Celebrate the Days of Enlightenment

Celebrate the Days of Enlightenment
Imagine being a child with learning difficulties. Every day you struggle with your schoolwork. You never put up your hand and are terrified of being called upon. Then suddenly one day when the planets align and everything in our galaxy is right you have the day of your life. On that particular day, the answers all seem to come to you. You readily put up your hand and fully participate in the class. At the end of day you are very proud of yourself and rightfully so.


Unfortunately things do not carry forward to the following day. Once again the answers are not obvious and you lose all the confidence you gained the day before. However, your teacher remembering your performance in class the previous day, immediately calls upon you to answer a question in class. Once again you are terrified and after a long pause you tell the teacher you do not know the answer. What happens next is critical to your self- esteem. If the teacher simply calls upon another student then you can sit quietly down in your seat. However, if the teacher replies by saying, “What do you mean you don’t know? Yesterday you would have answered this question easily! Obviously you are just not trying once again.” Your self-esteem is totally crushed. What‘s even worse is that the teacher may view you in this manner from this day forward.


The fact is that children with special learning needs are extremely inconsistent. One day they can perform somewhat adequately and other days they find themselves lost in class. The worst thing that can possibly happen is that they have that one enlightened day upon which their performance is judged forever more. As educators we need to celebrate that one great day. We must never judge the child’s future performance on it. Expressions such as: “You could do the work when you put your mind to it” or “The day you bothered to pay attention you had no difficulty with this”, are not only hurtful but they are totally destructive.
Our goal as educators is to help and encourage students to have more of those phenomenal days. We never want the students to regret ever having such as a day. For if this happens, the students will ensure that it never happens again. Either they will sit quietly even when they know the answer or simply not come to school when they feel it’s going to be a great day.


That one great day should enlighten us as to the student’s potential. It should encourage us to work even harder with the student to enable them to reach their potential. It should never be considered the norm which haunts the student from that day forward.

Embracing ADHD

Embracing ADHD

Many people consider ADHD to be a lifelong curse. However, the fact is that many highly successful people have or had ADHD.
Thomas Edison was a poster boy for ADHD. He left school at an early age because his teachers deemed him to be “too dumb to learn anything”. In spite of this, he became one of the most prolific inventors of all time, patenting 1093 inventions, including: the light bulb, motion pictures, the phonograph and the electric generator.
Leonardo Da Vinci is noted for only completing a small percentage of the things he started. Through his sketches and illustrations we know that he envisioned hundreds of things quite literally hundreds of years before his time.
Albert Einstein, whose very name is synonymous with genius, suffered with ADHD. He was very forgetful and often oblivious to everything around him. There is a story that one day he left home and headed down the street having forgotten to put on his trousers.
Sir Richard Branson has ADHD and dyslexia. He left school at 15 years of age as he was not gaining anything from it. Today he is self-made billionaire. He is the owner of the Virgin Group which includes amongst other things an airline and Virgin Galactic a company which plans to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists.
All these people have incredible imaginations with thousands of ideas bouncing around in their heads. Most importantly they have the ability to hyper focus. When people with ADHD are passionate about something they can dedicate themselves to it and work and concentrate harder on it than the average person can even imagine. Because their ADHD minds thirst for stimulation they strive in situations in which the average person falls apart. In a crisis, there is no one better to handle the situation than a person with ADHD.
How do I know this? I suffer from ADHD. I was the daydreamer in school. I use to sit at my desk and wander off into Lala land on a daily basis. When I wasn’t daydreaming I was fidgeting in my seat wanting to run around the room. However, I was very fortunate in the fact that I was passionate about learning. When something new was introduced in class I became totally focused.
My lack of interest at university resulted in me dropping out after only a few months. I wandered from job to job. I became fascinated with computers. I returned to university to get my degree in computer science. At this point my ADHD served me well. I could not afford to quit working. Hence I worked full time while attending classes. My passion for computers enabled me to use my ability to shut everything else out. Upon graduation, I worked for IBM Canada. My ADHD helped me skyrocket up the ladder. In one of my positions I was responsible for supporting an online banking system used by many trust companies. If the offline processing did not complete the trust companies could not open for business. Anytime the offline failed I would hop out of bed and head into the office. While everyone was running around in panic mode, I sat at my desk whistling a tune looking for and then fixing the problem. The trust companies always opened on time!
I have two university degrees. I have run a successful company for the past seven years. I am a specialist in special education and I have hosted my own television program for the past three years. I also thoroughly enjoy public speaking especially on the topics of special education and education in general. ADHD has not prevented me from being successful.
Is ADHD a curse? In many ways it is. However, if you embrace it instead of trying to hide or deny it and take advantage of its positive effects which includes the fact that five tornadoes are constantly twirling in your head, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.