Hamya is a year 11 student who came to our business for work experience about six months ago.

On his first day, my teammate refused to work with him remarking that “He is just crazy”.

I took him as a challenge and soon I found that he was a brilliant student with many talents. He could type and talk at the same time. He not only knew a lot about computers and the Internet but could go deep into history and arts too.

Advertisements

Anything I asked him to do, he did while exceeding my expectation by miles. By the afternoons, I used to get tired trying to keep up with him. When I studied his profile, I was shocked to find out that he was mentally sick. He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome as well as ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

To engage with Hamya, I needed to know him fully. So I googled and learnt that ADHD was recognised during the 1980s.

Children with ADHD have three main symptoms:[1]

  1. inattention – having difficulty in concentrating,
  2. impulsivity- talking on the top of others,
  3. overactivity – making them constantly restlessness.

Seven percent of Australian kids have been diagnosed with ADHD. In NSW and the ACT children as young as two years old are being diagnosed with ADHD and are being treated with drugs. [2]

I did not believe that Hamya should be on long-term medication. In my opinion, he was too smart to repress and as a society, we hadn’t engaged with him enough. That’s why he spends more time in his own world than in our world. He often displayed signs that I thought would be present in all intellectually active people, especially scientists.

I wonder how I was going to mentor this guy. Generally, for mentorship, I use a 3 step-approach called the Engage, Encourage and Environment approach. Firstly, I engage with the learner to know their abilities, then I encourage them on their positive actions and reward them for small achievements and lastly, enrich their learning environment with activities and resources. To implement this here, I would need to work on a more suitable version of the plan.

After drafting up a plan I spoke to his father and school teacher whom I sensed was quite tired of dealing with him on a day to day basis and consequently were trying to slow him down with chemicals. They gave me the go-ahead to execute my plan whereby I implemented an improvised version of the above mentioned Engage, Encourage and Environment approach. I spent more time listening to Hamya, asking him to surprise me.

Then I challenged his abilities to show me what HE CAN do. Subsequently, we involved him in a Young Innovators Network activities where he chose to join the robotics learning team. Currently, he works with three other robotics enthusiasts who share his passion and energy towards innovation. They interact with each other regularly and work together on projects that are beyond people of their age.

This whole experience changed my approach towards Autism Spectrum related diseases, especially ADHD. I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. So I did a bit more research and found Prof Robert Spillane who said ADHD and others like this are self-help diseases which were uprooted at the end of the last century due to changes in our social and learning environment. Instead of providing children with a  balanced lifestyle and other therapies, we treat them with long-term prescribed medicines. Children aged six, seven and eight years old have died of strokes after using ADHD drugs – due to the young and physically underdeveloped bodies’ inability to process the stimulant drugs which boost the heart and brain systems. Further, when amphetamines medicines are given to two and three-year-olds, whose brains are tiny and still developing, the consequences are unforeseen even by modern day science.

It is important to realize that overactive children are naturally gifted and simply starved of stimulation. They get bored when their stimulation levels are too low, and therefore seek this stimulus via other means like playing video games,  watching cartoons and building their own world. Now it is on us – parents, carers and teachers – to provide and facilitate a more stimulating learning environment for our children. The Young Innovators Network is also working on giving them Passion Driven interactive and experiential learning environments. This gives them the sense of life through social interactions involving fun and technology.

If we look at things from a child’s point of view, society has not given them a balanced environment. Children have been given very good living system but not a balanced engaging and encouraging environment to nurture their natural abilities.  Everybody including the parents takes up parenting as just another “job”.

In someone’s view Autism stands for Always Unique “Totally Intelligent” “Sometimes Mysterious”

Always remember that kids with ADHD possess great potential and we should not destroy it with chemicals but rather help nurture their talents.

[1] “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Better Health Channel.” https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd. Accessed 14 Nov. 2017.

[2] “‘ADHD is a myth’ – YouTube.” 9 Apr. 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFc67ZiZ2M0. Accessed 13 Nov. 2017.