So one day, my son and I were reviewing his day. He was somewhat frustrated because he again had gotten into some trouble. During a class, he said that he had become bored. He changed his lap top settings to show areas of high interest, including the stock market and flight plans. When the teacher discovered that he was not following along with current content being discussed, he was admonished and sent out of the classroom. He told me that it helped him to move to what he liked and that after he did that, he was able to follow along with better focus. How about that? My fourteen year old son who is struggling to understand himself and how he learns...as well as how he can cope with his ADHD impairments...has figured out the concept of re-fueling! I had read something about this sometime after this happened! Of course I knew that kids with ADHD can certainly hyperfocus on areas of interest. But the fact that it actually gives them the power to better focus on an area that might not be of high interest (at least for a little while), was quite something.
Here is an area where positive reinforcement for our children with ADHD could be used in the classroom. Of course it is understandable that teachers are focused on curriculum. Whether a child's interests are discovered by lap top settings or by inquiry, wouldn't it be great if they and all children could be provided a way to incorporate those interests into requirements of the classroom. Literature talks about the need for positive reinforcement, the need for positive relationships in the child's day, and increased self-esteem. Yes, they need to know that there is work needed that they may not always like or may have difficulty in doing well. But it seems that if their teachers have acknowledged their interests and are willing to support them in some way, then perhaps it is a positive situation: a contribution to a very shaky self-esteem and a building of relationships that promote hard work. The reward, again talked about in the literature as being very important, is a healthy self-esteem.
This leads me to the topic of self-advocacy. Parents and teachers certainly need to teach this since it will be absolutely necessary to know how to self-advocate throughout their lives. We parents who support our children with ADHD need to realize that there will come a time that they need to speak for themselves. Certainly self-advocacy can grow with given opportunities like more flexibility in the classroom.
Karen K Lowry, R.N.,M.S.N.
Parent2Parent Family Trainer for CHADD, Children and Adults with ADHD
Author of book, The Seventh Inning Sit: A Journey of ADHD
ADHD Coach for Teens and College Students