Role models can be real life people or fictional characters. Here’s a fictional teenage character that has ADHD and Dyslexia.
Corinne wrote this guest post. 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 has 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 than 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 all this, 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? It isn’t until Percy’s math teacher, Mrs. Dodds, turns into a fanged, leathery black winged creature and tries to kill him on a school field trip that he finds out he isn’t normal. Percy makes it to Camp Halfblood with his friend Grover, an awkward, limping teen who happens to be a satyr sent to protect him. There he finds the world of Greek myths he’d learned in school were no myth– instead very real and dangerous, especially for all halfbloods, many of whom make the camp home for all or part of each year. The Gods and monsters of legend are very much alive, many of them living in New York. 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 lightning 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 hardwired 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.
My oldest two children have read all of Riordan’s books, and for months they begged me to give The Lightning Thief a try. The catalyst, for me, was driving in the car one day with the kids. I was agonizing over how to test the waters in regards to the possibility that one or more of my five children may have ADHD (two have since been diagnosed). When I finally broached the subject, my ten year-old surprised me by getting an excited gleam in her eye. It was obvious that she was flattered by the idea that she might have ADHD, which left me feeling a bit baffled. A few days later, when she casually mentioned Percy Jackson’s ADHD, a light bulb went off in my head. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians 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 a respect for the untapped powers and hidden hero within each ADD child, as well as giving an accurate and compassionate glimpse into his or her struggles.
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, Rick Riordan’s blog is here. And his newest book in the Heroes of Olympus series, House of Hades, will be available on October 8 of this year.
Who are your ADHD children’s ADHD role models? Who are your ADHD role models?