Why is it that the same child diagnosed with ADHD at school, can sit in front of a video screen for hours on end? Many parents feel exasperated at the thought that their child can’t sit still for 15 minutes of Social Studies, yet can easily sit for an hour of video game play. I’ve even heard some parents imply that the child is not really ADHD, but merely stubborn or naughty in the classroom. This is not true. The rapid visual and kinesthetic movement required in playing a video game is very different than anything experienced in class. Many of the children born today arrive with an electrical circuitry that is very different from their parents. Physically wired to function in a highly advanced technological society, these children are confused and overwhelmed by expectations that don’t fit within this fast moving framework. Shamed or punished for behaviors that are seen as disruptive in school, these children want nothing more than to succeed, but lack the ability to slow down and focus their attention in the way that we currently require.
Sharing blocks of information is a more effective strategy than engaging in lengthy lectures or requiring large reading assignments. Engaging critical thinking skills while using a hands-on approach is largely successful. The home and classroom environments need to provide many physical outlets. Physical movement needs to be incorporated into the learning process, not viewed as a separate, disruptive or distracting behavior. An attention span that is short is not necessarily “bad” or something that needs medicating/fixing. We can teach and parent more effectively by helping our children focus their innate abilities. These strategies include moving swiftly through materials, emphasizing key points and blocks of information, as well as incorporating lots of physical interaction. Only then will a child with an ADHD diagnosis be able to learn while retaining a sense of self-worth.