I remember listening to my parents tell friends, camp cousellors or coaches “Keep Doug away from Red Food Dye, pop and Chocolate he will be relatively “normal” and controllable”. Ahhh, now back in the 70’s little did they know what was actually causing the “hyper” activity, restlessness, impulsivity and my mischevious curiosity. Looking back at my childhood and teenage years I am absolutely amazed I got through high school and graduated from College. I now understand why I had to change schools in grade 6, why sports were my escape, I did poorly at math but excelled in english and was a great Camp counsellor.
I have ADHD. (squirrel!) Now the interesting thing is today ADHD is almost common place in children and diagnosed from an early age (about age 5). They can have EAP’s (Eduction Action Plan) and strategies for Teachers and School Special Education Teams to give these kids the best chance at getting through their education. (Both of my kids have ADHD btw).
Oh one other thing… I am on DRUGS! (Some of you at this point may be thinking; “????”.) I was originally prescribed 15 mg of adderol and took it every day (I now take a different medication called Biphentin 45mg) as the strength of these drugs, their timeline for effectiveness, and overall lasting effects vary from drug to drug. . When this was originally prescribed to me when diagnosed, hey cautioned me about restless sleep, mood changes when coming off the effects and generally give you some cautionary things to be aware of when taking something to help control ADHD. What they don’t tell you is what you actually experience. As an adult I could immediately see the benefit. CLARITY! Complete clarity in thoughts, calmness in sleep, brilliant ideas that I could start and finish, and where did I see the biggest benefit? On the golf course. I could concentrate on shots, putts and not expect distractions to pop in my head. WOW! In fact if I DON’T take my dose each day, I feel sluggish, hungry and like there is a fog that has settled into my head like an early morning. So call me an addict, but only because I am addicted to the benefits. It lets me be me!
I was officially diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 39. This meant I had gone through my entire Golf Professional career without any idea that this was affecting me in so many ways. But you know what the amazing thing about having ADHD is? I would not be where I am today without it. Often when diagnosed with ADHD kids are given the label of being different, tainted, uncontrollable, distracted and very hard to work with. In fact I believe whole heartedly that it is BECAUSE I have ADHD that it allows me to be creative, kooky, personable, funny, social, positive, connect with kids and especially the ones with ADHD.
I know what is happening in their heads, and because of this I make the experience the absolute BEST one for them every time. They are never a burden, but in fact I use their ADHD to boost their creativity, give them structure, (one of the amazing things I’ve discovered is that kids with ADHD thrive in a challenging yet structured environment such as golf) and at the same time let them be exactly who they are without feeling they are different. Watching their facial expressions change when they are praised instead of reprimanded (which a lot are used to) only makes them want to do it more.
I’m sure that there are a few other successful coaches who can sympathize and agree that they too would not be where they are today without ADHD. Some of the world’s most successful people have ADHD – Albert Einstien, Will Smith, Michael Jordan, Justin Timberlake to name a few (Read the Top 10 list HERE)
As golf professionals we aren’t given any training with regards to dealing with kids who have ADHD. In fact a large part of kids are still undiagnosed because parents don’t either believe that ADHD exists or that it’s just a phase of their development. So we are interacting with kids that have no idea what makes them be impulsive, interrupt and distracted. This leads to us trying to control their behaviour and rather than knowing some key strategies or unless you are an incredibly fast learner, most likely struggle with balancing your clinic, camp or lesson. I am here to tell you that it’s perfectly OK for you to feel that way. It can be down right exhausting putting so much effort into ONE child when you have 5 others that need your attention and this child is taking up most of your time and brain power. They are trying to cope with what you are telling them, they really are, so we must realize there are about 25 other things flashing across their brain at the same time.
I think I could write a novel about instances, examples and ways that I have used my “super power” to my advantage as well as instances that I know were not so positive and a distinct result of my ADHD. What I have learned and I hope that I can pass on is that having ADHD doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. In fact understanding it only allows you to learn coping strategies that can help you. Kids aren’t always as aware as adults, so it is our responsibility that we do these 5 things when working with kids who have ADHD:
- Have a Schedule – Structure allows for rules and consistency
- Don’t Patronize Them – be polite, upbeat and positive as much as possible at their level.
- Allow Them To Take Breaks – if they seem distracted ask them if they want to sit this one out.
- Find Out Their Strengths – Observe them and what they do really well have them repeat for success
- Be Patient – Don’t take it personally that they may not listen to you but find a way to communicate.
So there you have it. The Secret is out…I hope that this inspires you to ask questions, look at this subject differently and most of all realize….(oh look I got a Facebook notification) oops sorry, that having ADHD can be an incredble bonus instead of a detriment.
Doug Lawrie is the Owner and Director of Instruction of the highly successful Focus Golf Group Academy, with 2 locations in Oakville & Milton, Ontario., he continues to develop programming and award winning junior golfers and most recently was named PGA of Ontario & Canada’s 2022 Coach of the Year to accompany his National Junior Leader of the Year Award in 2012. Married to Susan for 21 years, they live in Burlington and enjoy their time with Daughter Abbie, Son Alex and their puppy Georgie.
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