Joe is a 7-year-old boy in grade 1 at a mainstream school. He is an energetic, happy, spirited child who loves to run around, climb on things and talk non-stop about anything and everything. He is a bit messy and struggles to complete activities/ chores at home but other than that he is the light of his parents’ lives. At the first parent-teacher conference of the year, Joe’s parents are told by his teacher that he is impossible in the classroom. He does not pay attention to any of the work, is constantly losing things, needs to be reminded every few minutes to sit down and pay attention. He has a tendency to disrupt other children in the class while they are working. In addition to this, a few days ago, when he was again “misbehaving” in class, his teacher gave him a demerit. He responded to this by over-turning his desk and punching another child before running out of the classroom.
Joe’s parents are distraught and angry with this feedback. They wonder if it is their fault that their son is behaving in this manner and they feel as though the school is accusing them of negligent parenting. Have they been incompetent parents? Did they just choose a bad school to send Joe to? On one hand they fear that Joe will never be able to achieve his true potential but on the other hand they are concerned that the teacher just wants to get him on medication so that he will be quiet and easier to manage. They have heard many stories about children being given “addictive drugs” which makes them totally “Zombie-like” and uncommunicative.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a diagnosis which has become increasingly well known over the past few decades. Its core features are those of inability to adequately and appropriately focus on tasks (often noted as “daydreaming”), as well as extreme amounts of energy and impulsivity (often confused with acting out or misbehaving). The underlying problem associated with ADHD is an inability to appropriately filter information which enters the thinking, motivating, planning and decision-making parts of the brain (mainly the frontal-lobes of the brain). This results in a bombardment of these areas with too much information, causing an inability to focus, process the information and achieve a logical outcome. People with ADHD are often very amusing, energetic and creative. They have the energy and fearlessness to become great entrepreneurs, entertainers and sports people.
Left undiagnosed and unmanaged a child (or adult) with ADHD may struggle to give his/ her full attention to academic/ occupational tasks, may struggle to make friends and may never be able to enjoy or achieve in sporting/ cultural activities. He/ she may also be more prone to accidents/ injuries, may develop anxiety or depression in response to under achievement and may abuse substances such as alcohol, over-the-counter medications and illicit drugs.
Some famous people known to suffer or have suffered from ADHD include:
Albert Einstein, Emma Watson, Bill Gates, and Michael Phelps.
With the correct care, encouragement and management, people with ADHD can achieve greatness.