For decades, politicians have spent thousands of hours writing legislation aimed at helping kids with ADHD and learning disabilities (LD). Parents and schools have spent billions of dollars getting children tested and delivering special education services. Despite all this, most kids with ADHD/LD still hate school. Why haven't we been able to find the solution to this problem? We've been looking in the wrong place.
Current efforts to help children with ADHD/LD don't work because they don't take into account that these kids are under chronic stress. They are required daily to do what for them is physically impossiblestaying focused, reading with peers, sitting stilland live in a constant state of feeling inadequate and embarrassed. To protect themselves, children use the defenses nature provided them: they freeze, fight, or flee. The problem is that kids with ADHD/LD in school have no place to run, no place to hide, and all too often they get labeled or punished if they shut down or fight learning. Chronic stress impacts kids' brain functioning, behavior, social skills, and academic learning. Nowhere to Hide shines a light on this important yet overlooked phenomenon in the lives of children with ADHD/LD, offering guidance for parents and teachers to help kids improve learning, behavior, and self-esteem.
Jerome Schultz reframes kids' behavior as Saving FASE (Fear, Avoidance, Stress, and Escape) and provides his step-by-step DE-STRESS model, which helps kids reduce stress at school and at home. This book will change the way parents and teachers think about why their kids find school and homework so toxic. It also includes rating scales, checklists, printable charts, and practical strategies that help students break the stress cycle and attain the confidence that comes from competence.
From the Author: Questions Parents and Teachers Ask
My child is really well-behaved at school, but he does a real "Jekyll and Hyde" when we sit down to do homework. As school gets harder, this problem is getting worse. What can I do?
|Author Jerome Schultz |
Ask your son's teacher to “prime the pump” by giving the kids the opportunity to do the first two homework problems together before going home. This way, your son will have his homework page all set up and when he pulls it out, he’ll have the first two done correctly. This will serve as a "competence anchor," and should increase the likelihood that his brain is saying “I can” rather than "I can't." Our 10-yr old daughter can write for hours about a topic she's interested in. But when her teacher asks her to write on a particular subject or if the assignment is structured in any way, she shuts down. We can’t just let her write these open-ended stories forever…any suggestions?
Journals or "sagas" can just flow, because there are no required stops and starts or changes in topic. Structured writing requires a special kind of mental organization. Some kids can't think in "outline" form, and they get stressed when asked to condense a huge topic or to put their thoughts in a particular order. Here's an idea that has built a bridge to required writing for many kids: line up 4-6 photographs of an experience your daughter has had (like a field trip, or vacation), and have her write about these in sequence. (It’s even better if she was the photographer!) She'll be familiar with the scene and the order in which the events happened, both of which reduce task-related anxiety. Teachers can do the same kind of activity by printing out slides or pictures that your little girl can put into order (and maybe do this with a classmate, for fun), and then write a short essay about what she has just thought about. If your daughter balks at writing, let her dictate the story to you while you type it. Then she can cut and paste images and personalize the piece. The key here is to create a mental image of the event and the sequence, to make it more familiar and put some boundaries on the material. My son Aiden (age 8) talks and talks and talks and talks! It used to be cute--we've even got a YouTube video of it! But in school, it's a real turn-off to other kids (and, we imagine, to his teacher as well). We don't want to keep telling him he has to "let other people talk," or keep saying "Now, be a good listener, Aiden." What can we do to get him to be more aware of his communication style and take better charge of it?
Kids who talk non-stop often need more "training" when they’re not in these social situations. The training should be fun. Some ideas: Give Aiden a tape recorder and hand him an object, or show him a picture. Tell him he “has to” talk for 1 minute, but then has to stop. Then play back what he has said on tape, and reinforce the story he has told, but more important, his ability to stop when he's supposed to. After practicing this several times, try it without the tape recorder, asking him to "find his own stop button," and turn himself off when he thinks he's talked for a minute. You time him. If he overruns the clock, say "stop." If he "beats the clock," all the better. He's showing self-control-- which is the name of this game. Then switch roles, and let Aiden time you!
You can also play a "build-a-story" game in which each of you (or later, more family members) tell a piece of a story that the next person must build upon. Set a time limit (ring a bell, or knock on the table) when 30 seconds is up. The rule is "you can finish the sentence you just started, but you have to stop and turn the story over to the next story-teller." This can be hilariously funny and lots of fun. Remember, when there’s humor, the brain works in more positive, helpful ways. If the teacher or the speech/language therapist at school is made aware of this kind of practice, they can use the same verbal strategies in school, including some of the same verbal cues that encourage awareness of others and self-control, such as, "Time to hit the 'pause' button, Aiden." We've had our daughter tested several times. She has some significant challenges, to be sure, but the reports always sound so negative. Our little girl also has some outstanding strengths that don't show up in the testing situation. So when teachers and others read the report, they get a very skewed view of her abilities, and they tend to focus on her weaknesses. Do you have any advice for us?
Make a portfolio that shows your daughter's accomplishments and talents. This can be a scrapbook with pictures, arranged year-by-year to show changes and growth, or it can be a more current display of her skills. Photos that show your daughter engaged with other kids in a fun activity, acting in a play, playing music, or even playing quietly or reading in cozy corner, can help to convey her many or emerging skills. If you’re tech-savvy, you can create a personal website for your child. She can even be involved at making or editing her own website and videos. For example, she could be interviewed about "how I learn best," or "I can be more successful when my teachers…" This is not like a Grandma's "brag book," but rather a way to show teachers and other professionals what she’s like at her best. This "personal PR" helps keep their expectations high but reasonable, and it encourages them to create opportunities for her to demonstrate her skills and talents and also to work on strengthening her weaker areas. And those reports with a negative tone? Give the psychologist your daughter’s "I CAN DO THIS" scrapbook or her web address before they start the testing! I can assure you that this will put more balance into the report.
Praise for Nowhere to Hide
"[Some 10-15% of America's kids] fight the battle of learning disabilities and attention deficits every day. Through no fault or choice of their own, they become a daily source of puzzlement and frustration for the parents and teachers in their lives. In Nowhere to Hide, Schultz brings his unparalleled experience, knowledge, background, and wisdom to this issue. He provides the reader with comprehensible explanations of the latest neurobiological research and translates it into practical strategies parents and professionals can use to assist these students in reaching their fullest potential."Richard D. Lavoie, M.A., M.Ed., educational consultant and author, The Motivation Breakthrough and It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend
"Jerry has helped thousands of teachers, students, parents, and others triumph (by turning) what seemed at first a shortcoming, even a disability, into an asset."from the foreword by Edward Hallowell, M.D., coauthor, Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction
"In Nowhere to Hide, Jerome Schultz brings to light the extraordinary stresses experienced by children with learning disabilities and ADHD. Kids with learning disabilities struggle academically, but they also experience tremendous fearand so do their parents! I wish my wife and I had had this practical, comforting book when we were raising our two children."Michael Thompson, Ph.D., coauthor, Raising Cain and It's a Boy!., coauthor, Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction