Daydream Believer


A letter arrived from the school’s Occupational Therapist last week – Thomas has concentration issues. He works diligently when the teacher watches him, but when her flinty gaze is averted he downs pencils and stares out of the window.

A question from his teacher on a completely blank page in his workbook asks, “Thomas, what were you doing between 10am and 12pm?” His reply to me – “It didn’t seem that long.”

Upshot is he has to go to the OT for 30 minutes once a week. She seems nice and her room is filled with huge balls and hoola hoops so he’ll probably enjoy it. He goes during class time too, which he sees as a bonus.

I can’t help but see it as the continued medicalisation of childhood. What Louisa May Alcott would have called boisterous and rowdy is now ADD or ADHD. What Lewis Carroll would have called day-dreaming is now concentration deficiency. Adjectives have turned into diagnosis and behavioural disorders, and it makes things a lot less fun.

16 Responses to “Daydream Believer”

  1. 2 Jeannine March 8, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Excellent Peter! To be quite honest, I think I am on the waning cusp of GLM and heading into GPO.

  2. 3 shoreacres March 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Ha! You? GPO? I think not.

    As for all that foolishness with Thomas’ overly-diagnostic teacher, my personal take is that it’s utterly ridiculous. If a teacher can’t keep a child’s attention, the first place I look to remedy the situation is the teacher. Sending Thomas off to OT is a little close to blaming the victim for my taste.

    It brings to mind parents who insist their children be “productive” all the time. No laying in the backyard finding shapes in the clouds when you could be shuttling off to soccer or learning Urdu! I’ll bet Theo Jansen, creator of the strandbeesten stared out a window or two. I stare out windows, for heaven’s sake. How are you going to write if you don’t think?

    This reminds me of the whole plethora of posts that popped up this winter about SAD – seasonal affective disorder. Yes, winter can be gloomy. It’s gray and long and cold and sometimes depressing – but I don’t remember it being a truly disabling experience those decades I lived in the dark, snowy cold. Once there was an acronym, everyone caught it.

    Ooooppppsss… Didn’t meant to rant. 😉 Now you know what one of my hot buttons is!

    • 4 Jeannine March 9, 2011 at 5:51 am

      Rant away, I’m right there with you. Seems like everything is a syndrome or a condition. Human emotions like grief or sadness must be medicated, not feeling happy and wonderful 24/7 is a disease. Nuts!

  3. 5 Mike March 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Judging by the picture of Thomas, he may believe he’s really a tank engine? If he were, you could call him TTE, to coin another TLA.

  4. 6 Jeannine March 9, 2011 at 5:54 am

    Sad that he’s the only thing running on that track. I sure do miss the daily tooting of that train.

  5. 7 Mike March 9, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I happened to hear Patrick Holford speaking about his latest book the other day. The book is called “The Feel Good Factor”. He’s a very convincing speaker. I wouldn’t agree with everything he says, but he got me thinking.

  6. 8 Lisa March 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Time to start thinking about home ed…

    • 9 Jeannine March 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Just read you post on schooling and all so sad and true. Designed to churn out worker bees who feel at home in a cubicle from sun-up to sun-set.
      Home ed is something I have thought about now and again, but, by Sunday night, after a week-end of unrelenting boys, the idea is rather daunting. . .

      • 10 Lisa March 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

        yeah, I know what you mean. I idealise a world in which I could home ed Kolya, but the truth is that I think full-time me would be too much for him (and vice versa). For me, Fridays are always daunting – the imminent work of the weekend much more challenging than the stretching-out peacefulness of a Monday morning!!

  7. 11 ian in hamburg March 11, 2011 at 6:46 am

    I used to stare out the window all the time! Especially if it was nice and sunny out. Seems totally normal to me. Rent the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for a change of perspective. Show it to his teachers if you think it might do some good.

    On the more serious side, are his grades suffering lately?

  8. 12 oh March 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I swear I left a comment here the other day…but my laptop also does these “automatic upgrades” and shuts down to do so, therefore it’s likely my (wordy) comment got lost in such a shuffle. Anyway, I always have far too much to say regarding education for someone who stopped teaching after 5 years. I loathe teachers who 1) lose their energy and/or 2) always aim to meet only the “status quo.” Keep us posted. In the meantime, that picture says it all. We all know when we need a break. Or, when we’ve mastered what’s going on and are ready to move ahead.

    My son always said the school day was far too long; that it could all be accomplished in half the time. I have to agree. I’ve been there, on both sides of the desk.

  9. 13 Paul jackson March 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Jeannine,
    My son was diagnosed with ADD siome years ago when he started at Holy Cross in George and we were advised to put him on Ritalin. The reasons given was much the same as you have been given for your son.
    Instead of a joyful ride to school each morning with my son firing questions off left and right, I was now faced with a little boy who looked and acted like a zombie after his morning dose. Broke our hearts.
    Turns out he was bored to death in class. He absorbed the lesson in the first five minutes and then spent the rest of the time in class looking for something to do.
    A new school, new environment, no treatment and he flew. He is now a well adjusted young man of 21 working towards a degree.
    Ritalin is seen as the untimate teacher aid. How sad our society has become.

  10. 15 swazirose March 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Thomas might actually be a genius … his mind is not getting the right sort of stimulation … if the lessons were more interesting Thomas wouldnt need to gaze out the window daydreaming. Take it from me who has a child with a severe learning disability … mundane things like counting just pass her by (can’t do it), but give her something technical like a mobile phone and she will figure out on her own how it works in no time.

  11. 16 Jeannine March 23, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Great to hear from you Raine! And wonderful to see your reunion with your daughter!!

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