A self-professed "poster child" for adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), art teacher Sandie Southern recognizes that everyone learns differently.

A self-professed "poster child" for adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), art teacher Sandie Southern recognizes that everyone learns differently.

Southern, who is employed at Beacon Elementary Schools, was not diagnosed with ADD until she was an adult with three children and working as a teacher.

As a child, she was labeled as a daydreamer.

"Girls go undercover, because they are not normally hyper," Southern said.

While there is a stigma attached to children and adults with ADD, Southern said, many with ADD are quite intelligent and learn to cope in spite it.

"The funny thing is people think you are a space cadet," she said.

Southern, who is also certified to teach severe behavior-handicapped and learning-disabled students, said she suspected something was wrong when she was reading a book about ADD symptoms and started highlighting the details that applied to her.

"Both pages were solid blue," she said.

Getting the final diagnosis gave Southern relief.

"Any issue, if it is creating a stress in living a normal life and interfering with doing normal life, you owe it to yourself to find out what to do about it," said Southern.

She was excited to learn that she was not a "space cadet" and that there was an explanation for the things going on in her life.

Through her own experiences, she is able to understand the children in her classroom better, whether they have ADD or not.

"There are many styles of teaching," she said. "We all learn differently."

The more people know about anything, ADD included, the less confused and fearful they are of it, according to Southern.

She knows from some of her own experiences that little children with ADD have hyper focus and do not want to stop playing with their Legos or drawing a picture.

"It is hard to transition," she said. "You are physically so into what you are focusing on that physically it is hard to change -- for a child especially."

She knows to give her students plenty of cues for cleaning up their projects and preparing to move onto the next subject or place.

Southern also knows what triggers student learning, based on her own experiences.

"I am in a great position to help kids with that," she said. "Art is my vehicle."

At Ohio Wesleyan University, Southern received a bachelor's degree in fine arts.

"I graduated thinking of myself as an artist with education as my vehicle," she said.

Along the way, her views changed.

"I am an educator and art is my vehicle," she said. "That is part of my whole message to other teachers. It is a way to reach children."

Her mission is to teach children, educators and parents that people learn by making connections.

"I like the ADD part of me that is my personality," she said. "You cannot make excuses for me. That will not float with me."

Instead she takes the tools she has developed over the years and teaches others to take care of themselves.

"You connect to what their passion is and it triggers the brain chemistry," she said. "The brain chemistry is stimulated. That is what happened with me. I can connect to what I teach. It became personal to me and now I have a fascination with all knowledge. I am a born-again learner. I feel like a late-in-life learner."

When she was in school, it was a matter of memorization, but today it is a matter of absorbing knowledge.

The whole world has opened up to Southern, and she wants to pass that on to her students, but she knows she must approach teaching from many different angles.

catwogan@yahoo.com