ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disoder; Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) is one of the most controversial learning disabilities around.  Those who have luck with medications swear by them.  Those who've had negative experiences with medications or don't believe in medicating their children for focusing issues have a different story to tell.


ADD/ADHD is a biologically based condition causing a persistent pattern of difficulties resulting in inattention or impulsivity that interferes with academics and social performance.  At Harp, we know there's more going on than just that!  With this lack of focusing, we know that the student can be “stuck” in the right hemisphere of the brain and is therefore unable to or has a limited ability to  access the left brain. 


As explained on our web page on the brain, the left hemisphere is the logical, step-by-step, organizational side of the brain.  This side is what schools judge a student's intelligence and performance with.  It is logic, bit-by-bit thinking, math, numbers, phonics, reasoning, and logic side.  


The right side of the brain is involved with pictures, color, movement, daydreaming, creativity, rhythm, thinking in "wholes".  A learner who is right-brain dominant can remain in the daydreaming, creative, impulsive state, which can make it difficult to focus.  Or, the student might be stuck in the "movement" portion off the brain.  These are the kids who need to move to learn.  They might be tapping their pencils, bouncing their legs, poking their neighbors, or wriggling in their seats.  These are the kids who need to use the restroom every five minutes or who are involved in all their neighbor's business. 








Nothing is Wrong with Them!

Being a right-brain dominant thinker isn't something bad.  Most of the creations, inventions, and masterpieces throughout history were created on the right side of the brain.  But our schools today primarily focus on left brain skills like phonics and math.  Certainly NOT creative thinking.  Even worse, since the 1990's the United States has had a push for math and sciences, which has only served to confuse and upset the bulk of our top, creative thinkers.  

The problem comes when a student has a difficult time functioning in a typical classroom.  These kids are bored to death and their minds wander.  They fidget and squirm.  They stare out the window  When homework isn't finished on time or at all, they get in trouble.  When assignments are lost because the child is so unorganized, they get bad grades.  When they can't hold still long enough to focus on what the teacher is saying, they get sent to the office.  When behavior problems arrive because of frustration or being misunderstood, then they're labeled as "bad" kids. 

But they aren't bad.  They're just bored and mistreated.  These kids are our future, not the kids who work like drones.  Math and science are great, but they're lost without intervention and creativity.  We have to stop squelching our creative kids and go back to nurturing creativity like we did in the 1980's.  Back then, learning disabilities were rare.  Kids were happy and learning. 



The Downside of Medication

Some kids really do benefit from ADD/ADHD medications.  But at Harp, it is our stance that a young child has a growing and maturing brain.  This learning disability hasn't been along long enough to know the true ramifications of the "newer" medications on a long term basis.  We know that Ritalin use can cause users to be suicidal.  We know that it can cause users to lose weight and disrupt sleep cycle.  Less severe side affects are irritability, stomachaches, headaches, and loss of appetite. 

Adderall has similar side effects.  Loss of appetite, weight loss, dry mouth, stomach upset/pain, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, headache, diarrhea, fever, nervousness, and trouble sleeping may occur.  This medication may raise blood pressure as well.

It's our goal to always treat the whole child at Harp, and that means we take a non-medication approach to treating ADD/ADHD.  However, we never cast judgment on anyone who chooses medication as a route to helping your child. 

There is a way to help kids with ADD overcome their lack of focus. They can be taught to access both the left and right hemispheres of the brain so that they can function in the modern left brain dominant classroom. It takes time and effort. It isn't a quick fix, like giving a pill every day. But it is a lasting fix without side effects.

"I can't begin to tell you how many parents I've talked to who've told me they 'lost' their children when they were medicated for ADD/ADHD," Lisa relates.  "I've heard so many sad stories, mostly about how their once energetic, lively, exuberant children turned out to be 'zombies' while medicated.  It doesn't have to be this way.  There are alternative and better treatment plans available that aren't so hard on the child's growing body and brain."

The Crossover Problem

One serious problem with ADD/ADHD is that the symptoms can crossover with those of an auditory processing problem, visual processing issues, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities.  If images or text in a book is moving around, distorted, has halos, is tilted or diagonally, or appears in some other odd, way, it would make it difficult to focus and concentrate.  These are symptoms of a visual processing disorder.  The student might wiggle in his seat.  He might look out into space.  She might avoid doing her assignments.  

Perhaps the student is experiencing auditory processing issues and might hear noises like they are as loud as a jet taking off.  Maybe she hears her neighbor's pencil scraping across the page and it sounds like scraping fingernails down a chalkboard.  Perhaps he can't tune out background noises like the computers whirring in the back of the room or the kids playing on the playground.  Can you see how difficult it would be to concentrate if you were experiencing these things?  

"I've talked to scores of parents who've told me they 'lost' their precious child while they were on ADD/ADHD medications.  These once smart, animated, and verbal children turned into 'zombies' on these harsh medications," Lisa relates.  "There is a better and safer way to help these kids focus.  It's not as easy as taking a pill, but it's a lot better for the child in the long run."


Since there is no definitive measurement when a child is tested for ADD/ADHD, it makes it difficult to determine which learning disability it truly is.  The tests used for diagnosing ADD/ADHD


The diagnosis for determining if a child has ADD/ADHD is purely subjective.  A team of people fill out checklist on the student's behaviors and it's given to a doctor to decide if medication can help.  There is no blood test.  There is no definitive measurement used.  

The Symptoms of ADD/ADHD

  • Inability to give close attention to details

  • Makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities

  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

  • Has a difficult time following instructions, especially multi-step instructions

  • Has temper problems

  • Avoids or refuses to do activities that take mental effort, such as school work

  • Loses materials necessary to complete tasks, such as pencils or books

  • Is extremely unorganized

  • Is easily distracted

  • Is often forgetful in daily activities

Myths About ADD/ADHD

  • Kids with ADD/ADHD will outgrow the condition

  • ADD/ADHD is caused by poor parenting

  • A pill can fix everything

  • If these kids just try harder then they'll power through it

  • All kids with ADD are hyperactive 

  • Children with ADHD are brats and just need discipline

  • You can turn focusing on and off according to interest

  • Only boys have ADD/ADHD

  • Kids with ADD/ADHD aren't very smart

  • Medication is the only way to treat ADD/ADHD

  • Kids are just daydreamers and they'll learn to focus later on

  • ADD/ADHD is a learning disabilit

  • ADD/ADHD is just a children's disorder

Truths About ADD/ADHD

  • You don't outgrow ADD/ADHD but you can learn to control it by accessing the left hemisphere of the brain and using those skills to accomplish what's needed.

  • ADD/ADHD is not caused by poor parenting.  It is a real condition and children with this condition have a difficult time focusing and sometimes behaving.  They need a set of tools to help them succeed not only academically but in life.  These kids can be exhausting and wear out parents so judgment needs to be reserved for this situation. 

  • There other solutions to helping kids with ADD/ADHD than medications.  If medication works, you'll see an improvement in your child's focusing abilities.  If you don't see a change in your child's behavior with medication, you need to explore why.  

  • No matter how hard a child with ADD/ADHD tries, it doesn't affect his ability to focus or hold still.  He needs skills and tools to help him deal with this condition

  • Not all children are hyperactive with ADD/ADHD.  Some students are calm and can stay still for a long time but still struggle to focus on assignments or other activities. 

  • Kids with ADD/ADHD are not brats who need discipline.  These children are impulsive and act before they think.  They often have a difficult time holding still or respond to loud noises.  Visual stimuli can also set them off, such as fluorescent lighting.  Most kids, especially those with ADD/ADHD are sensitive and want to please others.  For some of these children, it is extremely difficult. 

  • You can't turn ADD/ADHD on or off.  The brain doesn't work that way.  Kids with ADD/ADHD, like anyone else, pay better attention to something that interests them.  

  • Children with ADD/ADHD are just as smart as anyone else.  Often, they are smarter than their peers and have a difficult time channeling this intelligence.  Focusing affects academic performance, but it has nothing to do with intelligence.

  • There are numerous approaches to help children with ADD/ADHD that don't include medication.  At Harp, we have had excellent results in helping children and teens overcome ADD/ADHD through our research based brain integration program.

  • Not all children with ADD/ADHD are daydreamers who will rein it in as they grow.  Some kids do learn to power through their inability to attend to focus, but many have a difficult time their entire lives.  Many children can't focus and they aren't daydreaming.  

  • ADD/ADHD isn't a true learning disability because it affects more than learning.  It affects the person's ability to deal with life.  

  • Kids with ADD/ADHD aren't lazy.  Many have true learning disabilities and are simply retreating because it is painful to learn.  Most kids want to do well in school but if they find it too difficult, they might give up or think they'll only fail, so why bother.  With the proper set of learning tools, they gain confidence and the ability to not only learn but succeed. 

  • ADD/ADHD is not just a children's disorder.  It affects adults as well as children and follows its victims through life. 


A Serious Problem!

According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) it is estimated that there are over 6.1 million children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.  ADD accounts for 50% of child and teen visits to mental health clinics. Boys are 5 to 6 times more likely to be diagnosed with


Decades ago, before ADD/ADHD was even an issue in schools and the world, a study was performed on children in regular classrooms.  The deduction from the study was this:  those children in classrooms who could concentrate longer than their peers performed better academically than those who couldn't focus and concentrate.  It's that simple.  We have to give our children the proper set of tools to focus so they can succeed academically and in life. 

There are so many things you can do to help a child who is struggling to focus.  Following is a small "toolbox" to help your non-focusing student or child succeed:

  • Make sure that visual and auditory memory skills are sharp.  Simple exercises to strengthen memory building can help these kids succeed academically.  And, they can have fun at the same time, which is important to these kids.​

  • Use a lot of color with these kids. When you model a skill, use blank paper and a colored marker. When you have them do work, these kids should be using erasable colored pencils.  That way if they make a mistake, they can erase it and the color keeps the right side of their brains busy.

  • Play soothing instrumental music in the background as the students do school work.  This once again keeps the rights side of the brain busy so the kids can focus on left-brain activities and assignments.  It is controversial as to letting these kids listen to heavy metal and rap music, as it usually ramps the kids up and keeps them from focusing.

  • Keep these kids away from fluorescent lighting if possible. Most schools today have fluorescent lighting, which can be a nightmare for these kids. Keep in mind that their hearing is might be  more sensitive than most kids and that they hear different sounds. Also, the hum of a computer or refrigerator can be a disaster for these kids. If your child's school only has fluorescent lighting, then seek a different school situation and see if this helps. 

  • Try to keep the student in a class with a low student to teacher ratio. A busy classroom with over thirty kids will only feed the fuel of this child's disadvantages. The noise, energy, and motion of so many bodies will be a distraction, and believe me, the student with ADD/ADHD will be the one that stands out, usually receiving the blame or punitive measures.

  • Keep a positive attitude with this student. The world seems to pick these kids apart, but they need to know someone is on their side. 

  • Home schooling or alternative schooling options can be a lifesaver for these kids.

  • Offer a lot of exercise to these kids throughout the day.

  • Limit television, video game, and computer time.  These kids are drawn to the colorful graphics, movement, and sound tracks of modern technology, but they need down time as well. 

  • Nurture your child's creativity, whether it's music, drawing, or dance. These gifts are what often carry a child through a difficult day.  Sports are great, too!

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