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  • Lance Mannion
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This is a lovely post. Thank you.


I could have used this post ten or so years ago, but I can't tell you how much I appreciate it now. And this:

"This includes teachers. While many teachers dream of the day when a truly talented and brilliant student will show up in their class, there are plenty for whom the appearance of such students is a nightmare. They appear to them as bigger challenges to their control of the classroom than class clowns, bullies, babies, and other natural disrupters of order and decorum."

Is true to my experience--although I shoulod say that I had many teachers who were glad to have me.

Janelle Dvorak

Thanks for this, Lance. You're talking about my boy too.


piny - me too.


Great post. The lightbulb went on for me, too, when I read William James' quote: “He is not absent-minded. He is just present-minded somewhere else.” My daughter was like that all through school--she could lose herself in her imagination and drawing for hours on end, and she did well in classes that caught her attention and challenged her, but did miserably in the ones that bored her. There were many, many of those. She would not do homework, or if she did, she often never turned it in. Early in her school career I had her tested for learning problems. She didn't have any. She just preferred to pay attention to what interested her rather than anything else.

AD/HD? I didn't think so. But having it explained in this new, clearer way hit me hard. It describes my daughter perfectly.

And not only that. It also describes me, both as a child and as an adult. My daughter came by her "present-minded somewhere else" personality honestly. She got it from me.


Very well said Lance.

As another once put it:

"He was the sort of painter who can paint leaves better than trees. He used to spend a long time on a single leaf, trying to catch its shape, and its sheen, and the glistening of dewdrops on its edges. Yet he wanted to paint a whole tree, with all of its leaves in the same style, and all of them different.

There was one picture in particular which bothered him. It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it became a tree; and the tree grew, sending out innumerable branches, and thrusting out the most fantastic roots. Strange birds came and settled on the twigs and had to be attended to. Then all round the Tree, and behind it, through the gaps in the leaves and boughs, a country began to open out; and there were glimpses of a forest marching over the land, and of mountains tipped with snow. Niggle lost interest in his other pictures; or else he took them and tacked them on to the edges of his great picture. Soon the canvas became so large that he had to get a ladder; and he ran up and down it, putting in a touch here, and rubbing out a patch there. When people came to call, he seemed polite enough, though he fiddled a little with the pencils on his desk. He listened to what they said, but underneath he was thinking all the time about his big canvas, in the tall shed that had been built for it out in his garden (on a plot where once he had grown potatoes).

..One day, Niggle stood a little way off from his picture and considered it with unusual attention and detachment. He could not make up his mind what he thought about it, and wished he had some friend who would tell him what to think. Actually it seemed to him wholly unsatisfactory, and yet very lovely, the only really beautiful picture in the world. What he would have liked at that moment would have been to see himself walk in, and slap him on the back, and say (with obvious sincerity): "Absolutely magnificent! I see exactly what you are getting at. Do get on with it, and don't bother about anything else! We will arrange for a public pension, so that you need not."

J.R.R.T, "Leaf by Niggle"

Allienne Goddard

I'm a bit late to comment on this, but since I have been "helping" my ex-so with just this situation with a daughter, I feel I must respond. As I see it, there is a great deal of value in the study and description of AD/HD people, but it is essential to remove the term "disorder" from the designation. It is true that people who are categorized as AD/HD (or anxious or depressed for that matter) have trouble behaving like most others, particularly in Western classrooms. However, the problem really lies, in most cases, with the environment and not with the person. I think that for the vast majority of the history of humanity, individuals who experience problems today would have had fine and fulfilling lives as fully "normal" and functional members of society. It is just that what constitutes "normality" has been restricted to a smaller and smaller class of behaviors. It is unfair, but some of us must actually be drugged in order to fit in the roles that are open to us. I include myself in this category, and it was tremendously hard for me to accept. In the end, it was either the drugs or suicide, and I am very grateful that there were drugs that would work for me.

I don't think it is merely rationalization for the purpose of self-esteem. It genuinely seems to me that the problem is the square holes that we must fit into, and not our round peg nature. Besides, even if I am wrong, wouldn't it be better to conceptualize the problem this way? Wouldn't it be better for the children to see themselves as a perfectly functional beings who are merely living in an inauspicious environment that presents challenges that must be overcome, rather than defining oneself as suffering a "disorder" which can, to some degree, be treated?

Anyway, I really appreciated this post, and I hope you find/construct a system for dealing with a difficult and poorly-understood issue in human psychological development. I also hope that I wasn't completely incomprehensible. It is rather late. Going to watch Sherlock again; it ain't perfect, but jeepers do I love that movie.

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