Many people, when they hear that a child has been diagnosed with either ADD or ADHD, think that the child has a problem. Often the conversation can quickly move to topics like “Is your child being medicated” or “It must be difficult for you.” While ADHD/ADD can be difficult to manage and deal with, it is wrong to say that a person with ADHD/ADD is broken or has something wrong with them. In fact, these people are often the thought leaders in society and possess creativity that can blow you away.
The biggest challenges that a person will face when they have ADHD/ADD are the expectations imposed by society. For a teen to succeed in high school they must learn to concentrate and study. For an elementary grade student mastering the need to “raise your hand” when answering a question can be very tough. Again, this does not mean that this child is broken. It is more accurate to say that the way they are wired is not completely compatible with the expectations in most schools.
I think that for a person with true ADHD/ADD two things are important. First, a proper diagnosis. Many people are prescribed medications to deal with the symptoms of ADHD/ADD without being diagnosed. Second, it is important for them to learn coping skills and techniques.
The importance of a diagnosis is to make sure that it truly is ADHD/ADD causing the problem and not something else. For example, a child might find it hard to focus in school because they have a hearing problem. A teen might be distracted in class because their parents are starting divorce proceedings.
Once a diagnosis is done, then any medication prescribed, if needed, will have a greater chance of working. Also, the coping skills that a person with ADHD/ADD might learn can be different than those taught to the teen who is upset with their family situation.
Working with children and youth that have ADHD/ADD is one of my passions.