Help, doc, I’m bored by boring things. I think I’ve got the ADHD!

Stay with me here, because I’m about to make a radical suggestion, and it just might blow your mind. This could get messy. OK, Ready? Alright, here it is:

What if — this is a big IF — what if people are all, like, different?

Hold on.

Don’t stop reading yet. Seriously, think about it. What if there ISN’T actually some preordained mold of behavior and thought in which we’re all supposed to fit? What if it’s OK for some people to be a certain way, while others are another way, and still others are an entirely different way? What if some people are active, and some people aren’t; some people are creative, and some people aren’t; some people have a lot of energy, and some people don’t; some people are daydreamers, and some people aren’t? What if — again, HUGE if — but what if we tried to find a place for the unique qualities of all men and women, rather than attempting to chemically eradicate entire personality types simply because they don’t gel with our artificial societal constructs?

What if we stopped trying to make our kids “normal,” and instead encouraged them to be exceptional?

What if?

It’s worth a shot, isn’t it? Some of you might be nodding in agreement. Prescription drug companies, on the other hand, would be incensed at these reckless notions. I just read an article about drug companies lamenting the fact that they have trouble selling ADHD meds in Europe due to a “stigma” that surrounds the disease. Stigma. That’s apparently what we call it when people are naturally and rationally hesitant to start stuffing pills down their children’s throats.

Now, let me clearly state one thing from the start: I know that mental disorders exist. I know that medication is sometimes necessary and helpful in treating such disorders.

But I also know that the CDC tells us 20 percent of the kids in this country have a “mental disorder.” And, of the 80 percent that are “normal,” the majority of them will end up with at least one psychological affliction once they reach adulthood. The CDC recently claimed that nearly half of the adults in the US will develop a mental disorder. HALF.

So, do mental disorders exist? Sure. Absolutely. Of course. But if half of us have one, then I guess you can’t really call them disorders, can you? If the CDC and Big Pharma are to be believed — “mental disorders” are very much a part of the normal order of things. When everybody has a disorder, then nobody has a disorder. The Latin prefix “dis” means “apart” or “away.” If we’ve all got disorders, then what, precisely, is the “order” from which we’re all apart?

If half of all humans from the beginning of time had been born with one arm, who’d be able to say that they should have two? Maybe the two armed folks are the deformed ones. It would be impossible to know.

I believe mental disorders exist, which is why I think they’re massively over diagnosed. And if they’re massively over diagnosed, we’re going to have to take a serious look at the “diagnostic” criteria for each alleged disorder. I think we should start with ADHD, seeing as how it has no diagnostic criteria.

Oh, I know, doctors “diagnose” kids with ADHD all the time.

Except that, no, they don’t. The doctor simply confirms their “symptoms.” If you go to the dermatologist because you have a rash, you wouldn’t walk away feeling like you got your money’s worth if the doctor simply looked at it, shrugged, and said, “yep, that’s a rash.” That’s essentially the way ADHD is “diagnosed.” You bring your child in and say, “doc, Johnny can’t pay attention in class.” Tests are run to further prove that Johnny has trouble concentrating on certain things, and — POOF!– the disorder has been “diagnosed.” But my analogy doesn’t really work because a rash is, without a doubt, evidence that SOMETHING, whether serious or minor, is wrong. The “symptoms” of ADHD are just evidence that your child is a child. Here’s how the National Institute of Mental Health describes the symptoms of ADHD:

-Get distracted easily and forget things often
-Switch too quickly from one activity to the next
-Have trouble with directions
-Daydream too much
-Have trouble finishing tasks like homework or chores
-Lose toys, books, and school supplies often
-Fidget and squirm a lot
-Talk nonstop and interrupt people
-Run around a lot
-Touch and play with everything they see
-Be very impatient
-Blurt out inappropriate comments
-Have trouble controlling their emotions.

Lord, that sounds like the description of a severely troubled individual. Either that, or it could describe a, you know, CHILD.

Sorry, but if “daydream too much” and “run around a lot” are listed as possible indications of a mental disorder, something is terribly, terribly wrong. And I don’t mean something is wrong with your child. I mean something is wrong with our society.

But the people who wish to diseasify our children, by turning normal childlike behavior into cause for medication, realize that they need more justification than what’s listed above. That’s why the Mayo Clinic‘s fact sheet about ADHD starts with this sentence:

In general, a child shouldn’t receive a diagnosis of ADHD unless the core symptoms of ADHD start early in life and create significant problems at home and at school on an ongoing basis.

So your kid doesn’t have ADHD unless he’s been fidgeting and daydreaming from a young age, AND if it “creates significant problems at home and at school.” But wait — why should that be taken into consideration? If something is a disorder, then it’s a disorder, regardless of the inconveniences it creates in controlled environments like public school. If you go to the gastroenterology clinic because you’re having severe stomach pains, I doubt the doctor will start by asking if the pain has created problems at school. Do you know why? Because that has NOTHING to do with whether this IS or ISN’T a legitimate medical condition.

If my son “suffers” from a propensity to talk a lot and lose his toys, it’s only a sign of a psychological problem if it creates an undue nuisance? What if he has asthma? Is it only asthma if it makes my life difficult, or is it asthma if it’s asthma, regardless of how I feel about it? I realize physical ailments are different than psychological problems. So take schizophrenia, for example. Do I have schizophrenia if it creates problems in school, or do I have schizophrenia regardless of how much trouble it causes in the classroom?

People tell me they know ADHD is real, because they were put on ADHD medication and it suddenly made school much easier for them. But that makes about as much sense as Lance Armstrong trying to justify his steroid usage by insisting that it made it easier to win the Tour de France. Of course it made it easier. That’s why people take them. You might find it easier to socialize at a party after you drain a few shots of Jack, but that isn’t exactly proof that Jack Daniels should start marketing itself as “medication” for “social anxieties.” In fact, Armstrong is looked down upon for resorting to drugs to get a leg up on his competition, and I’d be called an alcoholic if I relied on booze to be sociable around people, yet we see no problem encouraging our kids to use drugs to get ahead in an academic environment.

Maybe this is why our “Just Say No To Drugs” campaigns have been less than effective. “Junior, don’t resort to drugs to solve your problems. Say no to drugs, no matter what! On an unrelated note, remember to take your pills today — you’ve got a big test in fourth period. Anyway, back to the evils of drugs…”

Powerful sermon, isn’t it?

Ah, but surely there must be some truth to this ADHD thing; after all, look at just how distracted our young people are these days. Look how many of them struggle to concentrate in school. It’s an epidemic. How else can this be explained?

Right, there must be a mysterious mental disorder going around. Or, you know, the culprit could be:

-Smart phones
-Lap tops
-Fast food
-Energy drinks
-Lack of physical exercise
-Constant barrages of advertising
-Boring curriculum
-Lack of discipline
-Broken homes
-Lack of sleep
-Poor diet
-Disinterest in academics
-A government school system that only suits a particular personality type and leaves everyone else at a disadvantage
-Over emphasis on memorization and regurgitation
-Differing skill sets

Could it be that our kids are distracted because they’re surrounded by distractions? Could they be overstimulated because they’re surrounded by stimulation? Could they have trouble paying attention in school because school is tedious and boring?

Could it be? Maybe?

Shouldn’t we at least consider these possibilities?

Yet, I admit, some children have trouble performing well in school, and struggle to sit still and concentrate on tasks, regardless of the factors I listed. With these troublemakers, you could put them in a sound proof room with nothing but a pencil and a copy of their math text book, and they’d spend the whole time staring into space, or drawing pictures on the pages. I know those kid exist, particularly because I was one. I’m still that way. Give me a math test, sit me in a room, and two hours later I’ll come out with a cool idea for a screenplay, or a sketch of a grizzly bear, or an essay about why ADHD doesn’t exist. My wife makes fun of me because I can’t sit down without shaking my leg or scratching my head or otherwise finding a way to occupy one of my limbs. I daydream. A lot. I get lost in my own head. I forget things. I’m horrible at math. I mean, horrible. Seriously, it’s embarrassing. What’s five times five? Really, I don’t know.

Ok, it’s not that bad, but almost. The point is: if ADHD is a real mental disorder — I have it. I have it in spades. I have it with bells on. I should be on the “ADHD EXISTS” billboards. I have ADHD HD. I’ve got it in High Definition.

Or, I’m just different. I’m a different sort of person. I don’t “work” in certain environments; which means I have to find an environment that suits me. If I HAD to go to college and work at an office, I’d “need” medicine to function. But I didn’t go to college, and I don’t work at an office, and I get along just fine. Nowadays, we have a very rigid, narrow view of how people should behave, how they should think, and what they should do. Our kids aren’t born into the world — they’re born into a hallway. If they try to break down the walls and head in a different direction, we’ll lasso them back with a combination of fear and drugs.

We’ve got it all worked out: people are born, then a few years later they enter school, then they go to college, then they get a 9 to 5 job with benefits, a pension and two weeks of paid vacation, then they retire at 65 and live off their retirement and Social Security until they die at 87. That’s what it means to be a person, and we won’t accept any other options.

The problem is that we don’t leave room for the artists and the radicals, the philosophers and the thinkers, the inventors and the revolutionaries. What about the people who aren’t suited for the rule, but could change the world if we let them be the exception to it? It’s a good thing they didn’t have ADHD in the old days. Think of what sort of mental straightjacket they would have strapped on the likes of Einstein, Mozart, Picasso, Edison, Franklin, Twain, Ghandi, Socrates, MLK jr, Jefferson, and Beethoven. These guys probably did way too much daydreaming, and I doubt many of them would have been particularly good at following the public school curriculum. I’m not saying that everyone who shows “symptoms” of ADHD is actually a towering creative genius — I’m living proof of that. But even if I’m a man of moderate talent and intelligence, I’ve still been blessed to know many people who are, without a doubt, intellectually adept, highly creative, and very gifted. Every single one of them either has been, or could be, diagnosed with any number of “mental disorders.” And that’s not a damned coincidence. Brilliant people think divergently; they have a different way of formulating and processing their thoughts and communicating those thoughts to the world. And, whatever goes on in that beautiful head, what it eventually produces is often enlightening and exciting. Smart, creative people don’t fit into any sort of preordained mental “order.” They just don’t. It truly saddens me to think of all the geniuses we have drugged into submission by the age of 7.

The human mind is capable of incredible, miraculous things — if only we can unlock its potential. Instead, we do the exact opposite. We numb it, drug it and throw it in a padded room, afraid of what it might do if we allow it to run free.

The only thing worse than trying to control WHAT people think, is trying to control HOW they think. In this country, we do both. And then we have the nerve to claim we value “diversity” and “freedom.” We do everything in our power to eradicate diversity of thought and freedom of thought, even resorting to fabricating mental disorders to give us an excuse to commit a psychological genocide of entire personality types.

We can’t have it both ways. We either want children to fit into our reductive, simplistic, constraining mold so that they will sit still and follow the program, OR we want them, first and foremost, to be creative, smart, passionate, curious, and exceptional. One must come at the expense of the other; there is no way around it.

There’s no question that some people — myself included — think and behave in a certain way; a way that currently falls under the “ADHD” umbrella. The question is this: are these people “disordered”? Do they need medicine? Is there something WRONG with how they are?

Or should we help them explore and harness their different, complicated, wonderful minds? In the end, this is more of a philosophical question than a medical one. I know my answer. I encourage you to come up with your own.

Some people have mental disorders. Some kids who are diagnosed with ADHD actually may have other legitimate disorders. But it’s time to take control of this situation. It’s not fair to our children to throw them into this world where all of their human emotions, tendencies and personality traits will be used against them at the pharmacist.

So we need to start by having an honest conversation about this ADHD thing. Even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Now time to clean out my inbox for a fresh batch of hate mail…


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712 Responses to Help, doc, I’m bored by boring things. I think I’ve got the ADHD!

  1. Sean says:

    Fantastic article. Thank you!
    I see close friends reject my youngest son in subversive ways because he’s “different”. However, he’s brilliant and has a good heart. I recall having some of his attributes when I was young, and I’m a “functional” adult with a family, a good job, etc. thanks for the perspective.

  2. Gail says:

    It exists. Really.
    I completely agree that it is over-diagnosed in our culture, but I have seen real ADHD in a 2 year old, and it is not the kind of thing you can just maneuver around. He wasn’t just like that because of electronics. In fact, he could not sit still long enough to eat a meal, much less watch 10 minutes of television. I’ve worked with young children, and I’ve seen healthy active kids drugged to the point of truly numbing their natural gifts of curiosity and active play. I have also seen a two year old at midnight do over three hundred laps around a home because he was sick. I’ve seen that same boy grow up to be a ten year old who, if taken off his medication, will go to school with no underwear on and one missing shoe. A boy who will accidentally stab himself in the leg because he forgot that he was holding a fork when he got distracted by a noise outside and ran into the window to see what was happening. A boy will get out of the shower covered in soap and itch all day long unless someone helps him rinse off. He has other issues too, obvious from my story, but if he goes off of JUST his meds for the ADHD, he can’t function. If someone tells you to medicate before making environment changes, don’t buy it. If someone doesn’t discipline and wonders why Lil’ Johnny won’t listen, don’t buy it. If you look at your 4 year old doing laps around the house in the middle of the night, knowing that discipline and a bedtime story won’t do a thing until he collapses, and think “there is something wrong”, trust your gut, see a doctor, and don’t listen to the hate or compare your child’s progress with other ADHD medicated kids- they’re probably only doing better because they don’t actually have a disorder.

    • Ursula says:

      That child with ADHD might well ‘recover’ if taken off sugar, gluten, dairy and all artificial dyes, as well as fed a high protein, high fat, low carb diet.

      By the way, one of the possible symptoms of Celiac disease is ADHD (as well as any other mental illness you can think of). Dairy can do much of the same damage.

      • Jacquey says:

        add to that getting to bed @ an hour that allows enough sleep, scheduled day, discipline consistently

      • So my partner who exhibits much the same behaviour when off medication, but has no dairy or wheat or vegetable oil or anything else (we have a mostly paleo diet) should have recovered by now?

      • simplygina says:

        I agree diet can play a role, but I eat exactly the diet you suggest, and guess what? Still have ADD.

    • MaMaMaMa says:

      Check out the GAPS diet 🙂

      • Jule says:

        Ditto to checking out the GAPS diet! Step one is removing the offending foods, but healing the gut is necessary. Could also read Disconnected Kids. It’s an incredible learning journey that requires hard work. There is an epidemic of neurological and autoimmune disorders happening at all age levels. We need to keep learning about the many root causes from dietary to parenting to lifestyle to education to spiritual. Don’t give up on uncovering the root causes!!

  3. Staci says:

    As the mother of a child with Autism and another child well on his way to an ADHD “diagnosis” (and “diagnosed” with ADHD myself), I thought this was phenomenal! Truly greatness and just spot on! I have written parts of this exact post in my head hundreds of times, but never got around to putting my thoughts down on paper (because of the ADHD and all…) 😉
    Well done!!!!!

  4. Lori Stillman says:

    It should be noted that in the DSM it states what the incidence of ADHD in the population is. Compare that to the numbers diagnosed and then drugged, it’s alarming. This is not the only disorder that is over diagnosed.

  5. The Badger says:

    This article is right on the money.
    I grew up with Asperger’s in the 60’s. Before it was highly recognized. I am eternally grateful that my mother did not put me through the psychiatrist mill and that she did mainstreamed me. It taught me to make the most of my extreme abilities and to exist in the real world. I have been successful in the workforce and in raising a family. I have never looked at myself as abnormal. I may be somewhat different but i am normal – my normal.

  6. Lisa says:

    Yes, and this is starting at a really young age now- as governing officials, without any early childhood developmental experts, or any data to back their decisions, have created “core curriculum” which is not developmentally appropriate for children’s developing brains. We (early childhood educators) are being forced to teach children according to what colleges want, instead of teaching according to what is appropriate for their developing brain. 25 minutes- but very interesting and well worth it…

  7. theMrs. says:

    LOVED THIS ARTICLE. That’s all for now, because I’m at work, not doing my work.
    Actually, I have to say one more thing – I went to a conservatory, which is a college where you DO more stuff and sit less, I then began my career as an artist, but that fizzled out and I wanted a little stability. I swore I would never work in a cube farm because I knew it would kill my soul. Now I am a mother and responsible for the majority of income for our family, so guess what? I’ve been working in a cube farm for over 2 years and guess what? I recently was prescribed an anti-stress/anti-depressant medication because I can’t cope with my life the way it is. I’m not a child, I’m a 49 year old woman who feels trapped in a society where I have to dress, talk, walk, and act a certain way to make a decent living for my family. So, you really hit me square between the eyes on this article. Well done.

  8. Sue says:

    I agree with this blog, but also with Gail. I’ve worked with children for many years, and have seen more than a few that match the descriptions Gail mentions, however I am thoroughly convinced individual selfishness and our society has created an environment which has promoted the physiological/neurological problems we are observing in many children now. Is it normal? I think not. There are and were a much higher percentage of children in my generation who were able to do boring and or wrote memory work in school without a problem. Working in the educational system over the years from preschool through high school, I have personally witnessed a dramatic increase in the manifestation of the symptoms used to diagnose ADD. Even with many modifications in the classroom many of these children find it difficult to succeed. With the amount of research I have done over my own health issues, I believe the pollution of our food systems, exposure to chemical toxins from many sources, and eating foods with limited nutritional value, are contributing to the symptoms we are observing in more children today. These factors have a lot to do with children’s developing brains not being nourished as well as they were in the past. This topic is surely a complex one including all that is mentioned in this blog and more. It certainly warrants further discussion and consideration if we are to address each child’s needs more appropriately. Everyone needs to learn how to be accountable for any society to function at its best.

    • Lois says:

      My son traveled to Spain a few years ago and lived with a family for a short time. He was struck by how relaxed that society is. Fewer demands to succeed at the expense of enjoying live. Another source stated that the average high school student has the same anxiety levels as people did 70 years ago who were considered mental patients. That said, my husband has been diagnosed with ADHD, tried drugs for maybe 2 days, and will not take any again. His teacher in first grade tied him to his chair to get him to sit still. He is extremely creative and has been told that he has learned to deal with his difficulties. I would have a totally different husband had he been drugged at a young age. That said, the stress level in our home can be very high some days. Good article that needs to be thought about.

    • krissy says:

      Don’t forget about vaccines…

  9. Erin L says:

    While, in general, I agree with your statement that ADHD is over-diagnosed and over-medicated, there is one premise of this article that does not hold up to my reasoning.You claim that because half of people will be afflicted by a mental disorder in their lifetime you cannot classify it as a disorder. Using this argument, would you then say that because the majority of people will suffer from some sort of physical malady in their lifetime, (cancer, heart disease, strep throat, etc.) it is not worth treating because it is normal? Since so many kids have ADHD symptoms it must be normal and shouldn’t worry about it, just like how so many people have the symptoms of obesity, so we don’t need to worry about it being an epidemic. On the contrary, I think there is a rise of ADHD symptoms, but, like most physical and mental disorders, it is better to treat the cause than to mask the symptoms. Your list of possible culprits is absolutely right on.

    • rachaelg says:

      As he states in the article there is a vast difference between a physical illness and a mental ‘disorder’. If half of the population has a ‘disorder’ then it is by definition, not actually a disorder at all. They are simply different than the other half of the population.

      • Non sequitur.

        If half of the population get the flu, does that mean they really aren’t sick, because the flu is the norm?

        How about glasses? If half of the population can’t see clearly, does that mean blurry vision is the norm?

        Of course not. And just because half of the population has some sort of diagnosable mental health condition (not the same condition, mind you), does not mean that those conditions are the norm.

      • Jo says:

        Are you sure that is what he is saying because he is so all over the place I can’t really tell.

        First he goes with they are not freaks, I agree.

        Then he says the don’t exist in Europe do to a “stigma”, sort of, but don’t get him wrong he knows some exist and some even need meds. ??

        Then he quotes the CDC 20% but that the other 80% may end up with a psychological affliction. Okay

        Then the one arm……

        Then he quotes the criteria for diagnosis and dismisses it as normal child behavior. Nope, sorry, but normal kids do behave like that on occasion but it does not reach the pervasive level needed for a diagnosis.

        Then he offensively likens the medication to doping. It doesn’t make you perform better it makes you perform like the average.

        Then he blames technology.

        Then this bit of circular logic, “Ok, it’s not that bad, but almost. The point is: if ADHD is a real mental disorder — I have it. I have it in spades. I have it with bells on. I should be on the “ADHD EXISTS” billboards. I have ADHD HD. I’ve got it in High Definition.” Pretty much he says he (I don’t think he is a doctor) feels he would be diagnosed with ADHD. Since he feels he would be diagnosed and doesn’t believe he has it then no one has it, it isn’t real.

        Then he lists a mess of people that would also be diagnosed with ADHD.

        Damn I hit the end, no 50%.

    • “You claim that because half of people will be afflicted by a mental disorder in their lifetime you cannot classify it as a disorder. ”

      Erin, I caught this logical flaw as well, and laughed. Half of people aren’t afflicted by the SAME disorder, therefore the assertion is moot. 😉

      • Jo says:

        Am I the only one who thinks maybe Matt wasn’t properly diagnosed as a child. Maybe that is why he doesn’t think it is real.

      • I’m thinking the opposite, Jo. He was diagnosed (how can your write like that and NOT be?!), but got crappy support in his treatment and is resentful and angry about the fact that he learned coping mechanisms the hard way.

        I’m familiar with those emotions.

        • Jo says:

          Don’t know, I just ran through the whole post for a post and I don’t actually see where he said he was diagnoses only that he feels he would be.

      • simplygina says:

        I don’t think he was diagnosed but I think he probably does have it. I think he causes controversy as a way to self-medicate. Anything that creates extra stimulation is a way to get the brain to focus. Which is why stimulant medication works! And it sure seems less self-destructive than a lot of other ways to increase adrenaline.

        • Jo says:

          I agree that when this moves quickly it is stimulating but when no one is posting it is a hard crash. I don’t know really, all of my friends who have ADHD are of the same type. I am not speaking of hyper and all that but intelligence but I can’t find a nice way to say that. Sorry. Tearing apart a book is far more stimulating than answering or reading this blog. We are all crazy good at math and logic.

          I analyze data for a living, words are data, some of these posts are painful to read because they are so illogical or are based on bad data or no data at all.

      • Excellent point, Gina! He’s likely a caffeine addict as well, as many unmedicated folks with AD/HD are.

      • simplygina says:

        I know I am, though I can’t drink it in the quantities I did before starting Adderall and I have to stop around 3 pm or I won’t sleep. Probably because I don’t need to self-medicate anymore.

        I don’t think writing ability is compromised by ADHD as long as writing is something the person has an aptitude for and is a on a subject that interests him/her. I’ve always loved to write & chose an English degree because reading books and writing papers has always been easy for me, even before I started taking medication. I’m also love logic, actually enjoy proof-reading & critiquing, but the only thing I’m really good at when it comes to math is story problems!

        • Jo says:

          This is very interesting. I know a woman online who is an amazing writer because of her ADHD. She doesn’t like math either but she is still logical. It is just damn!! Her writing, the way she describes things, it just blows me away.

          She self medicates with coffee. Poor thing had a baby three months ago so had to go nine months without her meds. That was a coffee joke if that wasn’t apparent.

          Still I find it interesting because it seems like the disability drives high proficiency in some area. I stink at English. By junior high I would joke I do not know nor do I care where my participles are dangling. English teachers do not find that funny by the way. 🙂

          Oh I hate story problems!

          I agree with Matt that we are no better or worse, just different but that is pretty much where my agreement ends. Anyway at least in my experience it doesn’t matter what setting these kids learn in. The key to success is helping them identify their strengths and nurturing them.

          Well and if they need meds to not struggle then they should be offered meds.

      • R. says:

        You guys are bullies.

  10. marisaporter says:

    Haha I swear my husband is ADHD! And he could probably have been but was never diagnosed and never medicated and that’s what makes him awesome. He’s a genius. He will not sit still for boring things. He will not do things that seem pointless. He will not conform to anyone’s mold. He’s a successful entrepreneur. Maybe society wants to medicate all of the leaders so they’re sheep. (Do I really have to add a disclaimer that some people really do need medication and it’s good and helpful to them and that some people have legit needs? I get that. And if I needed medication I would take it, no stigma attached).

  11. Sue Cutler says:

    I recently retired after a 34 year career of teaching elementary school. While pondering the growing trend toward diagnosing and medicating ADHD children, I decided to see what God’s word had to say about the characteristics in the checklist. I hope the linked essay is helpful to some.

    Click to access Learning_Disabilities_word.pdf

    Perhaps some may find other helpful material at:

    • Regardless of whether or not you believe ADHD is a “real” thing or not is irrelevant here for my opinion.
      You will never be able to convince me that a kid who doesn’t like homework (or an adult who doesn’t like their job) is a sluggard.
      Or that an easily distracted child (or adult) isn’t learning anything.
      Or that losing things is a sin.
      Or that anyone who fidgits or doesn’t like to wait for their turn is folly.
      Or that anyone who talks a lot is unwise.

      • Sue Cutler says:

        I stated no opinions of my own. I merely quoted from Proverbs.

      • You did quote from Proverbs, it’s true. And the Bible is true. I believe that with all of my heart. I also believe there are many things that can be taken out of context. I noticed that the only verse of Proverbs 6 that you quoted was a warning against folly. Did you look at the rest of that chapter? The rest of it is a warning against adultery. Do you think they were speaking to a child? I don’t.

    • Jo says:

      sloth·ful (slôthfl, slth-, slth-)
      Disinclined to work or exertion; lazy. See Synonyms at lazy.

      I don’t see forgetful in there. Do you? Sounds like you were using the bible as a weapon. I wonder what god thinks of that.

      a lazy, sluggish person.
      synonyms: ne’er-do-well, layabout, do-nothing, idler, loafer, lounger, good-for-nothing, shirker, underachiever; More

      Still not seeing forgetful.

      Oh right, the bible thumper that wrote that is attributing their reasons for forgetting things to those with ADHD. Maybe the author forgets because they are a good for nothing or are lazy but that isn’t why someone with ADHD forgets. They forget because the information is no where to be found within their brains at the time they need to know it.

      Let me guess you have decided this is a sign of the second coming? I may have a disorder but you are nuts.

    • Jo says:

      Oh, my mistake, you are the idiot bible thumper. Sorry I didn’t give you full credit for your attack.

      Maybe you would be wise to hear and increase your learning. 🙂

    • Sue, it’s been a long while since I’ve read such illogical tripe, bless your heart. As a Christian, I am ashamed to even be associated with such a view. By your measure ALL children are unholy. That is simply nonsense. Children are CHILDREN.

      1 Peter 2:2 States, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,” We don’t enter first grade able to exhibit the scriptural guidance you’ve outlined. 1 Corinthians 3:1, “Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life.”

      Children are children and should be allowed to grow as children do. You say expectations are too low, but I say to you that your expectations are ridiculously out of sync with the spiritual growth and revelation that must come for each person in their own time.

      EVERY child of God must grow past the negative characteristics that you have listed in order to be able to understand and obey scripture. Whether they are first graders or senior citizens, NO person living sinfully, regardless of whether or not they have a diagnosed condition, will display “age appropriate conformity” (or perhaps you should have worded it differently: “scripturally appropriate behavior”).

      I think you would do well to apply these scriptures to yourself instead of casting stones onto parents and people (including many good Christian parents) who are working hard to instill the scriptural values into their AD/HD children that you seem to think none of them have.

      Prov 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
      but he who restrains his lips is wise.
      Prov 12:3 He who gurads his mouth preserves his life,
      but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
      Prov 15:2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge
      rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
      Prov 17:27 He who has knowledge spares his words and
      a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
      Prov 18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention and his
      mouth calls for blows.
      Prov 21:23 Whoever guards his mouth and keeps his
      tongue keeps his soul from troubles.
      Prov 29:20 Do you see a man hasty in his words? There
      is more hope for a fool than for him.

      • Thank you, Christy. You said all the things I didn’t know how to say. I’m also a Christian, and don’t understand why she said the things she did. They’re KIDS for goodness’ sake. I’m easily distracted, but I don’t believe that’s a sin. That’s actually a strong point of mine. I say that because, I actually get more done when I’m multitasking. Which means distractions. Not everyone is like that, which is good…but I am. Which is also good.

    • simplygina says:

      Once again, having an imbalance of neuro-chemistry is NOT a choice any more than not producing enough insulin. The behaviors that are common to those with ADHD are NOT character defects anymore than the behaviors common to those with Alzheimer’s. How you behave when brain chemicals aren’t balanced isn’t controllable any more than someone with Tourette’s being able to control their tics. And since choice is the determining factor when deciding whether something is or isn’t a sin I don’t find the link helpful at all, just callous and uneducated. NO ONE would choose to be ADHD any more than someone would choose to have Parkinson’s. I will, however, choose not to be offended and I will choose to acknowledge the spirit in which your comment & link were offered was one of charity and generosity. Nonetheless, it was also ignorant and less than supportive for those that are struggling.

      • Ursula says:

        There is NO evidence whatsoever that there is a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes ADHD. That is pure speculation on the part of the psychologists and has never been proven, as there are absolutely no tests to prove this assumption. Of course, the ‘diagnosis’ of chemical imbalance in the brain is very convenient for the pharmaceutical companies wanting to medicate all those people with ADHD.
        It is the drugs that create the imbalance. Ritalin has been shown to shrink the brain and to cause brain damage. It will alter the brain and its chemistry (and so does any other ‘medication’ for ADHD).
        I’ve done a lot of reading on these so-called disorders, and apparently, if a child is put onto a diet free from gluten, dairy, sugar and artificial dyes, and is fed plenty of protein and fats for good brain development, they will usually ‘miraculously’ recover from this imagined affliction of ADHD.

        • Jo says:

          Do you have any data to back up your assertions?


          Oh by the way I have done all the “diets” no change. Meds, huge change. I think I will just stick with what works.

    • Jo says:

      Sue, I don’t know how to break it to you but you did state opinion! It is your OPINION that those bible passages have anything to do with ADHD! Unless you are god, and I know you aren’t because he is all knowing and you are definitely not!

      Would you like for me to pull some random ugly verse from the Old Testament and say it describes you? That would be no different than what you did.

      You are ugly, inside, and my knowledge of the Bible tells me you better shape up or you have little chance of making it into heaven. So stop attacking innocent children and read for meaning. You may be hearing the words but you sure aren’t listening!

  12. agree completely. in every single way lol

  13. rookswriter says:

    I read this, and all I thought was ‘preach it Matt!’

    In all honesty, I totally agree. I have a mental disorder, and I know people with mental disorders, and we get a lot of grief from these mental disorders because;of how engineered our society is to be ‘normal’.I mean, come on! Give us a break! I look at that list for ADHD, and even though I was diagnosed something different from ADHD, those symptoms line up a lot with the one I have! I guess I have ADHD then, according to that list. When this much of the world is not normal, I wonder how we can all stay sane when half of us will never fit the standard.

    Keep being honest Matt. I love being your wordpress follower for that reason. Keep it up!

  14. Jonda says:

    We have four sons, ages 10, 12, 17 &19. I used to think the same way, then God gave us our 3rd son. I now know that ADD and ADHD are real. God has taught me a grace and understanding toward others that I didn’t know before. Most of us parents are just doing the best we can for our kids because we love them so much, and along the way we makes some mistakes and manage to do some things right. I have to say though, this kind of goes to some of your other articles about people on the outside trying to tell you how to parent. Outside advice if often needed, not often appreciated, not always good, but the bottom line here is until you have walked down this path in your own family, it is impossible to understand why the family is making the choices it’s making. So maybe we shouldn’t be quite so quick to assume someone else is messing up. And I agree, we need to look at consistency in family and discipline, diet, exercise, screen time, etc. but then we need to accept that sometimes there is a diagnosis with a label and sometimes meds are a good option, and most of all we need to give a little grace to others.

  15. Kayla says:

    OR the food that is shot up with hormones and genetically modified and gluten are having neurological side effects on both children and adults. I’m sure you are right, but I also think there is more to it.

    • simplygina says:

      I do think the destruction of a healthy food supply & introduction of engineered & factory farming are very likely a factor in the increase of many disorders. I think ADHD is one disorder that has a genetic predisposition, but the expression of that predisposition (if at all) & the severity of the expression will be based on a) the individuals genetic make-up overall, coupled with b) other determining factors that act as catalysts for the genetic expression, such as quality of nutrition, allergies, pathogens, pollutants, etc. and the way these other factors compound upon one another. Maybe if the past few generations hadn’t been fed from the industrialized food complex we wouldn’t have quite so many kids struggling with various health problems.

  16. hjpaul326 says:

    You have written my thoughts…thanks for sharing!

  17. traceyeyster says:

    YES YES YES…keep saying it!!!

  18. kenyadee says:

    This is a complicated topic that, unfortunately, your post tries to simplify. Yes, absolutely, there is an increase in the diagnosis of ADHD because we are demanding too much from kids (particularly boys) at an early age. But that does not mean it’s not real or truly problematic for these kids? If everyone were blind, being blind would not be considered a disability. It would be normal and the ways you live your life blind would be normalized. It wouldn’t make you less blind – but your community would be built FOR you and not against your abilities. Unfortunately, kids with real, true, honest-to-goodness ADHD live in a world not at all cut out for ADHD. At all. For milder cases, yeah, they can make a few changes, learn how to cope and it’s okay (in varying degrees). But for kids who have serious cases, sometimes to live in what’s considered normal world seems nearly impossible, and the more intense we make school (and life for that matter) the harder it is. Should it be stigmatizing that medication helps them survive (and I use that word very specifically) school and 2013 life? No. Should we not try to help them? Of course we need to help them. But in case you are missing it, schools are NOT heading in any helpful direction. There is less recess, more sitting still, more testing, more writing, less creative work, less moving around. How would you feel after 10-15 years in an environment entirely unsuited to you? Would your self-esteem be great after failure upon failure? Please, please do not blame kids or parents for wanting to level that playing field by giving these kids a chance to interact on a more “normal” basis.

  19. kat says:

    You have no idea what its like to have a young child who can’t concentrate,…
    Because of seve re ADHD.
    We went through this with a young relative, , no meds.. She couldn’t comprehend, s he was somewhere else.
    teachers could not teach her. ..years trying different things like therapy diet, etc…
    You did no studies, talked to no physicians…
    Yes, maybe some medicate for lesser symptoms but its a spectrum. You cant say ALL are this way!
    She is doing so much better on medication and the specialist she sees monitors her blood and we take it seriously to make sure it is what she needs. If we did not go to this pediatric specialist, she would able to go She is now a B student because if her meds and therapy and hard work at home to keep her on a schedule and diet.
    I must agree to DISAGREE with you and you lack any knowledge of being a parent of a child with ADHD!

    • CG says:

      Thanks for your perspective. I am in the process of deciding whether my 7 year old with a “high moderate” evaluation should try medication. Thanks to this article I was cornered and shamed on FB for sharing that she had finally come to me in tears after a year of constantly falling behind and asked if she could try medication. Here I was PROUD that she was asking for help and had recognized that the modifications and scheduled tasks were not helping enough. Until you have walked in our shoes, and tried all the”solutions” please don’t judge. There is a spectrum of ADHD just as there is in mental illness, and some kids do need meds. I just don’t know if mine is one of them yet.

  20. erica says:

    I agree with you entirely! My child actually was born with only one arm so that was humerus. It’s sad that so many children can social security disability because they have “ADHD” and my son can not because under us guidelines he is not disabled. I could go on about this topic all day but I will stop while I am ahead.

    • Jo says:

      Wow, broad strokes you are using there. Just because the SSD guidelines does allow for ADHD to be considered a childhood disability doesn’t mean they are just handing out checks!

      When your son is an adult, if he chooses, he will be able to receive disability. Sorry mama ain’t getting a check! Stop being jealous of your friends that get “free” money. Most of us never claim disability benefits even if we qualify. The last thing I would want is my kids sitting in front of a potential employer having to explain why the government considers them disabled. You do know they carry that for the rest of their life? “Free” money isn’t worth that.

      Understand this, I would bet if you ask the parents of kids with ADHD they will all tell you that at some point they wished to god their kids had a disability like having a missing limb! See people will look at your son and have compassion, our kids, they tell us we should beat them more!

  21. Shari Berk says:

    Fabulously written, thank you, am totally sharing this on my FB page (I’m a mental health advocate) Yay, you!

  22. Kristina Kaminesky says:

    Wow!! Agree with you 110%. I have thought this for many years and think it’s disgusting how people drug their children. One thing I would have added was how the laziness and neglect of a child can effect them, guaranteed some of these kids issues start right in the home. I just starting following your blog, because of this I will definitely continue to read what you have to say. Hats off to you man, you blog and talk about what most people wouldn’t dream of bringing up, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! And screw all the haters!

  23. I have never spent much time reading blogs, but I must say it is refreshing to read yours! Finally someone with some common sense sharing their opinions!

  24. Lilian says:

    You’ve got some good things to say about this issue, Matt. Thanks!

  25. kalish1671 says:

    Really enjoyed this. I too have a 9 year old who is going through this same thing. It is painful to sit and watch your child struggle to sit still and slap himself in the face because he says ..” it wakes my brain up” ..or that he forgets what he wants to say from second to second. He too ..from kindergarten has been a day dreamer. Stared out the window at school. When I first asked him what it was he was thinking about he said..” I am thinking about inventing things.” Year after year it has become more of a struggle. This year..fourth grade is particularly difficult because he is aware of what is going on. He has been a HUGE lover of science and Math and just recently said ..”Mom, I don’t think I like science and math as much anymore” When I asked him why he said ” because all my teachers do is read to us what we need to know or we stare at a promethium board. This kills me! Now I totally am in agreement with any parent who has had to use medication due to the severity of their child’s situation. I feel for them with all my heart because it is simply so hard to watch your child..this perfect human being that you brought into this world falling apart in front of you. My son has never been a lover of the traditional school system..he doesn’t even know that he is in a traditional school system. He just knows that he wants to be able to touch and feel things in order to learn. He needs to be moving. I have never been a huge advocate of the traditional school model either. A model that is focused on teaching, not learning. A system that is not set up to exploit each child’s natural hardwiring. We are still using a one size fits all model of teaching and learning. It should really be on size fits none. As an adult I know all too well that the times when I absorb the most information is when I am engaged in something I find interesting and that resonates with me. I understand children need to go to school and learn the basics. Does it have to be in the traditional setting Unfortunately..we don’t realize how we learn best until we are older and can make these decisions ourselves. We are so hell bent on standardized testing that it is leaving little to no room for teachers to teach anything outside of the” box”. My son is exceptional and creative and loves learning. Just not in the way that society says he should learn. I would be so curious to know of any parents who have pulled their child out of the traditional setting and placed them in a more progressive school. I have often thought about it but am terrified of it backfiring. If anyone has…please chime in!

    • chris says:

      All of the more progressive schools around here rejected our desire to admit our son. He is dyslexic and is the quintessential daydreaming, where did I leave my shoes, what day is it, I can recite to you every book that anyone has ever read to me but can’t remember my birthday, emotionally intense, kind and gentle old soul. One school turned us down because of his dyslexia, (admittedly it is quite severe), another because their population of kids is largely kids with behavior issues and he is super low key and sweet and easily dominated…a bad fit, another because he is so quiet and dreamy and that didn’t fit in with their idea of the kind of dyslexic kid they accept (that school specializes in dyslexia)….and the public school was a disaster for him. When he aged out of a private Montessori we ended up homeschooling him. It isn’t ideal…despite everything he loves school and wishes he could go back but it would decimate him….his self-confidence, his stress level, his ability to go to sleep at night….even his health. So…homeschool. I can say this, though…he gets lots of hands on time, lots of free time and everything is tailored to his interests and where he needs more help, plus time to learn life skills like managing money, cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, gardening, using maps, navigating around our city…all kinds of things. . It is okay for now. We both love having time together. He has two younger brothers that have been getting a ton of my time and attention for years now…now he can tell me things in peace and quiet. Lol

    • Jean says:

      Homeschool, homeschool, homeschool!!! It is so much easier today than it used to be because of the many support programs and the computer allows you to access multiple curriculum. My grandfather, father, brother, myself, my son and my beautiful 15 year old daughter sll have ADHD/ADD of varying degrees and only my daughter has had the benefit of being homeschooled all her life. Because of this, she LOVES learning and is graduating high school next month with 24 high school credits and 12 college credits. She is the youngest intern at our church and has been given the responsibility of developing the first disabilities program for our church of over 2000 members. She has excelled with her ADD because, in being homeschooled, she has been given an environment that is conducive to her learning style. She is very motivated by learning BECAUSE she has ADD. I have found that all of my family members with ADD/ADHD LOVE to learn but we all have different styles of learning and we all love learning different types of things. We are all contributing members of society and are very compassionate because of our struggles with being “different.”
      Your son is blessed to have a parent who understands this about him so if you do try homeschooling, DON’T let anyone tell you that you have to emulate the public school system. Be creative in how you teach him and make your goal that you want your son to “own” his education which will empower him to invest himself in learning his way and he too will excel like my daughter but in his own direction. Having ADHD is a challenge AND a blessing. If you help him to see it that way, he will go far and have far less stigma. I don’t hide behind my ADHD but I do readily admit it and laugh about it, which allows others to laugh too when I lose my phone daily or forget my next thought or get so busy running 5 different directions with the large Christian ministry that I direct that I realize I haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch. Shower your son with love and understanding and give him the kind of environment that he learns best in and he will make you proud, just as my daughter has made her Dad and I proud.

      As a side note to Sue, people with ADHD are anything BUT “slothful” aka lazy! We are the most physically and mentally productive people in society, however, we can never stay organized so our work is not as easily measured or appreciated by mainstream educators such as yourself. I agree some discipline is necessary but only in an atmosphere of love, not rigid condemnation and shame as you seem to promote by the printing of the scriptures that have been taken so out of context. God meant the Proverbs to be a teaching tool between Him and the reader… not flaming arrows that we can shoot at another in self-righteous piety. And, Matt, your article is wonderfully thought out and spoken in the language of one who “walks in our shoes.”

      • kalish1671 says:

        Your response was music to my ears… Actually brought tears to my eyes though I don’t quite why. Probably because I struggle to find the right answer and worry about if I am helping my son pave the right path for his future. Some days I tell myself to just do it. Pull him out of school . Then other times I question that decision out of fear I will fail. Can I ask.. With homeschooling .. Did you find your children struggled to stay focused as well?
        Best Wishes, Kelli

      • submommy says:

        Are you aware of Multiple Intelligences Theory? Google it. If you decide to homeschool your son, learning how he best processes incoming information will be invaluable to you for tailoring your curriculum to his needs. Here’s a little quiz to take to help figure it out:

    • kenyadee says:

      I tried to get my son into a private school that specializes in struggling learners. During the day he spent there, he was very shy and quiet. They rejected hm b/c they felt he didn’t want to be there. I hate to say – that’s how he was in his regular school, too. They also couldn’t offer us any financial aid, which would have been the only way we could have afforded the tuition ($18K a year plus extra for any assistance he might’ve needed).

      No Child Left Behind and our rampant testing culture make public schools (charters especially) a nightmare for most of these kids. It sounds great to just teach them the way they need to learn – but schools aren’t doing that. If you cannot homeschool or afford the few private schools that excel in this, you are out of luck.

      • kalish1671 says:

        So sorry to hear this:) I just know that I have to be so incredibly vigilant .. Stay on top of what is going on at school. Thankfully, our public school system is very accommodating here outside Chicago. I know this is not the case everywhere and it kills me for the parents that have to deal with schools that are not willing to help. With that being said.. I still have to remain at a very close distance and have my finger on the pulse of what is happening at school daily. The frustrating part is that I often feel like I am trying to fit a square peg into a round hole as far as school goes. Has anyone tried Montessori or Waldorf and had better luck. The expense if high but if it was a better fit I would find a way:)

  26. Kindergarten teacher says:

    You should then create a school to “educate” these children in their own unique way of learning. Fund it AND deal with their behavior when the child is the only one of 20 who can not control their physical and verbal actions. What about all of the other children. They don’t have a choice but to deal with the disruptions when they are trying to function in school. Teach for just 1 day before you speak!

    • cindy howard says:

      good points, Educators tell us they went to college and know more than us about teaching and child development and behavior. So we send our children to school and then find out the teacher cant handle our kids and they know our kid needs drugs because they aren’t normal. Well what are teachers being told is normal? Is it only normal when the child makes the teachers job easy?
      Why do we think a 5 year old should act better than most adults? Kids are so messed up today because they cant go anywhere to just be themselves, so they lose their self and become mentally unstable adults. So now what?

    • Tanya says:

      ‘Deal with their behavior.’ Your argument basically says children should be medicated so teachers don’t have to deal with potential disruptions. Sounds to me like if you didn’t want to deal with possible disruptions, you shouldn’t have been an elementary school teacher. That’s what kids do. Instead of forcing the kids to be a bunch of zombies that you can lecture to, why don’t you do your job and, I don’t know… teach?

    • Kate says:

      I agree with you there is always going to be one out of 20 that’s going to be a handful in the class, there are children that are badly behaved like the blog states from either lack of discipline at home or over stimulation ect , but this doesn’t mean they have ADHD, unfortunately with teaching you have to expect your going to get a little ” johnny” whose parents spoil him and don’t teach him manners, I feel for you teachers dealing with those kids but still agree with the article.

  27. Great article. It is a hard subject to have a strong opinion on and you… hit it. I am an adult and often joke about having adult ADHD… but I know me. I know that I am living in a distracted world with screens everywhere, rushing to the ‘next thing’ and scheduling lots of ‘next things’ is a priority- very much so in children. I know that I feel most ADHD when I am the most connected… and I strongly believe that it is the same for children. I think many people are born more… able to sit still and handle stimulation… and others it creates chaos in their brain and life = ADHD. I think this is true for MANY children and families and teachers and schools… I am not a drugger- I feel that our society has become a ‘fix it fast’ society… and we are all working and showing our kids how to fit into the ‘normal’ mold… UGH. Thanks for sharing your words… I have just recently stumbled on your blog and have read some great, informative and well written articles.

  28. Milla says:

    A friend just suggested I put my son on ADHD meds (her 3 kids are, she as well) because she talked to him for 15 minutes and notice several of the symptoms you described above… My response, without being offended, was that my child learns differently, and I am not going to take the easy route for me medicating him… I am first a mother and with my love and patience will try first to find ways to keep him interested and even if it drives me crazy (because I am type A) continue to tell him how amazing his imagination and different way to do things are! I love your article, thanks for the candid words!

    • cindy howard says:

      I love to hear from moms that go where the child is opposed to parents thinking kids need to be where they are. Drugs are not the answer, discipline and teaching where the child is , is as important as a clean diet. I find parents do not spend enough time with their children and really knowing them. Go to where the child is, give him the tools and he will bloom beyond your imagination. Great job Milla!

  29. deb says:

    Why is it that parents are allowed to put their child on medication without having checked out the home situation first? My granddaughter was put on medication over a year ago and the changes are great…..for her parents. She now is docile as a lamb and falls asleep on the couch at 4pm in the afternoon and sometimes is too tired for dinner! They love it! She is 6 and she has 3 siblings ages 4 and under. The house should be condemned for the filth and the mother has no parenting skills to speak of. My husband and i have been taking her and her sister since she was 3 and we never saw behaviors that warranted medication, in fact her mother could not understand why she acted out at home and not with us.

    If i were to live in the hell hole these kids are growing up in I’d have a few outbursts myself. I could write a book, but sufficient to say it is awful, they do not want to go home when it is time. i cannot say ANYTHING for fear of not getting them out of there every other weekend, My son and her are divorced and he only cares about himself and does not even see the two girls,

    I am just suggesting that before any child be put on medication that basically slows down their heart rate (her particular medication is used to treat high blood pressure in adults) things need to be checked out at home and I’m talking about unannounced home visits where the real goings on can be seen. Perhaps with some parent modification, there could be a few kids less drugged.

  30. Jill says:

    You are brilliant! thank you for this honest article!

  31. Kate says:

    Awesome article, thank you for writing this, today I had to visit a paediatrician because my 4 year old daughters kindy teacher believes she has learning / development issues that she is often “away with the fairies” that although she is not a naughty child, she is distracted and cant focus on given tasks, so is therefore at this stage an “at risk learner” and had even mentioned the ADHD term to me. Although i didnt agree with a lot of the issues the teacher mentioned, i decided to make the appointment because I wanted peace of mind, to rule out that there weren’t any other issues going on. What a joke! Not only did the paediatrician suggest both my husband and I sounded like we could have been ADHD as children, but suggested my daughter was too, I refuse to label my child for being unique, and teachers need to learn to be more diverse in their teaching techniques your spot on article illustrated everything perfectly, well done… I will not be labelling my child and will not be allowing anyone else to either!

  32. Lauren says:

    Several generations ago, children would spend time in school and then do hard, physical work or play (again physically) for the rest of the day. Trying to compare that to sit-still-in-school-come-home-sit-in-front-of-the-TV-play-computer-games is just idiotic.

    People learn in different ways. Only 20% of children learn primarily visually, which means only 20% of children do well in our schools as they are currently run. Most children are either primarily auditory or primarily tactile. Which means they have to move, do things with their hands, listen and participate in order to learn. So you’d think the schools would allow for this. Instead they tell the parents to medicate their children to fit them into the tiny box occupied by the other 20%.

    • kalish1671 says:

      Absolutely agree Lauren! My son is very much a tactile learner and complains constantly that he has to sit in his seat and watch his teachers basically preach to him what it is they want him to know. It is painful for him to have to sit in the seat and sit still. He constantly says his brain falls asleep every few seconds.

      • Lauren says:

        I have found that tactile learners, while they may be very active, learn just as much as their more sedentary friends. May be distracting for other learners, but that child doing circles around the room remembers and retains just as much as the other students. Maybe they should equip all classrooms with a treadmill. 🙂

      • Jo says:

        Have you ever asked the school if he be allowed to quietly read? My daughter’s school thought I was nuts for suggesting it but they tried it anyway. Probably to prove me wrong. After a week I got the how the hell does that work?, email.

        Because unless we are bored out of our minds, or hyperfocused on something, we retain everything that enters are ears.

        I went back to college when I was 38. The greatest thing I learned was how to most efficiently make my brain function in a learning environment. A lot of my tricks work for my kids, thankfully the school has tried enough of my crazy ideas with my kids that they have stopped rolling their eyes at me. 🙂

    • Agree exactly, Lauren. That is partly why I choose to home school my children. Not because public schools are “evil” but because the entire premise of cookie-cutter education is illegitimate to me.

    • kenyadee says:

      So true. Only problem is that these are the schools we have.

  33. Julie E. says:

    Can I give a big AMEN here. Well written. Thank you.

  34. ladeebugg65 says:

    This post was well done and much appreciated.

    “We will be drenched with delight.”

  35. I don’t know enough of the medical research and science behind an ADHD diagnosis to render an opinion on the accuracy of another’s diagnosis, but I agree with the general sentiment that we live in a very uniform society that pressures all people to be exactlythesame!!! no matter what. You article about introvertism sparked the same sentiment in my mind. It’s ironic in a land of “freedom” and “individuality” just how much pressure there is to conform. Ask left-handed people if they feel discriminated against by all the gadgets being right-handed… 😉

  36. PGMG says:

    I love this. My daughter has been evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD (non-hyperactive, predominantly inattentive type), and I agree that she exhibits enough of the symptoms to support that diagnosis. Yet… I have chosen not to put her on medication and instead look for ways to help her understand that the way her brain works is different (not somehow wrong or diseased) and that she learns, studies, etc differently than other kids. As a parent trying to help a 10 year old enjoy school and learning and be successful at it, I can’t get behind the small square mold that all of the kids in this country are being forced into, its making me crazy.

  37. allthewaydoc says:

    I say take away all the electronics and kick them outside to develop an imagination and go play with rocks and sticks! Im 41 and I still dont like to sit still and focus on anything for very long, who cares, get over it! Drugs dont fix it, get to work and do something! than maybe the rest of us who arent afraid to work wont have to take care of you!

    • kenyadee says:

      So what should I do – we don’t have electronics. We do scouts and other active things. Drugs don’t “fix” it but makes school and homework possible. My son was trying to do a class project one Sunday and couldn’t write one single word. Was totally frustrated. He usually has meds only during the week, but I encourage him to have a short acting one to do the project. Within 20 minutes he could settle down and write down his thoughts. We’ve tried running, biking, etc., before projects and it doesn’t help. What, pray tell, would you do.

      Oh, and my son has the BIGGEST imagination there is. Most ADHD kids do. Lack of imagination is not a problem at all.

      • allthewaydoc says:

        has he always been without electronics?

        My son gets frustrated and struggles with concentrating and I struggle to not get frustrated with him and to teach him to learn how to focus through it. it isnt easy, in fact it is probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But I take deep breaths and we talk things over and he is learning how to focus!

        The biggest thing that has helped has been prayer! We pray every night asking God to help him to focus and pay attention! Knowing his mother is there for him and is praying for him and taking time out for him and yet not letting him get out of what has to be done has really really helped him.

        every kid is different and each one will respond differently. Working with animals my entire life has helped me to realize that no one thing will work for every situation or every individual but a life time of relying on drugs would suck and I dont want that for my son! So I work hard to teach him how to cope and what he needs to do to learn how to get through things. He is an introvert and struggles a lot but that is no reason for not being able to do what needs to be done.

      • Jo says:

        Don’t doubt yourself just because some ignorant person thinks they know what they are talking about.

      • kenyadee says:

        Yes, we’re the mean parents who don’t buy the Wiis, the Playstations, the DS’s, etc. And while praying is great, sometimes the answer to your prayers might be medication. A friend of mine has a son who just graduated college. Now that he’s working at something he loves and suits him, he has stopped taking meds. But my friend says she doesn’t regret one single pill he took that helped him get through elementary, middle, high school, and college. The meds might not be forever. But in the constantly testing, high stress, all or nothing school environment we have in America right now, it’s what helps us get through right now.

    • Jo says:

      Seriously? Get to work? Take care of me? You have got to be kidding! I got two bachelors with a minor and a masters in four years! 3.8 if you are wondering what my average was. WHILE! working 40+ hours a week and raising four kids.

      Oh, accounting and information technology management just so you don’t get some idea it was an easy course load! 60 hours in one year, do you think you could do that? Don’t answer I know you can’t!

      So who is afraid of work?

      Ohhh but I take Adderall!! Oh my god!! And don’t say my accomplishments are because of the Adderall all that does is help me tune out people like you.

      • allthewaydoc says:

        feel better now?!

        What does any of your accomplishments have to do with any of this? Oh, yeah, you take adderall! Well I dont need adderall to be successful so there! I learned to focus and be successful by using my brain without drugs so

        • Jo says:

          How old are you anyway? You sound like me when I was around 23. Young and stupid and thinking just because I was crazy organized and successful meds were unnecessary. I mean if I can do it anyone can! Then I grew up and watched my kids surpass me in every way because I gave them the option of meds.

          What is your degree in anyway?

        • Jo says:

          Oh and did it make you feel better saying everyone that takes meds are afraid to work?

          I see you are 41, so much for age equaling wisdom, yikes!

        • allthewaydoc says:

          so you are saying someone cant be 41, having put themselves through school, graduated early with a professional degree, doctorate actually, a successful business owner, working 50+ hrs a week and is on call 24/7/365, a mother of two wonderful children who are bright and intelligent, and has done all that without the help of drugs?

          The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, But the folly of fools is deceit.

      • kenyadee says:

        That’s great allthewaydoc, but we aren’t all the same, which really is the point of Matt’s blog. Maybe you didn’t need Adderall. Maybe Jo did.

        • Jo says:

          The biggest difference meds made is my kids don’t have self esteem issues or depression. That is why I hate the people that are so anti meds that don’t know what they are talking about. When you are a constant failure, when all you want to do is be successful but you can’t find it in you, you become depressed.

          I didn’t take meds until I was 38 and needed that degree. Until then I was very successful but I needed a higher income with flexible hours to support my family after divorce. Like you with your son’s project, some things just need them other things do not.

      • kenyadee says:

        Exactly, Jo! It’s hard to have good self esteem when you go to school every day and every single day it’s all about how you don’t measure up in ANY way. It was destroying my son. NO good parent wants their kids on meds, but for some, using meds is a good choice for your child. At one time, taking drugs for depression was taboo so people suffered in silence (or in extreme cases, committed suicide). In those cases, drugs are a benefit.

        • Jo says:

          I think the hardest part when I was a kid is most adults thought it was a good idea to constantly tell you you were going to be a failure, that you would not amount to anything. At least they don’t outright say that anymore.

          I think that was what set me off about whats her face’s remark about not working and everyone supporting you. So far from the truth. On or off meds people are amazed what I can do, what my kids can do. That comes from accepting and understanding our brains are different and how to make that work for us.

          My older daughter is a teacher getting her masters in early childhood development. What she hopes is that she can teach kids young how to understand how their minds work and give them skills to be more successful in school. She thinks she can improve on how I raised her, more power to her!! Amazing young woman, more amazing than whats her face! 🙂 Oh and she does college without meds, freaking show off!

        • Jodi says:

          Hey, that’s a new concept, a teacher that cares, and isn’t just there for the 2 weeks at Christmas and the 3 months off in the summer. They can claim otherwise, but it is few and far between. Teachers want whatever will make there life easiest, whether that is what is best for the child or not. I had to fight with my local school system to educate my son. He had an IEP, but it was exhausting to “make” them follow just the simplest modifications. Every time we turned around, they were trying to change things or eliminate things that worked to make things easier for the teachers. I had to contact the state advocacy office to even get him an IEP to begin with. Our local school took federal special education funds and remodeled and elementary principals office as well as his secretary’s office. Pathetic!

        • Jo says:

          My daughter is a teacher. She also has ADHD. Don’t use such broad strokes. I have had more than a few tearful calls because she can’t help her students because the parents don’t give a poo. Goes both ways.

        • Jodi says:

          Apparently this parent gave a shit. I know that my husband and I had to FIGHT every step of the way to get my son educated. From the time he was in first grade on, we were on things. There were only a few teachers that cared enough to follow his IEP. I don’t care if your daughter, the teacher has ADHD or not, some people have the ability to teach and others do not. My son had a math teacher his 9th grade year that is less than a people person, we switched him at semester time to the other math teacher. He went from getting D- to A’s. A good share of teaching is controlling your classroom and keeping things interesting, so the kids have a environment that inspires them to learn. You can tell people that are good teachers by the way they interact with kids, and how excited the kids are to go to school everyday.

        • Jo says:

          My point is all teachers and schools don’t suck so don’t act like yours is a global problem. I have never had problems with my kids IEPs that doesn’t mean you are exaggerating about your problems. See how that works?

          Don’t use broad strokes.

          There are just as many bad teachers as there are bad parents.

          You are a good parent my daughter is a good teacher, okay?

  38. kalish1671 says:

    Here is an excerpt from an article on the other side of ADD …and definitely not helping ..

    “The U.S. school system was modeled after German schools created in the 1800’s for the express purpose of producing obedient soldiers and factory workers (This is true! I’ve read it in many different good sources). The German system was extremely successful in achieving its goal in Germany and was therefore copied by other countries, including the U.S. The great American tycoons and Robber Barons were big supporters of the German system in America since they wanted literate but obedient factory workers. Our schools are operated pretty much the same way today in the 1990’s as they were back when Thomas Edison was kicked out for being “addled.” Creativity and independent thought and action were discouraged because such traits were problematic in a war or a factory. Today these traits interfere with our cookie cutter, mass production educational system; a bureaucratic system which is unable to change itself.”

    “Somewhere between the ages of eleven and fifteen, the average child begins to suffer from an atrophy, the paralysis of curiosity and the suspension of the power to observe. The trouble I should judge to lie with the schools.” – Thomas Edison.

  39. Risha says:

    Why on earth would you get hate mail? geez… Thanks for your well thought out, organized, logical, critical analysis of the situation. Impressive, with your adhd, and lack of college education. ;)….Rock on.

  40. MPH says:

    I like the photoshopped picture of a billboard I have. It reads “Ritalin – so much easier than parenting”

  41. Matt, I wrote this back in 2010, touching on this pertinent topic. Check it out!

  42. “An artist is not paid for his labor, but for his vision.” — James McNeill Whistler
    Right on! He’s paid for all of his quiet, creative time spent in re-energizing solitude, gathering wool for his lovely vision.

  43. Lori says:

    I love the scientific description of the symptoms such as:

    -Daydream too much
    -Fidget and squirm a lot
    -Run around a lot

    Who decides what is “too much” or “a lot?”

    • cindy howard says:

      Lori, if a child is running in circles and its not play, look at the diet first, sugars (hfcs) food dyes, has the child been taught to sit at the table and eat and not get up and run around during meal time?
      Look at diet and behavior and discipline. Moms have a gut feeling about their child. even autistic children can be taught good behavior. Kids need to be kids, they have the energy to play & run all day which is normal. Lt kids be kids as well as teaching manners, good social behavior and respect for others goes a long way. A good book, by Doris Rapp MD, “Is this your child”

      • Lori says:


        I definitely do not have a child with adhd. Like others, I believe it is very much over-diagnosed in this country. I do believe that there are some children that have a true disorder regardless of what you want to call it. Those children do need lots of help and attention. Medication should be a last resort. We are teaching our kids that medication “fixes” everything and should not wonder why we have a nation of drug abusers whether it be illegal or prescription drugs.

  44. ursularosien says:

    Oh thank you Matt Walsh! I’m a mom of an amazing 9 year old diagnosed with ADHD. We are blessed with this sweet boy and his “race car” brain as I call it! We haven’t done any meds but help him to socially catch up and I constantly feel like an ocupational therapist and see a LOT of myself in him. I have to remind myself to embrace who is with loving discipline and lots lots of patience.

  45. KK says:

    I agree with you for the most part. My son ‘has’ ADD. I cried. I prayed. I begged not to try meds. I tried them. I got my son back. He was locked in his own world so much so I questioned autism. He no longer smiled. He couldn’t function at school. He couldn’t function at home. He was lost. We tried an extremely low dose of meds. My son came back! He laughed again. He smiled! He no longer struggled in school. D’s with HOURS of my help turned back into A’s with no help. He was young so I worried I was ruining him. And then I realized I could stop him taking the meds whenever I chose. But I haven’t. Not yet. Maybe i will someday. Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. I tried meds not to change him. Not to make him a clone. I did it to bring him back to who he truly is. I don’t regret it.

  46. Norma says:

    Matt – you have written the best article on ADHD I have ever read, and I am so very grateful to you. I love Sir Ken Robinson as well. You ARE a creative genius to have written this in such a profound and engaging way–if you get any hate mail, it will be because you asked the questions that NEED to be asked and in our society where everyone wants to “fix” everything from a minor headache to “ADHD” with a pill, you will of course encounter opposition. My son is nine years old and amazing. He was “diagnosed” ADHD three years ago and we refused to medicate him. He is home educated now, and has a diet that include raw, natural foods (no processed foods), and he is thriving. We are also looking at the connection between the gut and brain–huge topic–and how just healing a person’s digestive system (which is often destroyed by processed foods–especially sugar) can alleviate any of the more acute symptoms commonly associated with things like ADD and ADHD like anxiousness and/or inability to concentrate. Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for this brilliant article, for asking the hard questions, and for being the awesome person that God created you to be WITHOUT pharmaceuticals! ~Norma

    • kalish1671 says:

      Norma, Is your son on the severe end of ADHD. I , too, have a 9 year old who right now is going through evaluations for ADHD. Was it difficult to switch him over to raw diet? My husband and I eat vegan/ raw most of the time and the kids are pretty healthy eaters. Not sure about how the switch would go. I totally agree with diet playing a huge roll. Also, have you always homes homeschooled him? Thanks!

      • Norma says:

        Hi Kalish – our son is not considered to be severe–it kind of depends on who you ask! He is definitely high octane (as I like to call it), and even on my best days he can try my patience (but that is more my problem than his!). For the most part, he is just awesome, sweet, creative, and smart. If he didn’t have a lot of energy, he wouldn’t be a boy.

        Initially, I thought that switching our kids to raw/natural (organic/pastured etc.) would be difficult, but I just explained to the boys (we have two and the youngest has dairy and gluten allergies…so we were already on a “different” diet initially) that the foods we eat can either help us stay healthy and strong or make us get sick and then sicker over time. They really got on board once they understood the reasons. Sometimes they complain, but then I just remind them of why we do what we do and how it is going to benefit them long term.

        We are taking steps toward embarking on something called the GAPs diet, which I won’t go into great detail here, but it is shown to reverse many food allergies and also help with neurological conditions (like Autism, Depression, ADD/ADHD if they really are conditions at all, just like Matt says above, who is to say for sure on the last two?)–the doctor who wrote the book actually reversed her son’s autism. And there are many other cases and stories and people to substantiate the benefits of this diet to heal the gut. Of course a typical doctor would just prescribe a pharmaceutical (or two, or three) and call it good, without looking at the root causes of these problems. Here is the link if you would like to learn more: – this is something that can feel overwhelming, so feel free to reach out to me at if you have questions or would like some links to several great resource sites for support (and recipes!). The main thing to keep in mind with this particular diet, it that it is a road to healing for the gut and once that takes place, food that previously caused behavior problems or skin problems, or any of the other many problems one may have, can slowly be reintroduced into the diet without causing the problems they did before. Obviously this wouldn’t include processed foods or refined sugars—but as in the case of my youngest, he would be able to tolerate raw milk, cheese, yogurt etc. – all of which he can’t have now. So you are not eating a gut healing diet forever…just until the healing takes place. I went a bit off topic…but also related and so important! Best to you and your family, Kalish. ~N

      • Norma says:

        Kalish – I accidentally answered the homeschool question elsewhere on this blog and now can’t find it…lol. But no, we have not always homeschooled. I pulled him out of public school in the fall of 2nd grade and put him in Montessori where he did exceptionally well. In our area, Montessori only goes through the 3rd grade, so this year (4th grade) we needed to make a decision and decided to homeschool. ~N

        • kalish1671 says:

          Thank you! We live just outside of Chicago and have a great public school system. Even with all of their support he is still struggling … We have thought about Montessori and Waldorf although the Waldorf school is extremely far. Can I ask one more question:)?? What was it about Montessori that made it so successful for your son? Thank you in advance for taking the time! Kelli

      • Norma says:

        Kalish – I also replied to the first part of your question, but maybe it was not posted because I put a resource link in it. You can reach out to me on FB and I’ll be happy to share some resources with you. You can find me at Norma Maxwell. Anyway, to answer your food question, I thought it would be hard, but once we explained to the boys what we were doing and why, they got on board. They sometimes complain, but I just remind them that we can eat food that will heal and strengthen us, or foods that will harm us and potentially make us sick, and they are fine. Best to you and your family! ~N

  47. normaluella says:

    Kalish – I also forgot to answer the homeschool question. No, not always. I pulled him out of 2nd grade elementary and put him in Montessori. He did very well there through the 3rd grade, but where I live it doesn’t go higher, so when it was time for 4th grade (this year), we made the difficult choice–I’m glad we did it and I know that although it isn’t easy (I am not a teacher by nature!!), it will make all the difference for him growing up and he is so totally worth it. Sooo…I’m learning right along with him…lol. ~N

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