ADHD- When others don’t see your full potential, hang in there!

“It would be nice if you would leave Albert. Your behaviour at school, so distracted and absentminded, and your poor interest in all I teach, set a bad example for the whole class”- A teacher’s comment to young Albert Einstein.
Would anyone ever have guessed (see Facebook post) this would be the report card of the genius Albert Einstein? My guess is that many of you with ADHD might just find it believable. Without even realising it, Albert’s teacher scribed perfectly a description of 3 out of the 6 executive function challenges faced commonly by those diagnosed with ADHD. I am not suggesting that Albert Einstein had ADHD, I do not diagnose and there is no way to prove it. It does prove that academic success is only part of the picture in the lives of successful people. As described- “so distracted, absent minded and poor interest” relate precisely to the executive function challenges as described by Dr Thomas E Brown (PhD).
Distracted -Focus- focusing and sustaining and shifting attention to task:
Absent minded– Memory- utilising working memory and accessing recall
Poor Interest– Effort- sustaining effort, regulating alertness.

Dr Ned Hallowell has a brilliant approach regarding the role of the parent/support person / mentor in the life of a person with ADHD- “manage the challenges and celebrate the strengths”. This seems like a better approach than being frustrated and yelling at them constantly. The beauty of Dr Hallowell’s approach is that it works.

Another successful (and well documented) person with ADHD is the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. By successful I do mean the most awarded athlete in Olympic history . His mother noted that he was unable to sit still and concentrate frequently. She encouraged that he divert his energy into sport, namely swimming, and similarly to Dr Hallowell, her mantra was “continuous praise and positive reinforcement”

So when your child or loved one, through their challenging differences doesn’t fit in with community expectations, be patient, and take a step back. Look at things from their perspective. Help them find their place and their alternate way of being may end up being the guiding path towards their strengths and successful future.