Death of a Genius

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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  • Kathryn

    Excellent article Andrea. I will share this with all of my friends.

  • Amy Konkoly

    Brave article, Andrea. Thank you. I’m also realizing that leaky guts can unleash toxic chemicals (i.e. partly digested foods) into the body – those toxins no doubt affect brain health.

  • Julie Meekins

    My heart breaks for both the parents and the children. Parents love their children. They do not want to do them wrong. They only want what’s best. At the same time, parents need to survive. Unfortunately, most parents do not know there are positive, doable, practical,step-by-step things to do. The natural “what to do about it piece” is not known. This is why we do what we do at March Forth Family! There are natural ways through nutrition AND also through specific brain stimulation to calm the chaos in an active child without compromising the essence of who he or she is. Thanks for a very thought provoking article, Andrea.

    • Hi Julie – Thanks for your input. I’m thankful for you guys at March Forth Family. You’re doing good things in the world.

  • Charline DeLorme

    Fantastic article! I really needed to read this right now. I just started the battle with my oldest (6year old)’s school about this issue. My husband and I refuse to have him on the drugs or have him tested. Which has been recommended by the principal and his teacher. That is not even an option for us. I’m changing his diet little by little which has been a real challenge since he doesn’t eat a lot of different foods. His diet is basically carbs and diary. So I’ve added protein shake every morning, got him some supplements at Whole Foods and making him lots of lean organic chicken and wild caught salmon. I cut down his sugar intake and dairy for now at least. And I’ve been trying to play games and activities with him, oh and we took TV and video games away during the week. And still searching for ways to make it better for him. I’m very upset and scared that school is trying to kill his creativity and this beautiful upbeat boy. I am going to check out “March Forth Family also”. Thank you, thank you for this article.

    • ADDmom22girls

      I completely respect your decision to not have your son tested and I hope that your changes help him out. I really encourage you to learn as much as you possibly can about ADHD, though so you can help your child with organization, impulse control and anything else he may have difficulty with. Your school has no right to pressure you to medicate him. I would , however, take advantage of sitting down with a trained therapist to see if he truly has ADHD or if something different is going on. Maybe do it on your own if you’re not comfortable doing it through the school. If he has a diagnosis, he would be eligible for help in a lot of areas, such as having a fidget toy or something else to help with focusing in class or additional time on assignments if that’s needed. There are so many things that can help without resorting to medication. Just because we made that choice for our family as a last resort, doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for every family. Good luck and please take the time to investigate this further. BTW, my daughter takes medication during the school day and it hasn’t hampered her creativity one single bit. 🙂 She’s still one of the most creative people I know!

      • ADDmom22girls

        looking my response over, I should have said – while I understand your concern and reluctance to have your son tested, I do think it could only help you, though. Everything that we learn about our children and their learning styles is going to help them do the best that they can do. I respect your decision to not have it done, but think perhaps if you do it on your own terms, not the schools, it could be really beneficial for your family.

  • Share, share, share! This will happen more and more as our education system and parents are overwhelmed by children who are far more superior than those from the past.

    • Wow! I never thought about that, “children who are far more superior than those from the past.” Great insight, Nick!

  • Sarah

    Thank you for sharing this Andrea. I am so concerned for our children and that is why I started Thriving Family Health. I wanted to share with you a new book by Stephen Cowan, “Fire Child, Water Child”. I think you would appreciate it. He descibes the 5 types of attention deficit according to the five types of children in Traditional Chinese Medicine and gives practical strategies for parents to bring balance into their children’s lives while honoring the type of child that they are (without pharmaceuticals). Fascinating! http://stephencowanmd.com/Book.html

    • Thanks for sharing, Sarah! I love TCM and use it in my own practice. I’m sure it’s got some great info that can help many people gain perspective on this “condition.”
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  • Evelyn

    It’s all a matter of perspective. Sometimes adults forget they need to get outside of themselves. We think when we become adults we all of a sudden have control over everything, and then a child like this comes along proving we don’t and we can’t stand it: “medicate him!”. We can’t be bothered by all this energy and creativity. Thanks for offering an outside ourselves perspective, and ideas for better ways to unleash and redirect children’s energy and creativity. Great article

  • Dhyana

    in the 70’s i went to a catholic elementary school — looking back i realize i was a bit of a problem child — thank GOD they didn’t have the ADD or ADHD diagnosis and/or drugs — Sister Petrina was a woman to be feared at our school — I now know that she was also a woman of vision and understanding about children like me — she recommended that they skip me from 4th to 5th grade — like a charm it worked — i was challenged enough that i stopped getting in trouble — it took me until high school to catch up with my peers but that was never a problem because no one made it one (ie my parents, teachers or siblings) i will say that I had a little bit of a harder time socially but that was probably more to do with my personality than it did with my skipping a grade… kudos to you Sister Petrina — wherever you are!

    • I love that story! Thank you for sharing. And thanks to Sister Petrina!

  • ADDmom22girls

    Your suggestions are wonderful for any child! Personally, I don’t appreciate the term “doped up”, though, to describe a child on ADHD medication. It’s not a decision most caring parents make lightly to have your child take any medication. I’m not sure about your background, but it is clear to me that you are not very experienced with ADHD and how it affects MOST people. Most people who truly have ADHD experience their symptoms at school, work AND at home. In the years that I have taken medication to treat my ADD, I never felt doped up at all, on the contrary, I felt like I was finally able to slow down so that I could communicate better, focus better , actually complete tasks instead of getting distracted every five seconds and finally BREATHE. Some times the ADHD brain is moving along so fast, you are just desperate for a rest.

    Let me repeat, I love your suggestions, I really do – I find it interesting that your nephew seemed “doped up” when he was playing a video game. Perhaps his demeanor was due to being involved with electronics. I believe that he may experience a negative reaction to medication, some children do. For many children and adults, though, it is the last resort to hopefully even the playing field. If you are interested in learning more about ADHD, there are some fascinating Webinars that ADDitude magazine conducted over the past month. While I don’t agree with all of the “experts”, it may give you a little window into the life of someone who has ADHD. Thank you for listening and I look forward to looking at some of your other material.

  • SurlySarah

    Oh man what a great piece! I completely agree!!! Everyone needs to read this and further research for themselves before drugging their children because regardless of what people want to think, that’s exactly what it is. Thank you for this!

  • KarenW

    School Kills Creativity….awesome video. Totally agree….we always route ourselves to drugs thinking its the easiest route. My nephew is ADD but his parents never put him on the drugs during the summer. He was a different kid in the summer……a great kid to be with with lots of interesting ideas…..He is no longer on the drugs now that he is out of school and he has found that he has a love for horses and works on ranches in the U.S. with kids. His dad was ADD but was never diagnosed. A self made millionaire in his 40’s……….Something to think about!

    • Love it! Thank you for sharing that story with me.

  • PamW

    I have an 8-year old ADHD son and have to say I have noticed that all of this is easy to say if it is not your child. My son is NOT ahead of everyone in his class. In fact, he is failing because he cannot focus. We tried diet, which is extremely difficult. We get him out exercising, etc etc. It was not until we found the correct medication that he has finally begun improving and getting on grade level. No loving parent wants their kid “doped up” as many who don’t understand say. It is a tough decision for any parent. Please try not to judge.

  • My heart aches for these children on medication. 🙁 Feed these kids real food, not chemical concoctions masquerading as food. Knowledge is power. Keep sharing your insights Andrea. We can change the world, one person, one parent, one child at a time.

  • Joanie White

    Great post Andrea! Sharing. <3

  • Jennifer

    Many years ago one of my sons was diagnosed with ADHD/Inattentive Type, Aspergers and Tourettes. Against my tears and wailing I gave in and allowed him to be put on Strattera. He became a zombie. The people in my family who chided me for not wanting to put him on the medication were now irritated by what the medication was doing to him. (Well, duh!) After two bottles of the stuff I decided I was DONE poisoning my son and I called my husband and told him that I wanted the boy off the medication. My husband said, “Honey, well, he has been out of pills for quite a few days now and he needs to be seen by the doc again if he is to get more,” and I said, “Well, he isn’t haven’t withdrawals or anything so let’s just keep an eye on him in case he needs some kind of help, but otherwise HE IS FINISHED, THROUGH, DONE WITH THESE PILLS!!!” And that… was that! Since then we have concentrated on living a healthy lifestyle and although he is still “different” he is healthy. He is two years into his four year college studies and he is attending college on a full scholarship. Do you know what that brilliant mind of his is majoring in? MATHMATICS!! He wants to be a forensic accountant!

    • OMG – that is a GREAT story. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m so proud of you for sticking to your gut instinct and getting him off the meds and back into life in a healthier way. Great job, mom!

  • As a public school teacher with 23 years experience in the elementary grades, I could not agree more! It is sickening to me what we have done to our children and how we have made the system more important than real learning.

    As a recent graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I now have tools as well as my background knowledge spurring me toward working in a non-traditional setting so that what I believe is congruent with what I do.

  • Allyson Sullivan

    I am a mom of an 11 year old boy who has been diagnosed with inattentive ADD. I have exhausted almost every therapy known to man. From HANDLE, to different diets, to supplements, to therapy for me and my husband, to a nuerologist, to now a special educator to help with us at home and with the school. We did try focolyn for a week several years ago and didn’t like the way he felt on it. I would do anything for my son to be able to handle the frustrations he deals with. His self esteem and worth has been damaged. He has high anxiety and can be down right defiant. He can be obsessive.
    It is very easy to sit on the outside and solve problems that you don’t even know how to deal with on a daily basis. I don’t think drugs are the answer, but I do feel that this is a real difference. I do believe that kids are different and some need to learn differently than others. Our system doesn’t support this. My son would do much better in a hands on learning environment.
    He is smart, funny, kind and loving.

    • Allyson Sullivan

      I too am a graduate From IIN and we eat mostly organic real whole foods. We definitely are at our wits end. I want to celebrate his differences, but it is hard to that when defiance comes along with the ADD. dr amen is the only one so far that has any idea of what can go along with this.

      • I too am a IIN graduate. My sone lost his father last year and we have been on a roller coaster of grief and anger, depression. He is 11. He was not sleeping at night because that was when he finally shut down from the day and would cry and be angry about not having his dad. After 2 months of barely any sleep and his oppositional behavior from being so tired, my friend suggested doTERRA essetial oils. He was having night terrors as well. She gave me an oil called Vetiver and I rubbed it on his feet and he has not had night terrors in 3 months! I am using other oils with him to work on feeling joy again. Oils get into the blood stream quickly. I would really urge you to look into this. My website for my business is http://www.ilivenow.us There is a link to my website for the oils. There are thousands of testimonials about oils changing peoples lives. every thing is energy and this is another tool! Good luck.

        • Allyson sullivan

          Thanks for the tips! I appreciate it. I will check it out.

  • Earharta

    Amen sister!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Earharta

      Cudos to Ms Andrea

  • Denise Osborne

    My daughter has ADD and I refused to put her on anything when a teacher tried to talk me into it. My son has ADHD. I have him on Added Attention by Buried Treasure. It’s all over the internet how it has helped kids. I talked to a couple of college girls at the health food store. They both said they have ADHD and their mom’s tried different medications and it made them sick! Their mother’s both found Added Attention by Buried Treasure. One girl said her mom gave her two tablespoons a day and now that she’s older she does only one table spoon. The college girls said they still can’t concentrate without it. I have started giving my 11 year old son two tablespoons and on some days only one. It has really made a difference and it’s all natural.”I think” not being a professional, it will allow the brain cells to develop. I don’t think the other medications could be to good for the brain cells. I don’t see how that would help the communicators of the brain.Oh, and if your child is as hyper as mine try calcium/magnesium-cherry flavor for children at night. I don’t know why, but being a natural relaxant. It puts him to sleep at night. I know everyone’s brain is different, but thought this might help somebody out there. My son’s special diet works for helping him as well. I’m healing my thyroid and my son does the same recipes as myself. He loves the carrot puree with honey drizzled on it. Your great Andrea! Your helping my son out to:))) Love your recipes!!

    • @disqus_lUazQtEd41:disqus – what a lucky couple of kids to have you guiding them. Sounds like you found the right nutrients. Yes, I agree with you that some type of nutritional supplement could be a better choice for supporting the brain cells. Great job, Denise!

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  • When my son was “diagnosed” with ADHD, I suddenly found myself wondering if I had it too. We certainly shared some of the same “symptoms” What a number it did on my self confidence. He, on the other hand tells me “it’s no big deal. It just means I am fidgety.” Thank you for having the courage to write about your nephew. I too share in your vision of a world where children no longer need to be diagnosed to be understood or supported.

    • @mary_strachan:disqus – your son sounds like a wise little fella. He’s just “fidgety.” He’s got a lot of creative energy inside him. With your love and guidance he’ll find the best outlet for that energy. Big hugs to you both!