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How to use your ADHD to your advantage

Updated on September 30, 2012

“What just happened?” I find myself asking this question at times when I am in class and realize that I hadn’t been paying attention to the lecture. I look at the blank space on my notebook paper – space that is filled on the pages of my classmate sitting next to me. I struggle to look at the notes my neighbor managed to write and wish I had paid better attention. Unfortunately, my moderate Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) serves as a hindrance to effective learning.

I have had difficulty staying focused for as long as I can remember. As much as I will myself to, I can’t keep from fidgeting for more than a minute or two. ADHD also keeps me from thinking things through thoroughly. While these characteristics can be frustrating when I need to listen to directions or finish a textbook chapter, I have found ways over the years to utilize these difficulties to my advantage.

My hyperactivity has allowed me to progress through my journalism curriculum more rapidly than expected. I am set to graduate in three years – a year sooner than most journalism majors should graduate – because of my energy. I read my textbooks as early as possible rather than waiting for the professor to assign chapters; I have also taken summer courses to fill extra time between work during the seasonal break. In order to keep a good GPA, I just need to ensure that, when faced with choosing certain courses or assignments, I pick what I can complete on my own time rather than things that must be done on the spot, when I might not be able to keep on task.

I need to work upwards of 30 hours a week each year to pay for my tuition, textbooks, food, gas and insurance, the majority of my rent, and anything else for which I might find a need or desire. Though such obligations have been difficult to fulfill, however, my impulse to keep busy has allowed me to accomplish a lot of tasks in a little bit of time. When schoolwork isn’t enough to keep me occupied, I work extra hours on campus. My three jobs have saved me from the horror of free time while also allowing me to avoid student loans.

If I have even more time, I devote it to community service and other work for the campus. As a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, I can use my hyperactivity to plan service and social events.

Everyone has weaknesses, but I think that success is just a matter of working with or around them. I have learned to use my ADHD to benefit of myself and others, and I plan to continue doing so.

Do you have ADHD?

You may just be very hyperactive, inattentive or impulsive. Everyone blurts things out, forgets things, or can be disorganized.

What makes ADHD different is that it develops early in life, before age 7. Hyperactivity, inattention or impulsivity last longer than 6 months, too, and must affect a child's life in at least two of the following areas: school, play, home, community, or social situations. Basically, behavior is inappropriate for the child's age.

Ask yourself this: Is the behavior only for a temporary problem? How long has it lasted? Do other children the same age act similarly? Does it occur in more than one place?

Here's a test my special education teacher showed me to get an idea about my level of ADHD: Psych Central - Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) Test


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    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 9 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Wonderful hub. You have used ADHD to your advantage, and I am so happy for you. My sons also have ADHD, and the most important thing is to use it to the good, which you have. Some of the most creative people in the world have had ADHD.

      It's all how you work with it- BRAVO!!!

      GREAT HUB!!

      And great links too!

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 9 years ago from Northern California


      I wouldn't say there's a stigma against it... probably most people say they have it to some degree or another! I am also considerably successful in school, but only because I have to try harder than a lot of my peers. I have to have things written down for me because if instructions are spoken, I likely won't understand or pay attention to them.

      There are also different levels of ADHD... like I said, I'm moderately ADHD, but there are other levels, including severe. Too bad testing for it is so expensive... like $2,000! :(

    • profile image

      lou 9 years ago

      Am beginning to wonder if my son has ADHD. He is not hyperactive by any means, but he has a great deal of difficulty focusing for any length of time on an assigned task. He has been successful in school so far, but has trouble with organizing himself and some cracks are beginning to show in math. I plan to have him evaluated. Is there a stigma attached to kids with ADHD in school?

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      I love to hear ADHD success stories! It is so hard to stay focused, way beyond what people who don't have it can understand. So glad you are keeping it together and pushing forward!