Guest Blogs

The Picture That’s Worth 1,000 Words

A revealing self-portrait by a boy with attention deficit jump-starts his mom’s search for treatment solutions.

To write this post, I must admit to something that, in my world, is borderline blasphemous. It was something I did because – as a mother, and a mother to my Edgar – I felt I had no choice. It’s not easy to admit, let alone put into print for public consumption and posterity, but admit it, I must: I destroyed one of Edgar’s works of art.

OK, now that you know what, let me tell you why. Edgar is an artist. He will tell you so. And if you look into his eyes while he talks expressively about wanting one day to attend the Rhode Island School of Design or watch him create one of his soon-to-be-famous sculptures made out of tape, you would believe him. He creates art regularly, with intensity and a compulsion familiar to any artist. And I have saved every single one of his works. Except for one.

Edgar created the painting in question last year. It was a self-portrait. It was black and blue and gloomy and painfully sad. It also contained rips and wrinkles – not the rips and wrinkles born of frustration but ones that were integral parts of the painting. They were elements of how he saw himself.

I asked him what it was when he presented it. He said simply, “It’s me.”

Looking back – before his ADHD diagnosis, before he started a successful regimen of stimulant medication – this was how he saw himself. School was frustrating, he was perennially misunderstood, and he was unhappy. When he went to bed that night, I held this painting that bore the truth of his existence, and I cried.

Then I took the painting and tore it up and knew that something had to change. A six-year-old who had these powerful feelings about himself, and who had the means to communicate them, had to be acknowledged. I could not ignore it.

Not long after that, we were in his neurologist’s office reviewing the status of his epilepsy when she broached the possibility of stimulant medication for his ADHD. She said the stimulant medication had the potential to be life-changing. Knowing how our son felt about himself, the artistic manifestation of his unease with himself etched firmly into my memory, I thought if anyone deserved life changing, it was Edgar. We agreed to try it and never looked back – and never will.


Because you’ll find above the self-portrait Edgar brought home this week – everything a parent could want and everything a child deserves: peace, contentment, and self-love, nothing more and nothing less. It is an image that dwelled beneath and behind the portrait from a year before and the clearest indication I have seen that Edgar finally has what he needs.