Sunday, 31 July 2016

There is nothing wrong with YOU: Coming to terms with your ADHD diagnosis.

Possibly present in approximately 3-5 percent of the population (Mental Health Canada ADHD) and described in detail in the American Pychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( click here and here for more info on the DSM),  ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a real condition. But like so many neurological conditions, it is not well understood by the general lay population.

As a teacher, I think that part of my job does (should) involve helping parents understand that their child's inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and troubles at home, in their social lives, and at school have nothing to do with being lazy, ill-behaved, or defiant, but everything to do with their ADHD brain.

Now that doesn't sound particularly reassuring, but it should be. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the result of a brain-based biological condition.  It's not a child's fault; they were simply born that way. Furthermore, there is A LOT that you, your child and your child's teacher can do to help your child manage their ADHD symptoms.

It's also important to note, that their ADHD is not your fault either. Yes, it is often genetic and runs in families, but you can't do much about your genes and your parenting did nothing to cause it to happen.

The point behind this post is to help you and your grade-schooler, tween or teenager better understand their ADHD. It does not serve as a diagnostic tool, but simply as a resource bank that can help you along your way.  If you are interested in knowing more about the basics of ADHD check out this previous post: What is ADHD? 

To begin with, there is so much out there in the the cyberworld about ADHD. A lot of it is good, scientifically based information and a lot of it isn't.  A good place to begin (and a humourous place to begin), is with the YouTube Channel: How to ADHD.  I particularly like the following video. It's lighthearted but honest. Watch it with your child and you will probably have a good laugh.

To further help you and your child understanding of ADHD, I've created a TED-Ed Lesson around this video.  It's chock full of really useful resources.  You can access it here: How to know if you have ADHD: A lesson for kids, tweens, teens & their parents. 

Feel free to use it for your own personal use, but don't hesitate to share it or customize it for your own needs.

Finally, I think it is really important that young people with ADHD get to see that they can be VERY successful despite their ADHD. This article and slide show from, an on-line magazine about ADHD and learning disabilities, is a great place to go and help your child see that with the support of their family and educators,  they are going to be perfectly and wonderfully okay.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

What is ADHD? A quick look at a complex condition

I don't think that many of us really understand what it means to have an attention disability. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a brain-based disorder that can make learning very difficult for a student. Children with ADHD are often described as unfocused, disorganized, inattentive, forgetful and hyper.

But does that truly paint an accurate picture?

Probably not.

My students with ADHD are also energetic, inquisitive, personable, enthusiastic, motivated and incredibly good at focus WHEN their interests are piqued. In fact, there is nothing quite like the laser focus of a student with ADHD who finally discovers their interests and strengths.

If you teach, you have students who are ADHD. And if you teach, chances are you might not feel like you know enough about this disorder to provide the kind of educational environment in which students with ADHD can thrive.

So, for the next little while at LearnAbilities I am going to post a new article, resources, and/or lesson on working with ADHD students every week. I hope to provide enough information to you so that when September rolls around and classes begin, you can start off the year confident in your ability to help all your students succeed.

For those of you trying to understand ADHD a little bit better, here is a very quick TED-Ed Lesson that you can use, customize, or share: What is ADHD? A Simple Primer. It provides a brief overview of the condition and a few resources that would prove helpful to both educators and parents.

If you want to dig a bit deeper, I also urge you to take 30 minutes and view the following video.  It's chock full of superb information and was a game-changer for me in terms of beginning to understand what it means to have ADHD.

I'll leave you with one final thought. It is a well known fact that when ADHD students are engaged in something they find interesting, many of their difficulties seem to dissipate. As educators and parents, how can we take advantage of this LearnAbility and use it to help these children thrive?

Next week: How to ADHD: A Lesson for Children, Teenagers and Parents.