Even after decades in pediatrics, I still like to think that I got my real education in my amazing, sometimes maddening, never boring time as a father to my boys – still the most important and educational (for me at least) job I’ve ever held.
We can’t expect every child to have the same gifts or the same reaction to being confined to a classroom all day.
Raising a child of any stripe can be challenging and overwhelming, but the stakes seem to be much higher and more intense when it’s a child with ADHD. (I’m reminded of the old adage that having a child is like experiencing the sensation of your heart walking around outside your body.)
Each of my own three sons is a very unique and different person. I know from my experience with each of them that there is simply nothing quite like that anxiety that sets in when it comes to your child. In early years it may be as simple as worrying about their well-being when they are dropped off at the babysitter or daycare. In later years, that feeling changes and evolves, but never quite disappears altogether; instead the worries just shift a bit to different types of concerns: their health, their friends, their educations, their own marriages and families.
My oldest son is 110% ADHD. My second son is the resident analytical and creative mind in the bunch. And my youngest is ADHD with some obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
They each helped me to see the full spectrum of personalities, talents, and behavior that are possible within our young people. And they have helped me to better understand and internalize one of the core precepts of my work – there is no one-size-fits-all approach: a lesson we need to internalize in the development of our education system.
We can’t expect every child to have the same gifts or the same reaction to being confined to a classroom all day. Let’s flip the system and invest in options for harnessing the unique talents of a wider spectrum of types of students. Too many of our young people – as many as 11 percent of US children between the ages of 4 and 17 – have been cast aside as having a “mental health disorder” and left with a strong sense of shame being directed to them.
We can begin to flip the way we approach ADHD when we consider each child’s story as though they are our own. We learn from parenting how unfathomably unique and unclassifiable our children are, resistant to being placed in any simple boxes. Let’s take the same mindset to our education system as a whole. That’s what FastBraiin is all about.