What If There Really
Isn’t Anything Wrong with ADHD Children?
September 1st 2005
August 31, 2005 (Washington, D.C.) –
Robbie Raffino used to rise every day like most eight-year-olds. He’d
wipe the sleepiness from his eyes, throw on shorts and shirt that don’t
match and eat cereal while watching cartoons.
But the innocence ended there. He’d swallow his Ritalin, hop on the
school bus and enter a world where teachers, therapists and
psychiatrists would try to “fix what is wrong” with him.
Children like Robbie—who have tremendous energy, don’t respond to
classroom lectures, prefer independent work and are natural leaders—are
often diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Unfortunately, most “experts” begin with the premise that these children
suffer from a disorder, meaning an “abnormal” functioning of the brain.
This flawed premise leads to a natural conclusion—that society must
change these children to make them learn and behave like everyone else.
Parents Shelley and Andy Raffino of Chicago express a
common frustration. “We spent so much time trying to fix our son’s
weaknesses that we never focused on his strengths. The constant
negativity, pressure and medication destroyed Robbie’s confidence.”
Not surprisingly, children subjected to the endless chorus that “there
is something wrong with you” often lack confidence. Even well-meaning
attempts to medicate further erode their dignity—the kids feel powerless
to succeed without the help of a pill and just don’t feel like
But what if there really isn’t anything wrong with these children? How
would our attitudes, treatment and children be affected if we recognized
that these children are wired differently for a distinct purpose?
Ironically, the very society that has labeled and devalued these kids
desperately needs the unique qualities that only children with ADHD
possess. Who else possesses the energy, creativity, innovation, passion
and persistence that lead to breakthroughs in science, the arts and
business? New research suggests that up to 75% of entrepreneurs exhibit
the classic symptoms of ADHD.
Fortunately, organizations such as Celebrate!ADHD®,
which equips children with ADHD for success, champion a more positive
approach to ADHD that give families like the Raffinos new options.
Contrary to those who view ADHD through a negative prism, Celebrate!ADHD
enthusiastically celebrates the unique differences and advantageous
traits children with ADHD possess.
We believe that current treatments are based on a flawed premise and
false assumptions. Society does not assume there is something wrong with
the child who cannot write creative stories, paint beautiful landscapes
or lacks initiative to work independently. So why do we assume children
with ADHD have a disorder because another part of their brain is
Likewise, it seems absurd to state that children with AHDH cannot focus.
In fact, they display unmatched concentration when interested in a
project or subject.
An inordinate amount of time, energy and money is spent trying to change
behaviors and qualities that don’t need to be changed—time that would be
better spent cultivating the child’s natural gifts, talents and
And this is the core of our philosophy. Work with the
child’s nature and wiring, not against it. Identify and then cultivate
inherent strengths because this is what successful people in every field
do—they focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses.
This philosophy leads to a different treatment for children with ADHD.
Don’t try to change the children. Change the way you teach them. Change
their environment and expose them to opportunities for success. Provide
avenues for them to express their gifts, talents and passions.
This past summer, the Raffinos sent Robbie to our
Trailblazers™ Creativity Camp in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Rather
than spend our time figuring out ways to change Robbie, Celebrate!ADHD
collaborated with the Raffinos to develop a Life Success Action Plan
that works with Robbie’s nature. The positive results have affirmed the
wisdom of this approach.
Robbie no longer takes Ritalin. According to Shelley Raffino, “Robbie
said he feels good, feels like himself for the first time in months.”
He’s less irritable and more relaxed with friends. And yes, the
increased energy level is back.
To provide a healthy outlet for Robbie’s physical and mental energy, the
Rafffinos have provided avenues for Robbie to express his creative
gifts. He is taking guitar lessons and beginning to build a small,
online business selling hand-made crafts. He is putting his energy into
activities which breed confidence.
In the classroom, the Raffinos have partnered with Robbie’s teacher to
accentuate his strengths. In order to more fully engage Robbie, his
teacher is incorporating more hands-on activities, enlisting Robbie’s
help in class and focusing assignments on subjects that interest him.
Robbie still has his struggles—as all people do—and his wiring presents
challenges. But the Raffinos are thrilled with the changes. “It’s like
we have our little boy back. He’s himself again, and that is priceless.”
your own article or story here.
By Kirk Martin
Kirk is Executive Director of Celebrate!ADHD, an
organization equipping children with ADHD with success. His passion is
transforming these amazing children. His website is
Related ADHD Articles.
Keywords and misspellings: ADHD AD-HD AD/HD
Ritalin ritalan hyperactivity