The opportunity cost of being focused

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I don’t want to take meds for my ADHD, it kills my creativity. I saw the opposite with my son Aidan (17). Who when finally able to sit and concentrate long enough produced beautiful works of art.

Here, I thought, is evidence that belief is incorrect.

Which brings us to this summer. At the suggestion of his Dr., we elected to take my son Connor (14) off his ADHD meds for the summer.

He was behind in both height and weight. We hoped without the appetite suppression of the ADHD meds he might eat better and catch up.

That is in fact what happened, he grew 2 1/4 inches and has a more solid frame.

That’s not all, we saw a side of Connor we hadn’t seen before.

His smile was brighter and more often, he had a razor sharp whit that seemed to come out of no where.

Then a few days ago I encouraged him to start taking his meds again in preparation for the start of the school year.

I kid you not, it was like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

His sparkle died, his affect flattened, his attitude was more, “Meh” and the humor stopped.

My wife and I noticed this concern with one another.

Connor has always been shy so we attributed his being quiet and more withdrawn in general to his shyness. He has been on his meds for years and usually through the summer (his choice) so the quiet Connor is the one we knew.

I can’t recall how many times we laughed out loud this summer at something he said. Encouraging him to allow his peers to see this amazing side of him.

Only for him to resume his meds and essentially lock that part of himself away.

We had a talk with Connor and shared our observations, as well as our concerns. Connor said even though he understood our concerns, he thought the increased ability to focus at school was important.

On weekends he’d skip his meds so he could be more himself.

Who wins in this scenario?

The teachers get a quiet, studious kid who isn’t “disruptive”. A kid whose creativity and unique perspective on the world isn’t in that classroom.

Sure, Connor can pay better attention in class. He still forgets to write down his assignments and forgets instructions. A work in progress.

I’m afraid he’s learning to become an accomplished, people pleasing drone. Instead of a child filled with the possibilities granted to him by an imagination on hiatus during the school year.

It breaks my heart and I’m still struggling with it.

Every child is clearly different. Aidan thrives on the meds and they’re an essential tool in his toolbox.

For Connor it seems he’s paying a high price for focus, the price may be the opportunity to express himself fully.

There is another way, I’m sure of it and I will find it.

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