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09/06/13 by Rennie Detore

Kids have already started back to school and parents, for some of them, it is back to the drawing board.

Sounds of the school bus pulling up and the proverbial “crack” of the textbook often is viewed as relatively rudimentary between the months of late August and early June.

For some parents and their kids, school is a struggle. Staying focused is challenging and doing well on exams, homework and projects proves daunting at best.

But this school daze isn’t always just the product of a lazy student who simply can’t get motivated. Often times, students struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other disorders that prevent them from immersing themselves into their in-school studies or absorbing information at a pace that is customary with other classmates.

ADD and ADHD differ in that the former is a lack of focus, while the latter combines the characteristics of ADD and adds the hyperactivity facet as well.

Traditional public schools aren’t broken when it comes to these students. But, they’re not perfect, either. And by perfection, the inference isn’t that every student that comes through the annals of a high-school is straight-A material or captain of the football team but rather cognitively competent to continue to college or a trade school of sorts.

Public schools, quite frankly, aren’t staffed sufficiently to handle the trials and tribulations of a student who struggles with ADD or ADHD. Classrooms are stuffed to the gills with students — some of which have 30-40 kids in one classroom — and teachers simply can’t significantly single out a student that is struggling mightily; don’t blame the teacher per say, it’s simply a matter of mathematics and ratios gone remarkably wrong.

If the onus doesn’t fall on the teachers and the school — simply through funding or a lack of staff — then where does the blame go? Why do these students continually fall through the “cracks” – and not the ones previously mentioned in regard to textbooks?

The answer isn’t an easy one and doesn’t necessarily have a right or wrong. Kids who have ADD and ADHD exist and the only real means to an end isn’t so much blame as it is addressing the issue and, in turn, coaching, supporting and using alternative methods to combat symptoms of those disorders.

Focus is one of the various tools to use in regard to ADD and ADHD but is best served perhaps outside the classrooms. Students who suffer from those disorders often benefit from extracurricular activities that promote a group dynamic and are inherently based on staying focused, such as martial arts.

Parents also shouldn’t be quick to dismiss what they may believe are counterproductive actions by their kids, such as doodling for no reason or simply playing with a set of LEGOs or bouncing a basketball.

The simply art of meditation also is basic and beautiful in its backbone as it provides kids lucidness and perspective.

The Science of Spirituality, known as SOS, is based in Illinois and is richly devout in its belief that meditation combines clarity and counseling in one fell swoop. Dr. Mark Young, SOS meditation expert, teaches meditation as part of his role as a counselor at Central Florida. He incorporates meditation as part of his strategy to keep students focused and on task — a principle that can be adapted on many levels.

Hypnotherapy falls into a similar realm as meditation and can be equally beneficial for students and kids alike with ADD or ADHD.

Colin Christopher is a clinical hypnotherapist and his book “Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make or Break You” advocates ditching risky, side-effect inducing medications in favor of a natural approach to enabling a struggling child to overcome adversity in school.

Hypnosis, from Christopher’s perspective, helps to control symptoms of ADD and ADHD and replace them with relaxation and restfulness and invigorates and empowers children to harness their erratic energy into something positive, such as schoolwork.

And, unlike medication, hypnosis doesn’t cause any side effects.

In addition to hypnosis and meditation as alternatives, parents should be cognizant of non-traditional schools or ones that go against the grain of public school. These types of institutions understand that not all students are created equal and that learning isn’t universal as far as teacher teaches from a book and students learn accordingly.

Kids with ADD and ADHD tend to be hands-on learners or a segment of the student population who desperately needs more one-on-one time as opposed to being lost in the school shuffle at no fault of theirs or the public school teacher.

The more intimate approach to academics allows a teacher to pick up on cues of a student as far as when it is time to move on to another teaching method or when frustration quickly morphs into out-and-out desire to simply quit.

One curriculum specifically, the K.A.R.A.T. School of Learning, started in Florida and is now offered in Pennsylvania as a school for students who didn’t quite adhere to the predetermined mold of suggested learning. K.A.R.A.T is an acronym for “Kinesthetic Approach to Relevant Academic Teaching” and is rooted in what some would call true teaching or applying real-life knowledge in place of would-be textbook tantrums.

No matter what approach a parent takes, the pending decision looms large as a child’s future is truly at stake. ADD and ADHD don’t have to be road blocks or prohibitive to a student securing an education that is in line with others who aren’t experiencing the challenges of those disorders.

Instead, they’re simply hurdles to overcome; hurdles that transform into the kind of stories underscored with success.