Focus & Following Directions

A Child With ADHD Can’t “Just Focus”

We don’t expect diabetics to, “Just control their blood sugar,” so why do we expect children with ADHD to summon attention on cue? One mom blogger weighs in on the struggle parents face.

Mom helps her ADHD daughter with homework
Mom helps her ADHD daughter with homework

Just focus!

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Pay attention and finish the task in front of you. To those without attention deficit disorder, it is the most obvious thing in the world. To those with ADHD, it seems like a pipe dream.

We wouldn’t shout, “Just lower your blood sugar” to a diabetic or, “Just reduce your blood pressure” to someone with heart disease. We know that these things are not within a person’s control. But focus seems like something we should be able to control — because, the fact is, most of us do.

As the parent of a child with ADHD, I wish I knew where my son’s focus button was located, so I could press it for him. When people point out that he “just needs to focus,” they sound as if he should just flip a switch to the “on” position and get down to business. Every time I hear those words directed at my child, I want to ask the speaker if she knows where that switch is exactly. I’ve been searching for it for 11 years and I still haven’t found it. Have you?

I often think how much easier homework time would be if my son could just focus on the task in front of him instead of telling me every joke he knows, instead of insisting he needs a snack, instead of needing to shift in his chair every five minutes to find a more comfortable position.

My secret wish for my son is for him to have focus at his command, to use it when he wants, when he needs it, whenever someone says, “Just focus.”

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