I wonder about the diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorder with or without hyperactivity. I wonder, if it truly is a disorder or if its called one because those diagnosed don’t fit neatly in the box like all of the other good boys and girls or men and women. Is it a disorder, or is it called one because instructors must work more creatively to keep them focused on the lesson at hand and not everything else in their world? Are those diagnosed learning challenged? Or are they actually highly intelligent, advanced to the point that so called ‘normal’ studies bore them, making it more difficult to sit still as is expected?
One of the things I have learned through observation is that people, no matter who they are or what may be diagnosed, pay attention to what interests them. An animated instructor will work better for some. One who doesn’t mind showing off their acting skills, their voice characterizations, moving around, speaking in a varied level of loud or softness. One who uses props to emphasize what they are teaching. While public classroom schedules are all pretty well set if it is found that a student preforms better at one subject over another then allow them to work more on the one they prefer as long as they do a minimum of the ones they do not. Break it up in a way, instruct them in a way that is not disruptive to the rest of the class. Find ways to hold their attention while still teaching. Its possible, I’ve seen it done. Other students may need a more laid back instructor. One that allows them to hear and absorb the lessons more quietly.
I know, that one with so called Attention Disorder, may not focus fully on a boring classroom lesson, but they can tell you everything else going on around them. They hear the tiny hum of electronics, the buzz of lights, birds outside, people passing, winds blowing papers or other items around. They miss nothing. Those who miss nothing, see what others do not see. Give them something they are interested in and there is no stopping them. They are the discoverers, they are the artists, the adventurers. They can and usually do succeed where others who were thought smarter, better more capable may not. They are outside the box anyway so thinking outside the box is easier for them.
They must have the right instructors. One who is supposedly trained to instruct those with ADHD are not necessarily the best choice. When you are attempting to teach those outside the box, it is best if you are out there with them…in a sense. One must remain in control at all times, teaching the students also that there are boundaries in everything. Explaining that while the steps one takes to arrive at a solution, if you follow set guidelines as a marker to where you wish to go, getting there is easier.
Now, I’m going to switch gears, or perspective if you will, and look at it from the ADHD person’s point of view.
Imagine that you are a young student, you try to listen, but your mind is going at warp speed and faster. You’re thinking about what the teacher just said, what the kids next to you are doing, what is that noise coming from behind you, your legs is shaking making the pencil dance on your desk, oh, look at the photo on the next page of the book, you wonder if that window opens because you’re sure the wind would feel good blowing in, you think that it would be much more fun to be outside running across the field but maybe its going to rain as there are clouds over there and something is hitting the window because you can hear the tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap..what, oh no the teacher just called your name and you have no idea what she said and now…off to the principle’s office again to sit in the chair in the waiting area and watch as the secretary answers phones and shuffles papers and why do papers and phones and computer keyboards make so much noise but there is a different clicking made by a keyboard than there is a phone, what is squeaking, oh its the chair but the voices coming through the door are interesting..oh, the poster is different this time it has more blue instead of yellow and the words are different, the globe that was on the table has been moved to the floor and now there are magazines there the ones that have pictures of wild animals and the ones that talk about the town, it must be raining now as the last person who came into the office is all wet and dripping water onto the floor…
Or, you are sitting at your desk and the instructor walks in dressed as a pirate. You are going to sail the seven seas as Black Beard and learn about life at sea. The problems that pirates caused, those they fought with, the treasures they sought. The problems that sailors dealt with due to being at sea for such long periods. The instructor speaks with a pirate type accent, walks with a limp to imitate a peg leg, pretends that there is a parrot on his shoulder. Scattered about the room are props waiting to be used. A screen is pushed before you allowing a video to be played that explains further.
The instructor changes subjects to science and nature. On the table are living creatures, tadpoles, pollywogs, young frogs. A caterpillar, a cocoon in a jar, a butterfly in a cage ready to be set free. Lined up you are all lead outside to see examples in the great outdoors. In your hands a list of items to find and challenges to complete.
You’re now an adult. You have gone through the rigors of growing up. You’ve learned through various means how to ‘be still’ and do what you are supposed to do. That doesn’t mean that you like it. You’re not happy. You are trapped in a job that you do not like, that pays the bills but that is all. There are no challenges, no fun, nothing that drives you to seek new horizons. You functioning is robotic through the day, but you wander off. You forget things, make mistakes, leave things incomplete. You’ve found yourself in the bosses office more than once being reprimanded for those very things. All the while you’re being lectured on what a good employee should do, you’re mentally anywhere else but there.
You’re an adult. You ignored those who told you to find a good, steady job and be happy. You ignored the find the dependable job advice and went for what you love. You wanted to be an artist, you paint amazing landscapes and people flock to your exhibits. Exclaiming on how you capture every detail. You’re a photographer that finds all the great macro shots, showing other worldly looking things to those who stand awe struck. You’re a writer who has just won the Nobel Prize in literature. You’re a Doctor who has just discovered a complete cure for a deadly disease. You’re excited, you’re challenged, you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing. You see, feel, hear what most miss because you have so many senses wide open and receiving information coming at you from all directions.
Managing to do things, managing to be somebody..daring to be different even when no one understands. Daring to be purple in a red world. And not caring what anyone else thought because you knew, that being different is not a curse but a blessing in disguise, and no reason to be ashamed and every reason to be excited.