Friday, October 8, 2010

Blog #13 Vitamin M

Julia dropped by to discuss her son, Colin. I had seen him many years ago but now he was attending a famous military college that starts with “The”. I will call it, “The Academy” though it is not really THE Academy but a different equally famous The something. Anyway, she was worried because Colin was diagnosed with ADHD and she wanted him to be successful at The Academy. Colin had discovered the reported wonders of Ritalin by scoring it from some buddies and believed he was not nearly as focused without it. The Academy, like all military institutions, did not allow its cadets to take stimulants, prescription or otherwise. In fact, they randomly and frequently drug test the students.

I love this place! I wish all universities did the same thing though for all I know one of my own children might have been kicked out which such a policy. I have talked to many college students and most of them have admitted to me (usually without their parents) that they have tried stimulants for studying and/or test taking. They are the most abused drugs on college campuses. The military thinking is you cannot have a soldier running out of medicine while under fire somewhere, especially a narcotic. (Technically, stimulants are narcotics.) Who knows who you would be dealing with? They certainly do not want to find out.

Colin had survived freshman year with a “B” average. It was rough physically with many hours of intense physical training every day plus academics. There was little we could do about his diet. He had to eat at the dining hall and he was already making good choices eating salads and vegetables whenever they did not look too soggy.. And, he was doing the best he had ever done academically I think I know why.

He was getting a gigantic dose of vitamin M: Movement. For a certain type of attention issue, the best strategy in the entire world is loading up with vitamin M. Colin was getting 4 or 5 hours a day of motion and physical activity. The Academy was doing for him what no other university and a fistful of medication would ever match.

The movement centers are right next to the language centers in the brain. All that running around was organizing Colin’s thinking and putting his frenetic energy to productive use. His mother admitted he was calm and happy. The biggest problem was he was comparing his present performance to how he felt taking stimulants. The stimulants gave him a false sense of confidence because his thinking was so remarkably sharp. What can I say? This is why people like cocaine and stimulants are similar.

I assured Colin’s mom he was thriving and that the magic of vitamin M would keep him in balance. I also explained the concept of neurodiversity. That is, there is a wide range of ways that brains function and process and there was not anything particularly wrong with Colin’s. I call people like Colin who have been diagnosed with ADHD, Warriors. Until recently, Warriors were highly prized in society. They were the knights and warriors you called (and paid) when the village needed to be cleared of marauders. They were athletic types who had no trouble riding their horses all day and were what we would now call, “risk takers”. They would shoot first and ask questions later. It makes you wonder if Clint Eastwoods’s Dirty Harry would be classified as ADHD if he had to get through the police academy today. You can imagine the report. “Has trouble following directions. Cannot sit still. Tends to shoot first and ask questions later suggesting impulsive tendencies. “

Today, the valued jobs go to people with brains that can concentrate for long periods of time while sitting at a desk. The physical warrior has been replaced with the computer warrior. Not a better brain, just a different, presently in more style brain. (For more on this fascinating subject see one of Thom Hartmann’s 8 books on neurodiversity at )

Along with many assurances, I suggested some nutrients that help with cognition and would not trip any drug tests…..just for insurance. Besides, it can never hurt to be a little smarter. But this is not all vitamin M can do……(To be continued.)

1 comment:

  1. I love this ... because our entire educational system is based on kids NOT MOVING! And no one ever thinks twice about it ... what if your child learns BETTER when he's moving? There was a study about this recently ... did you see it?