When Dr. Alberto Fernandez Jaen diagnosed our son with ADHD, we had no idea what it was. He took the time to speak about it with us. Nevertheless, we could not imagine how the disorder was going to influence our lives, our family; everyone around us.
This happened 13 years ago or so. We were fortunate that our son was diagnosed at an early age.
From that first conversation I’ve always kept in my mind an analogy that he shared with us. It was a piece of advice that he gave us in order to live with the disorder. He talked about a table with four feet.
A child with ADHD is at the center of a table that should be supported by four feet: the first, of course, represents the parents, who live very close to their child. The second is the school, in permanent contact with the parents, reporting the situation and helping with agreed guidelines. The third is a neurologist (at least in our case. I know there are psychiatrists who also diagnose this disorder. We went to a neurologist as ADHD is a neurological disorder, not mental). He is the one who recommends medication. And finally, the fourth is for the therapist as support at certain times of the child’s life.
A table with four feet. It was a picture so clear, so explicit, that I have never forgotten it.
On Monday. the 23 rd of this month, the psychiatrist Don Javier Quintero, gave a very pleasant and constructive talk to parents and educators, restating the image of a table with four feet as the best support to accompany the development of an ADHD child.
This time, I associated the image of a multicultural team, working remotely. The truth is that this is the environment in which I move regularly at work, and while thinking about it, I found many similarities.
A leader who works with a team of various nationalities (or cultures) and whose employees do not know each other and /or have few opportunities to meet, has to take into account several factors:
The first one is about multiculturalism. It is true that all members are adults, that all are intellectually mature, but it is also true that each of them might come from a different culture, speaking different languages. Nevertheless, the communication between them must be maintained, and focused on the target. This has to be kept by the leader, who has a clear goal in mind: to ensure that there is a permanent transfer of information and enough bridges for a constant dialogue. It would be good to develop a proposal to keep track of appointments, meetings, all that is necessary to maintain a collaborative environment.
Parents are the leaders in this case, and we have to make sure to stay in touch with the school, the doctor and therapist in order to maintain a productive contact between them and us, and keep them informed about our child’s evolution. It is a fact that all are professionals, but let’s verify that we’re all in the same conversation and that there is no room for false expectations regarding a common action plan.
The second factor is that these individuals or groups are not so often in contact, so it will be necessary, prior to launching our project, to invest some time for each of the parties to meet each other, not only as an opportunity to talk about their skills (and therefore their particular area of action), but also in order to clarify who, at specific times, might be entitled to make a final decision.
Teamwork, in my opinion, is characterized by the fact that sometimes it is not the leader but the specialist in any particular matter who takes the witness and becomes the guide.
The third factor is trust. In global companies, where it is assumed that all are hyperconnected, 200% availability is required. But in our case, we have to respect everyone’s schedule. Even in times of distress, we must trust that team members are as equally committed as we are and just wait. This is hard, isn’t it? But it will strengthen ties.
The fourth factor is about taking into account each one’s personality: the way they express themselves, their preferred way of working, their professional development …
Finally, parents have to feel free to change any of the table’s feet. It is possible, due to multiple factors, that we decide that we prefer one specialist rather than another, or even, during our child life to feel there is a more suitable school than the one he is attending. This is perfectly normal, as the work guidelines for a child, an adolescent or a young person can be different. Let’s feel free to investigate and improve or adapt the table’s shape, depending on what our mind or heart tell us.
A table with four feet! I like it! And it works!