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God has plans for ADD children, pediatrician tells church leaders


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–God has something special planned for children who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a pediatrician and author told participants in the National Preschool-Children’s Convention, Oct. 18-21, in Nashville, Tenn.
LifeWay Church Resources, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, sponsored the event attended by more than 700 church leaders.
William Sears, a pediatrician from Capistrano Beach, Calif., said teachers and leaders at church can help determine and encourage the gifts and skills God has given children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
“If they are good at art,” he illustrated, “give them a lot of art activity.”
Sears, who is the author of a Broadman & Holman book, “The Complete Book of Christian Parenting and Child Care,” among numerous other volumes, said children who are accurately diagnosed with ADD “are often very bright and creative children.”
For example, he said, Thomas Edison, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Winston Churchill were “promoted” in school from one teacher to another because they were difficult children.
“The key to working with an ADHD child is not to fix them and make them like everyone else,” he said, “but to take their quirk and nourish it until it works to the child’s advantage.”
Sears said more than 2 million children in the United States are “drugged each day before they go to school. There is something not quite right here. On the other hand, there are many ADD children who can go through life successfully because of medication.”
Three groups of children, he said, are misdiagnosed as ADD children: those with quirks, those with situational ADD and those who are simply active and energetic.
“Neuro-biological quirks, or differences, cause some children to think, act and learn differently — not less — but differently. Often they are quite bright, but they need a different style of teaching because they learn differently.”
Situational ADD, he said, occurs for some children following the divorce of their parents, an illness or a move.
“Something that interferes with the child’s harmony can cause them to misbehave,” he observed.
Those children who are extremely energetic — mostly boys — may not have ADD at all, he continued. Many healthy boys cannot sit still in a group activity but are happy and have energy that can be channeled in other ways.
“A true ADD child is not a happy child,” Sears said, “because they do not fit in. Parents need tools to manage the child so that later the child can manage himself.”
ADD is misnamed, he told church staff and volunteer workers with preschoolers and children.
“These children can pay attention,” he said. “The ADD child who is a pitcher or catcher on a baseball team can go into hyperfocus. They can pay attention, but only to those things that have relevance to them. It is a selective attention problem. They may focus on a bug 20 feet away, but they do not even see their teacher.
“It is not a deficit or a disorder. It can be, if we don’t recognize it and channel it. It is a difference. At home, they may have free reign. Come school years, they have to sit still at a desk and perform a task whether it has relevance for them or not. Parents equate being different with being less,” he emphasized.
Sears said children with ADD need to have tasks assigned in manageable bits.
“They tend to be characterized by distractibility, impulsivity and hyperactivity,” he explained. “They are unable to lock out competing stimuli, and the tendency to act before they think is what gets them into trouble.
“Boys outnumber girls three to one with diagnosis of ADHD. This is unfair because girls tend to be underdiagnosed. Girls who have ADD tend to be ‘spacey’ and are inaccurately labeled as lazy or spoiled.”
Sears said medication “should never be used as the only treatment for ADD. It should be used in addition to a complete management plan including improved nutrition, teaching strategies, behavior management strategies [structure] and neuro-feedback, a relatively new treatment using electronic games which shut off if the child’s concentration wanders.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis