Wednesday, February 24, 2010
What Percy Jackson and the Olympians Can Teach Us about ADHD
When you watch a movie you have the power to suspend reality and imagine anything you want: nothing is impossible. You can even be a demigod with ADHD and dyslexia.
In the debut movie “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” Percy is a 17 year old high school boy with ADHD and dyslexia struggling with school, and getting into lots of trouble. Unbeknownst to him, he is also the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.
The character Percy illustrates the real-life paradox facing individuals with ADHD and dyslexia. He has unique strengths that are way above average but also has some noticeable weaknesses. I have worked as an ADHD coach for over 10 years, and found often that there is no middle ground for ADDers. Percy’s ability to get things done in some situations is superior, and in other situations is very inferior.
For example, Percy can go underwater in a pool and hyperfocus for seven minutes without having to come up for air. But, when he has to pay attention to his teacher in class, he is distracted. His dyslexia makes it impossible to read English, but he has the ability to unravel the mysterious meaning of Greek phrases and names. These paradoxical experiences are confusing to him and make him feel like a loser.
He is also quite despondent about how badly his stepfather treats his mother. Percy valiantly stands up to the stepfather. Unfortunately, he does not define himself by his strength of character, but by his inability to do well in school. Sound familiar?
Like most ADDers, Percy feels hopeless until he discovers his innate strengths, and then has trouble accepting them. However, after experiencing the power of his gifts, he begins to embrace them. He realizes that if you pay attention to what you do well, that more of what you do well will show up.
During the film, Percy begins to trust his real father’s (Poseidon’s) voice speaking to him. When he chooses to listen and trust his one positive voice, it always moves him forward.
Although you may not be related to a Greek god, you already have your own divine attribute living within you. It is called enthusiasm—which has its origin from the Greek language, meaning “the God within.”
In the movie, the moment Percy listens to his positive inner voice, he easily defeats his enemies with amazing skill, great enthusiasm, and a huge burst of strength.
The lesson that stands out in this film is: Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can. Don’t define yourself by the labels others have given you or what others say about you. Pay attention to “what” you know to be true about “who” you are. This movie reminds me of what we emphasize at the ADD Coach Academy in our ADHD coach training and educational programs: Every human being with ADHD has a core of strength already hardwired inside the brain and living inside the heart. Unless a person accepts a label as his or her identity, then no label can deny a person what he or she was born to manifest.
At the ADD Coach Academy, we train coaches to empower their clients to pay attention to their strengths and focus on making them even stronger. It boils down to what you choose to pay attention to in any given moment.
[David Giwerc, a Master Certifed Coach, is Founder and President of the ADD Coach Academy in Albany, NY To find out more, please go to http://www.addca.com ]