The saddest Calvin & Hobbes cartoon you’ll ever ignore because you have more serious things to do.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Aug 8, 2011
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Just Say No, Parents.

Calvin & Hobbes, & Ritalin.

A young family friend was raised on Ritalin. He was hyper and happy and motivated and bouncing off the walls and…his parents didn’t want to deal. So, Ritalin, yah, was more for them than it was for him.

Let’s consider whether hyperactivity is more a result of a lack of exercise, a real food diet, encouraging discipline and timely affection…a lack of time spent outdoors skinning knees and climbing trees, pretending this and that and swinging a baseball bat…instead of babysat by video games and TV.

And let’s discuss alternative options to drugging our children.

Or, at least, let’s slow down ourselves, enough to contemplate this Calvin & Hobbes cartoon. Unless we have more serious things to do, of course.


A complex issue that deserves our undivided attention. More exercise, more bicycling, more real food, less TV…is a start.

Relephant read:

Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD 


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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | | | | | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom


82 Responses to “The saddest Calvin & Hobbes cartoon you’ll ever ignore because you have more serious things to do.”

  1. Pamela Grow says:

    Exercise and cutting processed foods will work too.

  2. monkeywithglasses says:

    That was the saddest, most depressing Calvin I've ever read and I'm sorry I did. Time to go pull out my Complete Calvin & Hobbes and cheer myself up.

    • nick9knuckles says:

      Is this a legit Calvin and Hobbes cartoon? I don't remember seeing it in the Complete Calvin & Hobbes books. Regardless, depressing…

      • Gen says:

        NOT a real C&H cartoon. Watterson was serious sometimes, but never like this. It's someone taking his drawings and adding their own words…

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Jennifer Billingsley Well they could just take the kids off the sugar and it would likely help the issue without making them into little zombies.
    32 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 2 peopleLoading…
    Pamela Grow Not to mention exercise. Kids don't get near enough exercise.
    26 minutes ago · UnlikeLike · 1 personLoading…
    Steve Derrickson This does not require another CURE. He needs to go outside and play in the snow, uselessly!
    21 minutes ago · UnlikeLike · 1 personLoading…
    Steve Derrickson Joyfully!
    20 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personGayle McWeeney likes this.

    Sarah Smith Actually sugar doesn't affect kids nearly as much as people think it does…. Aftificial Colours and Flavours, artificial preservatives – those are the things that hype kids up.

    Susi Costello There was a headline in The Onion recently that was similar…."Ritalin Cures Next Picasso."

  4. carolyn says:

    Lets clarify one point. We knew plenty about ADHD WAY back over thirty years ago, this was before I even thought of becoming pregnant. I promised myself if I did have a child I would never use drugs, then I gave birth to an ADD child. The Feingold diet defined all your current ideas. Nothing new here, and yes you can keep things under control and watch your child manage thru the weekends without a drug, but no amount of this sort of intervention can protect your child from alienating his peers and teachers, and, not learning the most essential things at a time it must happen or they fall way behind, while you play around with diet and gymnastics! Time is of the essence, my son reaped the benefits of a clean sugar free diet, No processed foods, lived in the country on a farm, and took Ritalin until he didn't need it anymore! He was grateful as was I. He was finally able to concentrate, learn, go to a top ten school, and holds an important place in business, soon to be a dad will have the choice himself. I suspect he will do what is necessary as I did.

    I could Ditto the above comment by Heather, she has said all I could only better. The difference was I acted sooner .
    I too had this problem and still do, it is devastating so I acted quickly after early testing. The diet and lifestyle suggested should be considered a normal diet for every child and adult not a replacement for proper and timely therapy.

    • elephantjournal says:

      I'm not sure we should call drugs "therapy." Just call them drugs—that may ably treat symptoms but don't, like meditation or therapy, tug at the root.

      My friend, who I'd prefer not to name, was drugged into submission. He was not himself. But others, like you, have an entirely other experience. The above is more about those who prescribe drugs casually, as many of us in America do, than those like yourself who are thoughtful, have researched, and find the drugs helpful.

      • BrightBlue says:

        Only doctors "prescribe" drugs. Parents cannot prescribe ADHD medications. So, perhaps the problem is with doctors who are under-informed about proper diagnosis or don't know to send a child to a psychologist and a psychiatrist to get to the bottom of behavior problems and assess for ADHD?

      • BrightBlue says:

        Additionally, the TITLE to this is "just Say No, Parents" this doesn't really imply that this is about being more thoughtful and mindful about the use of medication, but that we should say "no" to drugs. This is a reactive stance that can do harm to those children (and adults!) who really do need this medication to function.

        • azure says:

          I agree BrightBlue! I am about to go into practice in Psychiatry and think that the title is very misleading. ADD/ADHD is far more complicated and causes far more problems than this author portrays here. What children with ADD/ADHD truly suffer from is falling behind in school, alienating their peers, and social isolation. Yes, it is difficult for parents with the ADD/ADHD child to deal with the hyperactivity but what I have actually seen in practice is that MOST parents do not want their kids on medication, but they have reached their cap on having to watch their children struggle day in and day out at school and in social situations. Most of these parents have tried everything at home to help because they do not want meds. Therapy does not fix ADD/ADHD. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Therapy can aid in adding coping mechanisms but does not cure it and neither does diet and exercise. Healthy diet and exercise are things that EVERY parent should be practicing. This blog is written from a very uneducated and bias perspective and should not be taken for face value.

    • BrightBlue says:

      I agree. We seem to elide the experience of clinically debiliiating ADHD with kids who are "hard to handle." Certainly parenting skills, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise should be tried first, and quickly. But, if those things are in place then drug therapy (yes, we CAN call drug therapy that because that is what it is called in the medical world) in the appropriate intervention. Our good hearted, wholesome, natural parents can sometimes jump too quickly on the "ADHD is all about diet and artificial flavors" bandwagon and do serious damage to their kid's education, development, social life and the family structure (imagine being the sibling to someone who cannot seem to stop yelling, running, breaking, hitting — hard to get an ounce of attention in that family, plus parents who are overwrought, frustrated and ashamed). We mustn't minimize the real impact that clinically diagnosed ADHD has. Any parents who "put their kids on drugs" are only half at fault — a DOCTOR must prescribe and if doctors are prescribing because parents want them to, they should have licenses taken away.

    • Jon says:

      As a 52 year old male with ADHD, I completely agree with you, Carolyn. For some people, maybe all, but in differing situations with differing results, medication is the only thing that can give the brain the missing chemicals it requires for it to focus on the mundane, and filter out the “noise.” My daughter certainly has ADHD, but only slightly and given my experience, we were able to teach her how to work within her diagnosis without medication. I'm a different story.
      I was not an extreme case of ADHD as a child, I could participate in class and don't recall ever being considered hyperactive as a small child. I call it ADHD now, instead of ADD as I used to prefer, because I never felt I was hyperactive. Later I learned that that term applies to the brain's hyperactivity, not just how it manifests itself in one’s physical activity.
      The problem I had was that I could not focus my brain to do my homework, or anything that did not filter out the “noise” and capture my brain's full attention, so my grades suffered, as did my self-esteem. I was a very friendly, nice boy, always with a warm genuine smile on my face. I used charm and self-deprecating humor to excuse and dismiss my lack of success, and missed deadlines. My assumption is that my teachers and my parents just thought I was not applying myself, or just wasn't the type to go on to college. This was back when most parents didn't get involved in kid's homework, or helping them learn to study.

      • Jon says:

        In my early 30's I first learned about ADHD from a psychologist friend. I was taking classes at a local university and had just failed an algebra class. The symptoms he was describing fit me to a tee. Unfortunately, he moved away very shortly afterward and I didn't follow up. A few years later I had a co-worker whose husband had been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and she said the transformation for him was remarkable. My wife didn't think I had ADHD, just like my teachers and parents, she just thought I wasn't trying hard enough.
        Another five years went by, and now I was a pretty successful IT resources manager for a consulting services company and my staff was growing, and I was getting worse at my job. I was overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do, so I was shutting down and my reputation was suffering. My self-deprecating humor was wearing on my colleagues, and I could see I was in another downward spiral of self-destruction. I was talking with my neighbor over the fence one day and he was describing the issues his daughter was having in school, her diagnosis of ADHD, and a book they had read, "Driven to Distraction."
        I asked if I could borrow the book, and I read it from cover to cover, even rereading passages, and not because I had just read a chapter without remembering a word of it, but because it had my attention. This was me, and I was doomed to repeat my same failures over and over again if I didn't do something. I made an appointment with my family practice doctor; I had to get a referral to a psychiatrist. To my surprise, when I described my symptoms and what I had learned from reading the book, he set to prescribing a medication to help me. He asked me if I had told anyone else about this and I said no. He said, "good, this will be a good test to see if the medication really does make a difference." My take was that he was skeptical f ADHD too, but thankfully, he was willing to try.
        A few weeks later, I came home from work and my wife said, “ I think you DO have ADHD;” she had decided to read "Driven to Distraction." I told her about my visit to the doctor and that I had been taking medication for the past few weeks. Her response was, "I thought you had just been trying harder."
        Those early medications, I don’t recall all the names of the ones we tried, were multi does per day and the continual up and down as the drugs took affect and then wore off was very noticeable sometimes. I could never understand how you could give a person with ADHD medicine that required them to remember to take it several times a day at a particular time. It was very messy! We played with dosages and various versions of drugs for many many months, and eventually settled on a slow release once-a-day medicine called Concerta. Hallelujah! My world was all new! Even my golf game improved, only slightly, but noticeably for me. Later when Straterra was introduced I jumped on it because it is not in the restricted drug category and I can more easily get my refills. In the last couple years I have even reduced the dosage as was feeling a little over medicated sometimes.
        With my new found salvation I was able to get more done in a day than I had in a week sometimes. Much less productivity lost listening to the conversation two cubes over , or drifting off in my mind for who knows how long before the next thing caught my brain’s attention. I could have a conversation with my wife without once pointing out the distraction that caught my eye, infuriating her to no end, and causing much distress in our marriage. There are many more anecdotes, but I won’t bore you any more with them. The medication route has been my savior in many ways , and yes, sometimes I feel I am less spontaneous, less creative in some ways, less joyful even sometimes, but all in all I am very happy I made this decision, and my family is as well. I only wish I had been given the option when I was in school.

    • Chris says:

      Good on you! Quite frankly I find this article to be nonsense. Any parent with a child with ADHD will agree that the hyperactivity is the least of your concerns. It's the inability to focus on everyday tasks when required that leaves unmediated children feeling alienated, frustrated with themselves and like failures.

  5. d. chaber says:

    How comfortable you seem to be sitting in judgement, completely sure you know the hows and the whys and feeling just a tad, or more, superior. An old resentment coming our sideways perhaps? Or maybe just plan old lack of experience and/or humility. Yes, of course there are situations like you refer to above. Your generalization of this most extreme case to a multi-factorial and complex issue is ignornant, inflammatory and pretty irresponsible,

    • elephantjournal says:

      Sorry to come off as "ignornant, inflammatory and pretty irresponsible, comma," anonymous friend. I didn't intend the above to be judgmental of those who are responsible and view drugs as a necessary component to a healthy, wholesome lifestyle. I do mean to be judgmental of those parents who drugs their children so that their children will be well behaved. ~ Waylon

      • I see where you're coming from on this, Way. I've seen it. That cartoon was sad! My guy is lightly medicated only on school days for ADHD. FOrtunatly, there's not a behavioral piece to it and we did put it off as long as possible. He had been behind in school because of his inability to focus. Now he excels (mostly) + regained some self-confidence about hisi own intelligence. Cheers!

      • Catrina says:

        I get what you are trying to say. But understand that most of the people reading your article is going to have done everything else besides medicine FIRST. Unless you actually have a child that has ADD/ADHD, it's really hard to even imagine what it is like. I have twin boys, and they are extremely active, have limited tech time, started yoga, do all kinds of sport. We eat healthy(somethings have just recently changed like taking all dyes out) and still have some minor issues in school and at home. It is heartbreaking as a parent to hear your child say they have no friends because they are just a little socially unaware. My boys are not on medicine. And I honestly have no desire to go there, but have experience with this in my family and with friends. It's not an easy thing to put your choke on medicine, so it is just really hard to hear people saying it is more for the parents then the child. I have never met a parent that just throws their child on a medicine without checking into other things first. Let's all try and not shame parents that are just trying to do what is best for their child at this point in their lives.

      • h. antenbring says:

        It's quite a conundrum… The immediate assumption of 99.9% of people is that a child should never be 'drugged'…And for those of us who do as you outline here….and still find it is not enough….we are constantly barraged with this kind of judgement…intended or not, and we are already exhausted from trying so hard to do everything right…exercise, no cable television, no video games, wholesome diet, lots of sleep, meditation, etc etc etc….so as a parent with ADHD with a child with ADHD – it's hard not to have a very strong visceral reaction to another post that will serve as a band wagon for all the people who don't really have a full understanding of the issue, and an understanding that medication is sometimes actually a really positive thing. That being said – as a person with ADHD and as a parent it breaks my heart to hear of anyone going through that experience of being inappropriately medicated. One of the best joys of ADHD is the big picture wondrous experience of life.

        'Real life' makes that a very difficult way to exist….As a single parent with ADHD – I can barely hang on….and thus this points to so much more – that the support, and understanding is not out there for those who are truly suffering with this problem. Honestly – seeing that headline felt like another nail in the coffin for me…. more fodder for the next person who wants to share with me what I should be doing for myself and my child….yet another situation where I have to dig deep to find more patience to explain their mis-perception of the issue….and yet, you are talking about something real that happened to someone who suffers as well from being mistreated…. I just wonder if there is a more comprehensive way of addressing it so that those who are really actually dealing with the real thing, do not have this battle in our faces as well…. As much as the general public likes to romanticize the experience of having the kinds of minds that ADHD people have…. the understanding of what it's like to live with it, of the daily putting out fires that are constantly overwhelming you, clawing at life to hang on,… is sorely lacking, and it's one of those things where people want us in the world, but don't want to have to have to understand what that is actually like. To be honest, I love the work I see here, but was really taken aback with this, as I have come to expect lots of great forward thinking from the contributors. This is a multi faceted, multi layered issue, and it's the lack of understanding of this that leads to experiences of the individual for whom the cartoon was posted in honor of. It's time to stop the polarization.

  6. sms says:

    In addition, this is a commentary on a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon – it is NOT a real strip. Watterson would be upset for people to think it was part of his work.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Actually, it's signed by Watterson and copyrighted by Universal.

      • Brad says:

        It's a fake strip. There's no way it's real. It looks like the copyright is 1996, which is *after* the strip ended. This link shows 3 variants on this fake:

        Plus, I doubt Watterson would have ever done a strip like this. It's completely out of character for the series. (Some think it's the final strip, but it's definitely not.)

        But, yeah, it expresses an idea that parents should really think about. As the parent of a child whose has a vivid imagination but also some behavioral struggles, it definitely hit home for me. (We're not medicating him, if anyone is curious.)

  7. Joe says:

    Hack science AND deleting my comments on facebook and unlike-ing the facebook page for me, waylon? you're pettier than the tea party you deride so much. next up for elephant journal: denying global warming.

    • spike1961 says:

      No such thing as global warming…or climate change…now it's called Global Climate Disruption…for now…

  8. Emma says:

    I don't believe the cartoon is exclusively referring to children with learning disabilities. I am an English Language teacher and I have seen many children who are under extreme pressure to succeed from their parents. I believe there are those parents who want their children to rank higher than all the rest and will use any means necessary to get there.

  9. Diane says:

    That C & H was a doozy. But. Very. Very. Special.

  10. adhdcanuck says:

    this is why i write about adhd.
    I was calvin, as a kid.. and kind of as an adult too 🙂

  11. I need to go off topic to say that this is NOT a REAL Calvin and Hobbes Cartoon…It was NOT published by Bill Watterson. Bill Watterson was smart to finish his strip without selling out, but of course that has not stopped people from using his awesome characters for their own purposes.

    None of my children suffer from ADHD. Some people seem quick to medicate, while others try various other options (diet, exercise, etc. ) Some parents find medication can be a last resort. The more information and knowledge we share, without unnecessary judgement and divisiveness, the better chance we have of actually helping the children who truly need help and of helping people make better food and lifestyle choices. Disparaging others serves no great purpose. It usually satisfies the ego at the expense of the feelings and the well being of others.

  12. […] and should just pay attention already dammit!) Then, when I got to college, my doctor decided that Ritalin would be helpful. Who the hell gives Ritalin to an anorexic college student with a drinking problem? Dummy. So that […]

  13. annmarie says:

    I have a child who struggles with school every day. Since she was diagnosed with ADD (no hyperactivity) we have tried everything not to medicate. However medications are the only method that worked and assisted in her ability to focus and get through school with some bit of self esteem left. I am sure that many people who have similar struggles will find your judgement as insulting as I do. I am sure there are many who just medicate because they don't want to deal, but to lump everyone together is not kind. We struggled with our decision and judgement like this are hurtful. This is NOT a Buddhist article, there is no loving kindness in these words.

    • jeanne says:

      Annmarie, we had the same situation and after me fighting giving meds for years, our son is now happier, more confident, and likes school again. I found this whole piece interesting but so many of the comments smug and judgemental. Ill informed. And yes we do supplements and watch diet….

  14. Natalie Baginski says:

    The transcendental meditation technique has had positive results in schools, especially with issues related to ADD, and in some cases ADD symptoms have subsided completed after a few weeks or a few months of transcendental meditation. There are links to all of the research studies, and some videos of kids talking about their experience on –

  15. Grateful Mom says:

    I am a special ed teacher and have 3 kids, all of whom had some attentional issues. As nothing else worked including meds and other interventions, I did something radical. We went on a 100% gluten/casein free diet, avoided all allergens and supplemented with a very powerful Omega-3 from sage as well as calcium/magnesium. My oldest boy with ADHD is in college and pulling a 3.95 GPA (he struggled through high school) and the other one who had been diagnosed with Aspergers was declassified and is incredibly social and doing well in a post high school program. My daughter is doing better in school too. It took a long time of being consistent before seeing results, but it clearly worked better than I ever imagined. It doesn't work for everyone, but it worked for my kids. Studies say that it may be effective in 1/3 of kids on the ASD.

  16. mark says:

    I was an elementary public classroom teacher for many years, always thought I was level headed, open to suggestions, had the child's best interest at heart. Then I married and we had children. I cannot believe the amount of words I ate after having them, especially when they were young and in school. I always say they succeeded in spite of me…

    One word of caution: watch what you say about how people raise their kids.

  17. ADHD-adult says:

    I'm an ADHD-adult myself and four things:
    First, comic isn't a real Calvin and Hobbes comic, it's a fake.

    Second: As from experience, I can tell you that is not what happens when you give a kid Ritalin. It looks like that probabbly from the outside world, but to us ADHD-kids there isn't a big notable change. Due to our inability to reflect in an objective and realistic point of view, most of us don't notice it if we're hyper at the time itself. True, we can do our homework better, but it will still be in this imaginative world we created ourselfs (ADHD doesn't make your kid believe in stuffed tigers as well. It boosts imagination, but that part isn't killed of by Ritalin (i'm a Cum Laude Masters of Arts on Ritalin)). Even on medicine, concentrating is hard. We only improve our abillity to hyperfocus (something that is extremly usefull for making homework). If we take a break from making homework, we loose track. Sounds sad, but I could write my 200-page Masterthesis within 20 days and still get an A-. It's actually really usefull.

    Third, it's not an easy thing to just get Ritalin. It's an expensive drug with serious side-effects. On top of that, it's a drug that is listed in the international Opiumlaw for it's properties for non-ADHD patients. As a European, I had to get special medical documents to take my Ritalin with me on my trip to the states. No doctor would or does throw that around.

    Fourth and most important: ADHD medicine isn't a drug that works on every kid. If you did some serious research, you would find out that Ritalin is in fact a Wekamine-medicine. It is, in a very real sense of the word, a drug since it gives people WITHOUT ADHD a serious pep-boost. In other words, if Ritalin calms someone down, it means they have a problem in their neurosystem. A normal kid wouldn't become calm of it, it would make them even more hyper. Saying that hyperactivity is the cause of lack of excersise, attention of parental love is both very offensive and very ill-informed. It is people like you that spread these stupid stories about ADHD and it's medicin without the propper knowledge or studies to back it up. If you know nothing about a medical issue, please don't write about it like this. It's not a choice we make. I'm not paying 80 euro's (105 dollars) a month, because of lack of exercise. I see the point you try to make, and I agree that a lot of people wrongly think their kids have ADHD. But that has NOTHING to do with the medication. ADHD isn't an opinion, just like cancer, aids or down-syndrome isn't. This isn't an discussion, it's stupid.

    • Pat says:

      I really love Elephant Journal, but it REALLY gets me to read these blanket opinions. Instead of writing off something which actually DOES work for people, emphasize that there are many options out there besides Ritalin. Body chemistry is what it is. This article is akin to claiming alcoholism is a disease of choice.

      Waylon, you are good, and you can do better than this. Critical thinking is critical for issues like this. Time to consider a serious and substantive rebuttal.

      You are right in feeling sad that some people want to use drugs and take the easy way out. But the tone and tenor of this opinion piece appears just a bit too righteous. I support the writer above. I work at Sewall Child Development Center. Parents do their very best and some feel horribly guilty even when a prescription does become the right thing to do. We are lucky to have so many options and so much amazing science at hand to help solve some complex issues. Don't write off these options and the care of parents this easily.

  18. […] to some, I’ve had mental illness my whole life. They couldn’t calm me down. I was this energetic but sensitive boy that just couldn’t seem to pay attention to anything that didn’t interest […]

  19. Lin says:

    I love the story of Gillian Lynne, a ballerina, dancer, actor, theatre director, television director and choreographer (she worked on the musicals Cats and Phantom of the Opera). Here is her ADHD story told by Sir Ken Robinson:

  20. Helen Krummenacker says:

    Engaging lessons and adults who model a positive attitude toward leaning are important. I believe I have ADHD, but it didn't keep me from liking most of school. I just pretended my math lessons were code deciphering as a spy. I got every assignment done on time– but I often didn't turn them in on time, because I couldn't remember where I put the paperwork. No one ever mentioned it to my parents because it was obvious I was doing the work, I was just "disorganized", meaning I couldn't ever remember where anything important was.

    What we really need is to make our society more friendly to ADHD. It isn't *actually* a disability, except insofar as our social structure makes it one. If we were all hunter/gatherers, the neurotypical people would envy the ADHD people– who notice all the little sounds of scurrying animals, the stealthy movement of something big just out of sight, the change in air current that means a flash flood in two hours.

  21. Karen A says:

    Yup, "Just say no Parents". And don't say yes either to insulin for his diabetes, or ventolin for his asthma …. I'm sure most parents put a lot more effort into looking at nonmedical treatment first, than was put into these onesided comments. One friend's child is not enough to base these sort of assumptions on, a bit more research would have helped here.

    As ADHD-ADULT said, plain ol hyperactive children WILL NOT respond to Ritalin. It ONLY works if there is a chemical imbalance in the brain.

  22. Mrs. Dinet says:

    Parents need to be PARENTS! Imagination and creativity are nurtured, but disrespect is impossible to deal with in our classrooms. Yes, yes I hear the yelps of horror, but just sit in a classroom sometime…you'll see

  23. maria says:

    i have 3 children… with my second, i noticed someting was different, he was extremely hyper, but i just chalked it up to him being a very active child. friends and relatives(and some professionals) told me to medicate, i refused… instead i did the diet thing and taught him to self-control while in school… this worked for him… my third child, well, that was a totally different story… when she was as young as 2 we noticed a problem… by the time she started school, we had tried everything except medicating…. when she was finally diagnosed with severe type 1 and type 2 ADHD, the doctor said it was one of the most severe cases she had seen… we began her medication, and it was like a miracle… light and day… she was able to finally learn in school, and make friends, and enjoy the school experience… she was able to engage in normal family activities….. but she was still herself, loving, caring, and helpful… but now she could be that person without the meltdowns because one detail was out of place…. but she is not on ritalin… she is on focalin… there are many other meds for ADHD, and i am grateful for the medication…

  24. Ugg, there seems to be a lot of misinformaiton in these comments and the article. The idea that ADD and ADHD are "just" caused by TV and sugar is misguided and inappropriate. The idea that parents choose medication because they "just don't want to deal" with "normal" kid behavior is insulting. For some kids, more exercise and less sugar, or gluten free etc will help their problem. If so, terrific. But, if not, anyone who has spent time with an ADHD kid knows how horribly they and their families suffer. Did you know they are more likely to drop out of school or get into car wrecks? If you cling to the idea that "all meds are bad" and if we just got fresh air and cut out sugar, then you're advising people to jeopardize the futures and safety of some ADHD kids. Don't give medical advise unless you're qualified to do so.

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  26. fitmom says:

    My daughter is ADHD, has at least one processing disorder and I think is on the spectrum (but a doctor told me she was too pretty for that so what do I know?!!) we tried meds for 6 months. They killed her appetite, hurt her stomach and made her miserable. So, she is unmedicated. We try and keep a clean diet. She is almost 12, can make some of her own decisions, we try and help her make informed ones. The food we have at home is healthy. She packs a lunch. Life is hard to navigate. She looks like Kate Upton, has had a bad bullied year already, cannot keep a friend, but no one will listen to me when I say she is struggling- cuz, ya know- she is pretty. No one ever realized I was struggling- I am athletic and a former model. I was a National Merit Scholar as well. Failure was not an option for me. it was one of my obsessions..

  27. Annie says:

    Wow, as an adult with serve ADD, married to a man with ADHD, and our 2 kids with ADHD I am offended. I have seen and experienced the affects of ADHD/ADD. We are a different family because of eventually going on meds. We eat healthy, have not got TV connected, only watch DVDs as a whole family, I am a stay at home mom who understands complementary and alternative medicine, I am a 2nd year reflexology student (2 year cause includes lifestyle, anatomy, physiology, pathology, 5 elements, etc). And still the best solution for all of us was medication. So I hope you realise the offences I may have by someone using a blanket statement (cartoonn) to imply that I am being a bad/lazy parent because my children benefit from medication for a condition they have probably inherited from my bad genes.

  28. Kirsten says:

    Waylon Lewis, I’ve come to think of you as a kindred spirit in positivity and intention. I think perhaps the title of this piece underestimates your readership and sets a very pessimistic bar! As a public school teacher turned unschooling mama, I assure you, the choir is growing! 🙂

  29. tiedyedowl says:

    This hits on two major problems we have. One is mentioned here: The over medication of children and adolescents. ADHD is over diagnosed and a lot of kids whose problems could be cured with diet and exercise, are instead diagnosed with ADHD and medicated. That is wrong and a huge problem.
    The other problem, that is not directly mentioned, but hinted: ADHD does exist! There are kids who need medication! This isn't a bad thing, or a parent's failing, or a lack of diet and exercise. This is a mental disease that is out there. I am an adult with ADD and I am grateful to the medication I'm on for it because it helps me concentrate ON my imagination and creativity. It doesn't take it away.

  30. Mary says:

    According to the DEA, the US consumes 98% of the world's Methylphenidate (Ritalin). Further, schools are rewarded through the Individuals with Disabilities Act to label and drug children in schools with up to 10's of thousands of dollars per head. So we are rewarding this solution to drug children. In laboratory testing, Ritalin and cocaine are indistinguishable. While ingesting speed can absolutely modify behavior, it does not mean that our children have cocaine-like deficiencies. It is unfortunate that the very real behaviors that parents are desperate to help their children overcome have been diagnosed by a pharmaceutical industry. For any other chemical imbalance in medicine, such as insulin for diabetes, you must actually take a test to determine that chemical level. Not so with ADD and ADHD. There are many, many falsehoods propagated by the industry and they prey upon the parent who wants only the best for their child. That does not negate the very real behaviors for which the parent seeks help. It might mean that their are true underlying conditions that go undetected due to the failure of any kind of actual medical testing in this multi-billion dollar industry. Drugs have always altered behavior. That doesn't mean they are solving the underlying problem.

    • Guest says:

      My son was tested three times by a psychiatrist who only does diagnoses – no prescriptions- twice by a pediatrician, and once by his school councillor. Then they all conferred to discuss alternative techniques before a med was ever considered. You are an idiot.

  31. Carole Schaefer says:

    My youngest son was and still is full-speed. All his teachers wanted him to be medicated .

    I told all of them, stop trying to sedate him and make him run before his class Everyday my son ran a mile (started in kindergarten to 4th grade) then moved up to central school.

    By the end of the fist 9 weeks there was about 15 boys running before school and none of them medicated.

  32. Michaela says:

    I agree that many kids on medication need it. But it is also definitely being over prescribed. It just seems silly to me that they decrease recess/pe and increase academics in schools and wonder why kids can’t sit still…..

  33. MsJenJacobs says:

    I agree that this is the saddest Calvin and Hobbes ever. That being said, as a parent of a child with ADD and a career teacher, I have to say that it does nothing to help children (and adults) with this disorder to brush off the idea of medication as lazy parenting. It is agonizing to watch a child with a legitimate disabling condition struggle to control his/her thoughts and behaviors. Difficult, life changing decisions are made on behalf of these kiddos by their parents. Some parents are so concerned about the stigma of medication that they won't seek medical help, even at the expense of having their children classified with a learning disability – a label that will stick with that child for life. No one would ever be so flippant about vision, hearing, or other physical conditions.

  34. Georgia Faillace says:

    I agree in part with what this is trying to illustrate, but stealing Bill Watterson’s characters and passing this off as an actual Calvin and Hobbes strip is really wrong. Bill Watterson took a strong stance against his work being used without his permission, and refused licensing even to toy companies which in a world of materialism is really admirable. To see his work hijacked this way is really unfair. I’m shocked more people are not defending his creative property. The message aside, there are ways to get a point across without stealing someone’s characters, imagery, concept, etc. This is really disappointing, and troubling for anyone who follows this website and works in a creative field.

  35. ADHD Mom says:

    You know what? Unless you, personally have ADHD and have suffered from the severe effects it can cause and have personally felt the difference the medicines can make, you cannot judge. I would hVe NEVER graduated from high school and I wouldn't be the mother I am, today, without my meds. You all need to get off your high horses. Not everyone with this diagnosis needs meds and those that don't should find other ways of coping, but there are some of us that need it, just to function. Stop judging and assuming every case is the same. There are varying degrees and those that think the meds are a horrible way to treat your child, have no clue.

  36. Natalie says:

    As a person with ADHD, I found this article to be insulting. I wasn't a video game child. Or a sugar child. I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. As a kid, my mom tried putting me through a bunch of activities – ice skating, swimming, karate, etc – in an effort to help my ADHD the natural way. However, I couldn't enjoy these activities because I couldn't get along with the other kids, and I blame the ADHD. I basically cried and cried until my mom would let me quit.

    A children's psychiatrist first put me on Ritalin. Ritalin did the job but my family noticed I turned into a zombie while I was on it, and had no personality anymore. We tried several other medications and found Dexedrine to be the best. It gave me the focus I needed in school and behaviour, but also let some of my hyperish and fun personality to shine through. That was when I was seven years old. Twenty years later, I'm still taking the same dose everyday, and I'm a better person for it. I graduated with honours, and have healthy relationships with friends and loved ones. As an adult, I wondered myself whether or not I really had ADHD, and whether or not I really needed pills. I went off Dexedrine for three months to see what I was "really like". I didn't like myself. People just think that ADHD means you're hyperactive but it's so much more than that. For me without my pills, sure, sometimes I get hyperactive and can't focus. But other times it's more like I can't stay awake, and it feels like there's a heavy weight on my shoulders pushing down on me. I'd always feel hungry and overeat, because (I've been told) I don't have the same chemicals in my brain the way other people do, telling me when I'm really hungry, or when I'm full. (As a kid, without the pills, I'd sometimes eat until I'd vomit.) The worst part about these three months was the temper. I'd be so quick to anger. So quick to explode. So quick to emotion. I felt so bi-polar, and it was putting a huge stress on my relationship with my boyfriend. He noticed a huge difference in my personality as well but still supported me as I experimented with this.

    For me, I have to take two little pills everyday. It's worth it. I do think a lot of people are quick to medicate their kids. But at the same time a lot of people are quick to dismissing it because they think all pills are bad. You have to work with your child. Work with their diet and lifestyle. If that doesn't work, then work with a psychiatrist. Try different things out and see what works best. Not all ADHD works the same with every kid just like not every drug will work the same way.

  37. Nick says:

    I've been on ritalin since i was a young child. I'll usually only take it when I have to go to class or need to get an assignment done, and the days I dont take it remind me exactly why I DO take it. I don't think it's right for anyone who hasn't experienced what I have when I don't take the medication to try and explain to me that it's just my diet or lack of exercise that makes me this way because I don't believe that.

  38. Margot says:

    I agree that kids are kids, and parents should expect a certain amount of hyperactivity in a healthy child. However, as a person who is accomplished (school was never hard, and I have post-graduate degrees and a good career) but just diagnosed with ADHD at age 37, medication has changed my life and I really do wish I had received it as a child. It shouldn't be used alone as a magic pill, but with behavioral tools, it has the potential to give these kids the focus to optimize their education and potential. I am grateful everyday that I finally had a doctor who saw past the "but you have a lot of education," to see that it's not the only factor.

  39. Shannon says:

    I found this very offensive. I have three children, a girl and twin boys. My daughter is just 15 months older than my twin boys. One of my twin boys has ADHD and OCD. The other two children do not suffer from this. My point with their ages is that they nearly experience the exact same situations in our home. They eat the same food, have the same parents who discipline them in the same way, same amount of activity generally speaking, etc. To think that my son suffers from this because of eating too much sugar or not getting enough activity is ridiculous. Even in the womb, my two boys were getting the exact same nutrition. Once the twins got to a certain gestational age, they could no longer switch places in my belly because there was no room so I knew exactly which one was where. My son that suffers from ADHD was the one in my belly the most extremely active! So he had the same nutrition as his brother even in the womb coming from what I ate, and no environmental factors to affect him yet. He was not diagnosed until he was four, but looking back it was clear to see that something was off. He was the only one of my three children to require a crib tent to keep him securely in his crib even at only 15 months old. The other thing to note here is that he also had extreme reflux issues which he saw a gastroenterologist for. Most cases go away by six months but the most severe one can last up to 18 months. His issues with reflux ended at 16 months. Because of this, I kept both of my twin babies on baby food until they were about 18 months old. It was easier to feed them the same thing rather than making two different meals. It was easier for my son with reflux to handle. So they had the exact same nutritious diet with NO added sugar of things like peas, sweet potatoes, applesauce, etc. and yet it was still very obvious in the difference in behavior between the two. They are fraternal twins and I truly believe that some people are just wired differently. He was put on medication in the past few months and it has been a great thing for him. He is able to make friends at school now, he is able to focus better, we can actually go out in public to a meal with our family together, etc. He will be five years old in just a couple of weeks and going to Kindergarten in the fall. The doctor wanted him to be on medication when he was evaluated for school so that we could see if he truly didn't know letters in his name or has been too unfocused to pronounce them or write them. He would generally write or say the first two letters of his name, but that was it. He would never finish. He has six letters in his name. He has not been on the medication but for a few months and can now name every letter in his name and have enough patience to try to write it. This is important in school for any type of success. I stand my my decision to medicate him and I do not take this decision lightly. I am trying to be the best parent I can be for his sake, not for my own relief as this article suggests. Another reason I found this offensive was because if he could read this when he's older, he should never feel ashamed for needing medical help. As if he's a bad person because he has not learned to just control himself or apply the proper tools to manage as this would make him believe. He is not a bad misguided kid and I am not a horrible mother for medicating him nor should I be made to feel like one.

  40. Kathleen says:

    My son is ADD with poor impulse control – he has no friends at school, and despite being in the 94th percentile for IQ, he is struggling with school. He can't control his temper, even with meditation and breathing techniques. He is always in trouble at school, the teachers don't get how to deal with him despite working with him and a therapist for months now. We have tried everything and my son is just this side of clinically depressed. He asks me with tear filled eyes why he is different than everyone else, why no one likes him. He often talks about wanting to die.
    He is 9 years old.
    I found your opinion piece condescending. I don't think ANY parent rolls into prescription medication for their child without a thought or care. You insult me and any other parent who has AGONIZED over this decision. I am so upset right now I can't finish this post – I will just end in saying to you poor show – very poor show.

  41. TheBalrog says:

    My eldest daughter (adopted from a father who also has ADHD) has been through every conceivable combination of habit modification and dietary modification to try to get her ADHD under control. My favorite people are the smug [email protected] who think they know better than doctors as to what my real options are, and have absolutely no problem whatsoever sitting in judgement of my wife and I's decisions.

    In the end, my daughter is involved in several sports, swims every chance she gets, rides bikes, and runs like crazy all the time. Her diet is as controlled as anyone can make it AND she's on medication (not Ritalin). I spend hours nearly every night helping her to re-learn what she was just taught in school. Despite all of it, she is barely able to concentrate enough to squeak through school.

    ADHD children come in a LOT of flavors, and they don't all respond to a regimented lifestyle and a firm hand… no matter how smugly you idiots with apparent clairvoyance state that they will. And while I absolutely agree that medication should be the last possible resort (as it was for us), I will thank ANYONE who thinks that it is as easy as just "saying no", to shut the hell up. You are doing significantly more harm, than good.

    Also, Bill Watterson would lose his mind if he found out that you butchered his work in this manner.

  42. Sian says:

    I make sure my 5 year old is outside all day everyday and she gets yelled at if she comes in to early!!! If she comes in filthy and tired I reward her lol!!!!!

  43. Alison says:

    We tried everything for our daughter. Everything. Elimination diets, running laps, no tv in the house, fish oil supplements, light therapy, massage, craniosacral… We tried everything we could, even a progressive, hands-on school that we couldn’t afford. Those things didn’t work. We had nowhere else to turn. But even still, the decision was agonizing. The day I picked up the medication, I broke down sobbing at the pharmacy counter. But we had to do something; she struggled with everything. She was smart but not learning. She alienated everyone. She had begun to hate herself, and I’m not exaggerating. Medicine turned everything around for her. She’s so much happier, so much more functional, and she’s so successful in school now people are shocked that she even has ADHD. The thing is, ADHD kids aren’t just happy, enthusiastic kids. Left untreated, they are at greater risk for so many things: suicide, teen pregnancy, prison, illiteracy, a lifetime of feeling like a failure. We all come into parenting with convictions. Sometimes we learn that our convictions were based on false assumptions. If you haven’t struggled with this enough to understand why parents turn to medication, please: just count your blessings. Judging parents helps no one, and it in fact keeps kids who are having real struggles — serious struggles, the kind that can impact their whole lives — from getting the help they need.

  44. Pat French says:

    I 100% agree with your point, but I feel you’re obligated to point out that that is not a legit Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. I don’t know what you k ow about Bill Watterson, but I can guarantee you be does not appreciate this shit. As professional writer, you are obligated to A. Clarify the source of this comic and B. not advertise your post with the idea that its real. I you want your message to be heard and be relevant, don’t give your detractors easy criticism like this.

    Like I said, I’m with you all the way on fixing responsible alternatives to Ritalin, but I will not share or promote irresponsible writing like this. You shouldn’t soil someone else’s reputation to promote your own agenda

  45. maggiemay says:

    As a parent of an adult child diagnosed with bipolar at 29 I can tell you that sometimes medication is the only solution. She is very successful and became an A & E doctor only to break down and become suicidally depressed. Being unable to shut out the 'noise' took its toll. She was off work for 14 months until they found a medication and therapy, which worked, Her brain vacillates from hypermania to depression which is very difficult for her to deal with. Without medication she would be unable to work. Her brain is not under her control. Even meditation doesn't work as she cannot focus sufficiently for it to have an affect. On good days she can conquer the world on bad days she can't concentrate or motivate herself to do anything. ADD and bipolar fall on a similar spectrum. I have suffered from depression myself also on the spectrum, and I have two siblings who were suicidal. I can tell you now that I'm pretty certain that there is ADD in my family. My son was hyperactive but managed to get a doctorate from Oxford. With him we had to send him to a fee paying school who managed to get the most out of him. In mainstream school he couldn't focus and alienated his teachers because he was bored and couldn't shut out the distractions. I can see he would have slipped through the cracks in mainstream education. Many of my family have not been able to realise their potential because their brains don't regulate in the same way as others despite high IQs. A blanket approach doesn't work and sometimes medication is the only thing that helps. We need research to help those people that really can't help,themselves. It's no coincidence that people thought to be 'bad' parents are probably suffering from ADD or cyclothymia (low grade bipolar) that their children have so rather than lacking parenting skills they lack a way of controlling their brains.

  46. Janey says:

    I don't necessarily agree. My older brother was 'hyper,' a term used in the sixties and seventies. His energy knew no bounds and he had zero fear of jumping into any dangerous stunt or situation. As his younger sibling, it was my job to keep him out of trouble, a hard and unfair task for a little girl. By first grade, I had morphed from the happy go lucky child i had been, to suffering an anxiety disorder. It only got worse as we transitioned from elementary grades to high school. My mother was so stressed out parenting him, she developed a major case of Psoriasis. She did everything right. We had no canned or processed foods, ever! Mom baked and cooked everything from absolute scratch. We ate three square meals a day, lots of veggies, protein and homemade bread. Forget sugar, or pop, or ice cream, or any of the normal junk food kids had back then. We weren't allowed any of it. Bed times were very regimented and early for us, always, because my brother needed the routine and the proper amount of sleep. Wake up time was also reliably the same, everyday. We played outside from morning till the street lights came on. My brother was exceptionally active throughout the day and evening, and seemed to require very little sleep at night. when he was little, it was necessary to lock him in his room, or he would end up a few streets away by morning. My dad almost had a nervous breakdown trying to teach my brother boundaries and limits so he could remain safe. Our family life suffered terribly, and I have few positive memories of my childhood as a result. Incidentally,, my brother wishes there had been help available when he was a child. Instead, he was labeled and treated as a bad boy, a brat, a monster by teachers and neighbours. His education suffered terribly because he could not nail himself down long enough to learn anything academic. As an adult, he has been in so much trouble and he has never been able to hold down a real job. I feel sorry that his life turned out so awfully. I wish Ritalin had been available for him when he needed to feel and be stable.

  47. Kelly says:

    Any time someone makes a statement that is one size fits all about the healthy and development of another other person or set of people, it dangerous. I expect better from a journal that promotes equality, compassion, and healthy living. Some people truly need medication. Others do not. People need to make informed and personal decisions about there body and their lifestyle and their physical and mental health. Histrionics and propaganda on either side help no one. Do better, Elephant Journal.

  48. Mom says:

    Let me say that I am not a friend of medication for young children. My son has ADHD and Aspergers. I don't make it up – he brilliant, he hyper but he lack empathy, has difficulty with responsibility and impulse control. When he was four a doctor recommended three separate medications including Ritalin. We said no. We have a strict diet, we exercise, we eat clean and we discipline. After six months of watching his frustration and anger become self harming behavior we decided to try concerta. So far it has been a miracle for us but our goal is for it to be short term… Everyone is different and every situation is different.

  49. Ezra says:

    Actually I’ve been dealing with ADHD since I was 6, I’m 33 now. It doesn’t work like this WHAT SO EVER. This is most likely fake. It has to do with distraction. Also sugar has nothing to do with ADD or ADHD. I grew up on Calvin and Hobbes. Great stuff.

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