Written by Harold Robert Meyer, MBA, SCAC and Susan Karyn Lasky, MA, SCAC
Sometimes children say things that could have an impact on their school performance. These clues are easy to miss. Here are some examples:
Your child complains that his teacher thinks he wasn’t paying attention in class because he wasn’t looking at her when she was speaking. You explain that people like to know they have someone’s attention when they’re speaking, and that eye contact is the most common way to show you’re listening.
“But I WAS listening,” he insists. He probably was. We know that for many people with AD/HD, direct focus on a speaker doesn’t translate into processing of what the speaker is saying. In fact, the visual distraction sometimes makes focusing on what’s being said even more difficult. Similarly, the person with AD/HD who doesn’t appear to be attending may be picking up every word said (ask any parent who has said something they didn’t want their child to hear, thinking the child wasn’t listening!)
Explain to the teacher that eye contact isn’t indicative of ear contact. Even those educators who are knowledgeable about AD/HD may find this concept difficult; especially since it makes them feel ignored when they’re trying to communicate. However, the child’s insistence that he’s listening should still be monitored for accuracy! Also, set limits on what activities are acceptable when the teacher is speaking (doodling is okay, reading a catalog is not!).
Your child complains that she got in trouble for getting up during a class lesson.
“It’s not fair,” she complains. “I have all of this energy and can’t concentrate unless I can move.” She may be right. Discuss alternatives to getting out of her seat. Often, channeling the “fidgets” into hand movement works, and allows the brain to focus on what the teacher is teaching. There are squish balls that can be manipulated quietly, plastic paper clips, putty that doesn’t dry out (the “egg” putty is a lot less expensive than the therapeutic putty), etc.
Once you’ve found something your child agrees works, let the teacher know. Explain that the hand activity actually calms, and it’s not “playing around” in class.(Also remind the teacher that it’s important for everyone to get up and stretch periodically.)
Harold Meyer and Susan Lasky are both Board Certified and Senior Certified ADHD Coaches.
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ADD and ADHD are used interchangeably for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
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