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News Story
Updated: 04/12/2014 08:00:01AM

Helping children to succeed

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In response to the teacher who thinks we should not help our children …

If your child had diabetes, would you not help them control their blood glucose levels by modifying their diet or providing insulin? Would you let them fail by allowing them to be responsible for their own diet or medication, knowing that they may not be able to manage either of them? Do you let their glucose levels get so out of control that body functions such as vision, kidneys, and the ability for the body to heal begins to fail them?

If your child broke their leg, would you take them to the doctor to get a cast, crutches, or a wheelchair to assist them with accessing your house or school campus safely?

If your child had a vision or hearing impairment, would you not assist them by providing them with glasses or hearing aids? Would you not assist your child by ensuring that they are wearing them? Would they be solely responsible for utilizing them each day, possibly failing assignments or classes because they forgot them?

Failure to care for our children’s medical needs is neglect. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition, just like all of the previous mentioned medical conditions. ADHD is a diagnosed neurological, neurobehavioral, developmental, neurobiological disorder, not a label. It results from an imbalance or deficiency of certain neurotransmitters, which helps the brain regulate behaviors. It greatly affects executive functioning skills, mental skills located in the frontal lobe, such as managing time and attention, focusing on tedious and uninteresting tasks, planning and organizing, and memory. These children do not choose to be this way.

Labels do not cripple children, lost opportunities do. The term “labeling” implies that the diagnosis defines the child. “People first language” exists to recognize the person first and all other characteristics later, namely diagnoses. All people deserve this respect. Just because a person has a limitation due to a medical condition does not imply that they need a label.

By not properly diagnosing ADHD, hence “labeling,” and treating or managing the disorder, research has shown an increase in substance abuse, anxiety, and compulsiveness. Undiagnosed ADHD can result in low self-esteem, embarrassment, frustration, and loss of confidence. They are often left to feel lazy and stupid. These results are what I’m guessing I am to refer to that children need to experience to struggle. Failing a grade may be what some children need to push them to succeed, but understand that this may not be helpful to all children.

Receiving a proper ADHD diagnosis was never meant to allow children to have an excuse, to lessen the expectations, or to “protect” them. It is simply to better help children, parents, and teachers understand why children are struggling to succeed, rather than feeling like a failure or worthless. The diagnosis helps them to learn why they may need to approach things differently. Children with ADHD may need more help than typical children. Every child is entitled to a “Free and Appropriate Education,” (FAPE), to allow for maximum educational success. This is why there are legislation regulations and laws that are meant to assist and protect children with disabilities. Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were designed to ensure that student with disabilities have equal access to education.

Accommodations were never meant to give an unfair advantage, only to level the playing field by providing strategies for children to be more successful. Such examples include direct instruction to gain attention, use of an agenda to manage assignments, lessen distractions, and assistance with organization. Accommodations do not include not having to complete assignments all together, rather shortening the assignment to show mastery of the skill. They are also not meant to imply that we do not need to teach our children how to be responsible or how to “adjust themselves.” Accommodations help to teach children what they need to do to manage their disability as they get older. The hope is that if we use accommodations to help them learn these strategies as children, these strategies will become habits and routines as they become older. Some children may always need accommodations.

The good news is that most children with ADHD eventually recognize their strengths and learn how to use them to become productive, successful adults. Children with ADHD often possess creativeness, originality, the ability to think outside of the box, and have great energy. They are often awesome thinkers and creators.

It saddens me to think teachers with these thoughts are at schools educating our children, who themselves need more education. It’s too bad that some teachers will never have the opportunity to meet some of the most unique, talented, and intelligent children who happen to have ADHD.

I know some people believe that I am just another parent “labeling” and “protecting” my child and making excuses. The important thing to understand is that it’s not that I love my child so much that I don’t want him to struggle. These children struggle enough. It is that I love my child so much that I want him to succeed!

Written by a parent of a child who has …”Hey, look at that squirrel!”

KARRIE BLAIR

Bartow


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