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District ADD-ADHD Parent Education Class Well Attended (January, 2007)

The parents who gathered together for the AD/HD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder commonly called ADD or ADHD) nodded repeatedly as J. Gail Gibson, lead parenting specialist from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, described the clues to identifying a child with AD/HD. They had seen at least one of the symptoms if not more in their children and sometimes in themselves.

Gibson facilitated this event held by Bright Elementary by sharing her own story as the mother of a now adult child with AD/HD and by sharing a video by the late Dr. Paul Warren entitled, “Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum.”

Gibson explained that she had denied for many years the fact that her son was AD/HD because he made good grades in elementary school. “He is extremely smart and he was able to cope, but when he got to middle school it was like he was another child,” she said, explaining that issues of the higher grades such as changing classes and homework from multiple teachers seemed to overwhelm him. He continued to have problems in high school and college, she said.

This parent education class was held at Bright Elementary but attended by parents throughout the district with students of all ages; it was designed to assist parents in identifying AD/HD, alert them to warning signs, and offer tips for helping their child deal with the disorder.

“Often these children are gifted and brilliant,” Gibson explained. Dr. Warren’s video noted that the children with AD/HD don’t regulate their world as other people do. They do not solve issues by looking at a task as having a beginning, middle and end. Gibson held up a piece of wire with the ends frayed and disconnected as a demonstration of life with ADD. She urged parents who see focus issues, children who are easily distracted or who seem to have problems with social skills to keep a good dialogue going with teachers and to seek help from qualified physicians.

Usually a teacher is the first person outside the home to notice the symptoms. Communication with educators is a key to helping a child with AD/HD, Gibson said, explaining that she did not tell teachers when her child went into high school that he was ADD thinking that he would have a fresh start and not be labeled. “That was a mistake. They knew it almost immediately.” AD/HD students typically have serious problems with organization. Parents throughout the room nodded as Gibson described the backpacks of the typical AD/HD child. “If you are wondering if your child has ADD just start looking in their backpacks,” she said. The comparison was made during the class that posed the question of whether a parent would fail to get glasses for a child who couldn’t see the board but instead tell the child to keep trying. The point was made that this would be the same as telling a child to try harder when he or she has untreated AD/HD.

Following the program many of the parents expressed the need for further education or a support group in the community, according to Lucy Cantu, parent education coordinator for Bright Elementary.

Gibson recommended visiting for information about dealing with AD/HD. The website also has information about on-line support groups.