ADHD is considered genetically related. This means that it is a predisposed condition that came at birth. However, a caring and loving relationship can facilitate changes with this condition. They cannot change the genes, but they can influence how the genes express themselves as the child grows and develops.
In sciences, this is called epigenetic. Traumatic experiences will leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA by which psychopathology, such as mood disorders, will be developed. On the other hand, responsive and nurturing experiences will over time enable traumatized children to restore a sense of safety and security as a result of the ‘positive attachment’ build within the parent-child relationship.
Empathy is the essential component in any caring and loving relationships. Dr. Michele Borba, in her book, “Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World” explained that empathy is a quality that must be taught by parents, by educators, and by those in a child’s community”, …………….and is a trait that children can cultivate and improve like any habits they learned and practiced. …..Empathy equips children to become more resilient”.
The sharing Debbie Phelps posted on the social media mentioned about Michael wanted to stop taking medication in grade seven. Debbie explained to her son the medication was helping him to focus in class, but she also listened empathetically to Michael and worked with him to consult with his doctor to find solutions to his concerns. Supporting Michael to have a dialogue with his doctor, Michael was given a green light to stop taking medication.
It is clear that Debbie Phelps was trying to take Michael’s perspective even though she was aware of what she might want for her son differently. Empathizing with Michael’s wishes not only strengthened the mother-child relationship between her and Michael, it also enabled Michael to become more active and focus on his swimming despite of his daily struggle with the symptoms of ADHD.
Two years later, Michael won a seat to represent US at the 2000 Summer Olympics at fifteen and is being the youngest player in 68 years to represent America in the Olympics.
The accomplishment Michael made is a good illustration of Dr. Michele Borba’s idea on “empathy equips children to become more resilient”.
How did Michael function without medication and continued to excel in swimming?