Being a Student With ADHD: My Personal Journey
From a very early age I knew I was different than most of the other children. I tried very hard to focus in school but my mind would wander into my own personal little world. All of my report cards showed inconsistent grades. One semester I would get A's and B's and others I would get exclusively C's and the occasional F. In second grade I was labeled with a learning disability in math and organizational skills. The school I went to had virtually no resources for students with mild learning difficulties so I was basically placed with the mildly mentally handicapped children. With little to no intellectual stimulation my focus wandered even further and to my parents dismay my grades settled into an average bracket. Things got even worse when I got to middle school where my grades not only suffered further but I was bullied for being a "space case". A little bit of relief came in eight grade when my English teacher read one of my short stories out loud and commented on what a talented writer I was. No one at school had ever really told me I had done anything well up until that point and English became the one subject I felt I could excel in.
My first year of high school I was placed well below my achievement level but my freshman English teacher saved me. At my annual case conference my teacher pretty much demanded that I be placed in advanced English classes and the following year for once I not only excelled and felt challenged in English but I met the woman who would kindle a love for science in me. She was my sophomore astronomy teacher and she took me aside after the first few weeks of class and said "I can tell you're a bright student. What can I do to help you focus more?" In my ten years of school I had never been asked this before. I suggested being placed in the front of the room and away from one of my more aggressive bullies. The teacher agreed, I received my first ever A in a science class, and resolved to take every science class my high school had to offer. I still struggled in math and all of the teachers I had for the subject were pretty unyielding to adapt their teaching styles to match anyone with any type of learning disabilities. I still graduated with the minimum math requirements yet still with eight more credits than I needed (all in science).
My educational struggles made it so I wasn't thrilled at all with the prospect of receiving a higher education. My infant niece passed away when I was twenty-five which was the event that would place me in the psychologist's office who would change my life forever. After a year of treating my general anxiety and depression, we delved into my learning and thought disorders. Testing showed that I had inattentive ADHD and avoidant personality disorder, two things which made the idea of going back to school difficult. I was placed on medication for both and continued therapy. The results were amazing. I signed up for college and have currently ranked on the dean's list two semesters in a row. I still continue to go to therapy and my psychologist doubles as a math tutor. I've never felt better in my entire life and I owe it all to proper diagnosis and treatment and the love and care of my family and teachers who believed in me from the start!
In conclusion there are five things I believe you should consider treatment for ADHD for yourself or your child:
1. If at First You Don't Succeed, Try Try Again: The search for the right therapist and the right medication can be a long one. Don't get frustrated if the first few attempts don't improve the symptoms.
2. Do Your Own Research: You may not be a medical or mental health professional but you should still play an active role in understanding you or your child's treatment. If you're not properly informed, you may not be able to recognize potential side effects to medications or how long they might take to make a positive impact on behavior.
3. Make Sure Adjustments Are Being Made at School: If your child is officially diagnosed with ADHD or another learning disability, the school has a legal obligation to make adjustments to meet their needs. Helpful adjustments in my case are sitting in the front of the room so there are fewer people to distract me, recording lectures so I can listen to them later, and having notes printed for me so I'm not trying to focus on writing and listening at the same time.
4. Is Therapy Really Needed for an ADHD Patient?: That's up to you but I would highly recommend it, especially if the person with ADHD has gone several years without treatment. Those who go untreated for ADHD often have adjustment problems in school and other social settings and are often scolded and ridiculed for their behavior by teachers and classmates which can have a lasting effect on there self image.
5. Are Drugs Really Necessary to Treat ADHD?: Not always. Sometimes cognitive behavioral therapy is enough and also lots of physical activity to deal with the hyperactive portion are enough. Consulting a mental health professional and having the patient officially tested will give you and your doctors a better idea on how best to proceed with treatment!
If you enjoy my writing try my new eBook!
- The Rise of Dawn: A Collection of Poetry and Short Stories: Dawn Collins: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
A collection of poetry and short stories. The short stories include "The Silver Dragon" the story of a young girl from a race known as the 'buchies' and the start of an adventure with two pixies and a dragon, "Forever Eight" the story of a young boy