Modeling Authenticity for ADHD Boys

by Jacob Hafkin, Cherokee Creek Boys School TherapistJacob Hafkin - Cherokee Creek Boys School Therapist and ADHD Coach

Part of the Cherokee Creek Mission Statement encourages boys and their families “to discover what is real and true about themselves…”

When a student enters CCBS, he begins as a “Visionary”.  In this quadrant of the CCBS Medicine Wheel, the core value is truth, and they are challenged and taught how to tell the truth without blame or judgement.

For so many of our students struggling with ADHD, truth is mixed up with feelings of failure, disorganization, and despair.  Their past few years have been marred by behavioral infractions, incomplete assignments, fractured friendships and lost time.  Their diagnosis of ADHD has become an excuse, or an explanation for why “they can’t”.  The truth that their learning style may be different from others is covered up by shame and guilt.

CCBS Students in Classroom designed for ADHD boysCherokee Creek Boys School is a place where individual differences such as ADHD are accepted and understood.  It is here that I ask my boys to take a next step, from saying “it’s because I have ADHD” as an excuse, to learning how to modify, adapt and accommodate their learning differences.

Every staff member at CCBS is an ADHD Coach.  The truth is that life can be made more difficult if you have issues with sustaining attention for a task.  But our journey does not end with acknowledgement.  At Cherokee Creek, our staff works to teach young men strategies to find success no matter their learning differences.ADHD Boys can explore the world around them at CCBS

The “Visionary” part of the Medicine Wheel encourages our students to be creative and insightful, traits that are very important as our young men search for ways to fit into their world.   On any given day you might hear a staff member say something along the lines of “Yes, you struggle with hyperactivity and have a hard time making it through class.  Let’s talk about ways to make your academic experience more successful”.

As I mentioned earlier, every staff member at Cherokee Creek as viewed as an ADHD Coach.  I’d like to extend the mantle of Coach to parents, siblings, relatives, and friends in an adolescent’s life.  At this stage, each of our students is learning how to be a man.  Our spoken advice, as well as how we model ourselves non-verbally, is providing a blueprint for adulthood.  Our students/sons are already aware of our humanity.  By sharing our thought processes with them, as well as us giving constructive and palatable feedback, we teach and encourage the behaviors we wish to see repeated.

Every staff member is an ADHD coachLiving and working so closely with my students, they see parts of me I like, as well as my struggles.  They know I’m fallible, and that is OK.  It is through watching each member of our staff deal with failure and success that they learn how to manage the same in their own lives.  I suggest parents to do the same.  If you’re an adult who has struggled with ADHD, share that with your son.  Teach him the strategies that you have used to succeed and encourage his own journey for discovering the truth to becoming a “Warrior” with the courage to overcome and persevere.

We are building resilience in these boys.  If good decisions are a manifestation of experience, and experience comes from poor judgement, we are right on track (it’s that whole “you’ve gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet” bit, right?).  As they continue on their journey towards becoming a more authentic version of themselves, let’s model the same and continue coaching them towards success.


posted by jleslie in ADHD,Discovering What is Real and True and have Comment (1)

Four-Legged Therapy

You can hardly walk on Cherokee Creek’s campus without a greeting from a four-legged friend lately. The number of dogs loyally following their owners to work has increased and, along with that fact, the number of boys happily throwing sticks and playing chase!

Jacob, Student, and MosesThere are many research studies pointing to increased happiness when pets are available for petting, play, or just listening. Our dogs have been welcomed in therapy sessions, formal and informal. In short, there are so many wonderful reasons to have them around (to learn more about the therapeutic value of pets, please see

We dedicate the anonymously written fable below to our CCBS “co-therapists” Lily, Mable, Moses, Yoshi, Bella, Callie, Dirt Dog,and Big Dog. Thank you for being you!

Fable – God Summoned The Beast From the Field (Author Unknown)

God summoned the beast from the field and He said
“Behold, man is created in my image. Therefore adore him.
You shall protect him in the wilderness,
shepherd his flocks, watch over his children,
accompany him wherever he may go…
even into civilization.
You shall be his companion, his ally, his slave.”

“To do these things,” God said, “I endow you with the
instincts uncommon to other beasts:
Faithfulness, Devotion and Understanding
surpassing those of man himself.
Lest it impair your courage,
you shall never foresee your death.
Lest it impair your loyalty,
you shall be blind to the faults of man.
Lest it impair your understanding,
you are denied the power of words.
Speak to your master only with your mind
and through your honest eyes.”

“Walk by his side; sleep in his doorway;
ward off his enemies; carry his burden;
share his afflictions; love and comfort him.
And in return for this,
Man will fulfill your needs and wants…
which shall be only food, shelter and affection.”

“So be silent and be a friend to man.
Guide him through the perils along the way
to this land I have promised him.
This shall be your destiny and your immortality.”

So spoke the Lord.
And the dog heard, and was content.

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (2)