Death of a Genius

Frustrated Boy

I knew an eight-year old boy who traveled faster than the speed of light! He was highly intelligent and need only be shown something once, if at all, to quickly process it and move to the next activity. He bored easily and needed constant stimulation from new ideas and life experiences. It seemed as if he had the energy of the entire universe expanding inside him and needed to expend it into the world otherwise he might explode from the pressure!

His mother told me she was having problems coping with his high energy and was at her wits end. She said, “He doesn’t pay attention in school and I just can’t deal with him anymore.” She was going to put him on Ritalin.

I immediately thought about Albert Einstein’s inability to pay attention in school that resulted in poor grades. School was certainly too slow for Albert’s level of genius and not designed to teach at his pace of understanding.

What might’ve happened to Einstein if he had been doped up on Ritalin, Adderall or other ADD drugs to slow him down?

Those drugs simply weren’t available back then, and Albert Einstein continued suffering through school, and eventually went on to become one of the greatest minds known to mankind.

The little genius I knew was also living and learning at a quicker pace. School was much too slow for him and that caused him a great deal of trouble. Unfortunately, our modern solution is to “dope him up and dumb him down,” so that the adults can deal with him at a slower pace, and not his own.

Drugs are a quick and easy way to cover up a symptom without getting to the root of the problem. That is, if there is a problem to begin with. Maybe the dysfunction lies NOT within the child, but in the adults and the linear learning systems we’ve created.

I told his mom, “I don’t believe there is anything wrong with this child; he just has a high energy level.” After all, he was traveling through this world at the speed of light.

She insisted he was “bad” and “bothers everyone.” I clarified that not everyone was bothered by his energetic presence, especially not me. She said, “That’s because you’re different. Nothing bothers you about the kids!”

I couldn’t argue with her, I was different than the other adults when it came to dealing with the kids – not better – just different. I played games with the children, and taught them how to do yoga and meditate. We cooked healthy meals together and then took long bike rides and walks out in nature. I also actively listened when any of the kids spoke because I know in their thoughts and words are the secrets to the entire universe: after all, they recently arrived from there.

I was worried about the fate of this brilliant child, but even though he was of my blood he was not from my womb. So, I had to lay down my arms and surrender.

After her second therapy session with the child psychiatrist, my sister-in-law called, in a distressed state. She talked erratically and I could barely understand her. She blurted out, “…and then, the doctor told me that I have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Can you believe that?”

Regardless of what transpired in those therapy sessions, they decided, both the doctor and the parents, to medicate the 8-year old child. They doped him up so he could slow to a pace that society could now accept. A pace of normalcy, complacency and mediocrity, where there are no surges of energy that could possibly lead to the next greatest discovery. I felt the child’s mind was being put to sleep in the waking stages of his life.

My nephew wasn’t the first casualty and he certainly won’t be the last. Millions of our children are doped up on medications for ADD and ADHD every day.[i] I wonder how many other creative lights and potential geniuses are being snuffed out?

Children depend on their parents to protect them from danger, teach them how to survive, and feed and nourish them. With the sharp rise in drugs prescribed for kids, it seems as if we are no longer protecting them, just dulling them, and getting them ready for a society that they may not be designed to fit into. Like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Maybe these kids are supposed to be learning in an entirely different way.

In fact, if you haven’t yet watched Ken Robinson, a highly acclaimed professor, discuss how our school system can kill a child’s creativity, I highly recommend you watch the video at the end of this blog post. You may begin questioning the way our education system is set up.

Two weeks into my nephew’s new ADD drug regimen, I noticed he was unusually quiet and not his highly energetic self.

I said, “Hey, little dude… tell me about the pills you’ve been taking.”

Without looking up from his Gameboy he said, “My mom gives them to me in the morning with my breakfast.” He continued focusing intensely on his computer game.

“Tell me what they make you feel like.”

“I don’t know… I think they sort of make me feel good.”

I continued, “No silly, gorilla! Tell me how they make you physically feel. What’s going on inside your body and mind?”

He slowly looked up at me; his eyes were slightly glazed as if someone had put a coating of clear paint inside them. Instead of looking directly at me, soul-to-soul, in his usual manner, he seemed to be looking beyond me to somewhere else. He said, “Well… I get all spaced out. Spacey like,” as he gently swayed his head from side to side to show me what he meant. “You know what I mean, Aunt Fanny?”

Yes, I knew what he meant. When I used to get high on drugs as a teenager, I got all spaced out, too. And, it felt good. I didn’t have to think about anything. I didn’t have to problem-solve. I didn’t have to create anything. I didn’t have to do anything except learn how to survive in my altered state.

For the next 30 days I watched my nephew retreat into him self, become moody, violent, and withdrawn from his brothers, his cousins, and the rest of the family. One day we all went to the beach and his mother commented, while looking at her sullen son walking along the shore by himself. “I think he may be depressed. He probably just misses his friends at summer camp.”

His emotional and physical reactions were reminiscent of my own when I was on drugs. My nephew was experiencing the effects of his imposed drug addiction.

Albert Einstein said, “”The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

We need to be re-educated about ADD and ADHD. I have faith that this child, and the millions of others like him, will one day be able to experience their highly energetic and creative essence in a healthy way. As for now, I believe they are being fraudulently drugged under the façade, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Here are some things to consider before putting a child on drugs:

  • Chemicals may agitate the child’s nervous system: eat clean, wholesome foods without preservatives, colorings or flavor enhancers.
  • Reduce or eliminate sugar and stimulants: If the child is eating excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine, they are going to need to expend that energy. You can’t feed a child Captain Crunch and Coca-cola and expect them to sit still.
  • Reduce exposure to video games: These games move at an extremely fast pace. We cannot expect any child, who’s brain has been going 300 miles per hour on a computer game, to be able to slow down and have a conversation with us. That’s not reality. If anyone needs the drugs, it’s us, because we are obviously living in an illusion.
  • Get outside and expend some energy: walk in nature, ride a bike, get outside and play. Children love to play. Encourage them to run around at top speed (outside the house, of course), so they can plum tucker themselves out.
  • Teach them new ways to harness the energy that is naturally flowing them:Meditation, yoga, painting, dancing, writing, singing, etc.

Let’s let our children be the brilliant lights they are destined to be. And, then sit back and watch how much brighter this world will become.

Watch Sir Ken Robinson’s amazing video, School Kills Creativity, for insight about ADD and a major flaw in our education system: School Kills Creativity


[i] http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2011/09/28/number-of-us-kids-on-adhd-meds-keeps-rising

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  • noreen in denmark

    And is he still on them ??? Have heard amazing stories using specific diets based on IgG food intolerance testing- for some reason egg white (vaccinations?), dairy and wheat keep coming up in top 3 food sensitivities. Research being done in Denmark at the Nordic Clinic.

  • Dawn Riccardi Morris

    Such a great article! Thanks for raising awareness about this growing problem, and for offering so many natural solutions. Our children are exposed to so many toxins through their food and environment. Drugs add to those toxins and using them without first detoxifying the child’s lifestyle is like putting a Band-aid on a cut without washing it first. It’s bound to become an infection that spreads.

  • Pam Jones

    Great article Andrea! I am so sick of the ADD diagnosis. Both of my children were diagnosed with ADD. Everyone in the school system wanted my kids on drugs. Thank God my pediatrician was old fashioned and told me there was nothing wrong with my children. My daughter is now a graduate from Embry Riddle University and my son is an Air Force Pararescue man. Thank God for ADD kids :)

  • Leigh

    Play IS children’s work, a basic tenet of all good early childhood education. Right now the current trend is towards the corporatization/privatization of the school system, with emphasis on test scores ( and a multi-billion dollar industry to produce new textbooks, tests, and test materials)….. parents, well, ALL Americans need to wake up! This is a serious social and political issue, nothing less than the public school system is at stake.

    So – children need to play, and play vigourously. They need ALOT of physical activity – better if self-directed, in nature. When I was a child, we were outdoors at least 6 hours a day, running, making forts and dirt ovens and mudpies, riding our bikes, manhunts, etc…….

    They also need plenty of free time to explore – again, best if not given too many manufactured toys. This is how imagination and self-sufficiency are developped.

    People, it’s time to face the facts – many of our institutions need radical change, but without an education at all, many children will not develop into functioning adults and responsible citizens. I am not talking about making kids “college and career ready” but about supporting everyone to become an independent thinker, self-motivated, and able to contribute to the betterment of the world!

  • Kathi

    Although I found this article interesting and agreed with it in theory, I do have an opposing view. I raised both my granddaughters, both diagnosed with ADHD. One began medication in kindergarten. One never took medication. The one who never took medication is a train wreck. She dropped out of high school in the 10th grade. She can’t keep a job, she can’t manage money, she has turned to illegal drugs to keep her mind from racing. Highly intelligent and quick-minded yes, but her life is out of control. The one who was medicated, on the other hand, is successfully enrolled in college, working a part-time job and is as responsible as an 18 year old can be. She has a bright, bubbly personality, smart as a whip and enjoys her life. I don’t know the answer to this one. I agree that powerful medications are not good for children, although I think “doped up” is a harsh way to describe it, but what do you do? I worked full-time while raising them. I couldn’t afford private education that may have encouraged their strengths. I had to rely on public schools and after school care, neither of which will deal with attention/hyperactivity issues. I was given the choice of medication or home-schooling. I don’t think it’s fair to lay a guilt trip on parent caregivers who simply don’t have the options mentioned.

  • Diana

    The girl who is not on meds may simply be “reacting” to a messed up society. I have a hard time focusing in school too (heading for graduate work soon), and I also have a hard time keeping jobs. They bore me to death and make me suicidal. My opinion is that humans are not meant to live the way society expects us to, like little robots all doing the same thing and paying taxes. I am a very happy person when I can live outside of these external expectations, and I love learning random things, science related mostly. Sometimes I wish for a magical pill to help with my focus, but I don’t think I’m the messed up one (never tried any meds for my issues). I just can’t live my life the way others expect me to. I’m still trying to find my place in the world, and I know a “regular life” (married with kids) and a corporate (soul killing) job are not it for me.

  • cerys

    i agree….
    i think we focus way too much on creating ‘little pitchers’ to be filled with the same amount of information rather than finding a life style that suits who we are…

  • Karen

    This article broke my heart. My son was the same and we chose not to medicate him. It was a constant struggle through school but he made it through with our support and understanding. It was not easy but I am proud of the choice we made as he has become a great young man

  • Ray

    As a eager and energetic child I was lucky to have some sports, some chores but work in general/ physical activity has a profound effect on my outlook and the way I am able to interact with others and my overall feelings about myself and everyone else. If I had a grown up in the 70’s I’m sure Ritalin and other drugs would have been recommended but physical activity combined with actually having two parents and consistent discipline/ a unified front between my parents not only taught me patience but how to remain calm. It sucks we live in a time were some times there are 2 people who want to be parents but by law or plain discrimination they aren’t allowed and there are so many children out there who have NO parents not even “just” one… for the record. I mean no offense at all to all the single parents {my Mother was one for a bit as well as two aunts and a uncle so I’m not banging on on yall because it is you who has to work twice as hard and still plenty do a wonderful job) I’m going to speak of a deeper psychology and again I mean no offense by saying that children are better with 2 parents not just one as long as one of the parents is not a bad person. Obviously, I’m trying to speak to the ideal, to the highest probability of success. I do believe it’s a shame preventing 2 people from being parents. Any people who don’t have a record of harming children should be allowed 2 if they have the desire and financially ability to raise children.

  • Ray

    *if I had NOT grown up in the 70’s

  • @Diana The great sages always reminded us to “know thyself.” It sounds like you are doing a good job getting to know yourself and how you relate to the world.

  • @537a8332026f586b338ecf6582028606:disqus – I like the way you’re thinking!

  • @dawnriccardimorris:disqus – I agree about the Band-aid analogy. It’s right on!

  • @889d8d0563997fbce75f9bd7ee5402fa:disqus – No guilt trip. You did the best you could, and that’s good enough. Pat yourself on the back – you did great. Leave the rest up to the “universe.” Your grand daughter will either find her way or not. I too, had a history of bad behavior and drug abuse. And, I was kicked out of school because of it. It took a disease to wake me up from self-destructing. Like I said, your grand daughter will find her way or not. It’s out of your hands.

  • Alexandra Hayden

    This article is what I’ve been preaching for the past 3 years. I work in the education system and I see teachers (not doctors, although, and even they aren’t the people I think we should be getting advice from anyway) diagnosing students left and right with pills. Kids were never meant to sit down for hours and and hours, well shoot, neither are adults if you ask me. Most of our kids are running on empty caloric,high sugar, hormone filled diets that are already alternating their natural state.

    This links into the mainstream food that we are being encouraged to eat. They keep us dull, colorless, obedient and oppresses our natural curiosity.

    Everything you mentioned about play I think its crucial but to add on, I would say that all of that play should not stop at childhood. We should continue to feel the need to play and give our selves free time as we become adults.
    So what do we do now? Are we going to join forces? meet up? revolutionize? I’m ready.

    I am so happy to know that there are people out there who understand the really radical changes we would need to implement into our society to make a difference.

  • @alexandrahayden:disqus – I’m so happy that there is someone like you inside the education system – we need more folks like you on the “inside.” And, yes I totally agree – adults need play time and free time! Let’s join forces and play :)