I want to tell you about the strengths based view of the disorder which we use in our house. I came across this view which Edward Hallowell MD and Peter Jensen MD recommend in their book “Superparenting for ADD”. Instead of looking at what our son can’t do successfully, we are choosing to see what he can succeed at, and all the strengths which travel with his deficits.
Edward Hallowell breaks the news of ADHD to kids in his office by explaining they have a Ferrari race car brain, with bicycle brakes; and that is a most accurate description, for my son. Russell Barkley, one of the great researchers in the field of ADD, conceptualizes ADD as a state of relative disinhibition. The inhibitory circuits in the brain fail to work properly. This leads to the 3 core symptoms of ADD, what Barkley calls the holy trinity of ADD: distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness or hyperactivity.
And here’s where Hallowell gets interesting. He says: “I don’t want you to think of it as a disorder, but rather as a potential gift that can be hard to unwrap.”
See, my son is as Hallowell describes many with ADD. He is a highly imaginative child, with a real knack for thinking outside the box. He is fun loving with a crazy sense of humor, just like his grandfather. He is most intuitive, and often comes up with ideas and solutions to problems, while his father and I are still trying to work out what the actual problem is. He has a special quality which draws people in to him, he’s been described often as an old soul.
I worry more than anything that the constant criticism is going to destroy all this specialness inside him. I’m eternally grateful he chooses not to give up in the face of it – and instead perseveres. He’s tenacious.
Energy, curiosity and creativity are nourished and noticed here in our home. He has a tendency to forgive, being unable to hold a grudge for long. He is big hearted and generous. He is highly sensitive, and also has sudden, unexpected insights. He is love, personified.
And In Hallowell’s book, he speaks with a mom. She’s most concerned that all the good will get lost under all the negative criticisms he has had to deal with. “Not just from school, but me, too.”
Hallowell states: “As is almost always the case with parents of kids who have ADD, Sam’s mom is a wonderful mom. It is only natural that she gets frustrated with him now and then and becomes critical…’It can be unbelievably difficult being the parent of a child with ADD, especially before you have it diagnosed. That’s why today is a good news day. You are all finding out what’s been going on and what to do about it. What to do about it won’t be easy, but life should get considerably better for you all from now on.”
I put these words out there to remind myself of my beautiful child, and what a wonderful soul he has. We have our rough moments, but we make it work. I’m so blessed he chose us. 💕
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a complex brain disorder that impacts approximately 11% of children and almost 5% of adults in the U.S ADHD is a developmental impairment of the brain’s executive functions. People with ADHD have trouble with impulse-control, focusing, and organization.
Neuroscience, brain imaging, and clinical research tell us a few important things: ADHD is not a behavior disorder. ADHD is not a mental illness. ADHD is not a specific learning disability.
ADHD is, instead, a developmental impairment of the brain’s self-management system. Common ADHD symptoms include:
- lack of focus
- poor time management
- weak impulse control
- exaggerated emotions
- and executive dysfunction