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11/30/2010

Tuesday Tale - Once Upon a Time



In the 1950's and 60's, few people understood the nuances of ADD. Kids who had ADD were seen as 'problem children', 'lazy' and 'disobedient'. But they were also, usually, smart. And so, one way or another, they managed to worm their way through school - until they got to high school. There, the habit of just promoting a kid to the next grade to 'move them along' stopped. In high school, not 'doing the work' - a difficult if not impossible task for an undiagnosed and untreated ADD - would not 'get you promoted'. No. It would get you 'Failed'.

Of course, not all classes were as homework dependent as others, so some classes would be passed. Some teachers recognized that passing the tests indicated a knowledge and understanding of the materials presented in class, and so would 'pass' an ADD kid, albeit with nominal grades - grades nowhere near reflective of the real power of the mind that 'earned' the grade. ADD kids got marginalized. Most of them did not or could not go to college - the scholarships that 'Straight A' kids earned were never within reach for them ... their grade point average was never good enough. Of course, not all of them failed - ACT scores and SAT scores would sometimes earn an ADD kid a spot in college - on scholarship. Sometimes. Rare sometimes. But more often, the ADD kids went to work, or went in the service, or otherwise started their lives without the benefit of the type of education that would truly serve them for the rest of their lives. They became 'underachievers'.

Today, there is an alleged epidemic of ADD. 1 in 100 kids, today, is said to be an ADD kid. This epidemic is 'recent'. More and more doctors are prescribing Ritalin and Concerta and Wellbutrin and other medications intended to help those ADD kids to 'focus'. But some will tell you the 'epidemic' is far older than the medical community is willing to admit. There are, literally, millions of adults, today, who are lifelong undiagnosed ADD's. And you know them.

They smoke. Nicotine does the same for them that Ritalin does for kids under treament.

They drink coffee. Caffeine does the same for them that Ritalin does for kids under treatment.

You KNOW these people. They're the ones who can't function until they get that first smoke sucked down - or that first cup of coffee in their stomach. What they're doing, unconsciously, is self-medicating. Over time they have learned, intellectually, how to deal with their affliction - more or less. At least well enough to get by, day to day.

There is this thing called the Law of Unintended Consequences. Our diet has changed dramatically in the last hundred years. Our largely agrarian society has become truly urbanized and industrialized and we no longer eat 'wild' meats and 'unprocessed' foods. The processing of foods, necessary to feed an urbanized society, has added ingredients to the food supply whose impact is STILL not truly understood.

More nutrition? Yes. Obviously. We're bigger, stronger, faster. Healthier? Physically? Yes. But mental and emotional health, to my mind, have never been properly assessed. The impact of the added ingredients on the human brain? Who knows? Do you? I don't. I'm not sure anyone does. At all.

But the older I get, the more experience I garner, the more I think I see the "Law" at work. Unintended Consequences. At work. On all of us.

Ndinombethe.

10 comments:

Myst_72 said...

Yes, yes, and yes.

Still long for a smoke most days, but I'm resisting the urge....

G
xx

Nan Sheppard said...

I'm constantly grateful that Chas was born in an age when ADD is more understood... but I'm MORE grateful that he got to roam wild in the forest, which has shaped him. If he had spent his childhood here in the Civilized World, he would have had a much harder time.

Being outdoors in the wild calms the ADD beast. Being unstructured gives these kids a chance to find themselves. Chas has found a lovely forest on his way to school. He rides and ramps and crashes through gnarled old English trees, and gets to school muddy. His teachers understand, and they feel that a nice clean Chas who gets dropped to school in a car would be too much to bear!

Oh, and a cup of coffee is a hyperactive boy's best friend!

bama Cheryl said...

Interesting perspective, Lou. I may not change my animosity towards smokers but it does give me something to consider as I hold my breath and cover my nose & mouth to get past them on the sidewalks and in front of stores.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

This makes me think of the David Sedaris story where he wrote about all the intense ticks he had as a child and how once he started smoking they all went away - such an interesting way to think about smoking!

Grandmother said...

Like Nan, I'm glad some kids are receiving greater awareness and acceptance of their coping strategies. One of my good buddies with ADD swears by the benefits of coffee too. I'm alarmed by the increase in the diagnosis though as well as the use of powerful meds. A second opinion is always a good idea and personal reading/ research.

Loraine said...

I'm add, but I can't overuse coffee and nicotine like others can. I get physically ill. The best I've been able to do is cut most sugars and processed foods from my diet. It seems to help.

Audubon Ron said...

See I just ADD'd on the post thingie. Delete the one you think needs deleting.

Got to love us. We try.

Audubon Ron said...

Oh, I just remembered and was cracking up on the coffee and cigs. I used to say I had to get my three "ines" in the morning. Caffine, Nicotine and Josephine. :)

Big Mark 243 said...

I always think about how much we have 'advanced' as a species because of our diet. In the animal world, the diet hasn't change and the species have survived for millions of years, save for natural selection. At least until man enters the equation.

Our collective ego is too big and the 'unintended consequences' are what we so for our hubris. This is where I philosophically come to butt heads with religion. Either we are supposed to have our lives determined by some insane meglomainiac, who we can blame for as well as thank (see Buffalo Bills WR Johnson's tweet last Sunday for an example) for the good and bad in our existence (life is a concept to justify the meglomaniac... we exist as units that populate a particular spot in space/time for an unfathomable reason), creating the 'break' from what we observe as reality.

Think about it... the indoctrination begins for many before cognitive awareness kicks in, with baptism or whatever appropriate ceremony to offer us up to the unknown. But once here, we do all we can to 'improve' on the imperfections left by our 'perfect' meglomaniac. Go figure.

The irony of all the 'improvements' is that we are aware of some of the 'consequence', if only to the level that we know what is 'good' can turn bad after time. Here, the effects of our change in diet is a perfect example. We live longer and can be healthier but at what cost? Even eating so-called 'healthy' is no longer that.

As you can see, I could go on... considering that it is still early, I am not even warmed up!! The upshot is that I believe there is always a nebulous group of 'some men' who know all that is good is really not. 'The will to power' motivates them to attain it at our expense and they believe themselves akin to whoever they worship, be it an spectre or money.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Spot. On.

Our food is killing us. The quantities, the chemicals, the mass-production. I don't know the answers, but I know that what our country eats will kill us off faster than any war or terror attack.