How To Cope Living With ADHD As Both A Child & A Student
When Did I Accept That I Have ADHD?
During high school, I was driving in my car with a friend. The road was pretty narrow with major curves. In my rearview mirror, I saw a baby chipmunk dart across the road. I turned around while I was still driving to look at it while exclaiming, "Oh, my god! Look at the baby chipmunk!"
When I turned back around, I was in the other lane and quickly regained control of the car. We both laughed at the incident. But then, I glanced at my friend and said, "Y'know, it really wouldn't have been that funny if another car had been coming in the other direction."
I was diagnosed with having ADHD when I was in middle school. For awhile, I had suffered through the inevitablity of what happens when ADHD isn't treated. I would forget about homework that needed to be completed, forget to actually write down my assignments to complete that night or somewhere on a later date, and my mind would be always somewhere else and never where it should be. My grades were slipping. I rarely ever got above a C+ anymore. What was worse was trying to explain it to someone especially my parents why I didn't do this or didn't do that! Because I didn't know why I couldn't remember the important things that needed to be done.
It was an absolute nightmare and I was going down a dark spiral. I was a disorganized and inattentive mess. I wanted to be like my older brother who didn't even have to study for a test and get above average grades. I just wanted to be normal.
Perhaps, that was the problem. I was so focused on desiring to be "normal" that I needed to realize that my brain worked differently from others. Also, I needed to realize that it was okay that my brain functioned differently as well.
Being Normal Is Overrated
Nobody is the same. Everyone is their own unique fingerprint or snowflake. It would be like trying to make a penguin become a panther. They are both animals, but they are absolutely different. It is okay to be different and it took me a long time to realize that.
However, low self-esteem can definitely plague people who have ADHD. The sad fact is that because people function differently from others, people often feel like they are weaker than other people by comparison.
A child who is diagnosed with ADHD will most likely see a doctor that specializes with medication. They will monitor the child while they are on medication to see how they are on it. I can honestly say that if a child can find the perfect medication that suits them then go for it. Once upon a time, I did find the right medication for myself. However, due to health insurance and having that medication not be covered, it turned me away from medication altogether.
A child should definitely be seeing a counsellor as well. I say this because people with ADHD often will feel like they can't keep up with certain things so they will try and fail. I know when I was watching everyone else getting better grades than me, I felt foolish and stupid that I couldn't manage to get pass a D.
Therapy can definitely help a child unearth their hidden hurts. It is better to get to them now then to let the child bury their insecurities and hurts, because it will forever be with them. A counsellor can help children with ADHD cope with their feelings of inadequacy and learn to see the positive side in themselves.
I would make time to sit down with a teacher to explain that your child or yourself (the student) has ADHD. Yes, believe me, it can be embarrassing. However, if the teacher has no idea that a student in their class has ADHD, they will only see the child as a 'bad child' for acting out, missing assignments, and not paying attention. If everyone is on the same page, it will at least form an understanding and will be the first milestone when taking steps that will benefit everyone.
For The Student/Child With ADHD
One of the hardest things a child with ADHD will ever admit is that they need help, but when or even if they ask for help, it won't exactly mean what one would think it means. Yes, medication can help with the symptoms of ADHD and help a child to focus and remember. However, a child with ADHD even with medication is still a child with ADHD. Their brains are still wired the same way. I'm pretty certain you can tell when a child with ADHD is on medication and when the child is off of it. I think sometimes people try establish a quick fix assuming that medication will correct your child's behavior. Medication can help, but a child will still need develop good habits.
So here are few ideas that could be beneficial to a child/student with ADHD:
MedCenter Pill Organizer SystemClick thumbnail to view full-size
On the website that I found this organizer, they listed the following features:
- Matching the visual dates on pill boxes and clock with audible alerts increases accuracy and helps users avoid medication errors.
- Helps eliminate confusion and reduces the risk of taking the wrong pill at the wrong time, or on the wrong day.
- Large easy to read LCD display with backlight.
- Friendly talking alarm alerts users when it is time to take medications.
- Color coded pill boxes shows when daily dose is complete.
I definitely recommend a pill organizer. I had come across this pill organizer called MedCenter Pill Organizer System. When I had been taking medication, this would've been a good idea to try. It has a corresponding reminder alarm that you can be programmed to alert someone when they need to take their pill. I would take a better look at the organizer to make certain that this would be the right one to try. I know that there are four boxes label Morning/Breakfast, Noon/Lunch, Even/Supper, and Night/Bedtime. While I was taking medication for ADHD, I also was taking vitamins as well as Melatonin at night to help me sleep.
Why would I suggest getting a monthly pill organizer? I would suggest it, because instead of doing daily, weekly, or even biweekly organizers, it covers an entire month. Usually, the pills come in a monthly supply anyway and a pharmacy requires a handwritten prescription every month since it is a controlled substance. It'll be easier to keep track of the next time you will need your next refill. Plus, instead refilling daily, weekly, or biweekly containers, you'll only need to do it once a month.
Recommendation on placement:
- Nightstand Right Near The Bed
It is an alarm clock and pill reminder in one. Just put a cup of water and a granola bar next to it. That way they can eat the granola bar if they need something to put in their stomach before taking their pill.
It is a reminder for the parent so they can grab the pill from the container to place by their child's breakfast if they want to make certain they took it.
Palm Z22 HandheldClick thumbnail to view full-size
Due Yesterday software (above in one of the slides) is a handy application for Palm if you choose to put in on the Palm Z22. It keeps track of assignments and your class schedule.
Yes, I do high recommend a PDA. I purchased a Palm Z22 during college to help myself keep track of my appointments, assignments, classes, and little notes. First, I'd like to say that this device isn't actually being made anymore. HP bought out Palm. However, there are still a lot of people selling relatively new, even brand new still in the box, and used Palm Z22. Besides, it's always good to start off with a device that doesn't cost hundreds of dollars in case somehow it gets lost. Somehow I think it would be easier to stomach a loss of $100 than a loss of $500.
I would start off with a Palm Z22 then upgrade. Currently, I use my smartphone now as a PDA. So why not use a smartphone right away? Well, usually school don't allow children to have phones out during class and as I mentioned above, if the device gets lost then you're down a phone and a PDA. At least if the child loses a basic phone or a PDA instead of an expensive smartphone, it'll be easier to swallow.
The Palm Z22 is fairly small and can fit into a pocket without any problems. It's really easy to use. The calendar is versatile. You can divide the event you schedule in the calendar to a specific color-coded category. Categories can be as simple as putting it school, appointments, and work. It can be as simple or detailed as you would like it to be. There is a contact manager where you can place important contacts like family members, teachers, and doctors.
Also, they do have Task application that helps you keep track of the things you need to do. A child can place assignments that need to be done put it in a specific category and the due date. You can also place a level of priority of the task itself by using 1-to-5 priority with 1 being top priority and 5 being low priority.
The Might Zip Tab from Case-ItClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Ultimate Organizer
I couldn't organize or structure anything when I was younger. It took a long time to figure out what best fits my needs. The Mighty Zip Tab from Case-It comes pretty close if not surpasses what I would use if I had known what I do now about myself.
Here are my words of wisdom when it comes to organizing class notes, papers, books, and whatever else. In order to keep one's backpack from becoming overflowing chaos, you need a plan BUT do not over-detail everything.
Structure is all well and good, but I guarantee that the child will go to school and not remember all your carefully planned sections and places to put papers and school items. Just keep it as simple as possible. It's fine to have a different system when the child is at home where you can help your child organize their school work. When the child is at school and away from your watchful eyes, it is just easier for a child to have simple guidelines that they can understand and follow.
For example, I would still divide items into the following sections:
- Class notes already taken/Worksheets already given
- Syllabus and outlines or guides for upcoming tests
- New class notes written/New worksheets given
- Homework done
- Homework that needs to be done
For Section 1, I would put that in the binder area. I would divide it up with dividers and tabs to indicate to your child what class these notes or worksheets belong to. For sections 2-6, I would place them into the 5-tabbed expanding file. If your child is on the go, he or she can just stuff the papers whether it is new class notes or worksheets no matter what class it is from in that file area. If your child receives any graded tests or other materials, they can stash it in the miscellanous file area. Even if they do happen to stash it in the wrong area, it is really easy for you and your child to go over the papers in the expanding file later on that night.
Why would I suggest this route? Your child won't know how to set up the papers and files without you first showing them how it is done. Routinely setting up the papers (like moving the new class notes or worksheets over to the binder section) will help your child get used to the idea as well as remind them. Also, doing this every night with your child will help you keep track of their upcoming assignments, tests, and keep everything in order.
Why would I go for an item like The Mighty Zip Tab? I would go for bulk with a lot of pockets and items in one over individual items even if you do happen to color-coat them. Too many individuals items in a backpack can make it harder for your child to find later on. I've lost so many different things, because they weren't secured into a bigger item.
The Mighty Zip Tab provides different sectional pockets for your child to place calculators, pens, pencils, and erasers. Another great thing about it is that the entire item zippers shut encasing everything. If your child does happen to just shove everything in it quickly, nothing will be lost. It will still be there when you or your child unzips it.
I would definitely invest in one of these preferably one that provides easy transfer of data stored on the device to a computer. The Sony ICDUX71S Digital Voice Recorder (the second thumbnail picture) can be connected straight to a computer or even laptop via USB.
So how would this be beneficial to a child or even an adult with ADHD? I have a lot of ideas and thoughts going through my head all the time. It's very easy for me to forget something that needs to be done.
A great way to remind yourself of things to do is carry around a voice recorder. It's quick and easy to use. You record your reminder and you can play it back later. On a scholarly approach, a child can take voice recorder into a classroom and record lectures to review later on. A child can also use this as a verbal assignment notebook as well if a teacher has written on the board their assignment. They can quickly record the assignment after class or they can also ask the teacher directly while they make a recording.