He was known as the trouble maker that was great on the court and it didn't take long for any new person to the school to learn of him. He had been banned from all Math classes in his school because he "wouldn't" sit still and follow the class procedures of working problems during the hour and a half class period. He was known for dancing through the hallways, getting anyone near him to join in and for having a temper toward teachers, especially if they were more strict. Everyone believed the only thing he excelled at was basketball and maybe that hallway dancing even though it was forbidden. For most teachers in his school, if his name was on their roster, they would cringe knowing there would be a battle all semester.This is the story of Ted, a student that had ADHD before anyone really put much stock in ADHD. As his former teacher, I learned that all he needed was to release his energy and it wasn't hard to tell when he needed to, because he would make it known by tapping his pencil, fingers, feet, anything on whatever was within reach. His mind would be everywhere and he was very easily distracted. These are typical characteristics of ADHD, but here are a few more in detail:
- Inattentive: may have unrelated thoughts, difficulty monitoring their own behavior, difficulty concentrating. It is typical that they don't hear what you're telling them because their mind is focused on something else.
- Hyperactive: may have trouble sitting still, may feel the urge to bounce from one activity to another rather than sticking with one. They will start a project, then move to the next--probably without thinking about cleaning up the first one.
- Impulsive: may act before they think, have trouble waiting their turn, may seem disruptive or not follow the rules. They may talk the entire time you're teaching or shout out answers without being called upon.
My boyfriend, since the day I met him has said he has ADHD. Well, I'll be honest, in the world of teaching, we tend to use those 4 letters pretty loosely. Many will shrug it off as if it's something that people get randomly like a cold and many even believe it is a made up problem. So, when my wonderful sweetheart said this to me, I brushed it off. He would typically bring it up when he was so overwhelmed that he was having a very hard time focusing and sadly, this went on for over a year before I realized the pattern and started to understand that yes, this was very real.
The day it clicked, I did a simple search on google for ADHD and quickly learned how it can effect all relationships in a person's life which led me to a book called The ADHD Effect on Marriage. This book, of course, focuses on the marriage aspect, but the lessons learned in it can stretch out to any relationship a person with ADHD has with a Non-ADHD person AND vice versa. It is written by a Non-ADHD wife of an ADHD husband. I would HIGHLY ENCOURAGE anyone that is friends with, partners with, married to or parents of a person with ADHD read this book. It gives a wonderful example of the ADHD mind and gives steps to build stronger relationships when a person with ADHD is involved.
Through reading the book, I learned there are many options for controlling/handling ADHD, which include:
- Medication--most will recommend other methods are tried first and low doses should be used in the beginning. Talk to your doctor for more information
- Keeping everything organized in your home/workspace. Less clutter in the world allows for less distraction in the mind.
- Exercise releases overstimulation, allows stress relief and gets out excess energy
- Eating a balanced diet low in sugars, fats and processed foods can help many quite significantly as the dyes and other ingredients in these foods can stimulate parts of the brain that increase ADHD symptoms
After reading the ADHD Effect on Marriage, talking to others and discussing it with some students of mine over a presentation they gave, I realized that I'll never actually "get it", but I definitely have a better understanding now. One of the best things that I learned is that there there are many positive aspects of having ADHD and these honestly are what make the ADHD mind so fascinating and what we, as teachers need to remember when the stressful moments take over:
- The ADHD brain is moving so quickly, students have the potential to take in more information over time and can typically manage more things if the skill is honed correctly. Multitasking is easier!
- Those with ADHD typically have very high creativity, are able to think outside of the box and be more open minded.
- They have loads of energy which will allow them to outlast most when focused on something.
- Hyperfocus is common. This means that when an ADHD person find something they're interested in, they will block out the entire world and focus on that one thing. This is why you will find them highly successful in 1 or more areas because all of their focus and energy will be spent on it.
- They adapt to change well and can make quick decisions because their minds move so quickly. (See the video in my students' presentation for the example of this)
- Just for fun, Parenting.com's Celebrities with ADHD
I have a totally different perspective on ADHD now, but it took me some time to get to this point and I know that I still have a lot to learn. More to come from me on this topic I'm sure, but for now...What are your experiences and stories with ADHD? I'd love to hear them!