KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An Olympian I Can Cheer For

Swimmer Michael Phelps; photo by Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty imagesI haven't been watching the Olympics on TV or reading online coverage of them because I'm unhappy about China's records on human rights and pollution. (As if the U.S. has done loads better in those two arenas!) And like some of you, I'm not fond of all of the American TV networks' penchant for doing all of those life stories on the athletes.

But a sports story about American swimmer Michael Phelps and all of his gold medals did catch my attention, because Michael has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), which my husband, two sons, and both in-laws have. Around our house, we're always looking for success stories about people with AD/HD, especially to show our sons that even with a neurobehavioral disorder, people can do well with their talents and a lot of determination.

Then I was sent a link to this feature story in ADDitude Magazine on Michael, a story that I can cheer about:
No doubt about it, Michael Phelps has made waves in his chosen sport. In 2004, at the age of 18, he swam his way to eight medals (six of them gold) at the summer Olympics in Athens. Now 21, he holds 13 world records, including the 200-meter butterfly and the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay.

Yet Michael might not have loved swimming at all, were it not for the ingenuity of his mother, Debbie Phelps. "At age seven, he hated getting his face wet," says Debbie. "We flipped him over and taught him the backstroke."

Michael showed swimming prowess on his back, then on his front, side, and every way in between. But in the classroom, he floundered. An inability to concentrate was his biggest problem.

"I was told by one of his teachers that he couldn’t focus on anything," says Debbie. She consulted a doctor, and nine-year-old Michael was diagnosed with ADHD.

"That just hit my heart," says Debbie. "It made me want to prove everyone wrong. I knew that, if I collaborated with Michael, he could achieve anything he set his mind to."
Be sure to go read the rest of Michael's story.

Page 1 of the article is about Ty Pennington, star of the TV series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and another AD/HD hero around here. As wild and crazy as Ty can be on the show, that's with medication to help focus him. ;-) The severity of his AD/HD reminds me of my older son's. Page 3 is about Danielle Fisher, the youngest person to have scaled 7 of the world's highest mountains.

These three people are successes because they got a diagnosis, got assistance, and have families who stand behind them. It just goes to show that personal success is all about ADDitude!

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