Have you ever heard of the ‘Pay No Attention’ solution for Attention Deficit Disorder? Recently, a girlfriend who found it helpful, reminded me of it. I’d like to share the story in hopes of helping others understand ADHD.
We’d been in our town for 6 years, doing the school runs, pickups, and drop offs, and living with so much judgement and drama, it had been getting under my skin for long enough! There was too much running commentary from other children, informing me daily that Jasper was so naughty, or Jasper did this, and that bla bla bla (what is it with little girls?) Not to mention the snidely looks and sideways steps from other parents, I had to try something new.
I knew if these people could understand Jasper we could have a better time and a better start to the school year. So, when the first class meeting came up – you know the ones in primary school when the parents of the kids come in and listen to the teacher talk while the kids play outside and pull faces at the window? I asked his teacher if I could have a talk about ADHD and explain Jasper to the parents so they could then explain him to their kids. I was hoping that I wouldn’t receive anymore commentary and he could have a better time.
My town is a dairy town with lots of farming families. It didn’t surprise me that hardly anyone knew what ADHD was. I began by explaining ADHD to the parents. This is what my son has and he struggles with impulsivity, calling out, and moving around the class at inappropriate times. (Inappropriate for the teacher and other kids, not for him!) That he doesn’t mean to be naughty, it’s just that he physically can’t control his impulsive actions, and that he gets very easily distracted.
Pay no attention
I said if you can ask your children to please give him no attention for his ‘silly’ behaviours, but only encourage him when he’s doing the right thing, then that would be a really good start. I explained that I didn’t want their children’s learning to suffer so I gave a few more tips on how they could all have a successful time. Then I played a quick YouTube video explaining ADHD with a little more scientific background. It was short, insightful, even funny at times. The parents enjoyed it.
At the end I asked them to please tell their children to only tell me if he’s had a good day. I really don’t want to hear any negative feedback. And I thanked them with all my heart for taking the time to listen to me.
From that day on
The children, even those little girls) came up to me excitedly to tell me that Jasper had a really good day that day, and left me alone on his off days. That class of kids that grew up with Jasper during his years of primary school are the most resilient kids. They learnt the art of ignoring him even when he leapfrogging over chairs and tables around the room.
There was kindness and understanding from that day on, where it hadn’t been for the years before. My heart and soul had been destroyed previously by judgement and lack of understanding.
It may feel a little daunting to stand up in a classroom full of parents. But it is absolutely worth it and I highly recommend doing so.
My friend who reminded me of this story recently said that all these years later she was so glad that she was in the class that day and had gotten to know and understand Jasper. Her daughter also has ADHD but didn’t know that back then!
I’m a mother of 2, business owner, fashion designer, importer of Moroccan wares. I have a restless soul with an overflowing bucket list. I love writing and sharing stories about life and ADHD. My oldest son, my husband and myself all have ADHD so there’s never a dull moment in our lives!
~ Freya Duignan