Thursday, June 20, 2013

One of My Favorite Articles that Touches on ADHD

I'm a delicate flower!

One of my favorite articles about kids with ADHD is this classic from the Atlantic Monthly. The article talks about orchid children and dandelion children. Dandelion children can survive anywhere. You can beat them up, lock them in a closet, and feed them a non-stop diet of Twinkies and Coca-Cola, and they'll still come out OK.

Orchid kids, on the other hand, tend to wobble between the extremes. In a supportive environment that encourages their strengths and teaches them to overcome their weaknesses, these kids become innovators, artists, entrepreneurs, and just generally amazing.  On the other hand, if their early environment is too chaotic, they can become washed up losers.

I've noticed this tendency in my interactions with people who have ADHD. Those of us who had loving parents, were allowed to follow our interests, and who were taught coping skills turned out well. One of the most ADHD kids I ever knew is arguably the most successful graduate from my high school class.

On the other hand, the kids who were smacked around for their brain differences, told they were stupid and lazy, and not given an environment where their ADHD could be turned to their advantage have had a much harder path in life and tend to view themselves as failures.

For my ADHD brood, I'm keeping the orchid thing in mind. We give the kids time to run and play and explore their interests. We're also working to teach them perseverance, time management, and project management skills. I've found 4H is especially good for this (she said, as she waited for her daughter to arrive home from VBS so she could finish up the genealogy project that's due tomorrow!).  By homeschooling, we give the kids an academic environment where behavior skills and academic skills can be treated as separate issues. My son will not fail math simply because he works best laying on his back with a clipboard. We'll work on sitting and listening at HIS rate, not the school system's.

So, do you agree? Are you or your ADHD children orchids? Or do you see yourself more as a dandelion, whose thoughts just happen to go to seed?

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