In this blog post, I hope to help you shift your perspective and begin to see ADHD as a gift.
The very label Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has such negative connotations doesn’t it? When you think about it, it’s terrible… imagine having this label slapped onto you and feeling good about it! It’s neither wonder that many kids labeled as ADHD have a fragile self-esteem.
Author Lara Honos-Webb Ph.D. immediately draws the reader’s attention to this in her wonderful book, The Gift Of ADHD. When there is an associated notion that there is a disorder or deficit, that something is lacking, it can seriously undermine a child’s self-esteem.
In all reality, I do not see ADHD as a deficit of attention but more of a challenge with the ability to prioritize attention. In fact, the kids I have met with ADHD often have a form of hyper-focus, albeit, usually when inspired and motivated by something they love doing!
The prime focus of this book is to help you parent in such a way as to help your child and prevent any associated negativity from undermining their sense of self and self-esteem. This is a critical part of parenting kids with ADHD well.
This amazing author looks at ADHD through a very different lens. A way more encouraging, enlightening and inspiring one. This is why I love the book, The Gift Of ADHD by Lara Honos-Webb, PH.D. as much as I do.
In the opening chapter, titled “Difference Is Not A Disorder Or A Deficit”, the author makes some very valid points, well worth considering:
“If children with ADHD have hyperactivity, why then are ‘normal’ children not considered to have an activity deficit?”
“If children with ADHD have an attention deficit, why are other children not considered to have hyper-attention disorder?”
Her message to parents is loud and clear:
- Reframe negative to positive
- Focus on strengths
- Notice what worked and works over what doesn’t
- Focus on the positive
- Know your child’s strengths and focus on them
- Direct your child to play to their strengths
- Help your child see themselves as unique and with gifts they can bring to the world
- Shift your perspective
- Find ways to connect with your child and have a positive perception of him/her. I discuss this in detail in the FREE download: Help Your Child Thrive With ADHD (accessed on the ADHD tab on this site). Doing these 3 things really made the difference for me and I’d love to share them here with you. Let me know what you think!
“Telling a child that ADHD is a medical disorder sets up a profound barrier to treating the symptoms and helping your child heal.” Lara Honos-Webb PH.D. Page 9.
Back to the gifts:
The 5 Gifts Of ADHD by Lara Honos-Webb, PH.D.
The Gift Of Creativity (Page 89)
The author writes that just as fire needs oxygen to shine and burn, creativity needs spaciness, distractibility, and impulsiveness. Reading those 3 words brought a smile to my face! They describe my son perfectly and I’ll guess that you might have felt similarly? What a gift. To be distracted enough to imagine and fuel creativity. To be able to dream and create. Sure, it does need to be channeled and it’s all good provided it doesn’t happen in a math class! But seriously, these kids are so creative and able to see the big picture, it’s amazing!
The Gift Of Ecological Consciousness (Page 107)
I did not realize that many kids with ADHD have a ferocious curiosity about the living, breathing organic world. They also typically work better through hands-on engagement, fully immersed in the things they are learning about. They thrive on experiential learning which is sadly, often overlooked in the existing educational systems that focus on abstract learning and rote memorization.
The struggles these kids often face at school can, more often than not, be rather viewed as a poor match between styles of learning and current standards of teaching. The author helps the reader understand how the symptoms of ADHD can play to a form of ecological consciousness or engagement with the natural world and may actually represent a surplus of sensuous attunement with plants, trees and animals.
The Gift of Interpersonal Intuition (Page 127)
Oh my goodness, to be able to see a child’s “precocious” interpersonal style as a gift – this is genius!
Also, think about it, if a child finds it hard to focus on all the words coming out of someone’s mouth, they will probably be more focused to the person’s non-verbal cues, facial expressions and gestures and, therefore, understand that person more deeply. In others words, ADHD can be seen as an intuitive form of intelligence. I love this!
Because your child is sensitive to this, to help them transform this sensitivity into a gift, the author recommends you do the following:
- Help your child become aware of the emotion he feels
- Help him figure out whose emotions he is picking up; and
- Help him communicate his sensitivity to the person
She also discusses the concept of reframing Defiant to Self-Reliant (page 135). Many teachers and parents often misinterpret self-reliance as defiance. Because of this, Lara Honos-Webb highly recommends that increasing your efforts and commitment to work with your child’s teacher will be essential to your child’s transformation.
The Gift of Exuberance (Page 145)
As a mom of a child with ADHD I’ll bet that you might suffer from a “hypo-activity” disorder and wish you had more energy!
Don’t you wish you had more energy?
What a gift that would be!
Your child has this gift, inbuilt, raring to go. Just like A Ferrari… but with bicycle brakes. I wish I could take credit for that description but I can’t. This is how ADHD expert Dr. Hallowell describes ADHD. I love it, don’t you! It hits the nail on the head. Boom.
Your child’s exuberance and charisma make him/her fun to be around but it can make it challenging for certain situations. This chapter has many ideas to help you channel that amazing energy and see it as the valuable resource that it is to help her fuel accomplishment, and achieve her goals.
The Gift of being Emotionally Expressive (Page 161)
The key to managing your child’s big, emotionally expressive “ways” is to maintain a deep connection with them.
We have to remember that he is compelled by his high energy to give behavioural expression to his intense experiences. Can you perhaps see his hyperactivity as a strategy that allows him to discharge his high level of emotional experience?
This chapter offers parents many exercises for reining in emotional sensitivity but is also centered around breaking the patterns of intense emotions that is often, automatically followed by an intense emotional outburst. This will help your child maintain his sensitivity without disrupting the environment with an intense display of emotion.
If you enjoyed this blog and it helped you, I would highly recommend you get yourself a copy of the book. I have highlighted many of the facts from it but not discussed the wealth of practical exercises and ideas that the author writes about to help parents just like you succeed in developing some control over the inattentive and hyperactive behaviour associated with ADHD.
They are skill-based activities designed to help you help your child transform “problematic” symptoms into strengths and build the self-esteem that is needed to let him/her shine.
Could it be that ADHD is not a hindrance, but an asset in our fast-paced digital age?
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PPS. Did you know I have a podcast with over 100 episodes on all things parenting? You can find it HERE – The Parenting In The Thick Of It Show.
Other blog posts on ADHD that you might find helpful: