When I was growing up, things were different. We didn’t know about ADHD. It wasn’t even called ADHD.
When I was growing up there were no medications for this. Well, there were, but they weren’t prescribed because for the preceding decades this disorder was being studied in prelude to being defined.
When I was growing up, no one knew what to do with me. Now all that has changed.
Yes. That last statement is lies.
Two lies, in fact.
The first lie?
The first lie was that no one knew what to do with me. And that’s because my Grandma next door had custody of my days.
And who was Granny? She was a retired school teacher and I must assume was one of the good ones. She had taught my mother, and then she had taught me.
And we had many things in common, my mother and I, things like needing to be challenged.
Grandma’s challenges …
I suspect that my grandpa was not dissimilar, but as I have already mentioned, ADHD was unknown in those times. So thisÂ was likely my heritable trail to the ancestors.
We were the adventurers, the explorers, the ones who did our best work when we were challenged by the odds and the circumstances.
And my Grandma must have met the challenge of teaching students like me and my mother a few times in her long and storied career as a school teacher, for she knew how to challenge us to succeed and we loved her for those challenges.
And the second lie?
The second lie is the idea that all those things have changed.
I recently read some notes on how, when a child with ADHD is faced with an inability to perform what seems like a simple task because of their inability to make their frontal lobe function, the problem is often solved in a negative way.
Because the child has been observed doing clever and intricate things, it is assumed that they can actually accomplish the task, so often the teacher or parent will apply negative pressure in the form of scolding or punishment. The child, confused and distressed by this seemingly unfair situation will experience a surge of adrenaline caused by the emotional confusion, distress, and possibly even pent up anger at the unfairness.
Now, adrenaline is …
That’s right, a stimulant. And that stimulant will cause the child’s brain to function on a level comparable to the NT brain for a short time, long enough most likely to solve the situation they were previously incapable of solving.
So the end result is this, the initial problem gets solved and everyone is happy. And lessons are learned.
But what lessons?
The parent or teacher learns that if they punish or scold aggressively enough they can fix ADHD. But the parent or teacher also believes that now that they’ve shown the student that they can actually do what they said they couldn’t before, the child will now be less likely to claim inability.
And surprisingly, the child has learned the worse lessons.
The child has learned that solving problems requires panic or distress. They’ve learned that it is not acceptable to claim inability. They’ve learned that fight or flight is the only way to get things done so it’s best to leave them until there’s a panic to get them done.
Now … how long does it take for a child with ADHD to learn not to ask for help?