Much of the well known symptoms of ADHD are linked to behavior: hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inability to focus. Unfortunately, those who are not well informed about ADHD believe that behavior can be controlled. In many cases, bad behavior is correlated with a bad kid and that if that kid had parents who knew how to parent, the bad behavior would go away.
It is truly sad for both parents and children who find themselves at the other end of others’ ignorant scrutiny; those who do not have a knowledge base and make up accusations based on what they believe to be true. They do not accept ADHD for what it is; a medical, neurobiological diagnosis.
Much of the child’s day is spent in school with teachers and administrators who many times react to hyperactivity in a negative way. A negative response only creates more negativity on the child’s part: they cannot control their hyper, impulsive, non-focused self without structure in place. The vicious circle continues as the behavior worsens, peers blame the child for whatever goes wrong, and the child’s self-esteem plummets.
It is important for parents who are advocating for this child to be aware of negative behavior in school. I have heard of many situations where the school feels it to be justified to send the child out to a different setting where behavior is supposedly dealt with in a better way. No, this is merely their way of saying that they cannot deal with this child and hopefully someone else will be able to in that setting. That setting could be filled with children who have conduct disorder, another co-existing condition of ADHD but much more violent.
It’s important to know that IDEA, Individuals with Disability Education Act, is a federal law that supports these kids with disabilities. If the behavior seen is a manifestation of the disability, then the school is expected to have an effective behavior plan in place. If not, or if it’s not working, then they must perform a FBA, a functional behavior assessment, in order to determine triggers for that behavior. With good information, an effective behavior plan can be developed with goals and positive incentives.
Yes, these children can control their behavior with the right support and structure in place. Positive reinforcements with built in ability for success despite small failures, can allow for goal achievement. The knowledge that this child can achieve and measure up to expectations only serves to elevate self-esteem. Without self-esteem, there is no motivation to achieve.