Who needs a crossing guard?

July 26, 2011


It’s almost August, which means SAFETY TOWN in our little village. Brand-new kindergarteners will be learning all about bicycle and bus safety as they prepare to enter elementary school. It’s a big deal for these little folks (as it should be!) Learning to be safe is a major step toward independence…one of the ultimate goals of growing up.

Personal safety becomes a bit more difficult for kids who have trouble sustaining attention and controlling impulses. I read with great interest the results of a recent study done at the University of Alabama-Birmingham comparing the ability of kids with ADHD to cross the streets with their typical peers. Although the kids with ADHD demonstrated mastery of “appropriate curbside behavior,” such as looking both ways, they tended to cross under riskier circumstances. Researchers noted that kids with ADHD crossed the street when traffic was closer to pedestrians than did the control group. Often, the children with ADHD had “close calls” with oncoming traffic.

Russell Barkley, a well-known ADHD researcher, was not surprised by these results. He cited lack of organization and ability to monitor timing as contributing factors. However, he said, “putting them through a safety class isn’t going to change that they are unsafe. “You have to monitor (children with ADHD) much more than other children.”

This statement holds great significance to the Church: Great teaching is not enough. Kids with ADHD need, as Barkley stated, more monitoring than their typical peers. So, teaching them how to be kind, make good choices, and avoid risky behavior in order to glorify God is a great start…but they’ll need more intense relationships with mentors and youth leaders in order to be successful. We need to provide a bit more “hand holding” for these kids…more accountability, supervision and support…not by nagging, but by developing relationships. In time, we can help them understand their own need for these supports and assist them as they make transitions in their lives, with the goals of spiritual maturity and commitment to the Kingdom. That’s the kind of “Safety Patrol” that pleases the Father!

Look both ways, and hold hands…


Katie Wetherbee, a former special education teacher, is the Director of Education for Key Ministry. She lives with her husband and two teenagers in Chagrin Falls, OH. She enjoys reading and baking, and she blogs at http://katiewetherbee.wordpress.com


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One Comment on “Who needs a crossing guard?”


    How ironic! I was just speaking to my sister and mom today about the fact that my youngest still needs complete supervision in both walking and riding a bike to school. I felt it was because of her impulsivity, but I am impressed by the additional facts you share, Katie. Thanks for validating me as the mom of a special kid!


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