I was so excited to go to kindergarten. Playing and meeting a lot of kids would be oh so much fun! It did seem like a lot to get used to, though. There was something called circle time where everyone had to sit in a circle around the teacher. Sometimes she would read a story and sometimes she would play the guitar and sing songs. But I needed to move during circle time. I ran around the circle and talked to all the kids. I couldn't understand how everyone could sit still and listen without talking for so long!
It seemed like I was always being yelled at, corrected, and told to be still and be quiet! But my brain did not let me sit. In first grade, my friends got mad at me a lot. They said that I got too close to them when we had to form a line. Sometimes I pushed ahead of kids to be first. My brain wouldn't let me take turns....
In first grade, I thought that teacher told us to pull out our science book and turn to page ten. As she started teaching the class, I looked around to find everyone looking in their social studies book on page two. My brain wouldn't let me listen... In second grade, I didn't like raising my hand to answer a question. Yelling out was important because I needed to show everyone right away that I knew the answer! My brain would not let me keep the answer in my head until I was called on and allowed to bring the answer to my lips and speak! In second grade, the teacher told us a lot that we would have to write down our assignments when we were given homework. The assignments were always written on the chalkboard. At one point, I was going to write some things down that I had to do. Suddenly, I heard a plane, a lawnmower, and a truck. I had to look out the window to find out some details like if the plane was a 747 or 737 and if it was American Airlines or Delta. Then, I needed to know what color the lawnmower, how big it was, what was being mowed, and who was mowing it. Lastly, I had to discover what kind the truck was, whether it was a bulldozer or a dump truck, what color it was, and what exactly it was doing.
Suddenly it was time to leave to go to our buses. My brain did not let me focus and write down my homework without having to find out about what was going on outside. And then it was too late.... As I was going off to school one morning in the third grade, I told my mom and dad that I loved them. I even hugged them! When I came home, I told my mom that I loved her and missed her. My brain let me feel what I feel in my heart and express it... In third grade, I came home with homework. My mom wanted me to start doing it right after I had a snack. I refused to do it then, stomping my feet and yelling at her that it was hard and I was tired. My brain would not let me listen and obey my mom without getting frustrated and angry... In fourth grade, I was having so much trouble remembering the math that I had learned in third grade. Of course, I really did not review my math during the summer so it had been a long time since I had done any math. My brain would not let me remember the math I had learned in third grade without making a lot of mistakes. In fourth grade, I brought home my books to do homework. But I brought home the wrong book and left my notebook with the homework pages that I would have to do in school. My brain did not let me be organized...
In fifth grade, I took a test in science class with the rest of the kids. But focusing on the test was not as important as focusing on how fast other kids were finishing and if I would be the last one to finish. It was easy to randomly pick answers and move quickly; much easier than concentrating and slowing down. My brain would not let me concentrate and avoid distraction.
In sixth grade, I came into class and felt overwhelmed and confused. I was trying to orient myself to the new subject and get out my papers. As I was doing this, apparently everyone heard the teacher give directions. When I looked around and noticed kids doing work, I asked the teacher if he could repeat the directions. He said, no, that I should have been listening. My brain was having trouble transitioning to a new class and trying to figure out what I needed out on my desk. My brain was not letting me listen to anything other than myself. In seventh grade, the teacher was teaching a subject that I found so incredibly boring. I switched my lap top screen to areas of high interest for me that included plane schedules and the S&P. My teacher caught me not paying attention and sent me out of the room. My brain does not allow any focus when I'm bored. I was trying to refuel by paying attention to areas of interest. After I do that, I can go back to the subject being taught for a short time. I wish that teachers would try to understand me.
In eighth grade, I continue to struggle to understand myself and my ADHD. But I think I am beginning to become mature enough to figure some things out. My parents tell me that I am smart. But sometimes I don't feel smart when I can't follow directions, get organized, and stay focused. But it's important to self-advocate. Many things that are now in place help me to be successful and have a healthy self-esteem. Things like small group settings, medication, and a system that works for me to stay organized helps me to be successful. Another important point that I have learned is that it helps to have at least one teacher who you feel really cares about you and is always there to talk. One teacher and a family can certainly reinforce strengths that I don't always realize that I have. For instance, I can explain where planes are coming from and where they are heading. After being somewhere once, I can find that destination without any problem. My parents say I am sensitive and intuitive in a way that is so remarkable. When you are in school and have to fit in, it's hard to imagine that you are really smart. Being wired differently is certainly a challenge, but I will continue to advocate for myself and work hard in order to achieve my goal, which is to be a commercial pilot. Not everyone will accept me...but that's ok as long as I accept myself.
Karen K Lowry, R.N., M.S.N.
Parent2Parent ADHD Family Trainer for CHADD
Wrote a book, The Seventh Inning Sit: A Journey of ADHD