Jacques Mattheij

Technology, Coding and Business

adhd, ritalin and evolution

My kid is pretty active, and pretty smart. It wasn’t long after he was born that the term adhd started to be bandied around.

I didn’t like it one bit. For one adhd ends on the ’d’ of ‘disorder’, secondly I don’t think there is anything wrong with children that are active. They just stand out because the others are not. In fact, I probably prefer the active ones over the not so active ones. They usually have wonderful minds that are intent on learning, they may have a bit of a problem concentrating on the same thing for a long enough time, but that feels quite familiar to me.

When I was a kid - so the stories go - I never played more than once with the same toy. After I figured out what it was all about I’d move on to the next. The only things that kept me captivated for more than a short while were lego and fisher technik, both construction kits that allowed you to build as much as you could imagine. If I had been born today I would have for sure been diagnosed with adhd, but fortunately in my days (the 1960’s) the term and the medication (and the associated profits) did not exist. I was simply a busy child, always active and learning, not playing with friends that much because I didn’t really need any. I’d hate to think what would have become of me if instead of being left alone and playing I would have been placed on medication to reduce my activity levels and that might have had long term negative effects on me.

So, to all you parents out there whose children are ‘diagnosed’ with adhd:

Stop the nonsense, don’t let your children be labeled by a society that would just as soon reduce the brightest to the lowest common denominator. There’s room enough here for everybody. And even the most hyperactive - such as myself when I was younger - eventually cool down. It doesn’t need medication, it just takes some patience and some understanding.

Children are precious, and active children are possibly even more precious. The ‘norm’ is only what you define it, if enough people exhibit a certain symptom, then the norm will shift.

It is very well possible that this adhd thing is a response to our information rich world, and that humanity is eventually going to develop faster minds to cope with that deluge of information. Competitve pressure in the wild was about food capturing ability and strength, it may very well be that the competitive pressure in our world is rooted in information processing capacity. In the long run we may be stunting our future by artificially limiting the energy that we allow our youngsters to display. What seems to be a disorder to some could very well be the future for the majority of us. And if that becomes the norm, do you envision medication to speed the rest of the children up ? If that sounds ridiculous then you get a feeling for what I think we are doing to the so-called adhd children today.

Embrace them, educate them, love them and give them room enough to grow, and I’m quite sure they’ll amaze all of us, as our future scientists and artists.

Don’t take it personal, if your child seems to move at a clip that you can’t match, if you’re a teacher try to see that it is possible that there are children that are smarter and faster than you are, and that they’ll call you out if you mess up. Have some patience, and have the good grace to be able to admit to a child that they were right and you were wrong if it should come to that. Ego should not have a place in education anyway. Children are our future and our treasure, treat them as such and treat them at least with the respect that you yourself want to be accorded.

Who knows, by the time you reach your old age the cure for what ails you may very well rest in the hands of the children in your class today, especially those that seem to need you most but that take away lots of your energy.

Don’t let the children in your care be turned into a ‘profit center’ for the medical conglomerates that are willing to spend an awful lot of money to ‘hook’ your child on a very expensive multi year treatment that has the exact same effect and hitting your kid periodically over the head with a baton. Would you cut the highest trees in the wood because they are too tall or destroy the prettiest flower because they are too pretty ? Would you cut off a runners legs because he or she is faster than you ?

Your children are yours, and they’ll need attention, some more than others but those might just be the ones that carry our hopes. Do not destroy or harm these children or let them be destroyed or harmed.