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Help, I Can’t Focus!

Help, I Can’t Focus!

And it is on the rise.

The information concerning what I’ll call this “phenomenon” is scattered to say the least and many who suffer with these symptoms are not seeking help.

If you are a school aged child with focusing difficulties (many are labeled “A.D.H.D.” when, in fact, there is no hyperactivity at all…just lack of focus) you definitely are not alone. And yet, is this something as a society that we’ve come to accept…to maybe even tout or joke about? Sitting in a classroom with 24 other students and one teacher is hardly a setting to conquer the brain confusion that comes with a variety of activities going on all at once.

We’ve all heard of learning styles I’m sure…some are visual learners, while others are auditory, tactile, or kinesthetic learners. Add to that, some who need fewer distractions in order to concentrate on what the teacher is actually saying or they’ll be lost. And many of these children will eventually tune out altogether, deeming them less intelligent or simply rebellious. And yet, that is the furthest thing from the truth! Many of these “tuned out” kids are actually tuning into something different…something more meaningful and interesting to the way God has wired them.

I remember many years ago when I’d stroll through my neighborhood toting a stroller with a 6  month old, an 8 year old daughter, and my son, who was 6 at the time. He would stop every few feet examining a leaf, a rock, the pattern on the sidewalk, the kitty in the neighbor’s window, or a hawk soaring overhead. Impatiently, I would call him saying, “keep up with us!” Little did I know back then that his “distraction” was his ability to see the world through eyes that his Father gave him. As he grew and matured, many would say he is “A.D.D.” so his teachers would sit him in the front of the room where he could focus on the lesson at hand. I finally made the decision to home school him after some negative feedback from his second grade teacher.

I never regretted that decision. We learned to explore, to discover his strengths, to take breaks when needed, and to realize that not every kid is ready for long division at a certain arbitrary age, and when he was ready, he was more than equal to the task. As an adult, he’s an incredibly talented photographer/videographer, creating masterfully detailed works that his clients have come to cherish.

But this isn’t about homeschooling. It’s about individuals. It’s about pigeonholing, labeling, and frustrating a child. And whether or not we like it, or we agree with it, the numbers of children with A.D.D. (or A.D.H.D.) are rising. And we have got to address this.

What can we do for our children then? I see so much information about the importance of a healthy diet, exercise, bedtime routines, avoidance of toxins in foods (artificial colors and flavors and artificial preservatives), and checking your child’s mineral level, especially zinc, iron, and magnesium. All of these are extremely important and your child needs your involvement to take the initiative on this.

But it seems the most obvious issue might very well be overstimulation of electronic devices. With the constant barrage of pixels, light, colors, and rapidly changing information, our neurons might be under a bit of stress and confusion. As an adult, I can barely focus on one thing at a time and I was raised in a time when there were no computers, tablets, or Smartphones!

So, is there hope for the attention deficit? For me, it always goes back to scripture…applying it and obeying it.

“Be still and know He is God.”- Psalm 46:10

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you”. – Isa. 26:3

“…but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”-1 Kings 19:12b

Maybe quality time spent diving into an illustrated, paper book before bed will help quiet the mind and ease those over stimulated neurons. Try covering up those red/green/blue computer lights and speak with your child in hushed tones, exposing him or her to natural sounds and sights. Pray for a mind that is focused on the Creator and learning to hear His voice.

You just might be amazed at how the “deficit” can turn into an abundant delight.

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Lori Travers

Lori finds the Joy of the Lord to be her strength. Born and raised an Italian Jersey girl, she has finally settled in the south as Reynolda Presbyterian church became her new home. Ministry to women, reading, writing, cooking, and anything having to do with animals are her sweet spots. Having a background in cardiac testing, she chose to stay home and raise three incredible children who are now married, and currently has 2 precious granddaughters and one faithful husband of 34 years.

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