In fact, the school environment is probably the worst possible place to learn for a child diagnosed with this condition.
Let me explain.
Here are just a few basic ADHD principles:
1) Move don't Sit
In order for Weston to engage his brain, he needs to move! Physically moving his body helps to activate his brain.
In school, however, children must sit quietly in their seats, or face dire consequences.
2) Noise not Quiet
In school, ipods are outlawed, those who use them face dire consequences.
3) Busy Hands not Empty Hands
If I want Weston to listen I must first put something in his hands!
Moving his hands opens his ears. Lego's are one of the most perfect "listening tools" I have found to help my son to listen. As his hands engage so too does his mind and he will talk up a storm if his hands are busy.
In school, teachers insist that all items are removed from a students desk or they may face dire consequences.
4) Male not Female
Weston responds better to male energy. Male teachers hold the secret key to motivating Weston. He prefers the straight forward approach, the thinking vs feeling, the "do or die" philosophy and well defined walls that men typically use in providing structure in their classes.
In our school district, male teachers are an overwhelming minority.
5) Outside not Inside
In school, classes are rarely if ever held outside.
6) Under Stimulation not Over stimulation
Loud, noisy environments are physically painful to Weston. He feels it physically and will often react abruptly and inappropriately in these environments. Wouldn't you, if your body hurt?
In school, there are noisy classrooms, cafeterias, auditoriums, recess.....those who have trouble here often face dire consequences.
Can you see how the school environment can spell trouble for a child diagnosed with ADHD?
Can you see how one's self esteem can start to deteriorate after so many dire consequences are placed upon children who are just trying to survive in an environment that is not conducive to their style of learning?
I have held many IEP meetings with many teachers to discuss these exact issues. I have found that it is not easy to change a culture. Most teachers believe that children diagnosed with ADHD choose to be difficult; that these children are willful and if they only tried harder, they would be successful. They resent changing rules to accommodate children who just want to be difficult.
As a mother, I can tell you without a doubt that my son Weston's brain works differently. I know this is true because when I employ different strategies, they work! I have found many valuable resources by many recognized experts who support this important philosophy, Russell Barkley and Ed Hallowell are two of my favorite. I would encourage all teachers and parents of children diagnosed with ADHD to read them.
If Weston is to be successful in school and life, we must recognize this fact and teach/raise him in a manner that understands and more importantly respects his academic, listening and learning differences.