ADHD, a Neurological Style
For anyone working in the field of childhood development, ADHD will inevitably come up and come up often. In Dr. Anthony Rao’s “Why Is ADHD Climbing? Camp’s Unique Opportunity to Promote Healthier Paths for the ADHD Epidemic,” Dr. Rao presented some statistics that were alarming but at the same time not all that surprising about the number of ADHD diagnoses.
He painted a picture of how camps are uniquely positioned to lessen ADHD symptoms for campers. For example, being outside encourages movement, and “play is the work of the child and how they develop.” Camp norms such as outdoor activity, exposure to sunlight, a consistent/healthy bedtime routine and the encouragement of spiritual well-being all contribute to the improvement of learning, focus, and how kids handle multisensory experiences. I appreciated how Dr. Rao gave us many easy techniques of interaction to use with ADHD-diagnosed campers to improve their experience at camp.
He did touch on the sensitive topic of “to medicate or not to medicate” while a child is at camp. He presented some evidence that makes him believe a break from medication is essential for most kids. He stressed that timing of that break can be important – kids need a few days to transition off the medication – for their camp experience to be optimal. Dr. Rao emphasized that it is not an easy decision and all kids cannot be lumped together in his hypothesis, so I invite any Camp Chief Ouray parents to call our office and discuss this particular topic if it applies to your child.
Dr. Rao challenges us to think about the diagnosis NOT as a disorder. He said that kids diagnosed with ADHD simply have a different neurological style. His description of that style is “hunter-warrior,” “good risk takers,” “explorers,” “thinkers” and “tinkerers.” I can easily see how that approach by a counselor has tremendous possibilities of succeeding.
The American Camp Association (ACA) is a community of camp professionals and a leading authority in youth development. ACA accredits more than 2,400 day camps and resident camps across the country, with those accredited programs meeting up to 300 standards for health, safety and program quality. ACA consists of 24 regional field offices with each being governed by a Local Council of Leaders. Camp Chief Ouray Director Marty Ferguson is the Chair of the ACA-Rocky Mountain Local Council of Leaders.