The greatest learning disorder of all is fear.
Getting rid of shame and fear are key!! Kids, and this includes kids with ADHD, Dyslexia or any Learning Disorder, need to feel emotionally safe in the classroom and at home. My own childhood experience with difficulty reading shows how a supportive environment can illuminate a child’s life. As a first-grader, I had a great deal of trouble learning to read. I simply couldn’t decode words on a page. At that time, before we knew much about ADHD and dyslexia (I have both), poor readers got a simple diagnosis: They were “stupid.” The treatment plan was to “try harder.”
Fortunately, my first-grade teacher was a wise woman. Mrs. Eldredge didn’t know why I could not read, but she did know what to do about it. At each reading period, she would come over and wrap her arm around me. That simple sign of encouragement was tremendously reassuring. With her beside me, I knew none of my classmates would dare make fun of me. It’s incredible that a seven-year-old would sit there, day in and day out, and demonstrate his incompetence. But I did. Such was the power of Mrs. Eldredge’s arm.
By the end of the year, I wasn’t much better at reading. But, I was the most enthusiastic reader in the class. (Dr. Hallowell shares his memories about Mrs. Eldredge’s arm in this YOUTUBE video.)
So how do we help our children get rid of the shame and fear of ADHD?
First, there is no substitute for a parent understanding the child’s mind and conveying that over and over again to teachers! A child needs an advocate after a diagnosis of ADHD and too often testing results get “filed away”.
Spend time talking with your child about his or her classroom and social experiences to learn what is going on in the classroom and at school. Family dinners are a great time of the day to discuss what’s going on at school and how your child feels.
Become a partner with your child’s teacher. Don’t go in with a set of things you “want” from the teacher. Go in with the goal of creating a relationship that will support your child. Consider helping out in class. Treat your child’s teacher as the professional he or she is.
Consider talking with your teacher about having a home to school notebook for quick comments on daily basis and easy communications.
Finally, remember that you are not alone! There is a tremendous community to support and help you. A few places to look, depending on your needs:
The Hallowell Centers in Boston MetroWest, NYC, SF and Seattle.
Understood. org provides expert advice available for all parents of children with learning and attention issues – an incredible resource that is entirely free of cost.
Calm and Connected: Parenting Kids with ADHD, 7-Session Parent Coaching Workshop Series led by ADHD Parent Coach, Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M, ACAC.
Learn more about managing ADHD and other forms of distraction, by listening to my weekly podcast series, DISTRACTION!
More ADHD Resources here.