Dear bloggy readers - parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and friends of different learners,
Today, I have a wonderful post to share with you! Do you remember earlier in the week when
I wrote about the happy news of finding a unique learning environment for Noah? How Noah "Goes to Kevin's" now, to learn and socialize and grow as a person? Well, Kevin has stopped by in my own, little corner of the internets in the form of a guest post today!
So many of us struggle with being "different learners" - you might have ADHD like I do, or dyslexia or dysgraphia or a processing issue. You might be a kinesthetic learner and find sitting in your seat, listening to lectures from a teacher unbearable. Whatever way you or your child learns best, if it is not typically part of a conventional education, Kevin will surely have some tips and advice to instill hope and inspiration in you!
As we get closer to the release date for Kevin's third book: Success and Failure with ADHD: The Oskar Schindler Story, I wanted to share a short post written by Kevin with you. Kevin talks about how different learners, often disregarded for their unique traits, can make for some of the most poignant, creative and positive changes in our world!
Different Learners Change the World - by Kevin Roberts
I am an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and I run programs to help ADHD and different-learning youth succeed academically. Every single day, I and millions like me struggle through this condition. We have problems following through, staying focused, maintaining motivation, and completing tasks. We do not function well in routine reality, but many of us thrive when life deals us intensity.
When I travel, for example, my ADHD symptoms seem to vanish. Being in new places and around new people excites me and activates my brain. When I did a speaking tour through the United Kingdom and Europe this past March, I stayed organized and energized for two weeks straight. I am an author and usually struggle terribly with writer’s block, but on that trip I completely edited my recently-finished book, started the outline for my next book, and finished the first stages of planning for an ADHD exchange trip coming this July. While sitting still and completing rote tasks bedevils people like me, when life is filled with possibility and adventure, many of us with ADHD are unstoppable.
The adults who surround ADHD young people frequently fail to focus on our strengths, and we can as a result develop serious self-esteem issues. The good news is that there are great examples of extraordinarily successful people with ADHD and who learn differently, many of whom have changed the world. We need ADHD heroes to inspire us and to counteract the steady diet of negativity that many of us receive in school.
Love him or hate him, Sir Richard Branson has made a huge impact on the world of business. Like many different learners, this amazingly successful billionaire does not play by the rules of the system, but rather creates his own systems, excelling in innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. A visionary, he does not limit himself to one field, but is continually on the lookout for new and adventurous opportunities. Like Sir Richard, ADHD young people often fail when shackled to the system because their strengths are pathologized. Young people whose talents, like those of Sir Richard, include creativity, spontaneity, risk-taking, and playfulness are usually viewed by teachers as troublesome and problematic. Weighted down with such labels, individuals like Sir Richard all too often perform poorly in school.
So the place in which we spend 30-40 hours per week, an institution that essentially measures our worth, does not generally honor who we are and our unique contributions to the world. We hunger for adventure, new experiences, and challenge. Without these, we usually fail, or at least underperform. School and many jobs just do not offer the stimulation we require to optimally function. But solutions for different learners do not come from helping us succeed in living boring, mundane, and repetitive lives. What if Sir Richard used his energy to force himself to play by the same rules as everyone else? The world of business would be deprived of many innovative strategies.
Another great ADHDer also struggled in school. Unlike Sir Richard, this individual failed at almost every business he ever started. But this man did something so extraordinary that his deeds will echo down the ages. Oskar Schindler was kicked out of school, had numerous brushes with the law and, like many ADHDers who fail to find their way in life, struggled with addiction. But during a brief period during World War II, the intensity and dire nature of circumstances brought forth his inner genius. If you do not know the story, he outwitted the Nazis and saved 1200 Jewish people from the fires of Auschwitz.
Oskar Schindler had all the hallmarks of ADHD: impulsivity, poor follow-through, difficulty staying on task, as well as terrible organizational challenges. But when extreme intensity greeted him every day and when people’s lives depended on his actions and decisions, Schindler came alive! A few wise Jewish businessmen in the Kraków ghetto saw Oskar’s genius and supported him in his most extraordinary endeavor. Sir Richard’s parents also supported his every endeavor, and this fact underscores the importance of looking passed the disabilities, like Sir Richard’s dyslexia, and relentlessly shining light on a person’s strengths.
In my work with different learners, I find that a very common strength is an innate desire to help others. You will succeed in helping those of us with ADHD and learning differences if you work to empower us to find intensity and excitement, activities that activate our minds. Better yet, help us find purpose. People like us know the pain of alienation, of being shunted to the margins of school and the society at large, and so, many of us possess instinctual empathy and a desire to help ease the suffering in the world.
We may not all have the skills and aptitudes to become billionaires or defeat an evil empire, but I assure that if you look carefully at a person with ADHD and peel back the problems and the difficulties, you will find an individual who powerfully wants to be of service. You do us the most good when you help us help others. With support, intense and relentless focus on our strengths, and the abiding belief that we have something unique to offer, you can help us—and we will—change the world.
My upcoming book goes into great detail on this phenomenon, The Oskar Schindler Story: Success and Failure with ADHD (Available on Amazon, July 2016). Please contact me if you’d like to help spread the word on this groundbreaking book. I believe this book will change the world!
To learn more about his work, or to contact Kevin, visit his website: www.kevinjroberts.net.
Join myself and other parents like me on Kevin's Facebook forum: ADHD Change the World.
Finally, you can find Kevin's highly acclaimed first books, Movers, Dreamers and Risk-Takers: Unlocking the Power of ADHD and Cyber Junkie: Escaping the Gaming and Internet Trap on Amazon.com.
Until next time, love yourself and love you kids, just the way they are!