Friday, February 16, 2007


Tom showed me an ad he ran across this week in a newspaper.

It said something like:

Do you find your mind wandering from tasks or conversations that are uninteresting or difficult?

In conversations do you start to answer questions before the questions have been fully asked?

Do you say things without thinking and later regret having said them?

Even when sitting quietly are you usually moving your hands or feet?

Do you have a quick temper, a short fuse?

You may have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder!

Then it went on to ask the ADHD reader to join a clinical trial where experimental medicines will be tested. I have every confidence that these good people have the best of intentions.

Tom has all those behaviors. He's had them all his life. Ben has them, too.

And do you know what, I've never thought they needed medication. I can't imagine them any other way. They are fascinating, enjoyable people to know. When I am seeing life from the ground, they let me know what it looks like from the sky. When I'm above the water, they give me the underwater view. It's absolutely terrific! I feel like an absolute bore sometimes when I'm allowed into their amazing energy. Neither one of them feels they are suffering in any way, they enjoy life. We enjoy them.

However, in the course of his life, Tom has withstood too much criticism and condescension because of his fidgetiness. He has been made to feel inferior because his behavior is misunderstood as wrong, or bad.

I wonder, is there some sort of pinch in society that programs us to channel everyone into the same pigeon-hole? And then, when they don't fit, to fuss around, squish, prod, and medicate them until they do? Devalue and dismiss them if they won't?

What makes us think that way? To label people, categorize them, and then, worst of all, to rank them?

It's true that some symptomatic folks have a rougher time of it than Tom and Ben, and maybe they would like to calm their brains down a bit for an easier time of it. My heart and support go out to them. They need to do what they need to do without being stigmatized.

But for those expressive, energetic ones who feel fine until society tells them that fine means Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional, as quoted in the "Italian Job," I say, "Hey, you ARE normal!"

After I read the article Tom showed me, we hopped into the car to go buy milk. I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror on the visor flap as we motored down the street, and noticed my expression of sober thoughtfulness. "Tom, how come we don't see people with so-called ADHD as within a normal range with everyone else? Why don't we just adjust to the differences? Why homogenize people with medicine? It seems ridiculously small-minded to me, to expect everyone to behave the same, and when they don't, well, drug 'em!"

This issue is quite interesting to Tom, since his behavior fits the bill.

In an enthusiastic voice, left index finger stabbing the air above the steering wheel, he blurted, "Hey! Look! They're putting a new roof on that house!"


We simultaneously burst out laughing! He agreed with me. And now we have milk.


Pam said...

This was one of the primary reasons we chose homeschooling for Peter's early years -- didn't want him to get slapped with the ADHD label. There's no doubt in my mind that he has it -- I do too -- but I just couldn't see trying to take the wiggle out of that kid -- or the good that would come from it. He's a married man now and he's still high-energy and wiggly. And he's just fine.
Great post that sums up a healthy perspective!

Cherie said...

You and Pete were in the back of my mind while I composed this post, since you've shared some of your struggles with society's stigma and notions of labeling with me. Not easy for you, or for Tom.

Hopefully more and more people will come to embrace the differences, rather than scowling at them.

Thanks for sharing your personal experiences here in the comment forum!

Miss you guys!

Cassie said...

I think it is so strange that people try and make everyone the same! Daddy is fun because he is hyper!


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. To rejoice in the differences makes life better for everyone. I love the funny ending. I hope a lot of people read this and think about it.

deanna said...

I agree, too. More wisdom from Cherie and family. Thanks!

Ann said...

The labeling & attempts to categorize begin so early. I listen to mothers of babies worry about the tiniest, most benign little differences. I've heard that some pediatricians are now calling unusual kids "quirky" rather than giving them a diagnosis. Of course, quirky is a label but maybe being given a label is preferable to being linked with a pathology.

Cherie said...

Good point, Ann.

Quirky, though? Makes me think of the lady across town with 49 cats and a rundown house. Or the guy down the road who tucks his t-shirt into his bermuda shorts, then straps on suspenders AND a belt before slipping into his black socks and brown shoes so he can water his yard with a hose. (He really IS adorable!)

Ah well, I guess to someone we are each quirky in some way. Yeah, better than a pathology.

Thanks for leaving a comment! Means a lot!

Imp said...

Yeah, good post mums.

Cherie said...

Thanks, Ben! You are a shining jewel in this world!