Years ago, I worked with a young boy whose labels included gifted and talented, learning disabled, and ADHD with hyperactivity. One morning while waiting in the cafeteria for school to start, this boy turned over an entire cafeteria table with seats attached. The principal, in an effort at fairness and understanding, said, “Bob, I know your medication had not taken effect. It’s OK.” What happened? Was it really OK given the child’s disabilities?
Imagine a filter in the brain. The filter screens out excess sensory input. In most people, the filter works automatically when needed. Children diagnosed with ADHD have sluggish filters. Even when bombarded with excess noise, sights, or feelings, the filter does not do its job. The child feels flooded with sensations.
Stimulants such as caffeine and drugs such as Ritalin give a boost to the sluggish portion of the brain. One perplexed teacher offered a warm cup of coffee to a hyperactive child who mellowed out rather than becoming more active. With the jump-start, glucose utilization improves and the child with ADHD reacts more normally in terms of attentiveness, impulsivity, and excessive movements. Continue reading
“I do not want any child to cry the hours I did as a young person or hear the harsh words I did. I never quit trying to improve; even at 75, I keep keeping on.” One of my cousins recently wrote those words. She continued, “In college my third semester I made an A. Oh man, was I excited. I got to give a 20-minute presentation on my research paper. Talking was my best test to take.”
Every parent and every teacher needs to “get” the grief behind those words. Dyslexia, a widely accepted disability, continues to create feelings of inadequacy. All too often, adults accuse children with this disability as being lazy. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In 2013, I retired from the teaching profession. Through the years, I sometimes had the opportunity to work with very intelligent children who struggled to read or write. From personal experience, I share two important facts. Continue reading
This story has been around and I have read it before. Today, as I read the piece again, I realize that the message provides much more than a sweet sentiment. The message provides an important truth. This story reminds us that love and kindness always top winning the game — or winning the argument — or making more money.
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
Here is the father’s story
Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father, I understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps. Continue reading