Soucheray: Parents of kids with ADHD are not aloneADHD, or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, has come to the awareness of many people in the past 40 to 50 years.
By: Kate Soucheray, Woodbury Bulletin
ADHD, or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, has come to the awareness of many people in the past 40 to 50 years. With the Russians launching Sputnik on Oct. 4,1957, when President Kennedy took office, he proclaimed that the United States would have a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s. This statement required all American children would need to pay attention in class and contribute in a positive, meaningful way.
Up until that time, dropping out of school, or students not doing as well as officials had hoped, seemed acceptable. With President Kennedy’s challenge to the scientific community, the educational climate changed. Assessment of student achievement became commonplace and the focus on grades and testing became a regular occurrence in every classroom.
Do you remember taking the Iowa Basic Skills Test? I think back to the admonition to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast on the days these tests were administered put fear into my brothers and sisters and me, even though we really didn’t know what it was all about. And no one explained the tests to us, either. We simply took them and received the scores a few weeks later, and still, we didn’t understand why.
And what about the kids who had a difficult time paying attention in class or those who just couldn’t keep their hands to themselves? Regular punishment or consequences posed difficulties with so many children in the room and such a focus on success in learning. In the mid to late 1970s, we saw the introduction of medications to assist those students who just couldn’t seem to sit still and be mindful of their duties.
Today, many people ask if there are more cases of ADHD in the United States, due to our lifestyle and busy schedules. In actuality, ADHD is a worldwide phenomenon. However, there does seem to be a greater incidence of the disorder in our country. That may be accounted for by the pioneers who came to develop and settle the land. If they lived in Europe and they intended to start a new life in America, someone might have asked them where they were going and they might have answered, “Well, I guess I’m not sure. I know I’m getting on that boat over there and when I get there, I’ll figure it out.”
Sound like any young person you know? If so, you may have already had your son, most likely, or perhaps your daughter, assessed for ADHD. And most likely if you have a child with the disorder, you also have a first-line relative who has also been diagnosed, or maybe even yourself, as it is highly inheritable.
If you are raising a young person who has ADHD, you know how difficult every day can be. You know their frustration with school material and social experiences. You know how hard it is for them to make friends, to be left out of parties, to keep their desk and room clean and to get their homework turned in on time. For nearly two decades, South Washington County Schools has recognized the need to support parents who are raising a child in this demographic. If this includes you, the support group will provide education, camaraderie and the assurance that you are not alone.
If you decide to attend, you can expect a presentation by a local therapist, medical professional or social worker on a relevant topic that will help you stay calm and focused as you encourage your young person to become the best he or she can be. The first evening of this year’s schedule will take place the evening of Monday, Sept. 17, at Cottage Grove Junior High, located at 9775 Indian Blvd. S. in Cottage Grove. Come to the choir room, which is G106 at 6:30 and we will conclude by 8:30.
The support group is free and open to the public and will have handouts and a Power Point presentation, as well as a listing of the dates and topics for the remainder of the year. If you are a member of another school not in the district, you are also encouraged and welcome to attend. Please call 651-458-6607 to register.
Raising a young person who is struggling with the effects of ADHD, especially now that the school year has started, is taxing on a family. This group may be just what you’re looking for. Consider attending the meeting next Monday and find out if it will help you be the calmest, most reliable parent you can be.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist