Ask any parent in the middle of a screaming match with their 8 year old over doing their homework and I am sure the resounding answer will be “A PERMANENT PROBLEM!!!!!!!” But is it really the case? Is it an accurate statement to say that children labelled with ADD or ADHD or whatever the latest fancy acronym is are deficit in attention permanently? While yes, it may be clear that the ‘ADHD’ child has great difficulty paying attention and staying focused in the classroom. In this setting they most defiantly be displaying what could be called an “Attention Deficit” it does not necessarily imply they are this way all the time. I would be willing to contest that the very same child who cannot sit still, pay attention or be focused in the classroom for even 5 mins can very easily sit in front of, with laser like focus and rock solid attention their favourite video game. They can play that game for 6 hours without break, pause, stopping for toilet, food or drink. In this setting they can be absolute masters of attention and focus. Very often the level of focus they can display (and we can easily substitute video game for playing sports) would surpass the abilities of most adults! So can we really say that this Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity is a permanent problem or is more that it shows up in certain situations? If this is the case then it leads us to ask several very interesting questions:
- Is drugging these children the most effective method for ‘fixing’ their ‘disorder’?
- Why can they be a virtual ‘genius’ as a video game player yet perform so poorly in the class?
- How can we ‘replicate’ the same level of focus, commitment, paying attention and dedication to constant improvement to their school studies?
Have you ever asked a child who ‘has ADD or ADHD’ what they did in school that day? Chances are they don’t remember or offer up short muted responses. Yet ask the same child to explain and talk about their favourite video game that they beat and clocked within days and you won’t shut them up. Have you ever noticed that these children can’t for the life of them remember their times tables yet can easily real off all the possible pathways and options their character can take through the multitude of levels in the video game? They can remember the most finite of details and appear to have an infinite amount of detail memorised about the game. They can display a virtual photographic memory at the drop of a hat when it comes to the video game yet have the memory recall of a rock when it comes to school work. If school were about being learning how to succeed at video games, learning the history of video games to help be even better in the future at them by knowing the mistake of past players, how of the “ADD / game playing geniuses” would not be a genius?? The answer… NONE! They would all be geniuses and complete those studies with A+’s and they would all very highly motivated to go to school in the morning. As people who have influence and impact on children’s lives, be it as a teacher, parent, a councillor or practitioner dealing with children, the better we get at demonstrating, in a way that children ‘get it’ that excelling in school supports, positively contributes and helps them with what is most important to them, the better children will then do at school. We need to find out what is most important to the child and not belittle it or play it down as ‘silly kid thinking’ and honour it and set about educating them in a way that inspires them to associate doing homework, excelling in academic study to an even greater fulfilment of what is most important to them. That is a child who will love to study, learn and increase their academic knowledge.