Here’s refreshing news for dispairing parents of children who have been labelled as having ADD, ADHD or have been called dyslexic. I have first-hand experience in this regard and relate to the challenges that children face when they have been labelled as “learning disabled”.

My first grade teacher told my parents I would never read, write or communicate, never amount to anything nor go very far in life.

I left school early as a result, but through life-changing circumstances in my late teens, I conquered the “disability” label and now I communicate for a living. My early learning “disability’” was in fact the catalyst for 36-years of in-depth, dedicated research to fully understand human behaviour.

Attention deficit disorder versus attention surplus disorder

Have you ever wondered how a supposed ADD or ADHD child who enjoys chess or playing video games can sit still, undisturbed, totally immersed and focused for hours?

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What I have observed is that where there is attention deficit disorder there is also its opposite, attention surplus order. This means that your child will have an area in his life on which he is totally focused, and where you could say he expresses genius.

We all have varying degrees of attention deficit disorder and attention surplus order that are expressed according to our hierarchy of values. We are focused and disciplined when it comes to those areas of life in which we are interested, but when we see no value in something, we lose focus and shut down.

Imagine that you are at a dinner party and the people around the table are talking about politics. You have no interest in that area, so you switch off, look bored and stare around the room. Your energy and focus dissipates. However, the minute the conversation turns to a topic that is interests you, you immediately become focused, present and participative.

Children in the classroom

Children in the classroom are no different. When they don’t believe the subject they are learning in class will help them in areas that they see as important, they shut down and lose their focus. When something is low on a child’s values, they need outside motivation to remain focused; without the motivation, they procrastinate, hesitate and become distracted.

Teachers, counsellors, parents and specialists then sometimes mislabel these young people as “learning disabled” without understanding the dynamic and taking the time to discover what is truly inspiring to these children, or helping them see the connections between their values and the subject taught in class. The moment the child makes this connection, their focus and attention in this area increases.

The key to activating a child’s potential

Understanding how human behaviour works is key to activating a child’s potential. A human being’s unique hierarchy of values determines what they are inspired by, where they are most masterful, disciplined, ordered and focused. Their highest value is where their genius resides. Values differ with each person and are as unique as fingerprints. A person’s values determine how they see the world, act upon the world and make decisions in the world.

In order to discover a child’s highest values, all we need to do is observe. Look at what they talk about, what they spend their time doing, where they focus their energy, where they have order and what goals they set themselves.

Teachers and parents tend to teach children what they think is most important – the art of teaching is also the art of selling. They are not going to “sell” a love of learning unless they honour the child’s individual values. So knowing a child’s values becomes useful in mastering the art of awakening a desire to learn a specific subject. The trick is to link their highest values, say soccer, to the subjects in the class, making the connection between how understanding a subject like mathematics will improve their game.

All children want to learn and grow

I have never met a child or person who didn’t want to learn and grow. It is inherent in the very core of our nature. Honour every child for who they are as they are. Take the time to look for their unique genius. When you see it, you will be able to help them see it for themselves.

Throughout history there have been many individuals who were labelled as having learning disabilities. They went on to defy the label and excel with extraordinary flair. Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mozart and Winston Churchill are just a few of the people who transformed their challenges into stepping stones to success.

When you can see the genius, you have the power to awaken it.

Dr. John Demartini is a human behaviour specialist, educator, author and the founder of the Demartini Institute.