Jack Gantos knows that a kid can be wacky AND wonderful. Crazy things happen to kids all the time. Take Joey Pigza. He can't sit still in class, and accidents seem to be waiting to happen. He's a live wire, just like his dad and his grandmother. No matter how hard he tries, he just can't settle down. But Joey is lucky; he does have people who care about him and can help him get what he needs to be happier.
“We need to have a meeting to discuss your child’s behavior.”
Those words on a note from school can be the start of parenting on a different level, and it’s something that happens frequently. According to the CDC, it is estimated that 11% of students ages 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Given that the diagnosis rate has increased substantially from year to year—and that data is from 2011—it may be higher yet.
Ronnie Sidney II is a therapist, public speaker, entrepreneur, and author of Nelson Beats the Odds, a book to share with children that draws from his own early experiences with ADHD. Here, he answers our questions and shares reading selections that he has enjoyed and that have inspired him.
If you could give one piece of advice to parents of a young child with ADHD, what would it be?
My advice is for parents to support their kids’ strengths. Kids with ADHD have many gifts that are often overlooked because of their hyperactive or impulsive behavior. My father was a Baptist minister, and I was active in church activities that gave me an opportunity to speak.
Ever since kindergarten, I would get in trouble for talking excessively to my peers in class. In high school, teachers began seeing my talking as my strength and encouraged me to participate in forensics, debate, and other public speaking competitions. Today, I'm able to use my strength professionally as an outpatient therapist and professional speaker.