How I was freed from my ADHD: What you may call weaknesses I call strengths


Marc is 12 years old and is so glad that people enjoy and learn from his writing as he has become a published journalist over the last year. He invites you to follow his writing and tell others to follow him at www.TheKidSays.com.

Having ADHD was not my choice. I didn’t ask for it. My parents and teachers would tell me to “just still still,” “just focus,” “just do what we’re telling you,” etc. They would command me as if it was something I could just do if I tried. They didn’t understand. They didn’t realize. It was as if it was beyond them that what they were asking me was beyond me. Did they really think that I didn’t want to focus? I didn’t even understand what they meant. I was not capable of doing what they wanted.

They put me on medication to supposedly help me and to try and force me to do it. That still didn’t really work. In some ways it made it worse. I already felt bad enough that I couldn’t do what I was being told to do. I felt stupid, I felt incompetent, and I felt that I just must be bad.  I felt there was something wrong with me. Then, when they put me on the meds, I felt even worse. It wasn’t really a conscious thing then. It was more subconscious. But deep down inside I felt that if I needed meds to control me, then that meant that something was really wrong with me. I’m not saying that’s what was, but that’s sure how I felt.

By the time I was eight years old, I was already kicked out of two different schools. Like my parents and teachers put it, I was just bouncing off the walls. They said I wouldn’t focus, but they didn’t get that it’s not that I wouldn’t but I just couldn’t focus. When the meds were in full effect, they did calm me down some and keep me from all of my bouncing off the walls movement, but they would wear down and I was at it again. How do you think I felt knowing that I needed drugs to keep me “in control.” Even then, I became more like a zombie temporarily, and I was still struggling in school. None of this was working, and I was feeling so bad about myself. If you would have asked me and if I could have communicated what I was feeling deep inside, I would have felt my life was a mistake, that I was trouble, and that I was never going to accomplish anything.

Jump ahead a couple of years, and as you can see here I have no trouble communicating myself now. I’m writing this article, and I’ve written about a dozen other articles. I’ve been published in magazines, on blogs, and even in an anthology of essays written mostly by adults. At eleven years old, I became an award winning journalist! I feel great about myself. I know that I’m capable and can accomplish great things. That’s like a million miles apart from where I was.

I’m not on meds anymore. I’m mostly a straight A student. My teachers (most of them) love me. They all love my work (even if some of them don’t like it when I correct their mistakes and have higher level thoughts than they’re prepared for in class).  I bet they’d never imagine that I was that kid who just wouldn’t or actually couldn’t sit still and focus.  It’s like I’m a different kid now.  I’m succeeding at higher levels than my old teachers ever thought possible. I’m succeeding at higher levels than my parents ever thought possible.  I’m succeeding at higher levels than I ever thought possible.

So what happened? How did I get from where I was to where I am?  Most of all, I have Dr. Andy Mars to thank for getting me off of my meds and to where I am today.  When I was kicked out of my second school at 8 years old, my parents searched for someone who they hoped could actually help me. They found Dr. Mars who is a Ph.D. in Education and who is the most brilliant person we’ve ever met.

I’m not proud to say it, but I say it again to make such a point.  I’m really ashamed to say, but when I was 8 I had already been kicked out of two different schools. Teachers complained that I wouldn’t sit still, but they didn’t understand that I just couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t control my own body. I was bouncing all over the place. I was also really bothered by other things I couldn’t even control. I was eating the Standard American Diet, and yah that’s pretty SAD! That’s when I was first sent to Dr. Mars. He’s a doctor of education and is really the expert in helping different kids learn the different ways they need to learn. He came up with a lot of different ways to help me.

He got my teacher to let me move to the back of the room so I could stand at my desk and not be forced to sit but not block or disturb anybody behind me and that helped me focus some better. He got my teacher to better erase the board so I wasn’t so distracted by the stray marks that  I couldn’t help how much they were bugging me on the board. He got the custodian to change the ceiling tile just ahead of me that was a different color than the others and it was hard for me to ignore and so hard to then focus. He got the teacher to let me have a squeezing fidget toy to keep my hand moving which really does help me. It’s not that I didn’t want to sit still and pay attention, but I really needed help to be able to do it. All of those little things did help a lot.

The most important thing to mention here is that Dr. Mars helped me change what I was eating. He had me first stop eating artificial colors, artificial flavors, and processed sugars. He got me to get rid of all the stuff that came from animals. He got me actually eating natural, organic, whole foods the way nature grew them.  He knew what was designed to be the right fuel for our bodies. He’s a brilliant man. He came with loads of the highest recommendations. And mom and I trusted him and gave it a serious try. Nothing happened right away, but Dr. Mars let us know that it could take a couple of months to get rid of all the junk that was still in my body. I had faith in him and it did come to work.

About two months later, I started to see what I just couldn’t see before. I started to feel what I couldn’t feel before. When teachers used to tell me to focus, I just didn’t understand. I didn’t get what they wanted me to do. I didn’t know how to make it happen. It’s not like I wanted to misbehave, but I just couldn’t do what I couldn’t do.  Dr. Mars really understood and helped so so much. I couldn’t believe the way I finally started to feel better and so positively different.

Everything was really going great. I was focusing better at school and at home. I was doing better work. I wasn’t disturbing everyone anymore. I had this clarity that was totally new and amazing to me. I was doing great work. Everything was way better. Dr. Mars helped me change my diet and my sleep  routines and my physical activity too. With all of these changes, it was like I was a different kid. Mom and dad didn’t really love the idea of me eating so different from them because they didn’t want to change the way they ate.  That wasn’t what they were caring about, but they saw so many improvements in me and my behavior and my work. So how could they complain!

Eating better the way I started eating was actually better for saving animals which I loved.  It also helps save the earth with less pollution and destruction. But it so very much helped me. So many of the health benefits of eating more consciously most people probably don’t get a chance to realize until many years later, but I was getting a chance to see and feel so many good differences then. For me, it was a win all around already. How many kids at eleven and twelve years old are writing articles and being published in magazines like this?  I couldn’t have done this before I stopped putting the wrong fuel into my body and started putting in only the right fuel, and I can do many great things now.

I’m glad to eat more consciously for so many good reasons, and it’s really not that hard. Some kids and even some adults complain that it’s hard, but then I don’t think it’s really a commitment that they’re all that ready to make. It’s not hard when you know what you’re doing is right and you care about doing what’s right.  If I can do it as a kid by myself, then I think anyone should really be able to do it.

Some people ask like isn’t it hard going to birthday parties or with lunch at school or other events. My answer in one word is “NO!” It’s not hard. For school, I bring my own lunch. I save my parents money because bringing my own is cheaper than buying at school. I eat better that way, and other kids are jealous because mine is so much better. So I bring extra to share. That helps other kids try my better food and they like really like it.  Then maybe they might more start considering eating better at least some.

For birthday parties and other events, its about being prepared too. Dr. Mars has often told us, “You should not expect the word to bend over backwards to accommodate you, but you should do your part to help yourself and to help the world.” So I’ve learned to be prepared and bring my own good stuff wherever I go. But I’m also glad to see that more and more friends do try to do more and more to help. It’s like when we’re going to eat somewhere together, they all know that we’re going to a place that has better choices.  Everyone can eat at the conscious place even if that wouldn’t have been their first choice. I think the way I carry myself really is important here.

One of the lessons that Dr. Mars teaches is that we need to become CHIPS. He says that the world needs more CHIPS. He’s not really meaning chocolate chips or potato chips or tortilla chips or kale chips or whatever, but those sure are all good too, but he means that we need to be C which stands for Confident, H which stands for Healthy, I which stands for Informed, P which stands for Prepared, and S which stands for Supportive. If we are all more CHIPS, then that really better helps us and others.

Like my friend Hiro always says, “How you represent makes a big difference.” If other kids see you as being confident then they’re more likely to just let you do your thing.  When they see confidence, they don’t pick on you.  They might even ask you questions and want to learn from you. So the C of Dr. Mars teaching us to be CHIPS is to be Confident.

The H is to be Healthy because if people see us being healthy for what we’re doing, then they really can’t argue with it. That’s the way it is with my parents. As long as I’m healthy, then it’s good. The I stands for Informed, because it’s really important to know the facts and to be ready with answers and to know how to help inform others.

The P stands for Prepared, because like I said we need to be responsible for ourselves. So I always have good conscious snacks with me like wherever I am. I keep snacks in my backpack, in my sports bag, in my parents’ cars, at my home, at my friends’ homes, at my grams and gramps’s home, at school, and like just everywhere.

And then the S stands for Supportive because we shouldn’t want to push people away because they’re not yet doing what we want them to do to live their lives better and live better for the animals and the planet and all. I want to be supportive and help people make more good changes. Sure I want the world to change all right away, but if I push people away then it won’t help. If I help them, then it will actually help.

The world really does need more CHIPS, more people who are Confident, Healthy, Informed, Prepared, and Supportive. If a kid like me can do it on my own, then I know you can too.  I’d be glad to help if I can, and Dr. Mars sure has helped so many kids and parents.  Ask for help if you need it or want it, but really do what you know in your heart and in your mind is the right thing to do.

Do your part to live a more conscious life and everyone will benefit.  Going vegan helps us all!  It sure helps the animals and the planet, but it helps us too.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid like me or if you’re an adult. Just please do what you can now.  Just look what I’ve accomplished now. Instead of being kicked out of school, I have high schools and even colleges already contacting me with opportunities for the future because they want me.  I’m published in magazines like this. The future is mine to make because I make good choices everyday now with what I eat and how I live.

I also want to share that after Dr. Mars helped me with school, my parents decided to sign me up to go to camp with him too.  He helped me so much with school and all that, that when he recommended the camp my parents thought it was a great idea. He understands kids and how to help kids better than anyone. He’s so great and all the programs he runs are so great too. This is going to be the 25th summer of his Camp Exploration programs. They’re different than any other camps I’ve ever attended. They’re nice and small with just eight campers, Dr. Mars, and one of his assistants. With such small camps, it doesn’t matter whether we’re hiking or biking or swimming or riding roller coasters or what, he’s able to know what’s going on with each camper and to help each of us with whatever we need to grow to become the best we can be.

At camp, we have the choice each meal to help with the food if we want, and that was great for me to learn how to make things at home for myself to make sure that I eat better.  And I’m sure not suffering because he’s shown me that there are healthier versions of smores or whatever else I’d want.  When my parents signed me up, they didn’t realize it was such a health conscious camp. The brochure does say “healthy, conscious foods and programs.” Well, mom and dad had no problem with that. They want me to be healthy and conscious, but sometimes they don’t get what that fully means. I got it quickly and completely especially after how much Dr. Mars helped me during the school year. It was great to realize at camp that everything was totally conscious.

I continue going to Camp Exploration. I help lead Kids Make A Difference too.  That’s his organization that has free programs for kids on weekends to make a difference in the world. We do things like fixing trails, cleaning beaches, removing graffiti, feeding the homeless, visiting retirement homes, helping at animal shelters, and so much more.  Dr. Mars helps us become more conscious people in so many ways.  I’m glad to have helped and done so much since my life turned around when I was 8.

You reading my article here means that you also know at least some that I’ve written articles and am trying to help others learn more about better living. I help create events and reach out and help others learn in the community. So, yah, I’m a conscious kid, I’m an active kid, I’m a kid who makes a difference, and I’m proud of it.  And to think, I’m the  kid who had been kicked out of two different schools by the time I was eight years old. Now, I can do anything I want. The future is mine to make!  By better eating and with better sleeping and better physical activity, I was freed from my ADHD and my OCD and all that was blocking me from becoming who I could really be and doing what I could really do.

What some people used to call my weaknesses, well I now call them my strengths. Dr. Mars helped me realize that “instead of them controlling me, I can control them.”  I was able to turn things around. With the right fuel in my body and the right understanding of myself, I have a much brighter future ahead of me than if I was putting the wrong fuel into me and then being medicated to cover up the problems.

When handled right, my ADHD and my OCD actually have helped me accomplish great things, and I will continue accomplishing great things with the life I am glad to have ahead of me.  That’s way better than when I had thought my life was a waste. I’m grateful to my parents for finding Dr. Mars, and I’m grateful to Dr. Mars for so understanding me and helping me. Now, I understand how to help myself.

I hope you readers learn some from my experiences for yourselves and for your kids too. If we put the wrong fuel into our bodies, then these amazing machines we live in will not function the best way they can.  A great place to start is to stop thinking that artificial colors, artificial flavors, processed sugars, and dead animals actually belong in our bodies.  Instead, enjoy eating natural, organic, whole foods the way nature grew them.  That’s the right fuel for us.  Your body will thank you, and your future will thank you.  Mine sure does!

[Marc is glad to be followed at his page www.TheKidSays.com, and Dr. Mars can be reached through www.KidsMakeADifference.org.]

The Mensch List: Two-person army for their autistic son


Just try asking Connie and Harvey Lapin to recap 44 years as parent activists in the world of autism. In hyperactive tag-team, the couple bursts forth with stories and ideas, only to interrupt themselves and one another with still more anecdotes, ideas and accomplishments.

In the end, through laughter and tears, they manage to produce a coherent story of the tireless chutzpah, visionary courage and what they call serendipity, but is probably more about persistence, that helped them change the landscape, locally and nationally, for people with autism.

Harvey, 75, and Connie, 73, both grew up in Detroit. The second of their three sons, Shawn, was born in 1968 and was diagnosed with autism in 1970. Shawn is mostly nonverbal, and when he was younger was prone to violent and self-destructive behavior. He now lives in his own apartment with 24-hour help.

In 1970, there were no services for Shawn, and autism was misunderstood as childhood schizophrenia, often blamed on a frigid mother (Connie melts with warmth), and was treated with what today would be called abuse. The Lapins were told Shawn was incapable of feeling love or attachment and that the state had no obligation to educate him.

The Lapins had no intention of standing for any of that.

Story continues after the video.