Saturday, July 09, 2005

Little Boy Blue


I’ve always been naturally inclined to question authority – especially when that authority (be it my own parents, a doctor, politician, or teacher) tells me I need to do something that doesn’t feel right to me.

So, when Adisen's kindergarten teacher, at our very first parent-teacher meeting informed us that Adisen was a challenging child to have in her class, that daily he interrupted her lectures with commentary that made other kids laugh, and that unless we “changed his personality” he would have trouble through his school years, I started to look into what the characteristics of a “good” personality for a 5-year old are. I mean, there would be no point in changing his personality to another “wrong” or “bad” personality, right?

I spent hours doing web searches to find the set of personality characteristics that would please an elementary school teacher. By the end of the day I hadn’t found a single definition for “the perfect child/student.” What I found was list after list of the kinds of behaviour that are not acceptable or desirable in a child. I also determined that my sweet son exhibited every single behaviour trait of a kid with ADHD and most of the personality traits of a child with bi-polar disorder. Oh – and that his behaviour was classic of gifted children.

I concluded that the only way I could give the teacher the student she wanted was to put Adisen on a psychoactive drug that would effectively change his five-year old personality. Problem was, I love all of Adisen's personality traits. When he argues with me, I envision him as a future lawyer. When he obsesses over building the perfect Lego character, I imagine him as a scientist. When he explodes into a rage that I’m not being fair, I see the human rights activist in him. All of his personality traits, as challenging as they sometimes are coming from a child, have the potential to serve him well as an adult. I simply could not imagine him as broken or sick, needing to be fixed or cured of the personality he was born with.

Sadly, millions of parents in the United States and around the world are convinced that that their young children would somehow be “better” if put on a prescription drug to alter their moods and behaviour. Over the past decade, the increase in the number of very young children placed on Ritalin or similar psychoactive medications has been staggering. Recent studies cite a 300 percent rise in the number of two- to four-year olds taking these medications and estimate that nearly 20 percent of school-aged children in the USA are taking personality changing drugs. In addition to the psychoactive drugs, in 2002 in the United States, over 11 million children were prescribed an anti-depressant.

So I made a film, called Little Boy Blue, with the hope that it would encourage parents, teachers and care-givers, doctors and soccer coaches, to discard the notion that there is a firm definition of how a model child behaves, to reject society’s template of what a “good” and “emotionally healthy” child looks like, and to embrace and accept that many different behaviours are good and healthy – even if those behaviours make it hard for teachers to manage a class, or for both parents to work full-time, or even if they expose deep flaws in the environments we as a society are forcing our kids to adapt to.

People are buying copies...it played in another festival this weekend...slowly but surely the message is getting out. I go to bed feeling grateful tonight.

12 Comments:

Blogger Gina said...

Good for you. I really hate that! My son only being three has been "kicked" out of three play groups for his behaviour. While we weren't "officially" asked to leave any of them, I felt uncomfortible with the other mom's saying that my three year old was behaving poorly (for running inside, being loud and getting into paints that were left on a lower shelf) I see it as he's three, he needs to be loud, active and curious, these are good things. So I left, and am proud to say I've got my own play group with mom's that let their kids play in the dirt and run through the house screaming, jump on the bed, and occassionally push each other around with out someone getting all huffy.
Kids are not little adults, they say things that are inappropriate and disruptive, they dump bags of chips on the floor for no reason, they take one bite out of every apple in the fridge and they will dig up all your tulips...and while I'm going pre-maturly grey, I wouldn't change it at all.
I see other mom's with kids that sit quietly and play by themselves and yes I'm a little envious, but I also feel sad for their children, they don't seem to have a spark for life. SAD :(

July 10, 2005  
Blogger Salem Watchen said...

Admirable work - sticking kids on drugs before their personalities develop is just plain wrong. I've seen brilliant children that teachers couldn't stand in class (probably because the kids were smarter), and I've seen kids strung out on the methampetamine (Ritalin-like drugs) who can hardly speak at 6 that the teachers love. Kudos on turning your frustration into educational media!

July 10, 2005  
Blogger Greg Mills said...

Our neighbor declined a play date with us recently because my 2.25 year old enjoy pushing her 1.5 year old's eyes in.

I can respect that.

I also wouldn't trade the devil that is my boy for the pre-fab angel that comes from a bottle.

July 11, 2005  
Blogger adhdpodcaster said...

Hi Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

Awesome post!

October 31, 2005  
Blogger Adhd Specialist said...

Hi Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

I was browsing for information on kid adhd when I came across your site and boy am I glad I did.

Although not totally the same, I believe that the work we are doing has some synergy to it.

I am researching information on adhd in general and am trying to make as many connections as possible so that my subscribers can have the maximum chance of controlling their adhd.

Are there any resources on kid adhd that you recommend I visit?

Would very much appreciate your input on the subject.

Thank you for your blog post.

Warmest regards,
Hoe Bing

November 03, 2005  
Blogger adhd said...

Hello Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

Your Little Boy Blue post caught my attention while I was doing some research on child with adhd .

I am currently in the process of creating a holistic treatment program for adhd. The idea is to integrate various treatment modalities so that anyone can benefit.

Would you care to share some of the secrets that you have gleaned from adhd.

My subscribers would certainly appreciate any insight that you have to offer.

Thank you for your post, it was a good read.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Warmest regards,
Hoe Bing

November 04, 2005  
Blogger adhdchild said...

Hi Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

After much heavy reading your blog provided just the right amount of fun. Thank you :)

November 07, 2005  
Blogger adhdpodcaster said...

Hi Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

Love the fun blog, came across it while having a break. Ta.

November 09, 2005  
Blogger adhd said...

Hi Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

Awesome post!

November 10, 2005  
Blogger adhddeficit said...

Hello Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

Your Little Boy Blue post caught my attention while I was doing some research on youth adhd.

I am currently in the process of creating a holistic treatment program for adhd. The idea is to integrate various treatment modalities so that anyone can benefit.

Would you care to share some of the secrets that you have gleaned from adhd.

My subscribers would certainly appreciate any insight that you have to offer.

Thank you for your post, it was a good read.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Warmest regards,
Hoe Bing

November 18, 2005  
Blogger Adhd Specialist said...

Hi Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

I've seen this post before but important things are always worth reminding. After all, repetition is the mother of learning.

November 20, 2005  
Blogger adhddepression said...

Hi Sh tering Rose-Colored Glasses,

Sounds great.

November 21, 2005  

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