ADHD and uniqueness


Every incarnation is wide open to total fulfilment in whatever form it can be experienced, and this is what every child’s caretaker must be aware of, writes Bhagawati.


A child is being born – a clean slate, a unique individual with enormous potential – and barely out of the womb the first observations from the family are heard – “she has Grandma Julie’s nose,” – “look at those eyes, just like Uncle Robert!” – “he definitely has his father’s bald head!” – “look at the skinny little butt, just like her brother’s when he was born.”

Comparisons are poisonous for a developing child that merely needs nurturing and time to grow and learn, that does not want to be limited to a framework of people it is physically related to. A child should not be compared to anybody else, to be judged, to be part of people’s expectations, to be given old ideas, concepts and perceptions of others to follow.

Every incarnation is wide open to total fulfilment in whatever form it can be experienced, and this is what every child’s caretaker must be aware of and respect.

The reality is often not so. Although children grow and are cared for, their inner growth is often neglected because of unawareness. If their need is ignored or prevented, they start behaving in unruly ways, they become hyperactive, don’t follow ‘the rules’, are considered unmanageable. Often, when they start school, their behaviour patterns lead to a medical assessment which usually is ADHD.

Interestingly, already in the 1800s, behaviour patterns similar to what is now being defined as ADHD, were described by a number of early writers, in particular by two physicians, Melchior Adam Weikard, and Sir Alexander Crichton. Towards the late 60s, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) formally recognized ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) as a so-called ‘mental disorder’. Much research has been done since then and it is reported that the number of diagnosed children (and by now also grown-ups) has increased dramatically, in particular in the USA.

It is very difficult to find up-to-date world-wide statistics, but the prevalence rates of diagnosed ADHD among children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 stands at about 10%; males are almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.

The 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) shows that 6.1 million children (ages 2–17; 9.4 percent) in the USA have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.

Maybe this high percentage is a symptom of today’s world, subject to tremendous global shifts, to changes that affect everything that is alive on the planet.

Having read extensively about ADHD, watched documentaries and listened to interviews with children and grown-ups who show particular behaviour patterns, I cannot see them in any way as ‘different’ from any other people; they appear highly intelligent and highly energized. But, like everybody else, they get angry, throw fits, are impatient. As it turns out, there are a lot of creative people among them. Any politicians? No.

These children and grown-ups are unique humans who have to deal with this sometimes very harsh and unkind judgmental society, with unfavourable conditions for their sensitivities and talents. Maybe they just have different ‘wiring’ yet they are as unique as every other single being. They might even be the forerunners in transition to a modified mankind already in the making.

Osho, in his Hindi discourses ‘Revolution in Education’ says on the subject of individuals and comparisons:

There is no necessity to compare, because every individual is unique in himself. It is not necessary to say that you are weaker than a certain man, or more intelligent or less handsome than a certain man. All such comparisons are dangerous and violent. The whole problem arises from that. Every person should be accepted as he is and his potential allowed to develop.

A rose is a rose, and a jasmine a jasmine. One tree will be tall and another short. A small grass flower is there – but it has its own dignity and joy. What is mysterious and significant is that that grass flower should fully blossom, not remain half-way on its journey. It need not be compared with a roseflower. The roseflower has its own delight in flowering, and the grass flower has its own. A small bird sings its song and a big bird sings its own. It is not a question of who has sung a better song, but the question is whether one could sing fully to one’s heart’s content. There is no comparison of one with the other.

Every individual is a unique creation of God, and we must accept him as such. We should keep in mind that our whole education, culture and civilization should draw out whatsoever is hidden and awaiting growth, and should not let anything remain dormant. This should happen, not in any haste, not with any dubious approach or competition, but through love and joy.

When all the potentialities of a person develop in their fullness and flower, he is full of joy. Then he has flowered; he is fragrant and peaceful. Such a person can search for truth and God and can know and experience truth. Only one who is peaceful in life can enter deeper into life. Whoever is in competition and disturbed will have no peace. Whosoever is peaceful, who accepts himself, who is joyful and fragrant due to his own flowering, will slowly receive automatically the messages of godliness; he will start experiencing godliness all around. A miserable man can never know God. When all the doors of bliss open within, only then begins the experiencing of God.

So the ultimate aim of education should be such as to lead every man to the total fulfillment of his soul and its experience.

Revolution in Education, Ch 3 (excerpt, translated from Hindi)

It is not about equality among mankind, it is about embracing and supporting the differences in every single one of us that contribute to being one.

A meta-analysis of 175 research studies worldwide on ADHD prevalence in children aged 18 and under found an overall pooled estimate of 7.2% (Thomas et al. 2015). The US Census Bureau estimates 1,795,734,009 people were aged 5-19 worldwide in 2013. Thus, 7.2% of this total population is 129 million — a rough estimate of the number of children worldwide who have ADHD.

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