I didn’t sleep well last night. I tossed and turned and woke way too early with swollen eyes, stiff joints, and the thought, “God don’t make no junk!” screaming in my head.
Another friend’s child was diagnosed with ADHD yesterday. She sent me a note with a sad face at the end and a resolution to see this as a ‘gift’ and an opportunity to learn and grow. I love her attitude, her compassion for her child, and her determination to see the positive in every situation. But I know her path will be cluttered with people encouraging her to change who her little boy is, to medicate, to isolate, to restrict, and to discipline.
This subject beyond any other causes me such anxiety. What have we become as a people that we demand such conformity? A child is born with a mind that processes life in a crazy non-linear way that makes it difficult for most of us to understand and our answer is to change the child. The ego of mankind has grown so large that changing the essence of a child is now not only acceptable but expected.
I could go down the spiritual path and ask, “if we are created to be exactly what we are meant to be” then how do we justify changing who someone is? How a person processes thought is not a life-threatening condition. Thankfully, medical science has given us many tools that save lives. We are capable of replacing defective body parts and improving a person’s quality of life. Where do we draw the line?
I believe we need to ask ourselves “why?” Why is it necessary that this 5 year old child sit quietly and listen to a story? Why must he sit in a chair and not stand to do his art project? Why can’t he walk and stretch and jump if that’s what his body needs to do?
Sadly, the answer is often because it makes our lives more difficult. It’s more difficult to manage a group of children when some of them need to move. It’s more difficult to manage one child that can’t follow more than one instruction at a time. It complicates our lives as parents and teachers when we are challenged to manage and raise a child who is constantly moving both physically and mentally. It is exhausting.
With the advantage of medical science, we now have the option of conforming the child to society. It’s much easier to help the child fit in than to change the environment to fit the child but at what cost?
I know young adults and older friends with ADHD. They are some of the most brilliant people I have ever been around. Their thoughts are constantly jumping from one idea to the next and it is exhausting with my structured linear thought processing mind to keep up with them. Most times, I don’t. But how sad would it be if they were any different? What gifts of creative inspiration would we miss if these unfocused hyper-thinkers were dulled? What amazing contributions might these high energy children provide to the world if the world could keep up with them?
I don’t have the solution to this dilemma. The overall challenge feels overwhelming. It’s a societal mindset that has produced an educational system that is tremendously flawed where what is best for the child is not the primary focus. How do we go about changing the system and not the individual?
I’m concerned for my friend. Her challenge will be exhausting and she will constantly question herself and her decisions no matter what path she takes for her child. At least I hope that is the case and she doesn’t just accept the status quo like the majority of society continues to do.