The Myth of Attention Deficit Disorder.

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My seven-year-old son, Drew wandered into my room the other night.

I had been listening to a webcast of a spiritual teacher, Matt Kahn, who teaches about many things within the realm of life, love, and spirituality. Matt has a certain transmission that after a few minutes you feel like you have just received a two-hour massage. You can literally feel the energy running through your body.

Sound strange? Well, we all have energy within us. Just close your eyes and sit for a few minutes. With practice, you can feel your hands and feet begin to vibrate.

Without saying a word, Drew wedged himself between our dog, Bella and me. The three of us listened, our minds busy with our own interpretations, thoughts and dreams. Drew asked what some words meant, and then offered up the information that Matt felt calming to him.

While this all sounds fairly ordinary, there is something you should know about Drew.

Drew struggles at times. He is smart and sensitive. He often behaves remarkably, one on one. What we know is that he has actual physical sensitivities. He doesn’t like tags on his shirts, pants that don’t fit right, blankets that are not soft. And we know he is a loving, sensitive child emotionally. To help with these sensitivities, we have enlisted the support of an occupational therapist that has worked with him on gross motor function, balance and a few other areas of developmental lagging.

He also struggles in school, in large groups, and anywhere where it is loud and chaotic. In kindergarten, he often got wound up. He was the class clown. Yet, the behavioral charts that were sent home were fruitless. Fast forward one year, later, a month into first grade, and we began receiving emails again from his teacher.

“Drew does not sit still during lesson lectures.”

“Drew has a hard time in recess keeping his hands to himself.”

“Drew always seems to be talking in class.”

It seemed that Drew’s inability to sit still and focus in school was destined to be labeled, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). But was this Drew?

That night, while Matt was speaking, and Drew was snuggling, and Bella was dreaming, and the teacher’s emails were spinning around in my head, it hit me.

Drew sits for hours playing Legos. Drew feels better after jumping on the trampoline. Drew likes to light candles, smell sage burning, and enjoys calming music. Drew is smart, creative and loving. Drew is affected by listening to Matt. Drew is very sensitive, and this goes beyond the physical.

Drew is sensitive to others’ feelings and moods. Drew can walk into a room and feel the intensity of what is happening. Drew can feel good because it is Friday and people are excited the weekend is coming, and yet has no idea what day of the week it is. Drew can feel frustration from a teacher, parent or sibling and resist going near them. It is common for all children to absorb and act out the energy of what is happening within a family. When parents are fighting, we don’t have to look hard for a child who is misbehaving. This is increased ten fold by sensitive children.

Drew’s empathic nature may sound strange, yet he is not any different from many adults walking around the world who prefer to be alone, don’t like crowds or loud noises, get riled up by others, and are very sensitive. These are people who can sense another’s’ feelings.

These sensitive, empathic children are not only overloaded as they will take on or absorb the energy of others, but in order to feel calm and peaceful, they need to get this energy out of their bodies. Many empathic people love exercise for exactly this reason. In an interview, Debbie Phelps had described her son Michael, an Olympic champion, who was labeled as ADHD, as needing to “channel his energies into swimming.”

Like Michael Phelps, and Drew, there are approximately four million children and adolescents who are energetically sensitive.

Drew is not ADD or ADHD. Drew does not have a “deficit.” This beautiful child is an ESEC—an energy sensitive empathic child. When he is in a crowd, he is actually helping by absorbing some of the energy around him. In a way, it is like taking someone’s anger, and saying, I got this, so you can feel better. Only this is not deliberate or understood by most, especially not a child. And unless this energy is expelled, it builds within us. The only way these children know how to “get rid” of what they absorbed is to move, speak, jump, and run. Of course, they cannot sit still for a lesson!

Sensitive children are similar to animals, in how they absorb energy. How we handle our animals is that we say they need to exercise, to get it out of their system. The only difference is we do not force our animals to sit still for hours on end in a classroom, nor do we medicate them.

Sean, who is an adult now, was diagnosed ADD in 7th grade was put on medication and describes his experience. The medication “helped me focus in school, but I felt like a zombie and not myself. Since then I’ve been able to become more aware of things and am able to focus when need be and yet not lose myself. I’ve created kind of an on/off switch.”

Like Drew, most sensitive children simply do not have the awareness or tools to help. These children are all so misunderstood and they need to be nurtured, validated and helped in a completely different way. The first step is awareness.

It takes a village to raise a child, so let’s all begin to help these children by becoming aware, and celebrate them as beautiful, sensitive, empathic human beings.



Relephant Read:

A New, Non-Invasive Way to Treat Juvenile ADHD.


Author: Beth Mund

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: New Zealand Archives/Flickr


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Beth Mund

Beth Mund has a Masters of Science in Psychology and is both a Certified Wellness Coach and Reiki Practitioner. She has worked for many years guiding and mentoring both children and adolescents at an overnight summer camp. Beth is passionate about writing, music, family time, and playing with her dog, Bella. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three children. Most eye opening experience was adopting her son from Russia. She feels our purpose in life is to love, everything else is just background noise. Contact Beth via email or at her blog.

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anonymous Nov 28, 2015 2:38pm

Insightful and empathetic article thank you.

Have you tried meditation as a tool?

anonymous Nov 26, 2015 3:37am

You're an amazing mum!

anonymous Nov 23, 2015 12:48pm

Nice article! I was one of the first girls with this strange kind of diagnosis in the eighties. Nobody knows untill the nineties the name of my disorder (I'm from Argentina) Even I was a twelve years girl, I used to say I was taken the pills but no. My on/off switch was unique and better than those pills that were like a fog to my brain. Now a days doctors said I have another "disorder" called fibromyalgia (FM) and after 7 years of pain I've decided to repeat my childhood experiencie and leave the pills, the old live habits, my work, and my city. Another on/off switch for sensitive people. I don't believe in illness or disorders. I believe in energy. Thanks for share your experience and to share your opinions with the world. Apologies for my English!!! Best regards. Ale.

anonymous Nov 23, 2015 11:48am

I think you do a disservice to many children and adults who are not as functional as your child is. I am happy for you, and for your son that he has such a loving and accepting parent, and I fully support the strengths approach to managing Executive Functioning dis-regulation or difficulties whether sensory, processing , emotional or motor. Admittedly, ADHD/ADD are a mislabeling of what is really going on in the brain of those labeled as ADHD/ADD individuals, and the DSM is woefully inadequate at describing the phenomenon we currently call ADHD/ADD. Not everyone with an ADHD/ADD brain needs medication, and we should celebrate everyone’s differences; but not everyone lives in an ADHD friendly environment where their strengths are recognized. To suggest that “ADHD is a myth” devalues all the individuals who have found (and may need) relief available only through our labeling process. What we need to do is as you suggest, treat individuals as unique, but also we need to remove the stigma attached to labels that announce that a person is different. In other words, different = different, different is not equal to defective. Denying a label doesn’t make the life long issues go away, but it does mean that you are closing off resources that your child may ultimately want in order to achieve his goals- whether that is medication, IEP/504 plans, appropriate counselling/coaching, or most importantly, simply identifying with other individuals who may think and feel like he does and not being afraid of their label. That is empowerment.

anonymous Nov 22, 2015 10:13pm

Sounds way more like sensory processing “disorder” than ADD to me. My oldest Son was diagnosed with this as well as anxiety when he was three. We homeschool and do lots of sensory activities. We also went to OT for a couple of years 🙂

Drew will be fine, don’t let doctors and teachers label him… Just do what’s best for him as his Mama. They say parenthood doesn’t come with a handbook, but if you push away all the outside noise, Mamas intuition IS our handbook
Well wishes!

    anonymous Nov 23, 2015 5:14am

    Thank you, Ela. Your son is lucky to have you as a mom. Sounds like your momma intuition is spot on. Regardless of what the label – sensory processing, ADD, or autism, loving them unconditionally, meeting them where they are, not where we are or where society is, and validating all they are feeling is so important. They are more aware than we think.

anonymous Nov 22, 2015 7:25pm

oh I am pretty sure you just described my little guy!!
Thank you for this!! 🙂

    anonymous Nov 23, 2015 5:49am

    Your welcome.


anonymous Nov 22, 2015 5:59pm

My daughter was diagnosed as add but really has sensory processing issues. Sensitive and sweet, she can pick up anyone energies

    anonymous Nov 23, 2015 5:49am

    Thank you for speaking about your experience. Your daughter is lucky to have you as her mom. My son the other day told me that he can feel what other kids are feeling. We have had some amazing talks. He keeps asking me about his gifts that he has. Although he calls them "prizes." 🙂

anonymous Nov 22, 2015 4:06pm

This to me seems much more my experience of very high functioning autism, not ADD. Just not "neuro-typical". I am one of these, as well as my son. The sensory overload is a big part of autism.

    anonymous Nov 23, 2015 5:47am

    Thank you for speaking of your experience. You sound so aware of yourself and your son.. All of our children have so much to teach us. With every passing day, I am amazed more and more by all they know.

anonymous Nov 22, 2015 4:04pm

“These children are all so misunderstood and they need to be nurtured, validated and helped in a completely different way. The first step is awareness.”

Okay, so you’ve basically written an article which states your opinion about add/adhd and then implied medications are not the answer, that these kids need to be helped in a different way… and yet you never give us any examples of how to help.

    anonymous Nov 23, 2015 5:08am

    Hi Kylee,
    Thank you for your thoughts. Yes, the purpose of this article was to express my experience and to open up people's awareness. If one person reads this, and looks at their child as having gifts, not deficits, that is only the beginning but a big start! While I do not choose medication, everyone is on their own journey and needs to assess what their children may or may not need. And of course, that may change over time. I did have some links to begin the spread awareness of what it means to be empathic but for length reasons, I had needed to cut the article down. How I am helping my son is a work in progress and these are just a few examples that can help sensitive and empathic children. Start becoming aware about what it means to be sensitive, empathic and how we are all energetic beings. Then teach this to your child. Ask your child questions about how your child is feeling, not just what he is doing. Look for the deeper goings on. Many time children will say they are bored – what does this really mean? You will be surprised how much they know what is going on. Validate and honor all he is feeling. Educate your child's teacher. Empathic children become overwhelmed in classrooms, malls, around other people. Spending time alone is soothing and calming. Music, being out in nature, lying on the earth, physical activity, and loving without judgement all can help. I could not possibly cover it all here but wanted to respond to your post. My joinery with my son, began with myself. Blessings, Beth.

anonymous Nov 22, 2015 3:42pm

I agree!!! My daughter is the same way..and I love her more for being herself. The school does not always agree :/ I told her team, "just wait, she will change the world!" I have 2 other children, they are all special, in their own ways BUT my "ADHD" child is the most brilliant, creative and sensitive….

    anonymous Nov 22, 2015 3:59pm

    Yes, I agree!! My son now speaks about his "gifts" instead of what's wrong with him.