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Articles by Dr. Walt Larimore

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Dr. Walt Larimore

Walt Larimore, M.D. has been called “one of America’s best known family physicians.” He is a nationally-known and nationally sought after speaker and health expert. read bio

Learn as much about ADHD as you can

Successful management of ADHD involves a range of options. However, the first and foremost, after diagnosis, is education. The person living with ADHD is usually greatly relieved to learn that he or she has an identifiable, treatable condition. This condition is not caused; you are born with it. It's part of your design and makeup. Best of all, God can and does use ADHD in His particular and peculiar plan for your life.

One organization that may be able to help is known as CHADD, which has and incredible amount of evidence-based and trustworthy information. However, let me share a caution here. Parent support groups, if not carefully done, can turn into gripe and whine sessions. That is not helpful and is sometimes harmful. All of us need someone to gripe to on occasion, no doubt, but unless there's some direction to the group, such as, "Okay, now that we've heard everyone's complaints, what can we do about it?" It just stays at the complaining level. Then the kids pay the price. I've known parents to come home from such a group and get all over their child because of what they talked about at the support group. That's not helpful for the parent or the child.

Wherever you obtain information, be sure to look with a careful eye. Ask yourself: "Is this going to fit my child? Is this going to work in our family?"

Good News for Success

Studies have demonstrated that about 50 percent of adults with ADHD function normally, but the other half continue to have a wide variety of social difficulties. A small percentage have severe problems with their ADHD as adults. Nevertheless, with understanding parents, teachers, and career counselors, ADHD teens and young adults can find professions in which their attention deficit differences are a benefit.

A principal that I have found useful in helping them find their role in God's plan for their lives is teaching them to avoid the "you should" comments. Often, kids will hear teachers, coaches, scout leaders, parents, or even a pastor tell them what they "should do." Now, when it comes to biblical absolutes, the "shoulds" are vital to being highly healthy. But when it comes to career choices, they may be harmful.

For example, Daryl was a patient of mine for over 15 years. His parents thought I should change his treatment.

As Daryl and I talked about his gifts and talents, as we explored those things that really gave him satisfaction and energy and interest, they all revolved around the entertainment world. It became clear to me that Daryl's parents were trying to create a marigold out of a daisy. But, as we talked, I focused Daryl's "shoulds" into "coulds" and "woulds." What he really wanted to do was to get into TV or theatre production. "I love that world, Dr. Walt," he told me, "but my parents don't. They tell me I should do something else."

I encouraged Daryl's mom to allow Daryl to try an entertainment curriculum at his college. She reluctantly agreed. "I guess he couldn't do any worse!" she scoffed.

Daryl returned to school and I didn't see or hear from him for another year. We met at a Christmas party the next year. When he saw me, he just about ran across the room. "Dr. Walt, I've been wanting to see you," he exclaimed as he gave me a big bear hug. As he caught me up on the previous year I could sense his infectious enthusiasm. He loved the curriculum and was making all A's and B's. "I'm going into the television production business," he told me with obvious self-satisfaction. "I'll be doing an internship at a local TV station this summer. Doc, I've really found myself."

Now, finding your place in life is difficult for many people without ADHD, but it's particularly difficult and important for those with ADHD to do this. We, as their friends, parents, teachers, pastors, youth leaders, and coaches, must be part of this process. Let's not lay our "shoulds" on their "coulds" and "woulds."

Commit to giving your child unconditional love

The most important treatment for children with ADHD is first to prescribe a lot of love. They very frequently are accused of not trying, of being lazy, of not being a good kid. Teachers get mad at them. Some classmates get upset with them because they don't do well in school, and they begin to treat them disrespectfully. My heart goes out to these youngsters.

Many times these kids feel like they are second-class. I've had kids in my practice tell me, "There's something wrong with me." I've had kids actually say, "God made a mistake when He put me together. That's why I'm here."

Children simply do not all have to fit the same mold, even in school. For many of these youngsters, parents may need to de-emphasize academics. Simply put, for many ADHD kids, there are things that are more important than academics, such as being loved and accepted by family and friends just the way that God made them. Your child needs to understand that God has a place for her and has given her a special gift, and that she does have specialized ability. She needs to know that you are going to work with her to discover and develop those special gifts and skills, and that you can't wait to see what God's going to do with her. This may be far more important to your ADHD child than getting too excited over the fact that she is not doing quite as well in the classroom as others.

Loving these kids unconditionally does not mean expecting them to do less than their best – the best that they can do. It does mean helping them discover their giftedness, recognizing their weaknesses, and directing and encouraging them to overcome challenges and achieve those things that they are gifted to do.

Used with permission from the book ADHD Doesn't Mean Disaster by Walt Larimore, M.D.

Medical information within this site is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of any health condition. Please consult a licensed health care professional for the treatment or diagnosis of any medical condition.

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