Guest Blogs

My Curious Son Wants to Travel, But His ADHD Grounds Him

My son with ADHD is impulsive, inattentive, and has challenges with medication. How will that affect when he can travel like his brother?

Six-and-a-half years ago, I was perched in a sunny spot in my backyard. A friend was over. We were enjoying an easy afternoon, and our conversation turned to travel.

I told her how a fellow teacher and friend of mine had toyed days before with the idea of leading student groups abroad. At the time, my colleague and friend was unattached, so the only person she needed to run this grand plan by was herself. Me? My husband and I had two young children. A conversation was surely in order if I were to disappear somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic once a year.

My then-oldest, Oscar, was five; Edgar, four. What life had in store for Edgar in the next few years was, of course, unknown to us. (Edgar would be diagnosed with attention deficit.) So, we naively planned. I would get the student travel program off the ground, and, in a few years, my husband and children would join me on tour.

The first year I took students to England, the second Greece. By the time I was ready to arrange my third tour—to Italy—Oscar was eight, and it was clear he was ready to travel. An old soul from the get-go, I had no doubt that by the time the tour came around, he would be fine.

And he was. I watched his eyes widen, his confidence soar. I have always believed that travel is the best teacher, and Oscar’s transformation proved me right.

We returned home, filled to the brim with tales and joy. Our energy was naturally infectious, and Edgar, just a year younger, did the math and dreamed of joining the tour the following year.

But Edgar is not Oscar. And Edgar’s traveling the following year was not to be.

His impulsivity, inattention, and the challenges he experiences following societal norms are antithetical to group travel. Add to those the fact that the medication he took for his ADHD suppressed his appetite and played havoc with his energy level, and there was no way he could be successful on tour.

It was heartbreaking for me. A child who is enticed and entranced by every new experience, who finds pleasure in the mundane, whose world would be enhanced by seeing the world, was not cut out to see it.

Not in this context. Not at this time.

The very characteristics that make him curious about the world are keeping him from it. The irony is not lost on me. But it’s heartbreaking nonetheless.