In his book ‘Last Child in the Woods’, Richard Louv coins the phrase, Nature-Deficit Disorder. This is no medical or psychological diagnoses, still symptoms of Nature-Deficit Disorder are prevalent throughout our society. A deficit of nature, a removal of nature from our lives, and Louv describes the symptoms of this term as, “…diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.”
I see so many kids every year, from pre-k to high school ages. I do see the detachment from nature; see the lack of knowledge or curiosity of their natural world. But for a majority, this is not what sticks out at me. It is these symptoms that Louv has described that I want to change. ADHD, fear, sadness, anger, obesity, low self-worth, these are the things that cause me alarm when I think about children, even my own children, growing up in this century. Very few children, or even adults, are given the tools to manage these parts of themselves, to channel every part of themselves into a positive reality that they have created.
We all know what I’m talking about, increases of emotional and mental disorders, increases of ADHD diagnoses. In the U.S, almost 8 million children are diagnosed with mental disorders, ADHD taking the biggest chunk of that. Prescriptions drug use, to combat ADHD symptoms, increased 600 percent between the years 1990 and 1995. Michael Gurian, family therapist and author says, “Neurologically, human beings haven’t caught up with today’s over-stimulating environment. “ The evidence is growing that we don’t necessarily need to counter these ‘disorders’ with prescriptions. The research suggests the increases of these disorders are symptoms not of ADHD or bipolar disorder, but symptoms of an alienation from the place our brains have evolved from. Nature.
Never underestimate the power of simplicity. We think that being idle has no use to us. That sitting with our children and listening to the sound of the wind through the leaves of an ash tree and differentiating between the sounds of the wind through the leaves of a cottonwood tree isn’t of valuable. Moments of stillness and rest with nature are opportunities to truly learn about ourselves and each other. We can disconnect from the world of deadlines, advertisements, media and timelines. What we call the ‘real world’ and create a world of our own with our children.
I use to be an outdoor educator to save the earth, now though; I want to save our humanity. Lucky for me, can’t have one without the other.
See you out there!
More sights, while doin’ nuthin’. Little brother with an interesting fungus we found growing out of a decomposing log.