Here’s the deal:
When we don’t understand certain things about ADHD, we really don’t understand ADHD.
Or at least we have a cursory understanding, a textbook understanding. We’ve left out the best parts!
I’ve been working with ADHD kids and their parents since 1984, as a teacher, a school counselor, and an ADHD coach. I am also a step-parent with an ADHD adult step-son, and I have many family members with ADHD, including my father and one of my exes.
I’ve watched the misunderstanding of ADHD take its toll on kids, on parents, on adults with ADHD, and even on professionals who don’t really understand ADHD and are made miserable by trying to make this misinformation work.
You’ve seen it too: the teachers that are quite confident that they understand ADHD when you can see that they don’t. Or the doctors that miss co-occurring diagnoses because they aren’t as well versed in mental health issues
Don’t you think it’s time to set the record straight once and for all?
Here are 10 premises that, minimally, people MUST understand about ADHD:
*1. Talking about ADHD as a deficit is not the only, nor the most helpful, way to think about ADHD. The best understanding is comprehensive – it is a biological, mental, and emotional difference. All that being said, I’m grateful for the legal rights that the word “Deficit” provide.
*2. Every time we reach for a “cure” or a way to control or stop someone’s ADHD, we make the choice to see ADHD as a problem. We don’t need a “cure” for ADHD – ADHD is our genius. Do we need support? Absolutely. But every human, including the coolest, most successful people in the world, needs support.
*3. When we focus on what your child can’t do, your child has to fit our mold to be “good.” When we focus on what your child can do, he/she is “good” most of the time!
Think about it…
*4. The ADHD brain doesn’t work the way a neurotypical brain works. Trying to find conventional solutions for an unconventional mind is pointless. This is often apparent when people confuse executive function challenges with ADHD. Most people with ADHD have executive function challenges. Many people with executive function challenges do not have ADHD. (Whether they’ve been diagnosed or not!)
*5. If on our own, we can’t think of any other solutions to support an ADHD child, we need to get help for ourselves and for the child. This goes for parents, teachers, coaches, doctors, therapists, and anyone else. We can’t settle for “I don’t know what else to do.”
*6. ADHD kids are not trying to make your life miserable. They’re trying to figure out who they are and where they belong, beyond being a member of your family. Until they know that, they’re a bit miserable themselves.
ADHD kids need adults to model adult behavior and to get help when we need help.
*7. Thinking you’re in a power struggle with your ADHD child or teen is completely unhelpful and misguided, no matter what it looks like. Kids don’t know how to effectively access their power. They’re fumbling around not competing with you. You can both have power when you understand that power does not have to be overpowering. The right use of power empowers everyone.
*8. The worst way to reach us is to yell, nag, and lecture. It’s important that, as adults, we communicate more concisely with our ADHD children/clients/students/patients.
*9. People with ADHD are motivated by freedom, fun, interesting ideas, acceptance, and appreciation. Yes, you can get a child to complete a task by threatening or intimidating him or her, but you do a good deal of damage to that child at the same time.
*10. People with ADHD need more than medication. We need a safety net, of which medication may be one of the ropes. (That’s a family decision and every family is different). Other ropes might be: an accountability partner, coaching, exercise, Omega-3s, eliminating certain foods, massage, essential oils, or other alternative modalities. The more ropes, the safer I am.
What are some misunderstandings about ADHD that you think are crucial to making sure your child gets the help he or she needs?
Just scroll down to the comments section and share your experience with us.
Copyright 2017. Yafa Crane Luria. All Rights Reserved. Originally published as “If We Don’t Understand This, We Don’t Understand ADHD” on Blocked to Brilliant.
About the author: Yafa Crane Luria is a 30-year veteran teacher and school counselor, a Positive Discipline Trainer, and the author of the Mom’s Choice Award®-Winning book: How To Train Your Parents in 6 ½ Days and the Amazon Kindle Best Seller: Getting Schooled: 102 Practical Tips for Parents, Teachers, Counselors, and Students about Living and Learning with ADHD. (Link works)
She was diagnosed with ADHD (then called “Minimal Brain Dysfunction”) in 1980, one of the ﬁrst to be diagnosed as an adult. Yafa specializes in helping ADHD families who have tried everything and are still frustrated by their child’s or teen’s Blocked but Brilliant brain. She can be reached at her website: BlockedtoBrilliant.com Fun fact: Yafa’s nickname as a child was “Mountain Goat” because she climbed on EVERYTHING!
Title photo – (Photo courtesy of satva/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com
Brains with a question (Photo courtesy of Graphics Mouse/FreeDigitalPhoto.net)
Helping hands (Photo courtesy of Graphics Mouse/FreeDigitalPhoto.net)