Superpowers and Deficits

07/10/2017 03:27 pm ET

Our Extraordinary Kids

I am the parent of kids with special needs. I don't usually introduce myself that way. I definitely don't introduce my kids that way. But when I get talking to someone and find out that they have special needs kids too, there is an instant understanding that comes between us. Not that our kids will ever be the same. No two kids are ever the same, whether they have special needs or not. Just that we know what it is like to live lives that are slightly off to the left of the lives most other people live. The assumption of the straight line from birth to school to college to job, marriage, children, and retirement are not assumptions for our kids. We have extra concerns and considerations that go into the simplest daily and life decisions. We know the insides of many doctor offices and the waiting rooms at the children's hospitals where only our kids wait for their medical procedures. Other families take their kids to the pediatrician for annual check ups, but our kids see a wide array of doctors, therapists, and specialists on usually a much more frequent than just annual basis. We probably know a bit more about sleepless nights staying up with kids who might be having seizures or night terrors or anxiety attacks or who need their tube feeding topped up in the middle of the night.

So even though I knew little about Richard Schramm and his family when we first met, as soon as he told me three of his kids have ADHD and one has high functioning autism, we were quickly able to share that understanding smile and get down to bonding about our families and lives. Richard not only is the parent of kids who are not neurotypical, he is an adult with ADHD himself.

“I was the poster child for ADHD when I was a kid,” he told me. Which means that he understands what his kids are going through from a deeply personal place. He understands the challenges faced by kids with lots of energy and creativity but who find tasks like sitting still in a chair with hands folded and eyes forward almost excruciating torture. He also knows well the difficulties of those who struggle with executive function. Planning, preparing, executing, completing and following up on tasks or projects tend to be things that people with ADHD struggle with. For kids engaging with our current school system where classroom control and task completion are high priorities, they can end up feeling like their lives are a series of failures to behave correctly and perform correctly. This can lead to feelings of low self-esteem as well as low grades and having their parents called frequently because of some impulsive thing they did that teachers considered disruptive.

Knowing all of this, and knowing how being ADHD affected him when he was a child, Richard decided to use his impressive technical knowledge and skill to create an app to help both kids and their parents deal with some of the most common challenges of ADHD. The result, the iGotThis app which has been in Beta for several months now and will be debuting in the app store hopefully in August 2017. The app has a wide array of planning, notification, reminder, and reward systems to help parents and kids plan ahead for things that are challenging on a regular basis. For instance if starting homework at a certain time each day that will allow it to be finished before TV time and in time for a reasonable bedtime is a challenge, then that is schedule into the app. When that time comes around, the app reminds the child to start their homework now. During the session it might remind them to focus and that they are smart and capable and nearly done! Once they have completed their homework assignment for the night, they mark it completely and their parents get sent a notification that it is done. That way parents don’t have to hover over their kids constantly asking, “Did you do it? Did you finish? Is it done?” ad nauseum. This makes life more pleasant both for the child who is now able to operate more independently of their parent, and for the parent who no longer feels like they need to nag their child.

Personally, I can’t wait to try out the app for myself and with my kids. If you are interested in learning more about the iGotThis app, you can get more information here.

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