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Does Your Child Have ADHD or is He or She in the Wrong Learning Environment?

Summer ReadingAn article in the New York Times said, “Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the new data from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” The article goes on to discuss the increased diagnosis of ADHD and also the increased rates of prescription medication for ADHD. Astoundingly, the diagnosis of ADHD has increased by 41% over the last ten years and the sales of ADHD drugs have increase dramatically as well.

At Brock’s Academy we know there are children with ADHD, but we also know children who have been incorrectly labelled as a student with ADHD.  A child trying to survive in the wrong learning environment can “appear” to have all the symptoms of ADHD.

If there is discussion about labeling your child as ADHD or inattentive ADD, you have the difficult job of determining what is really going on with your child.  Is your child not paying attention, not bothering to finish work, and seeming to zone out because they have ADHD or are they displaying those behaviors because they are in the wrong learning environment?

To answer this, you must step back and look at your child within a broader context.

Questions to Evaluate if Your Child has ADHD/ADD or is in the Wrong Learning Environment

  1. Are you are seeing symptoms of ADHD outside of school?
    Children with ADHD or inattentive ADD will exhibit these behaviors in other environments and in almost all other situations. The exception being the ADHD child will be extremely focused when doing things they are passionately interested in and/or when playing video games. If your child is not exhibiting symptoms of ADHD outside of school, it could indicate they are bored in school and in the wrong learning environment.
  2. Has your child shown ADHD symptoms at school before, or is this an isolated school year?
    If your child does not exhibit ADHD behaviors outside of school and prior teachers have not observed symptoms of ADHD in prior school years, you child probably does not have ADHD. It is more likely he or she has a teacher that doesn’t know how to adapt the learning environment to suit your child’s learning style.
  3. Is your child a hands-on learner? 
    Kinesthetic learners, also known as tactile learners, learn through doing. They learn best when literally moving which requires an adaptive learning environment. If your child is a kinesthetic learner and their classroom setting cannot accommodate their need to move, your child’s learning motion may look like the symptoms of ADHD.

If others believe your child’s behavior in school is due to ADHD and you disagree, you will need to advocate for your child. Have your child tested by clinical psychologist that does IQ and academic testing. This information will be invaluable as you navigate your child’s educational options.

Talk with your child’s teacher and tell them you believe your child needs to be challenged more and/or they need more hands on activities. Ask if the classroom learning environment can be adjusted to fit your child. If that doesn’t work, go to the principal to see what other options are available at your child’s school. If your child’s needs cannot be met by the school, you will need to look at outside alternatives.

Do NOT leave your child in a school setting where he or she may be labeled with a problem they do not have. You do not want your child taking on that belief system about themselves.

Research private schools until you find one that understands and values your child’s learning style. Interview the schools thoroughly as many private schools approach instruction in a traditional way similar to the public school. Remember, you are seeking a learning environment that fits your child, not trying to fit your child into a particular learning environment.

Recommended Reading:
The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child by Thom Hartmann
A Natural Fix for ADHD. Friedman, Richard. New York Times, October 31, 2014

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