Someone on Twitter linked to this article about ADD that challenges the conventional wisdom (pop them some pills and move on) by stating that kids sometimes need to fidget and that’s OK. I think it perhaps goes too far the other direction, drawing a connection between kids fidgeting and an adult drinking coffee, but I tend to agree in general with the premise of the article. Most of the diagnoses of ADD or ADHD are probably not chemical imbalances, but rather just bored kids. They need both large and small muscle movement much more often than adults do, but we try to limit that behaviour, and now we’re doping them to do it.
The descriptions of ADHD behaviour in the article particularly struck home for me:
As they worked on the problems, the boys with ADHD spun around in their swivel chairs. They tapped their hands and feet and jiggled around.
“Some of them need to squeeze a ball, some need to tap a pencil while they work. I don’t mind,” said Eckers, a 17-year veteran of New York and Florida schools. What she’s found is that the ADHD children may be stifled by the sit still, be quiet methods, but when allowed to move a little, they thrive.
That’s what we define as ADHD? Really? I have to do that all the freaking time when I’m thinking, and it helps me focus. The more difficult the problem I’m working on, or the more I’m thinking, the more I have to move. When I’m conversing with someone face to face, I’m generally still, but I pace almost all the time I’m on the phone. I’m jiggling my feet right now. If I’m really deep into it, I might play drums on my thighs or spin around a bit.
When I pray, I sway side to side or back and forth, like the Jews at the wailing wall. When I sing in worship, I often dance. The more involved I am with something, the more I’m moving, at least if it’s engaging my brain.
On a sidenote, that’s why I don’t move much when I read. April and I experience reading very differently: where it engages her mentally and can be something of an exercise, my brain really turns off when I read and it’s easy entertainment for me. Reading doesn’t engage my imagination much because the descriptions are already there–I don’t feel like I have to do any brain work. Conversely, TV affects us the opposite: it’s much more of an exercise for me, whereas it’s easy entertainment for her. When I’m writing, I’m often moving.
I saw so much of myself in the descriptions this article gave that it really surprised me. If I were a kid in elementary school now, would they dope me like so many others are? Would my antisocial behaviour (sitting and reading all the time) be viewed as a negative rather than a studious positive?
I’m glad I’m an adult now, free to drum and dance all I like. It’ll be interesting to see how our kids turn out.