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ADHD or Just Plain Ol' Creative?

So what are we to make of these kids who don't exactly march to the same drummer as the others? What do you think? Perhaps we can read the following description of one form of creativity--storytelling-- from the late John Gardner, the famous creative writing teacher? This excerpt is from one of his books, "On Becoming a Novelist."

"Like other kinds of intelligence, the storyteller's is partly natural, partly trained. It is composed of several qualities, most of which, in normal people, are signs of either immaturity or incivility: wit ( a tendency to make irreverent connections); obstinacy and a tendency toward churlishness ( a refusal to believe what all sensible people know is true); childishness (an apparent lack of mental focus and serious life-purpose, a fondness for daydreaming and telling pointless lies, a lack of proper respect, mischievousness, an unseemly propensity for crying over nothing); a marked tendency toward oral or anal fixation or both (the oral manifested by excessive eating, drinking, smoking and chattering; the anal by nervous cleanliness and neatness coupled with a weird fascination with dirty jokes); remarkable powers of eidetic recall, or visual memory ( a usual feature of adolescence and mental retardation); a strange admixture of shameless playfulness and embarrassing earnestness, the latter often heightened by irrationally intense feelings for or against religion; patience like a cat's; a criminal streak of cunning; psychological instability, recklessness, impulsiveness, and improvidence; and finally, an inexplicable and incurable addiction to stories, written or oral, bad or good..."

So what if you or your child relates to the above? Does it mean that as a society, we have simply pathologized creative people because they don't conveniently fit in the more usual boxes of normality? What would have happened if we'd given Mozart some Adderall to help him focus more or even more interesting, what would have happened if we had given some Ritalin to Leonardo Da Vinci? Sure he may have completed more projects, but would he really have become the creative genius that we have come to know down through the centuries regarding machines, anatomy, water, engineering, architecture and the myriads of other subjects he learned about?

Instead of forcing square pegs into round holes, maybe we need to start asking ourselves as parents and teachers some of the above questions before we tell that kid to just keep quiet and pay attention...

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