavior
better when you understand where it is coming
from. When you understand that it's not a
matter of whether or not your child is trying
hard enough; rather that it is simply a matter
of her not having the tools to be successful
in learning, then you can respond differently.
ADD, Dyslexia and other learning "differences"
are a way of describing how a person's brain
is wired or the way in which they process
information. It doesn't mean that they don't
process or learn information; it simply means
that they do it better using certain strategies
or processes than with others, as we all do.
In order to help you understand how your child
relates to the world, you need to understand
exactly what goes on in the mind of a young
person with ADD. Here's a way in which you
can begin to understand this. Imagine that
you are driving in a rainstorm without the
windshield wipers on. Pretty frustrating,
isn't it? Imagine the effort it would require
to keep your mind focused on the road ahead
just in order to keep yourself and others
feeling safe and protected.
That is precisely what goes on in the mind
of a young person with ADD. The screen simply
becomes blurred without the ability to use
the wipers to get rid of unnecessary cloudiness.
She is trying as hard as she can to process
all of the information coming into her experience.
Of course, what often happens is that the
conscious mind becomes overwhelmed and she
may simply shut down, stop paying attention,
and give up or it might be played out physically
in the body which might be seen as anxious,
aggressive or hyperactive behavior.
The first step in helping your child to learn
effectively is to help her determine what
particular learning technique works for her,
and then teach her very precise, effective
strategies for effective learning. A visual
learning strategy is the most effective strategy
for learning academic tasks like spelling
words, math facts and vocabulary words. Learning
visually makes learning fun, interesting and
much less time-consuming.
In order to teach a young person a visual
learning strategy, she must first believe
that she CAN learn by making pictures in her
mind. Often, young people diagnosed with ADD
or some other "learning difference"
feel that they can't control their own minds,
but rather that their minds controls them.
In order to begin to teach effective learning
strategies, we need to begin by helping the
child to see that indeed she CAN control her
own mind and the pictures that she makes in
The first step is to assist the child in slowing
down the pictures in her own mind and slowing
her body down so that she can learn and implement
simple, effective learning strategies and
begin to experience more success at school
and home. It is also important to provide
her with the type of environment that will
best support her unique needs; for most kids,
and especially for kids with ADD, the environment
that is most supportive of their needs is
one that is unconditional, structured and
consistent while providing them enough freedom
to learn to negotiate the world on their own.
DeAnne Joy is a speaker, trainer, coach
and licensed therapist in Southern California.
She is the founder of D. Joy Enterprises and
is dedicated to teaching young people and
adults world-class learning and success strategies.
For more information on how to help a child
struggling with ADD or other learning challenges,
contact DeAnne Joy at 661.310.7981 or firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit http://www.deannejoy.com.