I went to see a Black Curtain showing of the play, Distracted by Lisa Loomer. I am glad it was the Black Curtain showing.  The play was awesome, and I really enjoyed just focusing on the lines and the characters.  After the show one of the actors was saying what it would have been like with full staging.  The script calls for an amazing amount of stimulation – big screens, lots of movement.  Indeed, this would fit in terms of distracting; however, for me I think it might have been too much.  I liked just seeing and hearing the actors.

The play is a  funny, heartfelt and thought-provoking look at a mother’s journey dealing with her 9 year old son who is struggling with hyperactivity and difficulty staying focused.  The mother talks to the teacher, the psychologist, the doctor, a Homeopath and various other experts.  The mother is trying decide if medication is the best avenue.  The script is written through her eyes, but there are many windows into the husband, who at times seems like a man avoiding the problem but ultimately reveals his own inner beliefs that he is the problem.

As a child I would have been considered ADHD along with some other learning issues (dyslexsia). Later in life, as a mental health professional who worked with “ADHD” kids I appreciated the script on many levels.  I do think there is much too much medication distributed not just to children but to adults.  I also believe that children with ‘ADHD’ may not have a disability.

The play did a wonderful job of tracking the mother’s process.  The pain in not knowing what was best, the frustration in discovering that the experts really did not know more than she did, and the challenge of maintaining a marriage when dealing with something that is not easily solved.  It was clear that both for children and adults our solution is all too often medication.  It is amazing how many medications are out there for ADD, OCD, depression, bi-polar, anxiety etc….  Of course, it is also amazing how over-stimullated we are with TV’s, Blackberries, computers and everything available 24/7.  Are we ADD or AOL (Attention OverLoad)?  Are we depressed or simply out of contact – well connection not just text messaging.

When I ran groups for ADHD kids I apparently had an amazing success rate.  I had some other professionals wanting to know the secret and asking to observe.  It was interesting though when they came they could not stand the group dynamics.  My ‘success’ was simply was too chaotic for them.  The groups were often very active sessions where everyone had a drum.  There were strings that each child used to create a space and those boundaries had to be respected.  But other than that I was okay with quite a lot of noise and interaction.  In the end, each of the groups found their way to move forward.  When I interviewed the kids after the group, they all seemed to have learned the most from each other and what seemed to convince them to settle down and focus was their own desire to connect to each other.

Though the groups were successful, without any real science, the positive results were simply not taken very seriously.  However, the parents all seemed to get the idea.  They had been trying so hard to help ‘control’ their out-of-control child that may be they needed to join them sometimes in being a little on the wild side.

The play Distracted provided an equally refreshing conclusion.

Maybe a diagnosis helps sometimes. Even medication might be useful for a short period to assist someone.  But we have taken that WAY too far and stopped looking at the bigger picture.  All these ‘disorders’ may just be trying to tell us something else.  What might happen if we stopped drugging and turned off the over-stimulation and sank in and connected.  I am guessing at first that would be very uncomfortable and in the end I believe we might just discover there is an important message to be received when all the noise stops.