ADHD Article December 1999


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ADD/ADHD has had a large impact in my life and this year more so than ever. Six years ago when I first learned about ADHD, it's impact on my life was an immense one which ultimately would go on to change my life.

As the new year rolls around my kindergartener with ADHD is now a young man in middle school, and my daughter whom professionals thought was suffering from depression and Post Traumatic Syndrome is herself, ADD. My relationship of 4 years ended on Thanksgiving and I can see the tracks of ADHD all around it. My life is now going to have to change again. With this New Year being such an important one, with the birth of a new millennium, I think about the resolutions I might make this year and wonder if I might take better care to make resolutions that will bring about a better quality of life for me, my family and others who deal with ADHD in their lives. I think this year, I will resolve to learn more about teenagers and ADHD since I have two of them, learn more about ADDult ADHD, since I will soon have one, to learn more about how ADHD affects relationships because I can see now how challenging it can be and last but not least… lose weight : ) Merry Christmas to EVERYONE! I hope your holidays and safe and joyous ones and may the New Year be the BEST ONE YET!

Parenting Preschoolers: The Short-Order Cook And The Lunchtime Rush

by Dr. Steven Richfield

When I think back a few years ago to when both of my sons were precariously nestled in this age range, here's what comes to mind. First, the rhythm of family life was often unpredictable and filled with discovery and emotion. "Unpredictable" because children in this age range are subject to many twists and turns as they try to navigate themselves through the world. One reason for their directional changes is their one over-riding goal to discover what's new and interesting out there. And, often times, it doesn't much matter to them whether they have put aside other destinations that we have given them on their "trip tik." What's most important to them is something new or exciting or funny or daring or belonging to someone else or some combination of the above or some other driving force that we haven't considered. But, inevitably, these discovery missions backfire. During their travels, they get scared or hurt or anxious or we get impatient or frustrated or just plain angry with them. And, of course, that's where the emotional fall-out occurs; their's as well as our's.

This leads me to the topic of parenting relationships with 3-6 year olds. And in this case, one word comes to mind: changeable. Parenting kids in this age range can be likened to the job a short-order cook during the lunch time rush. All kinds of different orders appear before us, each one feels urgent to our customer so time is of the essence, and don't even think about making a mistake because we're supposed to get it right each and every time. And while we're busy doing our job just right, our 3-6 year old's may occasionally bring to mind the image of the maddening lunch time customer. They forget to bring a newspaper to pass the time, sit at the counter, loudly tapping their finger, complain about the wait and the meal, and then forget to leavesa bad tip.

Our parenting role changes like the cook's lunch time orders primarily because our kids are so changeable. Parenting asks us to fill many roles in our children's lives: provider, nurturer, playmate, mind reader, observer, authority figure, confidante, tutor, the list goes on and on. And no where in child development are these roles more fluctuating than in the 3-6 year old age range. This is because they are emerging from the egocentric cocoon of earlier days and taking steps toward becoming a member of the community of people.

That's not big on their agenda. So they need us to coach them in bridging that gap. Here are some coaching points to keep in mind when parenting 3-6 year old's:
1. Ask yourself; "what is my child really asking of me and how should I respond?" Many times our kids express an emotion or display a behavior, such as what I call "urgency protests"(insisting upon our immediate fulfillment of their order) or "confused complaining" (complaining about something that they really wanted to do). We may respond to their words by simply reinforcing the reality: "you have to wait" or "we're doing this for you," and so on. But it can be helpful to speak to the issues that lie beneath the surface. For instance, with urgency protests, parents might explain that things don't happen as quickly as they want them to and part of being a big girl or boy is being able to say to yourself, "I can wait till it's time." With confused complaining, parents can explain that getting disappointed by things happens to everybody but we can say to ourselves that there are still good things to look forward to even when I'm disappointed.
This brings us to the second coaching point: 2. Look for ways to distill larger lessons from repeating patterns of behavior. Parents of children in this age range are often confronted by repeating "what should I do?" questions as kids hit pot holes in their journeys. For instance, in one family a 4.5 year old boy insisted on introducing himself as Luke Skywalker to anyone whom he met. Most adults enjoyed his pretending but when he did this with children his age or older it posed some problems. He was challenged or laughed at or even ignored. And this led to anger, tears, and threats to retaliate and some very close-calls with his light saber. Obviously, the solution was to get him to tell new people his real name but he refused at first. The parents were then advised to broaden the discussion to friendship rules. The child was told that just like there were rules for the dinner table and preschool classroom there are also rules for making new friends. These rules help kids feel safe and get to know each other better so they can play pretend games. But most of the time kids don't want to play pretend games until they know a little bit about the real person they are playing with - especially their real name. Once this was understood and followed, parents could add more rules to the list, such as asking if others wanted to play Starwars rather than automatically assuming that he could just direct the action.
3. The next point relates back to the emotional ups and downs of life for 3 to 6 year old's. Their perspectives tend to get very narrow when things unexpectedly take a turn for the worse. A dead battery, a broken wheel on a toy, a lost part, or some other missing ingredient can trigger intense feelings and a prolonged absence from any kind of rational thinking. And to make it even more bewildering for parents, this can come on the heels of a rather mature discussion that you just had with them about their opinions on something. We are wise to keep in mind as our 3-6 year old's get totally unhinged by what we tend to see as the relatively unimportant: don't let yourself get unhinged along with them. Our kids learn more from our example than from anything we tell them. Our actions, our problem solving approaches, and especially our responses to stress (especially the stress they produce) represent an ongoing seminar on life. And since we are their models, whether we like it or not, they watch and record our responses to the outside world, and many of those eventually show up in them, for the better or worse. Their reactions to unexpected frustrations are related to how hard it is to accept that the world is not under their control, that random, uncontrollable events are all around us, and even Mom and Dad can't do anything about them. This is a bitter pill to swallow. Mostly, the best we can do is to comfort and coach them to the point of acceptance. But keep in mind: this takes years so be patient.
4. Next on the coaching pointers list is self-esteem. Research has found that parents of high self-esteem children show particular strength in 3 parenting dimensions. These roots of self-esteem are high warmth, high expectations, and high respect for autonomy. I will briefly comment on these 3 qualities:
Warmth: to young children especially, nothing looms so large in their psychological world as their perception of being impt in our lives. The child's experience of being accepted inside the family is vital throughout development, but it is especially critical in these formative years. As they age, their sense of belonging in the family frees them to seek other attachments. Our expressions of acceptance become internalized in the form of self-acceptance inside of them. Warm and accepting parents are affectionate, liberal in their praise, involved in kids' lives, and responsive to children's emotional needs. For the 3-6 year olds, this means a lot of verbal and physical affection from parent to child.
Expectations:consistent, reasonable demands for placing effort into goals are the prime mover for the sense of self-confidence so integral to self-esteem. And because performance requires skills, we must accept our responsibility as coaches. We model, teach, assist in order to bring their skills up to the performance levels that our kids are going to be realistically judged by. If reasonable and communicated with warmth, our expectations lead developmentally to their own internal expectations to meet goals.
Autonomy: this refers to how much parents tolerate and encourage their child's sense of individuality. For example; soliciting their opinions, encouraging them to express themselves, and watching them develop into a separate and autonomous individual. And within this category also comes the importance of the child's learning to disagree in the family. This means that children need to feel free to express their concerns, doubts, or hopes without our attempting to change their minds or force solutions upon them. Children who grow up with parents high in autonomy support feel that appropriate self-expression is a valued trait, that our love and respect for them is not contingent on their having the same opinions and ideas as us, and that it is impt to speak up for what they believe.
All of this relates to strategies for effective communication. Obviously, communication is one of the vital pathways to make all of this happen in our relationships with our kids, but the way we go about it must gradually shift as our kids grow so that our approach matches their developmental and temperamental needs. As we talk to and listen to our kids, at different points along the journey, we are wise to consider what is expected at their age, what is realistic for who they are at their point in maturity, and what activities, expectations, and responses should we provide in order to help them grow into healthy and happy adults (c) Dr. Steven Richfield
The Parent Coach 12/15/99

Disability Rights are "Civil Rights" too

Reed Martin, J.D.

Government agencies and public schools still don't get it. Our kids and their families are still having to fight to get simply what they are entitled to in public schools. They are not asking for charity, or asking for schools to feel sorry for them because they have a disability. The accommodations that we fight for are not "I can't be expected do as much as typical kids do so you have to go easy on me." Our kids have a right to an end to the illegal and unconstitutional discrimination that every day bars students with disabilities from access to what typical students receive. Our special education laws are federal, because they are based on the "equal protection" and "due process" clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The first court cases on educational rights of students with disabilities were in federal courts and cited Brown v. Board of Education as their basis. Our children with disabilities have civil rights which should be respected equally to the rights of racial minorities, females, language minorities, students of different national origin, sexual preference, and so forth. These federal special education statutes, and court cases, were required as part of the effort to stop the discrimination that has forced so many children with disabilities out of public schools. Two recent cases illustrate the continuing problem. [More information about these and similar cases can be found in "Advocating For Your Child With AD/HD and LD" by Reed Martin]. In W.B. v. Matula [67 F.3d 484, 3rd Cir. 1995] the child has AD/HD. As the federal Circuit Court of Appeals described it, he was considered a disruptive child by the school because of, among other things, "not paying attention in class... failing to remain seated... difficulty beginning tasks, difficulty finishing those that he did start and difficulty coloring within the lines..." When the parent began to advocate for her son, E.J., asking for evaluation and a program that would deal properly with his differentness, the school district kicked into high gear. The Court of Appeals described the school's "seemingly endless attacks on the parent" and stated that the parent "has been left with no alternative to an enormously burdensome struggle in order to obtain E.J.'s rights under IDEA." The school just didn't get it. If that student had been a racial minority trying to get access to their neighborhood school or a female student trying to get access to school sports, this writer would assume that the school is now sensitized to those issues and would know better than to try to harass the student out of school. Equally important, if someone did try to drive the student out of school because of race, or try to keep a girl from equal access to sports, we assume someone else would speak up and point out the wrong being done. Our problem is that the general public, and school personnel and government officials in particular, have not become sensitive to the rights of students with disabilities to the degree that they have been forced to become sensitive to issues of race and sex discrimination. Another recent case drives home the point. In Leslie B. v. Winnacunnet Coop. Sch. Dist. [28 IDELR 271, D.NH 1998] the federal court found that the student had ADD but the school had refused to accept the parent's physician's diagnosis. Leslie was subjected to a hostile environment that effectively prevented her from attending school. The court noted "it is clear that Leslie was not going to receive an appropriate education at a school where she was repeatedly assaulted, both verbally and physically, by a hostile peer group." One expert witness at the trial stated clearly that "she was singled out for hostile treatment by her peers on the basis of her disability" and "she was attacked by her peer group who sensed her extreme vulnerability..." The federal court concluded "it was clear that the hostile peer group at Winnacunnet was preventing Leslie from receiving an appropriate education there." If she had been harassed by her peers because she was a racial minority and the other kids did not want her in their building, don't we assume school officials would have done something different? But the fact that she was being harassed because of her disability seemed to be acceptable in that school district. The school officials, according to the court, called it "typical high school kid stuff." Maybe the principal remembered fondly how much he enjoyed making fun of a kid with a disability back when he was in school. This writer has seen too much of this in the past thirty years of advocating for students with disabilities. As our nation and our school systems continue to become sensitized to other, very important, areas of discrimination, the educators do not seem to understand that our Congress was required to pass Section 504 in 1973 to address unconstitutional discrimination against persons with disabilities, and then had to pass the IDEA in 1975, and then had to revise the IDEA in 1986 to emphasize the federal legal remedies available to attack illegal school district discrimination, and then had to include public schools in the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 because the illegal discrimination continued, and had to revise the IDEA again in 1997 to make remedies available to parents even stronger. Our schools' continuing violations of our kids constitutional rights are what keeps requiring the Congress and the federal courts to have to act. Our kids with AD/HD and LD are a civil rights minority who, in terms of numbers, are larger in most of our nation's school districts than are the population of other civil rights minorities (except, of course, for females, who are, in fact, a majority). Yet those other minorities receive more protection. And the worst perpetrator of this misunderstanding is the federal Department of Education. The Office for Civil Rights needs to be recognized as the Office for Some Civil Rights. Complaints that a minority student has been harassed out of their school building because of their race gets an immediate response. Complaints that boys in a school have refused a girl access to gym equipment brings threats of termination of funding. But complaints that my child with AD/HD and LD has been denied their rights, has been allowed to fail in school and be socially promoted, is now so far behind their peers in reading that they are teased mercilessly in classes where there is group reading and discussion, has developed an emotional overlay, is now on medication, and can no longer attend public school -- is greeted by a yawn from the Office for Some Civil Rights. It must be bad parenting. It could not possibly involve civil rights. Perpetuating this discrimination, this politically popular choosing of which minorities will receive protection by the federal government, is a recent program from the federal Department of Education "Safe and Drug Free Schools and Community" program. School districts across the country are receiving funds and beginning to participate in this program. The idea is to teach students sensitivity to minorities, recognize unlawful harassment, and to teach how to stand up to fellow students and stop that harassment before it drives the student out of school (or, of more recent concern, drives the student to violence). So what are the minorities that are targeted in this new federal initiative? The discrimination that they are concerned with is harassment based on race, ethnicity, sex, religion or homosexuality. The feds keep forgetting our kids with disabilities who face, every day, harassment from teachers who do not believe "a kid like that belongs in my class," administrators who view our kids as discipline problems, and other students who try to pretend they are somehow worth more because they can make our kids feel like they are worth less. The battle for our kids' equal rights is far from over. And it is clear that it will continue to be a battle that has to be waged by the parents. Our school districts and other government agencies continue to be followers, not leaders, in this fight. [For more information about how to wage this battle in "Advocating for Your Child with AD/HD and LD" contact] This information is educational and not intended to be legal advice. Reed Martin is an attorney with 29 years experience in special education law. He can be reached through email at or

Michelle Davis "Correcting Learning/Behavioral Disorders Naturally"

"Change, Imbalance, and Steps taken towards Correction"

This past month has been one full of what I titled this month's article on. Many times we believe that it's only the people around us that have to be treated or taken care of when often times we're included in the scenerio. I found that there were things that I needed to do for my own health. Several months ago I got a Depo shot used as a pregnancy prevention that lasts 3 Months at a shot literally. After several months of having the shot and telling myself it would get better the symptoms kept getting worse. ( depression, continuously tired, bleeding, and more) My parents raised me to see a problem for what it is and then take steps to correct the problem. I made an appointment with a doctor and promptly got on the pill to balance out my hormones. My personal imbalance placed a strain on my relationship and made it harder to deal with other circumstances that would normally been dealt with easily. One of the circumstances that one sometimes has to deal with is getting two parents to deal with discipline in the same manner. Generally there is a disciplinarian and then a passive parent. The two parents feel frustration with each other do to the lack of understanding and compromise. When there is a continual butting of the heads the parents relationship suffers, the children often go without discipline, and occationally there is a break up between the parents. I have seen this with my own parents and the old saying of "what comes around goes around" I am living proof that there is validity of this statement. I am the discipline/reward person and my partner feels guilt when the kids get into trouble and doesn't want to react. If we had not come to a compromise I do feel that the relationship wouldn't have lasted and the child involved would end up with a long history of oppositional defiant behavior with all the punishment resulting in school continuing into adulthood. My partner now takes on some of deciding upon the discipline and is Increasingly taking responsibility with carrying out the discipline. This is a breath of fresh air for me since I don't like being the bad guy all the time even though I balance it with reward. The child involved is seven years of age who has had very little Discipline and has the symptoms associated with attention deficit and oppositional Defiant behavior. I thank God that I have already gone through this with my son and am taking steps towards dealing with the lying, fighting, sneaking, forgetfulness, and the wanting to start arguments. I discussed the symptoms involved and proceded to put the little boy on the herbal drops that have worked successfully with my own son. He takes them in the morning and also in the middle of the afternoon. The behavior of fighting, sneaking, forgetfulness, and the wanting to start arguments has lessoned to a considerable degree already. Vitamins are given at night and the symptom of lying is addressed through the follow through of consequence of his actions - disciplinary action. Discipline is begun when the lying begins and if continued more discipline is added Such as the continuous taking away of privileges. If we had just disciplined without vitamins and herbal drops the symptoms still would not have been addressed and the attention span wouldn't have been there enough to have full comprehension for the child of why he was being disciplined - in other words - a repeditive action occurring frequently without any result. I get many letters from parents and some who are just curious about the success I have achieved with my son and others through natural alternatives. The success achieved has been hard worked for , taken incredible research, and is worth it by seeing my son every day continuing to better himself leading a "normal" life. The relationships at school are continually developing, he has earned the respect of the whole school, school work is up to level, and I am proud to take my son anywhere without reservation. This has all been Earned by Prayer and Commitment. The books that I have written I sell together to educate you to help you and your family along with helping me to help you to find the right direction for your situation. A study guide that together we can see what you've already done and see where you may need to explore. The herbal drops are essential along with vitamins, etc. The herbal caps I use for attention and weight control without gitters. My son now takes them in The morning since his attention span is milder attention deficit now. His appetite is not effected at all and my grocery bill can verify that! If any of you decide to write me in the hopes to better your own health or your child please do so knowing that financially there is a commitment. I now have two children to pay for herbal drops and herbal capsules plus vitamins/herbs for a family of five. This is a commitment to better health for all of us. I don't have doctors bills from flu and colds, etc. We take on the financial responsibility to buy what it takes to keep our family healthy. There is no magic wand that will take care of your problems but taking steps to buying what you or your family needs will bring about better health. Outside of my two books that I request you to buy to help you have better understanding and for you to use to work with me I give you the option to find a distributor for the herbal drops/capsules in your area, and I tell you where you can save a considerable amount of money buying vitamins in bulk. Your financial commitment to health is not to me and it never will be but to you and your family. Please read the following parable that I wrote and then decide which One you are. If you find you're the first then it's up to you to take steps to correct. Parable of two types of People When asked to build a fire in the fireplace, the first man looks around the surrounding area for any type of non important paper of any kind (opened envelopes, trash bags, newspaper, etc.)and then proceeds to grab some wood logs.. He then throws down the logs and just stuffs the paper available around the logs. Next, he opens the can of kerosene and pours it all over the logs. From a distance he leans over to light the fire concerned that he may be consumed by the flame as it ignites. The fire lights and races upward going higher and higher. Within a few minutes the fire comes down almost as fast as it went up leaving the paper in ashes and the logs just scorched never really burning at all. The second man approaches the fireplace and views the stack of newspaper placed a safe distance away to be used specifically for starting a fire. He then sets a certain amount of paper aside for the fire and then proceeds to move toward a box half filled with kindling and the other half with sticks next to a wrought iron stand holding a multitude of logs . At this point he ponders what type of fire he would like and then proceeds to pick out the appropriate number of logs, kindling, and sticks. Moving back towards the fireplace he stops and takes the matches out of a drawer nearby and gets the kerosene. Now he is ready to build his fire in the fireplace by placing the kindling and sticks strategically and then the right sized logs on top. With further observance he rolls up the newspaper and again strategically places them where they would be of the best benefit. The kerosene is lightly sprinkled around and on the logs. Kneeling down with his matches he lights different areas and flames are ignited. The fire rises upward slightly but the flame tends to stay within a few inches of it's original height and only after a significant amount of time does the flame begin to dim. This type of fire warms not only the one room but over time heats up the whole house and continues to smolder till there only exists ashes. Then it is time to clean the area and build another fire while the warmth is still present. Those who have eyes to see please see and those who have ears to hear… hear. This is how I view life and commitment. I believe that anyone who is given the chance to know me will see that I can build a fire that lasts. Follow through and consistency is what wins the race not how fast. This is an opportunity to look inside and make a commitment to make changes and follow through.

By: Michelle J. Davis