- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

I just received a letter from a doctoral candidate doing her thesis on the impact of home-schooling on children with two types of attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder: inattentive type and hyperactive type.

Esta Rapoport, a doctoral student in special education at Boston University, has been searching for families to research. I am quoting from her letter in the hope that some readers may fall into the categories covered by her research and also help her gather data for her thesis.

“After writing approximately 3,000 letters, I desperately need a few more families to research. This has definitely been an uphill battle, both regarding finding families who fit my research criteria, as well as financially for me.

“Additionally, I have had a difficult time finding families, because the children have to have either only ADHD-inattentive type or, ADHD-hyperactive type, or a little of both, with no other paired disorders. The difficulty, I think, lies in the parents finding it difficult obtaining the evaluations that were completed on their children, and additionally, finding out, believe it or not, that their children are characterized by other disorders than they previously knew. Many parents think they want to become participants, and then after a few days, change their mind because they think it is too large a commitment for their families.

“The families whom I have researched and I have had such a wonderful time; they are all such great people, interested in finding out information that will help them, as well as others who have similar children. If I am able to complete my research, assuming I am able to find more families, I will be the only person in the United States to have done research on the social interactions of children who have ADHD and their parents.

“The only other person who has done research on homeschooled children who have ADHD is Dr. Steven Duvall, at Fort Hays University, Kansas, who has done research on the academic engagements of four of these children who are homeschooled, who have ADHD. You can see the need for research in the area of homeschooling children who have ADHD.”

If you think you may have a candidate who fits into the category of Ms. Rapoport’s study, send e-mail to [email protected]

Learning disorders are one of the main reasons families decide to home-school, often because of frustration with how students coping with such disorders are affected by traditional schooling. I often wonder how much such disorders are products of the system and not inborn characteristics of a child.

Parents know that even a couple of hours at one of those so-called “children’s restaurants” — where pizza, sugary drinks, loud music, animatronic entertainment, arcade games and various play equipment all compete for a child’s attention — can affect children. Chaos is hardly conducive to learning. Children who can’t control their environments learn apathy or learn that boundaries don’t exist.

If ADHD-diagnosed children who are home-schooled have a significantly different set of outcomes than those in group education systems, it would be important for parents to know that when making decisions about their children’s educations.

By the way, for a humorous look at one mother’s methods of home-schooling her ADHD child, check out www.christianadhd.com and click on the link for the story “Inside the Brain of a Hyperactive Homeschooler,” under Articles. I think you’ll get a chuckle out of it, and it provides a down-to-earth, Christian perspective on differentiating between intentions and behavior.

This site also provides articles from neurologists, adults with ADHD and other people with interesting viewpoints on this topic.

Educating any child is not easy, and if a child is hyperactive or easily distracted, that may provide special challenges for a parent. Keeping our eyes on the prize becomes even more important.

Our goal, after all, is to provide our children with the tools for successful adulthood. We need to explore what choices will help us best prepare our children for fruitful lives.

Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three, is a free-lance writer who lives in Maryland.

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