The Elephant in the Room
September 7, 2019
BY BOBBI LOWE
September 6, 2019
It is that time of the year again. While some schools have transitioned to a “balanced calendar”, the majority have the start of the schoolyear during this time period. This brings a myriad of emotions for families as the relaxation of summer months dissipates into the sunset.
The topic I would like to address here is that of ADHD in students. There are various studies that describe this disorder and the frequency with in which it occurs. Not all state the same statistics. However, most do agree, that it can be detrimental to academic and social successes for those impacted. It is a disorder in which the brain is on high alert, taking in information from all the senses. Students often appear that they are NOT paying attention as they gaze off into the distance. The truth is that neurologically, they cannot attend to all the vast information that they are sensing at that time. Yes, this includes sounds, smells, visual stimuli, tastes and even that pesky tag on their t-shirt. It is not something that is happening by choice, and yet there are coping strategies and techniques that can be used to lessen the impact of this disorder.
In addition to the sensory overload with ADHD, it is also becoming more and more common to have a co-morbidity (dual diagnosis) of anxiety. You see, many of these students do not want to be called out for their inability to attend to exactly whatever the teacher, parent, friend is trying to convey. Therefore, they begin to develop a performance anxiety that only compounds the symptoms of the original diagnosis. Imagine, for a minute, what it must be like to have the teacher declare “look at me” and repeat whatever instructions are given. Once the school day is over, the student goes home to find that the school has called home to state that the student just “cannot stay on task”. This leads to another conversation about success and working harder, etc. This can cause a higher dose of anxiety and… well you get the picture.
I would suggest that caregivers for students with ADHD ask for some help from a professional who can give guidance on ways to reduce the impacts. This goes beyond the simplicity of planners and organizers. In addition, form a soft place to land for your young student. Allow them an opportunity to get relaxed and feel comfortable. Talk up their strengths. I like to talk about the ADHD brain as if it is “turbo-powered”. Sort of like a superhero whom must tone down their powers to fit into the world of mere ordinary folks.
Take good care and be kind.
Until next time…