Would you explain ADHD to 10-12 years old?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by vita_bella, Dec 18, 2014.

  1. vita_bella

    vita_bella Rookie

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    Dec 18, 2014

    Some days ago a boy came to me and told me that the father of another boy had told him that his son had missed class because he had to go to the psychiatrist. He told me like it was a big deal and he didn´t know the reason for that visit to the psychiatrist, but I could tell that for him going to the psychiatrist equals being crazy. So my reaction was to explain to him that that kid has ADHD and that´s why he goes to the psychiatrist. He didn´t know what it was and I didn´t have time to explain further at that moment.

    Now, I know I probably shouldn´t have said anything about it, but I didn´t want him to believe that going to the psychiatrist is wrong and for some reason (given how common it is) I thought that he would know what ADHD is.

    So my question is, is it useful/recommended to explain children about it? I would say yes, but I´m not sure what is the best way to explain it to them. Any ideas?
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 18, 2014

    You shouldn't discuss anything private about another student. Maybe just tell the student that people go to the psychiatrist for various reasons, and none of that has to be 'being crazy'. You could probably briefly explain ADHD, ADD, depression, etc, but just say that these are some examples that have nothing to do with crazy, but it doesn't mean the other students went for any of this.
     
  4. vita_bella

    vita_bella Rookie

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    Dec 18, 2014

    I didn´t mean to discuss about a specific student, but I would like them to know about some of the most common challenges that many people around them have to face on their lives.

    I think it would be easier for them to relate to others and be more respectful if they understood.
     
  5. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Dec 18, 2014

    I can understand wanting to explain it, since the child asking seemed fearful or judgmental. Sometimes it's helpful to explain things... but here's my personal anecdote -- I had problems with panic attacks in school, and I clearly remember coming back to school after being absent and finding out that my teacher had "explained my issue" to the other kids. It was... awkward. I can't say it made my life any easier. Maybe it satisfied someone's else's curiosity or lessened their judgment... who knows.

    Not trying to be the negative Nancy -- I just want to point out that it's not always in the other person's best interest. The parent should have done a better job of explaining what a psychiatrist was, and maybe not even used that term. A psychiatrist could be described simply as "someone who helps you," or "someone who talks to you."

    Talking about these issues in general could be helpful for the class, I suppose. It would be best if it fit into a story you read or some educational lesson, so it doesn't come out of the blue and make the kiddo in question feel like it's about them.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Dec 19, 2014

    Tell them that sometimes people go to doctors like psychiatrists when they need someone to talk to about things.
     
  7. vita_bella

    vita_bella Rookie

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    Dec 19, 2014


    Yes, that´s why I´m trying to find what is the best way to explain it to them. I think depending on how you tell them it could be a good lesson or it could just make them more confused and awkard... But I wouldn´t point to a specific student, unless they want to talk about it themselves. Maybe I could try to ask those students with ADHD what they think about explaining it to their classmates. I believe they probably prefer to be understood, rather than feeling ashamed or different.

    And about your story with panic attacks, it´s funny that you mention it because I´m going through that right now, although not when I´m with children. With them it´s one of the few situations when I´m almost always panic free. I had also considered telling them about it, but so far I haven´t because, as with ADHD, I´m not sure yet how to do it.
     
  8. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Dec 19, 2014

    A person with ADHD has a brain like a rocket or a jet with a really powerful engine that goes so fast that it sometimes flies out of control and crashes.

    It's like a robot who's robot brain is so powerful that the robot takes in so much information and fills up so fast that it forgets stuff.

    An ADHD brain is like a race car that is so fast that it can't slow down enough to go around a turn without skidding or spinning out.

    Sometimes people with ADHD go to a psychiatrist so they can learn how to control their super powerful brains and keep from running into stuff.
     
  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Dec 19, 2014

    The simple and honest answer would have been that there are more kinds of doctors than you could possibly imagine, and it would be very wrong to say that going to a psychiatrist means someone is crazy, a term we don't use at school. If the student wants more information, they should discuss the matter at home with a parent, but understand that we don't talk about other students business at school. Period.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Dec 19, 2014

    Going to have to use some of those analogies, Sarge - thanks for sharing.

    vita_bella I definitely hear you in trying to normalize mental health issues and trying to build compassion and empathy with students. I'd probably go about that without getting personal, so maybe not tying an explanation directly into an individual student, including calling them out and having them share. But, a general discussion would probably be great.

    With kids especially, I'd highlight the positives too - as Sarge mentioned, there are some positive characteristics kids with ADHD may very well share, such as being a very quick thinker and often times being either creative or considerate of different kinds of thoughts. In general, I'd highlight that everyone is different - everyone has things they're good at and things they need to work on, and we should be respectful of that.
     
  11. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Dec 20, 2014

    Yeah, a lot of people haven't heard of a lot of types of doctors I have been to. And some people I know have been to types of doctors I never knew existed until they had to go.
     
  12. vita_bella

    vita_bella Rookie

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    Those are great analogies, thank you!
     
  13. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Dec 23, 2014

    I don't know why the parent would have told the boy that, it seems kind of strange. But nevertheless I definitely agree with those who have said it was not information that you should ever offer up. You explain what a psychiatrist is because it is important for children not to stigmatize those that need mental health professionals (especially in this day and age.)
     
  14. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Dec 25, 2014

    Haha! I love these. Such a great way of putting it.
     
  15. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Dec 25, 2014

    This isn't totally going to answer your question, but I want to share anyway.

    I had a student (10th grade) talk to me about herself one day, and included that she was "stupid and crazy." And I was like, oh, come on, you are not. Why would you think that? And she mentioned having ADHD and anxiety.

    I had anxiety problems for much of my life along with depression, and I also have ADHD. I straight up told her this, and she was surprised because she knows that I have an ivy league education (not that this is some kind of assurance that you are smart and not crazy, but it appears to mean something to the kids, lol). I told her how frustrating all of those things can be and a lot of times you might FEEL stupid or crazy when you have ADHD and anxiety because they make you feel different than everyone else. I also told her that I am not embarrassed because I have these issues, I am just happy that I have found support and feel better now. I think telling her about my own issues in a very relaxed way really helped this student.
    The difference here is that I chose to share my personal issues, and that is very important. The child that went to the psychiatrist may very well not want other kids to know, so it is best to just act as though going to a psychiatrist is a totally normal thing to do, just like going to other doctors. When speaking to students about mental health issues, I just say that look, if you have heart problems or you get an injury somewhere in your body, you go to a doctor to get treatment. The brain is another part of the body, and sometimes it can have a problem or an injury. ANd because the brain is the most important organ in the body, you best get to a doctor quick if something is going wrong there! The kids almost always respond well to that reasoning.
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 25, 2014

    I would never disclose another child's learning issues/diagnosis with another student. If a kid told me what the dad had shared, I might simply say 'Thanks for telling me.'. If the student seemed to want to tell everyone what he had heard, I might tell him this wasn't his business to share....just as it wasn't yours. :2cents:
     

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