ADD and ADHD: Visual Learners Being Misdiagnosed
After a long summer filled with a variety of activities, it’s time for kids to head back to the classroom. Unfortunately, for many kids this means a lot of time sitting in chairs and listening. If your child has trouble paying attention, gets fidgety, displays disruptive behavior, makes careless mistakes, has difficulty organizing and completing assignments—they may be recommended for an ADD evaluation. It extremely important to find out what’s distracting them, but rest assured, it may have nothing to do with ADD.
Most of us have heard about ADD and may even use it to describe ourselves, especially when we’re feeling a bit scattered or distracted. ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, is a condition characterized by an inability to concentrate, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Unfortunately, ADD and ADHD diagnoses are on the rise and prescriptions for medication have dramatically increased. While researching my book, Being Visual, I came across the work of Jeffrey Freed, M.A.T., a private education consultant and co-author of Right-Brained Children in a Left Brain World: Unlocking the Potential of Your Add Child. According to Freed, “ADD is by far the most commonly diagnosed ‘psychiatric’ problem in children; it accounts for about 50% of child and teen visits to mental health clinics. Children are labeled ADD as the result of a highly subjective evaluation process.”
While ADD and ADHD genuinely affect 2 to 3% of the population, a small portion of those currently diagnosed, Freed’s work suggests other explanations for their classroom challenges. After years spent working with thousands of children, he found that “virtually all children with ADD share the same learning style.” As it turns out, ADD kids are highly visual, non-linear thinkers that need mental images to learn. They’re visual- spatials! And it makes sense, because they have many of the same “symptoms”. Visual-spatial kids make careless mistakes in school work, have difficulty organizing, trouble paying attention in language-oriented classrooms, and difficulty sitting still and focusing on linear, language-oriented tasks. This is good news, because the teaching techniques that work for right-brain, visual students are also effective with kids labeled as ADD.
So parents, rest assured—your distractible, restless, non-linear kid is likely just fine. Click here to find out if your child is a visual learner and ways you can help.
Founder and CEO of Young Rembrandts and Author of Being Visual