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Much experience here. I assume you roll LD and ADHD into the milieu because there is such a broad spectrum of phenotypes. For the group as a whole, I give every one of the boys the same opportunities. If they are having problems associated with this topic, I have usually been informed of it by the parents up front and I try to keep them (the parents) involved and as informed as possible. On an individual basis, if a boy is having a tough time, I will ask him to stop for a moment and to make eye contact with me while I repeat what was said. Then I ask him to explain the task, if that was the topic. If he missed something we do the iterations. We (the leaders) watch activities carefully to try to spot potential problems and ask the boys to rethink things before they get in too deep. We've had a couple of rough cases but it has been pretty good overall. As a leader, it helps a lot to have lived through the experience with one of his own, but every boy is different. They're all just great in my book.
- Nov 2003
Ditto to what Packsaddle had to say. Eye contact is important, especially for those with a severe case of ADD. I had to deal with a boy like this all week at camp one year. After explaining something to the group, I'd usually catch the ADD Scout, make eye contact, and explain things again. If this was not done, you could bet every time he'd not do what he was supposed to do.
Be patient, many of these boys will outgrow much of this over time...
- Dec 2003
Raising 3 sons with varying degrees of ADD & ADHD & LD doesn't make me an expert but I have learned many tricks of the trade. They do not outgrow true ADD & ADHD. They do learn to live with it if properly directed. Eye contact, as stated above, is important but so is auditory contact. Use the scouts name when talking to him. Have him repeat to you the directions. Many people with ADD can hold a conversation and listen to another conversation at the same time. Don't think they aren't listening just because they aren't looking at you. Break the task down into only a couple of steps then have them come back for more directions. As with any of the scouts, look for the talent and use it, and then use it again. It's so easy to fall into the trap of negativity. Find the positive and reinforce it. Just do it a little more with scouts with ADD. If mornings are slow, have them wake up first. Show them ways to be organized on camping trips. It's not commonplace to them, they need the intervention of being shown an improved way of doing things. Just don't give up on them.
Just back from a week at summer camp, so I may as well step in it with both feet. I have a very non-politically correct view of ADD. I'll probably catch a boatload of grief over this, but here goes....
I think ADD is grossly over diagnosed. At the day camp I run an average of about 10% of the boys are reported as ADD on their medical forms. As these are Class I forms I don't know if these boys are all medically diagnosed as ADD or if that is just the opinion of the parents. In my old den (now in Boy Scouts) and my younger son's den there were five Scouts on medication for ADD -- that's five out of about 20 boys. I have zero expertise in this field, but I can't imagine the true incidence of ADD is anything approaching 10-to-25 percent. Something is wrong with this.
Of the ADD boys I've had direct contact with (primarily the five in my sons' dens), four of the five responded very well to good, old-fashioned discipline: telling the boys what is expected of them and then expecting them to comply. All the same, basic rules and tricks of the den leader trade that work on the other Scouts work with these boys. With all five of those boys, their parents did little or nothing to discipline them. The boys could be setting the building on fire and the parents would blythely continue on with their conversation as if nothing were happening. In my opinion, most of the boys I've delt with whose parents claim they have ADD really have LPD -- Lazy Parent Disorder.
Now before those of you with ADD children track me down and blow up my computer, please understand that I'm not talking about you. I'm sure your child really has ADD. I'm sure there are children out there with ADD who need and respond to medication and therapy, but it sure as heck isn't anything like 25 percent of the population.
As to your question OGE, I treat ADD boys the same as the others -- I expect them to behave themselves. Perhaps sometime I will be faced with a child that has a real medical condition and that approach won't work, but it hasn't happened yet.
Twocubdad, I'm not on the attack here. I can't judge your specific experiences because I don't really know them myself. However, I entertained a reaction similar to yours regarding my children for a short while. My reaction at that time was properly termed, 'denial', ...not the river in Africa.
If the 'diagnosis' is delivered by a teacher or impatient parent of another child...or for that matter school guidance counselors, I might be suspicious. But if it is the result of careful testing by experienced pediatric psychologists or similar-level professionals, believe it. It is a real thing and regardless of statistics, it has an impact on the individual boy in a way that is specific to him. And leaders must address it on the individual level most of the time. The earlier the child begins to get some understanding by surrounding adult authorities, the more likely the child is to succeed.
While it isn't very easy for us as adult leaders...it is much more difficult for the boy. Hang in there.
- Sep 2001
I, also, am not on the attack. As the parent of a child with ADHD - a very real medical condition - I agree that kids with ADD/HD should be treated the same. You should have the same expectations from them as you have for all your other Scouts. You also need to have some understanding. The biggest thing I struggle with myself, is that one day, he'll be great. Pay attention, follow directions, not be disruptive. The the next day, he's out in left field again. Nothing different in the day- same routing, same types of foods. It's just his brain chemistry. Even with medication, he has good days and bad days. It is frustrating.
He is different at Scouts. He enjoys it, so, it keeps his interest and he can focus a little better. But there are times when he can't and those are the times that he needs more understanding from his leaders. He needs to be redirected, not disciplined. I thank God we have a terrific SPL who has sort of taken my son under his wing. He just seems to know how to get through to Jon and help him along so that the adult leaders don't have to step in too often. In spite of their claims to understand how to handle kids with ADD/HD, their way of handeling my son seems to be by yelling.
As for your theory about Lazy Parent Disorder - while I want to take you to task for that comment, the fact it's your perception. I know that I expect my son to behave appropriately. Sometimes he doesn't - and just because I don't discipline him in front of you, doesn't mean he doesn't get disciplined. I also have a higher level of tolerance for his behaviors than other people might. He's lound, he talks a lot (I mean A LOT), and he is the most persistent kid you'll ever meet. All of those things can be annoying, but it's part of who he is. And I love who he is.
I really do understand that there are children who have a very real medical condition of ADD. These kids need our empathy and best efforts to help them succeed despite their condition. We have a couple Scouts in our pack with moderate to severe behavioral and learning problems who are a real challenge for us.
Let me say first that when I say that children need discipline, I don't mean punishment. I believe discipline is teaching and training children to behave and conduct themselves as expected. If a child (or anyone) has discipline, they avoid those thing for which they may be punished. Children need to know what the expectations are and they need to be taught how to meet them. I can't help but believe that an ADD child could benefit from more discipline that other children. The tricks and techniques you mentioned in your earlier posts are good examples of what I'm talking about.
But on the other hand, far, far too many parents are much too quick to label their children ADD. Schools and probably some professionals are complicit in this as well. It's an easy excuse for their child's poor behavior AND their laziness in dealing with it. Disciplining a child is hard work and believe me I understand some are more work than others. One of mine is like that. You have to stop what you are doing, deal with the child, make a plan, execute and follow through. It's much easier to just sit there and let him go. And if you can throw out "Well his meds must be wearing off" as cover to the other parents, even better.
This is the case with the five boys I mentioned. When I take the time to work with the boys, explain how I expect Cub Scouts to behave and let them know I'm serious about it, four of the five respond. (I think the fifth kid is just evil, but that's another thread.) Their parents are amazed how well their sons behave at Scouts. Not amazed enough to get off their butts and do something about it, but still amazed. They are content to sit in a corner and let their boy run wild or worse yet think he's being cute.
As to my perception or that of the general public, these folks with "convenient ADD" are the ones making it difficult for those with a real medical condition. Given my experiences, when someone tells me their child is ADD my first thought is "Yeah, right." I admit that makes it difficult to recognize and deal with the one child out of 20 with a real problem. I hope that when I am faced with a child with a real problem, I have the wisdom to recognize it.
OGE - You asked how to deal with ADD, that is a rather loaded question. It might be easier to answer if you described the particular child involved. You can not generalize ADD or ADHD (which is VERY different from ADD) from one child to the next. Just like every person is different in his own way, every child is affected by ADD or ADHD differently. Some are severly affected and require heavy duty meds and parental support. Some are just mildly affected and manage to, mostly, compensate with behaviour modification. Then you have everyone in between.
Your best bet is to talk to the parents to get an idea of what/how their child responds best to. One thing to keep in mind is that boys with ADD/ADHD have usually had to put up with more teasing thruout their lives than the average boy. They are seen as "different". What you may see as "boys being boys", troop tradition, etc, could be affecting these boy strongly.
My son is what I would call slightly "twitchy", but not hyperactive. He is however ADD. He could forget, or lose, his head or other body part if they were not attached. His Troop has the unfortunate tradition of singing for lost/forgotten items. He was forced to do this a few times, each time becoming extremely embarrassed and then teased by the other boys, and in some cases by the SM. The thought being that the singing and "friendly" teasing would "teach" him to remember his stuff. Guess what, it didn't work. He couldn't be "taught" to remember things by being humiliated or punished. Trust me, his teachers had tried for many years. Detentions did nothing to "teach" him to remember to write down homework, do homework, bring completed homework to school, or not to lose homework.
My son finally determined that if he was told to sing for something again he would simply tell the SM he could keep whatever it was. Well, he actually was a tad more graphic about what the SM could do, but I convinced him that he was being unscoutlike! The end result was he just never told the SM or any of the ASM's when he was missing anything. He would either get info/copies from a friend or retrieve his item when the adults were otherwise occupied. What he did "learn" was not to overly trust his Scout Leaders.
I started this thread to begin a resource for both parents and scouters who have had ADD/ADHD experiences. My son has ADD and is Dyslexic as well.
ScoutNut, you may well find it interesting that a few of the forum members think singing for lost items (hazing in my book)is a good charactor building exercise (see Uniform section, Marked with a name?)
ADD and ADHD might very well be over diagnosed today, but it is very real for those who have it. As a child I always had classmates who were perpetually being told to "buckle down" and "get off the clouds", They were ADD unknowns. I was told constantly that I had such great potential if I would only "Apply myself", never did figure out what that meant
- Jan 2003
I believe that ADD/ADHD is very real, AND, very over diagnosed! The experts still have trouble diagnosing it. SO we as Scout Leaders should not be making our own determinations. Some parents will very quickly let you know if their son is on medication, others will simply say nothing. If youre having trouble with a boy, I believe that it is perfectly acceptable to politely discuss the situation with the parents and give them the opportunity to tell you something that they may have wanted to keep private. YOU have a clear need to know if this boy is going to be on outings with you!
Boys with ADD do not exhibit the same behaviors, as do boys with ADHD. ADD kids can be very calm and quiet they just dont get it. With these kids you simply need to provide a constant reminder of the task at hand. I think that most Leaders wrestle with ADHD kids. I have one of these boys in my den. He is a loveable little boy who has more enthusiasm for Cub Scouts than any other boy Ive yet to come across.
What I do with him is this; I keep him busy. I talk to him often. I dont let him get too wound up, what I mean here is that as he begins to build speed, I slow him down. I try to keep him near me. And last but not least, if we break up into groups I always take him.
He is a fair amount of work. The one thing that does concern me is that he is singled out by virtue of the amount of time that my attention is directed at him. Any thoughts?
- Apr 2004
I too have a scout in my troop with ADD and if he cna put his mind to it then he can work all night but there are some nights when he can't focus and I was wondering if anyone had any type of game/project that can help him go throughout the ranks.Right now he is a scout.
BSAT17 - my son is ADD/inattentive and LD (smart kid with difficulty processing information). If the boy you're dealing with is at all similar to my son, if he's having an "off" night, the most valuable thing you can do is just let him be. My son is not disruptive (the ADD/inattentives aren't), he just "zones out". In the format of a troop meeting, you can't get his attention without singling him out. As others have pointed out, this is not productive. If you can, make sure you circle back and try to fill him in on what he missed later or, depending on how involved his parents are with his scouting, fill them in.
As to a game or activity, it's very hit and miss as to whether or not you'll find one that will keep his attention. And I guarantee what works one time won't work another.
And yes, it's very frustrating. His medically diagnosed condition is THE reason I'm a scouter. Good thing I had all that camping/backpacking/swimming etc. experience as a kid! Otherwise he couldn't possibly keep the level of involvement he has because he would miss too much information.
BSAT17 - It's great that you not only recognize that the scout has a problem, and that you are willing to work with him so he can get the most out of the program.
Unfortunately there is no one thing that will work. What might help is when he is unfocused to have one of the older scouts work with him to help keep him on track. When he is unfocused he will work better in smaller groups without a lot of distractions. Hands on stuff will also help hold his attention better than book study.
Make sure that he has notes on what he needs to do/bring for the next meeting. If at all possible give the notes to his parents and not to him. Keep in mind that, since ADD/HD runs in families, it is more than likely that one or both of his parents are ADD/HD also, so remind scout & parents of deadlines often!
Bottom line, make sure this Scout (& all the Scouts in the Troop) are having fun while they learn! Ranks will come eventually - or not. Remember that making rank is not the purpose of scouting. It is only ONE of the ways that are used to achieve that purpose.