Role models can be real life people or fictional characters. Here’s a fictional teenage character that has ADHD and Dyslexia.
This guest post is written by Corinne. Corinne writes about her (mis)adventures as the mother of five young children, trying to make the most of their years together, one resolution at a time. Check out her blog at 5for50project.
At the bottom of this review, she’ll talk about how Rick Riordan’s books inspired her daughter.
Review of ADHD Friendly Rick Riordan Book Lightning Thief
This book also been made into a movie
Percy Jackson isn’t your typical teen. He has ADHD and dyslexia and has been kicked out of more schools that you can imagine. He often blurts things out, though he doesn’t mean to. To top it off, his mom lives with a real jerk, “smelly” Gabe, while Percy pines for the dad he never knew. In spite of his troubles, one of his teachers, Mr. Brunner, still believes that Percy has real potential, though Percy can’t figure out why. When was the last time “D’s” showed that someone had potential?
Then Percy’s math teacher, Mrs. Dodds, turns into a fanged, leathery winged creature and tries to kill him on a school field trip. Percy makes it to Camp Halfblood with his friend Grover, a limping teen who happens to be a disguised satyr sent to protect him. There he finds the world of the Greeks very much alive, and dangerous, especially for all halfbloods, many of whom make the camp home for all or part of each year. The gods of legend are headquartered in New York, in a Mount Olympus that follows Western Civilization (mortals cannot see monsters or gods because of a “mist” that obscures their vision).
The kids at camp are in “hero” training, all of them demigods, children of mortal parents and one godly parent. Most of them are children of lesser gods, since the big three– Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades– made a pact after World War II that they wouldn’t sire any more children with mortal women.
At Camp Halfblood, Percy discovers that he has many hidden powers as a rare son of the sea God, Poseidon. There he trains to fight monsters, meets new and unusual friends, consults a withered mummy-like oracle, and discovers that he possesses a destiny that will mean the destruction or salvation of the gods, gods whose fate is closely intertwined with that of Western Civilization. He must go on a dangerous quest, his first of many, to restore the stolen lightening bolt of Zeus himself.
Percy proves himself a true hero, showing that he will stop at nothing to thwart evil and protect his friends. His dyslexia is really a manifestation that he was hardwired to read ancient Greek. And it is his ADHD that gives him his incredible battle reflexes, traits he shares with the other demigods, most of whom are dyslexic and ADHD themselves.
His friend, Annabeth, daughter of Athena, and the main female protagonist in the series, explains to him: ”The letters float off the page when you read, right? That’s because your mind is hard-wired for ancient Greek….And the A.D.H.D. – you’re impulsive, can’t sit still in the classroom. That’s your battlefield reflexes. In a real fight, they’d keep you alive. As for the attention problems, that’s because you see too much, Percy, not too little. Your senses are better than a regular mortal’s.”
This is an easy-to read series written for tweens, with likable protagonists and despicable villains. The action is exciting and “perfectly paced,” as described in a New York Times review by Polly Shulman: “with electrifying moments chasing each other like heartbeats.” It is sprinkled with generous loads of humor, woven throughout with Greek stories and myths, along with some mild cursing on the River Styx.
Riordan weaves the worlds of old and new in a fun and believable style– in which one can say the words ADHD and Manhattan and Minotaur without breaking a sweat. (The war god Ares wears black leather and rides a Harley, for example, while Poseidon often appears wearing Bermuda shorts) These books may even may make you want to break out your old Greek mythology books; both of my Percy readers showed an increased interest in mythology after reading the series.
I must admit that until recently I had never read any of the books in this or others of Riordan’s series, though I had bought them, twice? for my kids (oops, two copies of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series? I didn’t notice this until I went on a search for the books. Good thing, because I would lose one here and there and knew just where to find the back-up set!).
But I was recently diagnosed with ADD, and discovered that some (if not all) of my five children have it as well. I agonized over finding the right words to tell my beautiful, smart daughter about a possible ADHD diagnosis. When I finally broached the subject, she surprised me by getting a… what? … a little gleam in her eye. If I could read her thoughts at that moment, I would guess the word in her mind was “sweet.” I was a little baffled. Until I a few days later, when she casually mentioned Percy Jackson’s ADD. This series had made her feel that ADHD was “cool.” Whew! I wanted to go out and give Rick Riordan a big bear hug right then and there.
Riordan treats the pros and cons of ADHD like a pro himself– ultimately giving the reader respect for the untapped powers and hidden hero within each ADD child, while giving an accurate and compassionate glimpse into his or her struggles.
Now another confession: I was going to read the first book only, just to give you the general gist of the series. But once I picked it up, there was no turning back. One week, lots of pizza dinners, some lingering lunches, lots of “just a minutes,” and many procrastinated chores later, I finished the entire series and found it to be a very satisfying distraction.
I quickly found myself endeared to Riordan’s main characters, even if Percy does, at one point, tell evil (temporary) camp counselor Tantalus to “go chase a doughnut.” His ADHD is just another thread of this endearment, as I found myself rooting for an awkward teenage satyr, a courageous and loyal son of Poseidon, a daughter of Athena, a Cyclopes, and yes, even a son of Hades, often against all odds.
Fun Fact: Riordan invented the Percy Jackson stories in an effort to help his son, who suffered from ADHD and dyslexia, get into reading. You can read more about that here, including Riordan’s suggestions for inspiring kids with ADHD challenges to become avid readers.
My own daughter, mentioned above, was so inspired by heroes like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter (or Hermoine and Annabeth, really) and meeting author Shannon Hale, that she started writing her own book. So far, I think it is one of her own hidden gifts. Sounds like Riordan’s son just completed a 600 page manuscript of his own. I think I have some new heroes, and they don’t live over the Empire State Building, erm, Olympus.
For fans, here’s Rick Riordan’s website and blog. While this is a review of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Percy returns in the Heroes of Olympus series. House of Hades, the next in the series, will be available on October 8 of this year.
To read more of Corinne’s writing, have a look at her blog at 5for50project.
Who are your ADHD children’s ADHD role models? Who are your ADHD role models?Google+