“I think your son has ADHD.” I have heard this sentence from every teacher Kade has had and just about any adult that expects him to sit still for an activity for more than 5 seconds.
In PART 1 of Kade’s story I talk about how we went to see a behaviorist and had him tested for ADD and ADHD. He does not have either. After our horrible experience that I talk about in PART 2, my husband and I decided to take our 3-year old son out of preschool for a few months during the holidays and then place him in a new school the following January. But a new school was not the answer.
Since our experience at the previous school was so traumatizing I had the behaviorist go into his new school to help Kade and his new teacher with the transition. The behaviorist explained Kade’s needs and also showed the teacher many different behavior management ideas. The class was a third of the size from his previous class, the environment was totally different, even the teaching style was opposite. There was no bullying, physical or mental abuse, but Kade still did not thrive. The following conversation pretty much explains the next 3 years of Kade’s life:
The teacher asked for a meeting about a month in and said, “I think your son has ADHD.” She continued to tell me that he will not sit still, gets bored easily in centers, and finishes his work so quickly that he then gets into trouble by doing something he should not do. This time I have ammo. I ask her if she has done any of the behavior management ideas the behaviorist showed her. Her answer was “No.” She continued to tell me that if it was just Kade that got in trouble she would have the time to use the management ideas but he’s not the only one…
Hmmmm, he’s not the only one. Maybe it’s not the child then.
Once Kade was taken out of the other school environment he never got in trouble for hitting a teacher again (imagine that!). The problems occurring were: not sitting still, not sitting the “right way”, not listening, being “too” active, playing with toys the “wrong way”, not participating in activities, talking… These problems are so common that you can find Behavior Charts on Pinterest for them! But in a class of eight 3-year olds these things can drive any adult crazy. I realize that. But does that mean these students have ADHD and need medication?
Or does that mean the education system is not working for these children? Peter Gray states in his book Free to Learn, that “those whose personalities don’t fit are seen as failures, or as suffering from a ‘mental disorder.’ Instead of adjusting to the diversity of personalities, schools try to mold personalities to fit the school, often with drugs (86).”
It was not until Kade entered into 1st grade that I came across two amazing co-teachers that understood that difference. Kade doesn’t get perfect Behavior Grades in school but conferences this year have been filled with words like “excellent” and “normal boy” and “passionate” and “social.” Words that should be used to explain little active boys. But still the system is not allowing him to thrive; he’s just surviving.