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General Parenting Issues The purpose of this forum is to discuss general parenting issues related to children with AD/HD(ADD & ADHD)

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Old 03-15-11, 01:33 AM
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Starting a theater class for ADD kids, looking for the parental perspective

Hi! I'm a young opera singer/actress/comedian who has ADD (Inattentive type). I'm in the beginning stages of developing a performance-based after-school class for middle school children with ADD/ADHD.

I was not diagnosed until fairly late (by today's standards) and was not really treated for the condition until this year. I suffered a lot in school and dealt with a lot of denial and shame throughout my school years and into college. AD(H)D in any kind of formal structure like school is treated as a curse - not because teachers aren't sympathetic, but because the kids often don't have a good support system, and the teachers don't have time to give 1-on-1 guidance. I've been a 1-on-1 public school aide for kids with varied disabilities, and I really loved it.

I've been involved in music and theater since high school, and I have been training in improvisational comedy for about a year. I'm convinced that it would be a great theraputic aid for kids who struggle with AD(H)D. Everything that you learn in this type of theatre would have been so beneficial to me as a child.....

1) This type of theater training encourages both impulse and concentration. A participant learns to pay attention to a scene, understand the non-verbal signals of their teammates, and probably most importantly, to distinguish between a "good impulse" and a "bad impulse". A bad impulse is the impulse to curse just to get a cheap laugh - a good impulse is that clever joke that you think of second... after you're sitting in the hallway for cursing in class.

2) The exercises are fun, totally hysterical, and would be a nice way to wake up their neurotransmitters after a day of forced inhibition. They are also very short exercises, and there is no "lecture time"... I explain the exercise in 2 minutes, and then we learn by doing. If they start to lose focus, then we would take a brain break, where people can elect to go outside and throw a ball around with me, or sit and read under a tree, etc... whatever recharges their brains.

3) They would be in an environment where they can be honest with their individual abilities without feeling like weirdos. It's a room full of people who struggle in the same ways that they do.

4) AD(H)D would not be presented as curse or a nuisance to everyone around them, but as something that they can learn to manipulate in a positive way. Being able to think creatively and act quickly can be a real gift in many areas of life, but only if we can be selective about our impulses.

I was thinking that it might be great if I could co-teach with a children's AD(H)D coach, and I intend to consult with a special educator and clinical psychologist/psychiatrist as well. I need medical professionals around for both credibility and invaluable support and advice. I'm also trained in first aid/CPR (these kids seem to bang themselves up doing practically nothing, don't they?) and I'd insist that other teachers be certified as well.

I'd keep the groups pretty small (6-8 kids would be ideal) and would emphasize the teamwork aspect of improv - you have everyone's back, and everyone has your back. We would have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying and name-calling. What I also like about improv is, it's very adaptable. There's music improv, improv for writers, dance-based improv, etc... it can be customized on the fly for the strengths and weaknesses of the participants.

I also don't want to charge much, if anything. It's criminal to outprice kids from something that they could benefit from. I think I can get my favorite local theater or a church to donate their space for little or nothing, and this type of theater needs no props, costumes, or scenes - it's all based upon imagination!


My questions for parents are:


1) Would you be interested in a program like this for your child? Why or why not?

2) Does your child have any conditions that exist co-morbidly? If so, what kind of accommodations do you think they would need? I really want to try to include everyone, from the typical hyperactive boy to the girl on the autism spectrum.

3) What other information would be important for your decision-making? Did I leave anything out?

Feel free to respond here, or to PM me if you want to keep it private. I'm really looking for any kind of feedback, so even if you're someone without kids and you have suggestions, I'm all ears. Parents, especially, though - don't be shy! And, thank you in advance!
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Old 03-15-11, 02:22 AM
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Re: Starting a theater class for ADD kids, looking for the parental perspective

That sounds great! Check with your local Rec center and maybe start out as a volunteer. Then if enough participation grows you could make it a bigger production type of gig and maybe get paid!

I have my kids in an after school theater class through our Rec center and they love it! It does require a lot of parental participation though but, that's because we actually put on a full blown play. Our community actually pays to come see it! Although, that is only because of years of improvements....

Idk, start small and see where it goes! You've got a great heart!
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Old 03-15-11, 09:31 PM
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Re: Starting a theater class for ADD kids, looking for the parental perspective

I think this is a wonderful idea. The class sounds like it would be fun and I like your reasoning behind offering this class. Would you plan on having them perform for friends and family at the end of the session?

My son, who is a Sophomore in college, is very active in the Theatre group.there. He was also involved with theatre in high school. His senior year, they did a improv night instead of a full blown play. With his encourage mentioned my eldest daughter became part of the team. This did wonders for her confidence and she had a blast with the improv exercises they did to prepare for the nights performance.
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Old 03-16-11, 01:24 AM
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Re: Starting a theater class for ADD kids, looking for the parental perspective

I'm up in the air about a performance - if I were middle-school-aged, or even HS aged, if I knew I was in a class that involved a Final Performance, I would have spent waaay too much time sweating about it. Improv (especially for beginners) is more about learning a new way to think than having some kind of finished product. Plus, maybe I don't give them enough credit, but I don't know if a formal theater-type setting is a good place for groups of easily distracted kids who most likely have sensory sensitivities and a fear of being ridiculed. If it were a play, that would be one thing, but you're just making it all up as you go in improv.... that is a lot of pressure, even for seasoned performers.

Plus, lots of AD(H)D kids that don't have hyperactivity are a bit shy, and I wouldn't want to scare away the introverted kids from the course. One of the goals is to make them feel more confident socially, so I would hate to scare away the kids that need it the most.

I think what would be nice is a once-a-semester event where friends and family can sit in on a class. They'd be the "audience", but not in an intimidating theater - just in a gym or church basement or something. There are a lot of exercises that involve very minimal audience participation - like, I'd ask for someone to suggest a country or a kind of food. Would that make parents more or less comfortable than a "school play" kind of atmosphere? No one would ever be "put on the spot" to suggest something... totally voluntary.
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