Beware the Prophets of ADHD Doom
September 13, 2005 (Washington, D.C.) – A
day does not pass without families affected by Attention Deficit
Disorder reading about the dire consequences and catastrophic results of
Scan the headlines each day and you’d swear Attention Deficit Disorder
were a deadly disease.
The prophets will speak in legion this week as we observe “National ADD
Awareness Day.” As Executive Director of Celebrate!ADHD®, I urge
children and adults with the symptoms of AD/HD to be diagnosed so that
they can understand their unique wiring and develop a positive,
proactive life plan to achieve success.
But this is not what happens. Instead, families are warned of the
ruin that awaits them and their children if they are not “treated,”
which in most cases is synonymous with being medicated.
How often do doctors, psychiatrists and therapists
entrusted with the education of parents explain (1) the positive
advantages many children with ADHD possess and (2) how to work with
their child’s nature in order to cultivate their gifts, strengths and
The answer is never. How can we be so sure? This past summer, 150
families from across the country attending our Trailblazers™ Creativity
Camp in the nation’s capital told us.
Not one parent had been told that their children did, indeed, possess
advantageous qualities and character traits. Nor had they received a
positive action plan.
Despite the fact that educators and learning specialists spent untold
hours preparing an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for their children,
not once had any professional taken the time to prepare a proactive
Action Plan for cultivating their child’s natural gifts, talents and
While critics claim that we are being irresponsible for celebrating
“such a horrible disorder,” we believe that the prophets of doom and
gloom are enveloping young children in a dark cloud of negativity that
is far more harmful than the direct effects of ADHD itself.
What happens to the self-confidence and dignity of a
young child when he is told by every adult that there is something wrong
with him? How quickly does the obsessive focus on fixing his every
weakness destroy his curiosity and development of his strengths? How can
a child feel empowered when he is told he cannot be successful without
the help of a pill that changes who he is?
We do not deny that children with ADHD face challenges and have
definitive weaknesses. But so does everyone else. Most successful people
in life leverage their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.
But society demands that children with ADHD deny their nature and learn
How would the “normal” students fare if we demanded they be graded based
on their ability to work independently; express tremendous energy while
writing, painting creatively or designing complex structures;
hyper-focus on projects for hours at a time?
Their parents would claim the requirements aren’t fair, that their kids
aren’t wired to be creative, energetic leaders.
And yet we subject children with ADHD to a system which is hostile to
their very nature—and then demand that they be medicated because they
can’t or won’t conform.
Ironically, the very same prophets of doom who cannot bear to utter a
positive word about children with ADHD are the same ones who extol the
accomplishments of trailblazing leaders in the arts, science and
business such as Galileo, Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Einstein, Monet,
Michaelangelo and Spielberg.
Can you guess the irony? All of these leaders possess
the same qualities as children with ADHD. Even more ironic? They owe
their very success to the energy, creativity, innovation, passion and
persistence afforded by ADHD.
The fact is that there would not be a need for Celebrate!ADHD if
doctors, psychiatrists, therapists and educators would simply help
parents and children develop a positive action plan to leverage the
strengths of children with ADHD.
Parents sensing this void have flocked to our Camps and Workshops,
hungry for a positive approach and a solid Life Success Action Plan. It
isn’t brain surgery, it’s common sense.
So when you hear the dire warnings and see the negative cloud settling
over your child, rest assured that there is another side to the story.
Understand how your child is wired differently. Harness the energy and
creativity to leverage competitive advantages, and turn potential
negatives into positives. Identify and cultivate natural gifts, talents
and passions to build confidence. Teach your child how to use his
intuition and sensitivity to understand people and develop strong
friendships. Build a sense of purpose by showing your child how he can
use his gifts to help others.
Keep celebrating children with ADHD. And, above all, take time to enjoy
your child just as he is.
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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
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