Re: Misbehavior and ADD
Jan Bemis (jbemis@WOODBADGE.MA.ULTRANET.COM)
Sun, 26 Nov 1995 14:22:21 -0500
Like many of the people responding to this thread, I too have a son
with ADD. He is 23 yrs old now and in his 5th year at college with
one more to go to get his Bachelor's Degree. (It takes him a little
long to accomplish things.) Still, he surprised us all by making it
to Eagle Scout.
One of the things that hasn't been discussed is what ADD is, not just
what it does. When Rob was first evaluated in the 2nd grade, the
psychologist didn't know what to call his disability. But he sure
was able to describe it. And for 15 yrs what he said still lives
in my soul.
"What your son has is similar to autism. An autistic child can't deal
with all the stimuli assaulting his senses. The sights, sounds, smells,
are all too much for him. So he tunes it all out by focusing on a
turning plate. Your son has the same problem with these stimuli, only
he can't tune any of it out."
Put Rob in a room with white walls & floors, no windows & no furniture
and he'd still be distracted by the texture of the walls, floors, his
skin & clothing. Is it any wonder that he has a hard time "paying
attention" to anyone or any one thing?
As leaders, this is what you are competing against. That's why "THE
BILL OF RIGHTS FOR ADD CHILDREN" that Mike Bowman posted is something
I pass out every year at my Roundtables when Learning Disablities are
discussed. BTW, these guidelines are also extremely useful when
dealing with young children in group settings (like dens).
Another result of this disability is a poor short-term memory. Which
is why you need to break down instructions into short steps. It took
Rob an entire year to make Tenderfoot because of the memorization of
the Oath & Law. And it took him 6 months to get his Eagle Project
planned on paper.
The last thing I want to talk about is discipline. The first thing
we had to do at home was make it more structured for him. He NEEDED
to know what to expect from us, what we expected of him & what to
expect on a routine basis. Once we were in a routine, he became
more settled and easier to work with. But whenever he had to be
taken out of that routine, he needed support. That meant letting
him know what was going on & why. Also, what to expect. The irony
of this is that what is involved in giving him this structured
environment is DISCIPLINE. Not just for him, but for ourselves as
well. We HAD to be CONSISTENT not just with him but with each other
and his younger brothers, too.
This should help explain why scouting is so attractive to kids with
this disability. Structure, routine, and YES discipline too are all
found in scouting. Whether they have it at home or not, it's what
they are looking for. The problem is that most volunteers don't have
the skills or knowledge required. (Heck, most of the parents don't
either.) So what do you do? Well, most of you are doing one thing
you should, just by reading and asimilating all these postings on
the subject. But, like everything else in this world, every situation
is different. What is the degree of the disability? How does it show
up? How helpful are the parents? What restraints are being placed
on the child at home? We had one boy that was given candy before each
troop meeting! We had another boy who needed a "Behavior Modification
Program" (like my son who had one after school everyday). Meaning
EXPERTS who knew what they were doing. The parents gave him to our
troop. When that didn't work out, they had him join the Civil Air
One more suggestion: To get the child's attention use as many of his
senses as you can & cut out as many distractions as possible. Easier
said than done? Try this: "Get in his face" If you are so close to
him that your face is taking up all of his view, you're controlling
his sense of sight. Also, direct your attention to his dominant eye.
Left-handed, left eye; right-handed, right eye. Speak to him clearly
and have him repeat you. this controls his sense of hearing. And
having him repeat also re-enforces your instruction in his limited
short-term memory. And give the insturctions to him in single steps.
Now for the one that will scare and frazzle most of you. PUT YOUR
HAND ON HIS SHOULDER. Again, his dominant side is best. This brings
his sense of touch into use. It also puts you at the close distance
that you need for maximum effect. I know, YPP has us all in fear.
So what's more important to you? Getting through to the child?
Talk this technique over with the parents. See if they have any
objections to you trying it. You may just be giving them a tool
that they need as well. After 15 years of dealing & working with
my son, 10 years of psycho-therapy, I honestly don't remember where
I picked up this useful tool. I just know it works with my son.
Well, that's all I think I can add to this subject.
Jan Bemis,CSRT Commish, Mohegan Council MA, NECS-40 "Owl",
"What do you mean, there are no meetings tonight!?"
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City