By Dr. Arnie Gotfryd, PhD,
Educational Director and CEO of Maxi Mind Learning Centres, Inc. in Thornhill.

One of the most controversial and enigmatic labels stuck onto children these days is “ADHD.” Lending to the confusion is the very term itself – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Try asking a parent of an ADHD-diagnosed child if he has a deficit or lack of attention. Chances are you will get an earful of “What are you talking about? Attention deficit? He has too much attention! He can hyperfocus for hours on his computer and Play Station games.”

But then, the next day the teacher tells him (for the umpteenth time), “Pay attention!” and the child replies, “But I AM paying attention.” So why doesn’t he know what the teacher is saying? Why does he have the wrong books on his desk? Why is he talking about side issues with his classmate?

This kid is not lazy and he’s not stupid either. Nor is he particularly rebellious. He is physically unable to sustain his focus on the tasks at hand. His focus is not absent—it’s variable. While he stares the teacher in the face and says that he is paying attention he is actually telling the truth. But he’s paying attention to the fly on the teacher’s jacket, the sound of her clearing her throat and the frustrated furrow on her brow as she tries to get him to follow instructions—yet again.

Is ADHD a learning disability? Opinions vary but for groups like the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario and the Centre for ADD/ADHD Advocacy, Canada (CADDAC), government needs to acknowledge that however you label them, these kids have serious trouble learning and getting along, and they have the right to be accommodated.

CADDAC recently issued a “report card” for each province and determined that Ontario was in fact near the bottom of the pack in terms of identifying and addressing the needs of ADD and ADHD students in the schools. Several months later the Ontario Government officially recognized ADHD as sufficient cause to get special accommodations.

This is good news but still there is something missing from all the assessment services and Individualized Educational Plans that these kids will now get, and that is, a remedy. Tutoring, modified tests and special seating in class all help but, like medication, they are just work-around compensations for a problem that persists – a brain whose wiring and chemistry interfere with focusing and learning skills.

Fortunately, there are ways to get at the underlying causes that interfere with focus and learning through fun exercises and enjoyable activities that stimulate the brain to process information more effectively and efficiently. This is where Maxi Mind’s brain training solutions come in.