On Sunday night, Audra McDonald won her record-breaking sixth Tony award. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her parents for “disobeying the doctor’s orders and not medicating their hyperactive daughter” and directing her energies into theater instead. This has sparked some debate on the Internet (really, is there anything that doesn’t spark some debate on the Internet? Ever?) about the role of medication in treating ADHD. It also prompted a post on Psychology Today that made the following claim:
In America today, we are medicating creative kids who prefer to daydream in class instead of completing boring worksheets. We are teaching them that focusing on the blackboard is more important than dreaming big dreams that might inspire new inventions. As a society we need to find different ways to help creative though disorganized children besides dampening their creative minds with Aderall, Ritalin, Strattera and worse.
This is a topic that hits very close to home. I have ADD — my official diagnosis is “ADHD without hyperactivity, inattentive type,” which basically means I was one of those kids who preferred to daydream in class instead of “completing boring worksheets.” Today, I’m a grown-up creative professional — and I still prefer to daydream at my desk instead of completing boring freelance writing assignments. But I also gotta eat and pay bills, so I do what I have to do to help make that happen, because daydreaming all day is not a luxury I can afford. My preference for letting my mind wander does not negate the work that has to get done.