According to New York Times–bestselling author Edward Hallowell, M.D., Ed.D., learning differences can actually translate into superpowers, and changing our mindset about neurodiversity opens up a world of possibilities for our kids.
Dr. Hallowell has spent more than four decades treating kids diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and other learning differences. Through his work, he has revolutionized a strengths-based approach to not only identifying neurodiversity, but developing and celebrating the talents embedded in these diagnoses.
Dr. Hallowell recently discussed how parents can transform the way they think about neurodiversity at a recent ParentEd Talk sponsored by Chicago Parent as part of a series of talks with parenting experts. He offers several tips on the best strategies to support the power and gifts of kids with ADHD.
Help your child find the right creative outlet
Whether it is through extracurricular activities, sports or writing,
Dr. Hallowell says that finding the “right difficult” creative outlet for a child is important, as it gives them the level of satisfaction that enables their brain to slow down and focus. Although choosing to do something challenging may sound counter-intuitive, it provides the stimulation the brain craves.
Find the other vitamin C connection
Dr. Hallowell says that all of us desperately need the power of connection, but we are living in a connection deficit world.
“People everywhere are starved for human connection, which I call ‘the other Vitamin C.’ We are super connected electronically, but we are disconnected interpersonally,” he says. ‘The beauty of this Vitamin C is that it’s free and infinite in supply.”
Dr. Hallowell says it is important to provide plenty of doses of human connection for your child. Touch, he notes, is especially important for kids with ADHD.
Expose your child to as many activities as possible
“The best way to recognize your child’s gifts and talent is by exposing them to as much as you possibly can by way of seeing where their brain lights up,” says Dr. Hallowell, who encourages parents to always be on the lookout for what he calls that flash of enthusiasm.
Provide kids with structure
Children with ADHD need structure and support, not punishment. Predictability, structure and routine are the keys to success for all children, and especially those with ADHD.
Make friends with your child’s school
Dr. Hallowell says it is essential to have a good relationship with teachers and administrators at your child’s school.
“If your child is going to that school, you owe it to your child for you to be thought well of when you walk in the front door,” says Dr. Hallowell, who suggests that being an active member in the school community also goes a long way. “Sacrifice for the team, with the team being your son or daughter.”
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