Phelps story goes deeper than a pool

Friday, August 22, 2008

This was definitely an interesting week in history with the deaths of both comedian/actor Bernie Mac and musician/icon Isaac Hays as well as Michael Phelps breaking seven world records and one Olympic swimming records.

This remarkable young man, nicknamed the "human dolphin" is truly amazing in more ways than one. Phelps Had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Needless to say, it was challenging for his mother, Debbie, as well as for Phelps himself. It's her story which caught my attention the most.

For those of you not familiar with ADHD, it is a condition that becomes apparent in some children in the preschool and early school years. It makes it hard for these children to control their behavior and/or pay attention. It is estimated that between three and five percent, approximately two million, of the children in the United States have ADHD. That means that in a classroom of 25 to 30 children, it is likely that at least one will have ADHD. Medication for the disorder is available, but it isn't for everyone.

Phelps was made fun of it as a child because of his looks and hyperactivity. Some teachers and adults gave him a hard time. Of course you always hear of the negative effects of ADHD, but there are positives too.

I mean ADHD hasn't changed, but the way that experts see the disorder now has gone in a whole new direction. Some of the positives are their quick-wittedness, a speedy grasp of the big picture and great enthusiasm for nearly everything.

Debbie Phelps is now a celebrity mom speaking out about her son's disorder and answering any questions about her experiences with ADHD.

"More to the point, I think," said Michael Winerip, a New York Times writer, "is the moral of her story, which offers hope for parents of any child with a challenge like ADHD. Too many adults looked at Ms. Phelps's boy and saw what he couldn't do. This week, the world will be turned to the Beijing Olympics to see what he can do."