Many children with mild to modest symptoms of ADHD are not identified with ADHD until they reach middle school. As younger children, their energy and occasional inattentiveness were attributed by their parents to being a kid or to creativity. In early elementary school, many children with mild ADHD are able to perform adequately academically. If they have an endearing demeanor and are well-liked by their teachers and peers, they may not unduly draw negative attention. Bright kids with ADHD are said to be able to listen 50% of the time while learning 90% of the material. Their energy, enthusiasm, and effervescence are among the five great things about ADHD.
However by the time kids with mild ADHD get to middle school, the demands of academics and their inability to utilize their executive functioning skills effectively begin to cause significant problems. No longer are they able to display a semblance of organization. Their forgetfulness is not excused by a teacher who only sees them 50 minutes per day. Homework that they left at home is graded as a zero rather than brought in the next day for credit.
Kids with more hyperactive symptoms of ADHD who previously were teacher favorites because of their enthusiasm are now just disruptive kids in a classroom where there is no time for folly. This is particularly true in the traditional classroom, which has expectations for sitting in one seat completing worksheets, engaging in drill and skill repetition, or doing primarily written work.
One of the ways to leverage ADHD into an asset is to look at some of the early traits of kids with ADHD and determine how to apply them in their lives as they get older. It is easier once we take a kid out of the classroom, but even at school, there are many places where the symptoms of ADHD could serve as an asset rather than a deficit.
Here are five great things about ADHD that can help your child transform his ADHD into his greatest asset rather than a deficit:
- The ability to move fast and keep going. The world is moving faster, and perhaps your child knows how to move fast. Help him to use this ability by getting him engaged in activities that are fast-paced.
- Encourage creativity. Creativity will be more and more valued in the future. Teaching a child 21st-century skills that involve creativity is likely to be very useful. Many kids with ADHD are naturally creative.
- Kids with ADHD like to be involved. Collaboration and cooperation are also important in the 21st century at school and in the world of work. Some kids with ADHD are naturally social and love to talk. While this is not true of all kids with ADHD, but if your child is one of them, help him to use this skill to build social relationships and to collaborate with others.
- Screens often are too attractive to kids with ADHD. If your child loves his screen too much, find screen-based activities that could lead to a great job when he is older. Encourage him to learn how to code, create videos, develop animation skills, and use other tech-based skills.
- ADHD is about intention, rather than attention. If you can identify things that your child with ADHD loves, encourage this as a possible career. Research tells us that kids/adults with ADHD have a better chance of being a successful entrepreneur than their typically developing peers.
Many of the symptoms of ADHD that are most prominent are seen in difficulty with executive functions. The good news is that we can improve many executive functioning skills. One of the best strategies to help children with ADHD is to approach it from the skill development perspective, where the goal is to improve a specific executive function. We have some great programs for kids with ADHD in our LearningWorks LIVE program. Check them out here.