Michael Phelps, Debbie Phelps, ADHD and What We Can Learn From Them

Michael Phelps, Debbie Phelps, ADHD and What We Can Learn From Them

With the Olympics comes the stories. The stories are what intrigue us, that connect us on a seemingly more “personal” level along with the “larger” connection of routing for your country while marveling at the athletic beauty (and more) of other countries. The stories are of our Olympians. The stories are of people like Michael Phelps… and ADHD.

If it’s a surprise to you, as it was for me, here’s a 1988 article that enlightened me on ADDitude Magazine. The surprises didn’t end there. Rather than the traditional answers of helping our children with medications prescribed, the dreaded “schedule” and more, Debbie Phelps, Michael Phelp’s Mother had this to say about helping Michael work through his frustrations during swimming practices and events:

“We came up with a signal I could give him from the stands,” she says. “I’d form a ‘C’ with my hand, which stood for ‘compose yourself.’ Every time I saw him getting frustrated, I’d give him the sign…”
(ADDtitude Magazine, Judy Dutton, 1998)

What Debbie Phelps is doing here is something I do believe many of us Mom Warriors do, think outside of the box.. Debbie Phelps enlisted the simplest of tools that any “typical” parent might do, and used it with her son to help him manage his ADHD. By all appearances, the team that she and Michael made (with each other first and foremost) coupled with a team of professionals gave Michael the edge. Even when choices they made may go against (or completely against) what doctors recommended. For instance, allowing Michael to stop taking his stimulant medications that helped control his ADHD.

…”Despite serious misgivings, she agreed to let him stop — and he did fine. Michael’s busy schedule of practices and meets imposed so much structure on his life that he was able to stay focused without medication.”
(ADDtitude Magazine, Judy Dutton, 1998)

Though how The Phelp’s chose to manage Michael Phelps’ ADHD is likely the exception, we are reminded to:

  • Provided structure
  • Reinforced the structure
  • Used typical lessons of life – (ex simple signals)
  • Enlist professionals (such as tutors)
  • Work hard
  • Trust your gut
  • Be willing to go against “traditional” treatment
  • And… don’t give up

Michael Phelps and Debbie PhelpsThe rare stories like Michael Phelps’ give us hope… hope that we’re on the right track. That following our educated, well-researched “gut” feelings about what might work best for our kiddos is not a bad way to approach each diagnosis. After all, should we do our due diligence in understanding our child’s diagnosis, we can use our understanding, love and appreciation of our special kiddos to help them achieve their own successes.

If it doesn’t work, tweak it or change it. If it works… well.. you know.

But that’s my opinion. What’s yours?

(Photo By: MarcoPako / Flickr)

[ts_fab authorid=”11″ tabs=”bio,twitter,facebook,googleplus,latest_posts”]

By | 2012-09-21T21:48:00+00:00 September 21st, 2012|Categories: ADD / ADHD, Family, Medical / Therapies, Parenting, Relationships|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Gina St. Aubin

Gina St. Aubin is a former Victim’s Advocate who now advocates for those with intellectual and physical challenges. Her eldest son is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Electrical Status Epilepticus during Sleep / Landau-Kleffner Syndrome (a rare epileptic disorder causing verbal aphasia) and Developmental Delays. In June, 2012, her son also underwent a successful hemispherectomy. Gina is the editor, author and owner of Special Happens, serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the SPD Foundation, and resides in Colorado where she is a mother of 3, wife, blogger, writer and special needs advocate.

Leave A Comment