The Positive Side of ADD
by Katherine West
Why is it that so many teachers only remember or concentrate on the negative problems that ADD/ADHD kids have? Why do they always seem to recall that many have non-compliant behavior? Whether you are a teacher or a parent of an ADD/ADHD student, please take the time to learn the positive effects of this disorder also.
Yes, it is true that many kids with ADD/ADHD are more prone to problems in school. Yes, it is also true that they sometimes are very destructive to themselves and others through their actions. Yes, it is true and sad that these kids have a much higher incidence of teenage pregnancy. Sadly, many of the kids get in trouble with the law. Too many fall victim to depression. Tragically, many of these kids commit suicide. The facts and statistics all show that these kids can be troubled, but they also illuminate just how much promise that these children have. The possibilities are limitless for the successes that these kids are capable of achieving.
Perhaps much of the reason for these negative consequences that children must endure is not simply from their behavior choices and impulsivity, but also a result of the way in which they are treated both by their peers and teachers. So many teachers talk down to these students. Not all, but some of them are unwilling to believe that they can succeed. Many even have preconceived notions of how they will act. This is not just on the basis of what they have seen, but simply because they have been diagnosed with ADD.
It is a sad day when teachers stop expecting excellence of their students! In a famous psychological study, teachers were informed of the capabilities of their students. The teacher in the study was told that one was very intelligent and that they needed to be encouraged. Then, the same teacher was told that this other child tended to get lower grades and struggled with school. After a fair amount of time, the children’s grades reflected what the teacher had been told. The one who was labeled as intelligent had indeed done well, earning very high grades. The other child failed.
What was the reason for this? The experimenter effect is. This is when an experimenter or any person gives their viewpoint before conducting the study. In this case of experimenter effect occurred when the person conducting the study allowed the teacher to fall victim to experimenter bias. This is when the person giving the study shows preferential treatment for one of the subjects even if they are unaware of it. In this case, both of the children were of equal intelligence. They both had IQ’s in the normal range. This proves that when a teacher has a preconceived notion or stereotype of a child in their mind, it effects her ability and inclination toward the child. It also effects the way that the teacher encourages the child.
What can we learn from this study? We must learn to expect and demand excellence from our ADD child! Society needs to be a little less stringent in its definition of the learning disabled. These are bright kids with bright futures! Their promise is nearly unlimited. Between the high energy level, the intelligence, and also the resilience of ADD kids, these children are very likely to succeed in life. We need to stop labeling our children and start to encourage the best in them.
Many teachers forget that these are some of their most intelligent and creative students. They tend to ignore the fact that these kids are able not only able to teach other kids so many things, but also are usually willing to help. For example, ADD/ADHD kids can teach other kids about ethics and humility. Many of these kids know what it is like to be teased, and they know how much it hurts. In many cases, this makes them display a much stronger moral character. Just as there is proof to the negative aspects of ADD/ADHD, there are also countless good aspects of this disorder.
ADD/ADHD students are the best students to get for projects that require high energy levels. These kids are the ones that you want to have involved in sports, choir, and band. Not only are ADD/ADHD kids very athletic, but they are also very outgoing and personable many times. This makes them the best assets for fundraisers, which seems to be the number one function of public schools today. These kids can outsell anyone. Do you know why? It is because they are energetic, smart, resourceful, creative and also resilient! These are the very same qualities that it takes in life to be a successful professional in any field.
These children do have some trouble with conforming to what society considers normal, but this because they are intelligent, creative souls. Many are unable to cope with the daily frustrations of life. Sometimes the reason for the problems is the fact that they must live with many failures or the added stresses of life for a person with ADD/ADHD. This is no indication that each ADD child has these other problems. Too many times our kids are plagued by the stereotype of being unintelligent, hyper troublemakers. This just isn’t the case.
Try to open your mind and open your eyes. You just may see the beauty that lies within that ADD/ADHD child that you know. Perhaps it is the look of disdain that they see mirrored back at them through the teacher’s eyes. Keep in mind that there are all levels of this disorder. Each child is effected very differently. There is a connection between ADD, Autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, and even Depression, but the severity levels are all very subjective. This, by no means, is an indication that each and every ADD child has these other problems. Treat each child as an individual no matter what their learning disability is. Too many times our kids are stereotyped and labeled, which only creates more problems.
While children do need to be diagnosed, they do not need to be labeled. Teachers need to be made aware of just how damaging this can be to their students. Teachers also need to be aware of all of the promise that these children hold within their grasp! I suggest that all parents should get a list of the positive effects of ADD and hand it to their child’s teacher.