Today I am so happy to have a guest writer sharing on my blog. And it’s not just any guest writer – it’s someone who I feel can share a tremendous amount of knowledge with us all on the very interesting topic of ADHD, especially in children. Shannon is a psychological counsellor who, after years of research and first-hand experience, has set out to help others who find themselves on the same path.
Meeting this woman in person, it’s impossible not to feel drawn to her. Her gentle and caring nature is evident from get-go and something that has no doubt, stood her in good stead when it comes to gaining the trust and confidence of her patients. You will love what she has to say and if you are the mom of an ADHD child, this will probably one of the most encouraging and eye opening posts you will read. Over to you Shannon!
Hi, my name is Shannon Pluke and I’m a Psychological Counsellor specialising in all sorts of behavioural issues, especially those amongst children and young adults.
My husband who has ADHD and my son of 23, who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 7, afforded me the chance to take a harsh look at the fork in the road. Instead of choosing to live out a life of exasperation or pretended ignorance, I selected to delve into the lives of my two special men and more inadvertently, these interesting people and make it my life’s mission to study, research and basically figure out what makes ‘Adders’ as I like to call them, tick. The journey has been fulfilling and arduous, but might have been more so had I not taken the road less travelled. Part of my mission is to use what I’ve learned and impart my experiences and knowledge to assist people living with ADHD.
I’ve spent almost 17 years experimenting with many methods ranging from intense research studies to various forms of pop psychology, to medicating my child to not medicating my child, to home schooling him in a bid to teach him focussing methods one on one, to integrating him back into school to…to…to…
Today, I’m confident in knowing what works and doesn’t, through having made many mistakes along the way but also through hitting some bull’s eyes. Those ah ha moments inspired me to continue finding the sweet spot that would lay claim to effectively communicating with an ‘Adder’ that made them feel like someone finally ‘speaks my language and understands me’.
Parents or spouses tend to bury their heads in the sand as living with an ‘Adder’ is most certainly not for the fainthearted. Life with ADHD can become extremely overwhelming and many give up. However, it needs to be understood that the world needs ‘Adders’ and that more so, they are human beings like us and that they deserve to live out a happy life just like the rest of us. If we love our children and claim to be responsible for them, then we cannot merely choose the good parts only. We need to love them completely, horrible warts and all. Loving our children requires us to fully embrace the disadvantages that often come to challenge us, and for the parent of an ADHD child, we need to pull out all the stops. We need to get inside of their worlds – the heavy fog begins to clear as we get an understanding of how their brains function. Understanding ADHD fully for what it is will afford us as parents a patience we never knew we had and even an endearment and deeper love for these special, sensitive and surprisingly bright souls.
A heads up to those reading, is that my comments are absolute and frank and fundamentally based on my own experiences with ‘Adders’ as well as what I’ve gleaned from learning along the way through research. Reams of information exist regarding ADHD affording the parent an array of choices and advice – it is up to the parent to use their own discernment of what fits their child’s specific needs.
Without further ado, let me launch into explaining ADHD by dispelling some myths in order to remove any confusion that might be swirling around in the minds of how some parents might perceive this syndrome.
Myth # 1 My child is ‘hyper’ – he/she must have ADHD.
Just because your child is hyperactive, does not necessarily mean he/she has ADHD. Parents/teachers/family members/well- meaning friends etc. are not qualified to diagnose your children. Get them professionally evaluated. Simply put.
Myth # 2 My ADHD child is so badly behaved and even though I apply discipline, nothing works.
ADHD children are NOT naughty. And are NOT the product of bad parenting. ADHD children are misunderstood, living in their own, often, confused little worlds, trying extremely hard to win everyone over to their side. Their brains function differently to those without ADHD; people who are involved in their lives need to make the effort to understand the syndrome and manage them in ways that are surprisingly simple.
Myth # 3 Thank goodness for Ritalin/Concerta or I just don’t know how I/the teacher/my child’s friends would cope.
Prescription drugs should not be handed out like candy. Yes, there’s a time and place for medication, but be absolutely certain that this is the answer for your child and make yourself fully aware of the side-effects that come with medication. I have seen too many parents rely on popping a Ritalin in their son or daughter’s mouths to keep their peers and teachers happy. These parents don’t realise that they are putting the needs of others first before their precious children. However, certain circumstances around children do require medication at specific times and during particular mile stones. Consider tools and management first which work extremely well above a ‘quick fix’ in the form of meds.
Myth # 4 As much as I love my child, I’ll never cope as this nightmare will never go away.
Confusion and lack of understanding, causes ignorance. Once the syndrome is fully understood, half the battle is won. Then certain tools which can be applied by parents, family members, teachers etc. will pave the way for a happier and easier journey ahead – it is absolutely possible, it’s been done and proven to work for all involved. Effort is required all round, consider if your child is worth this effort.
Myth # 5 My ADHD child will continue to struggle through school and have learning disabilities.
Once a child begins to see a pattern forming around the idea that he/she has a learning disability, it will become a belief and a continuous pattern to aspire to. Don’t start this dangerous cycle. ADHD children/adults are extremely intelligent beings who are at most never given the opportunity to express their bright and busy brains. It is vital to remember that they just THINK differently.
An example: my ADHD son ‘struggled’ with Math at school. He lost valuable points in tests and exams as his methods were different and totally misunderstood (by the best of teachers), he however answered each mathematical question correctly. (We all know that the majority of points are awarded in calculations by showing the method used.) Because he didn’t conform to the syllabus standards, his methods were prejudiced, resulting in him failing Math!
It has to be understood that children/adults with ADHD are non-conformists in just about every aspect of life; they will find answers through their own unique methods. School systems generally don’t entertain leverage in learning, causing ‘Adders’ to be seen as getting the answers more wrong than right. With this comes a lack of confidence in themselves, stripping them of any inspiration to follow through on any other given tasks as they don’t understand the point in putting in the effort. And we know they struggle with effort and are often seen to be ‘lazy’. ‘Adders’ quickly become labelled in many different spheres, but rather than stamp a label on them from merely scratching the surface, I challenge people to dig deeper and find the authentic root of the problem. You will more than likely find that they are indeed NOT lazy, but rather unmotivated through having tried so hard, only to be told they’re wrong/lazy/incapable.
To continue the myth, ‘Adders’ don’t struggle with reading and writing and spelling – they just learn it differently. In the two years I home schooled my son, I broke down words into syllables, showing him how to read and write three letter words first before joining them, because I realised that a 9 letter word was just too overwhelming for his brain to take in all at once (because they are constantly distracted). The sparkling result was that he never struggled with reading and writing and spells like a dream to this day.
Brains are malleable, and can be trained with time, persistence and patience to successfully do a plethora of things. Too many people underestimate the power of the brain, giving it the ‘red light’ where it might have proved its magnificent potential. I’ve experienced this first hand through specifically applied methods. Contrary to what many well-meaning Psychologists, Behaviourists and Educationalists believe, I am utterly convinced that ‘Adders’ don’t have learning disabilities. They are as capable of doing what the next person can do – just differently.
Allow me to revisit what I said about the world needing ‘Adders’ in my introduction.
As we know, earth consists of billions of people who have selected numerous vocations – genres of which all forms of society require. We need our surgeons, accountants, brick layers, lawyers and cleaners, just as much as we need our inventors, enterprising business moguls, singers and artists. Sir Richard Branson, Justin Timberlake, Jamie Oliver, Michael Phelps, Jim Carrey, and Wendy Davis (Army Wives) who succinctly stated “ADHD makes you different, not defective.”, to name a few, are all ‘Adders’. These amazing people looked adversity dead in the eye and worked harder than most (because they were misunderstood and had to) and became our iconic successes. Many will come after them, many are in the making as I write this and may they continue to fill each corner of the world so that our lives can be made richer and more wonderful than were it without them. ♥
Next time Shannon will be discussing :
How the ADHD brain works and how to get inside the ‘Adder’s’ world. So look out for another post!
Shannon works from her home in Newlands and would love to help those who find themselves feeling stuck and without hope. She will be answering questions on this post too, so please feel free to comment below and she will respond ASAP.
You can also mail her on firstname.lastname@example.org or call her directly on 0827885758