Back to School: With ADHD

I originally wrote this thirteen years ago for

As school has just started or is about to start,  I am republishing this for all the parents struggling against a school administration that does not try to understand that each child is unique and has a unique way of learning.

I knew there was something bothering her. My daughter is usually a happy 12-year-old but as she approached my car she had a look on her face that was more serious than I had ever seen.

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“Daddy, I think there’s something wrong with me.”

I said what any good father would say: “Honey, are you sure this isn’t something that you should be discussing with Mom?”

“No, Dad,” she said with that frustrated teenaged girl tone that she had developed over the last few months “It’s not a girl thing. It’s about my Bat Mitzvah! I am weird — all the other kids complain about their lessons, but I like them. Is there something wrong with me?”

After explaining that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her, I began to realize how far she had come, and how profoundly proud I am of her. You see, there is something in my daughter’s brain chemistry that makes her a little different and causes her to be distractible, unorganized and impulsive. It also gives her a high IQ, a wonderful creative mind, and a sense of compassion that goes way beyond kids of her age.

She needs to work extra hard at tasks just to get started, but her intelligence, resourcefulness and work ethic enables her to surpass most of the kids her age. Most nights she has to work on her studies till 9 or 10 pm and because of her hard work and intelligence, she was on Honor or High Honor Role every semester since her entrance into Junior High School. Not bad for a kid with ADHD.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) is not rare.  It effects between 7 and 8% of all kids, yet it has been my experience that most adults are insensitive to the people who are affected by the problem.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard ADHD or “Hyper” used as a derogatory term to describe any child with behavior problems. Some insensitive adults even describe themselves as ADHD on a day when they are not performing at their usual levels. Those comments are as hurtful as they are untrue…


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