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Understanding that ADHD is Real

As educators, we have the privilege of teaching all kinds of students. Many of the students we teach at Lighthouse Christian School have had the experience of learning (or trying to learn) in an environment of mass student populated public schools. In fact, many of our teachers have public school teaching experience. The pressures teachers have in the public education system are enormous, not the least of which includes the opposing feelings of empathy, wanting to provide individual attention to each student, and performance, needing to get as many students to pass standardized testing in order to keep a job.

As you can well imagine, there is little if any tolerance for students who may learn differently and, consequently, fall behind in studies and comprehension. The frustration that public school teachers face is enormous. These teachers see the challenges students face with trying to learn. And issues like students who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD only exacerbate the situation. In fact, every year we are bombarded with resumes and applications from public school educators wanting the opportunity to teach at Lighthouse for that reason more than any other.

It seems now more than ever the student ADHD diagnosis is at an all-time high as is the corresponding prescription medicines that combat this condition. Regardless of personal opinion, the condition of ADHD is a very real scenario for many families across the United States and even here in Northeast Florida. Of course, we know there is always the probability of misdiagnosis and overprescribing. Nonetheless, many students properly diagnosed with this condition face embarrassment, harassment, and ostracization.

A letter from a parent of a child diagnosed with ADHD published in a recent magazine summed up several great points regarding her son and ones that hit home for us with other students:

"My son doesn’t want to misbehave" - What seems like misbehavior could be because he is overwhelmed, frustrated or embarrassed. It’s a natural stress response. I wish you knew how stressful school is for my child.

"My son doesn’t mean to blurt out" - The frontal lobe of his brain, which controls impulsive behavior, is under developed compared to his peers.

"Transitions are very difficult for him" - he can’t transition from joking around to getting down to business like you or his classmates can. His joke making and comments in class to gain attention are his way of trying desperately to fit in with his peers.

"No matter how confident he may appear, don’t be fooled" - That is his natural defense mechanism kicking in to convince himself that he is cool. He doesn’t get invited to friends’ homes, he doesn’t play on sports teams with his classmates, and he doesn’t receive texts from close buddies. He is probably seen as immature and annoying by many of his peers.

"My son needs encouragement more than other students" - He is so used to hearing, “..., be quiet,” “’re not trying hard enough,” that the majority of the time he feels like a failure. I wish you knew that when you acknowledge him doing something right, whether he shows it or not, it makes his day.

There are many others. Suffice to say, though, at Lighthouse, we understand that ADHD is very real and we try very hard to accommodate and find the teaching solution for each student.

Pray for patience and understanding!

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