learning disorder

Missed Part I of this post?

  • That a disorder and its weaknesses often also mean specific strengths. My son’s ADHD also means he carries remarkable spiritual and emotional intuition (though admittedly you can hear a handful of emotional aspects whooshing over his head). Dr. Edward Hallowell (himself with ADHD, and a Harvard professor) notes in Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder that ADHD has a remarkable counter effect of spontaneity and courage. Plus, that unstructured thinking brings spectacular creativity; that hyperactivity means tremendous levels of energy, passion, and enthusiasm. He is my most compassionate child, my most zealous, and (whenever he is attentive) one of my most thoughtful and deep-thinking.
  • What true greatness is in a child, or in anyone. Tim Kimmel considers what “true greatness” in our kids looks like in Raising Kids for True Greatness: Redefine Success for You and Your Child. Hint: It’s not found in their careers, their GPA, the label on the tag in their jeans, or the number of zeros in their annual income. Success in my parenting is whether my children become men and women after God’s own heart. It has nothing—zip, zilch—to do with his SAT score or his correct punctuation of an e-mail.
  • My own weakness. In the first months following diagnosis, the thought kept popping into my head like toast: If these kids thrive with structure, why didn’t God give this kid to my mother, the queen of routines? I’m the one who was given the button for my backpack from a friend: I’m not messy. I am creative. (Even then, I thought, What can she mean? I’m not messy!) But this diagnosis meant I needed to change to love better. And all of my relationships have benefited since I finally had the impetus to change.
  • Another way I consistently fail as a parent is in my emotional response inhibition. I’ve struggled with an anger problem (revealed even more by my son’s crazy antics), with off-the-handle responses, and as I’ve matured, still a persistent lack of self-control when my kids mess up. Because ADHD’s lack of serotonin equates to poor emotional inhibition, the need to model is more critical than ever—and with his tornadic inattentiveness, I’m more tempted than ever. In my pajamas, I’d shuffle into the kitchen for a sunrise greeting of spilled milk (jug left open on the counter), swinging cupboard doors and drawers, crumbs everywhere, drying dishes rifled through. “Morning, Mom!” What better way to start my day than depending on God to give me the patience, endurance, and self-control only He can produce in me.
  • Gifts I didn’t know I had. Teaching my son effectively applied my research abilities and creativity to education–which equipped me to eventually teach refugees–and creative teaching methods to teachers here in Uganda. I also became a more creative, disciplined parent. I would have never had to plumb the depths of my God-given abilities had circumstances not necessitated.
  • To increase my trust. Kids with ADHD have a higher tendency toward addiction, depression, OCD, suicide, and so many other truly disturbing possibilities. But aside from what I can do as a parent, my son’s disorder pries from me my illusion that I have my kids under my control. I pray more and have more faith because of this loss—and in that way, ADHD is unquestionably my gain and his. Over and over, those clear blue eyes and those honey-colored arms looped around my waist remind me that my kids and their future belong to God alone. (I will be so glad to meet the girl who will someday be my son’s wife, because I have prayed for that sweet girl a lot!)
  • To love better. Anytime our love gets a workout with challenging personalities–even with my son, who is simply a scattered, hyperactive sweetheart–it’s an act of worship. It’s an exercise in infusing our relationships with grace. And it helps us love everyone deeper and wider.

Recommended resources:
Taking Charge of ADHD, Third Edition: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents
Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential
How To Reach And Teach Children with ADD / ADHD: Practical Techniques, Strategies, and Interventions (J-B Ed: Reach and Teach)

Tell us: How has your child’s story changed you?

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