I’m just a regular person like everyone else

When I was 8 years old I was diagnosed with ADHD. I did not understand what that meant and how it would affect my learning and everyday habits. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I had found a way to better myself without medication and therapy. I had to accept the fact that I do have ADHD and it’s not a weakness, but more of strength. My story has no uprising life story. I’m just a regular person like everyone else. I want people to see that people like me with ADHD are no different than any other person; we just have different ways of thinking and doing things it takes a little extra work
-Benjamin E.

Just because you can’t see ADHD/ODD doesn’t make it less real

My son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 6 years old he is now 13. He is the most loving caring boy I have ever met but people don’t always see that he is impulsive and struggles with social situations. He runs when things get too much. Today I had the news that his school can no longer cater for him (even though he hasn’t had the right support from day one). He has had a positive referral to a learning center and I’m hoping my little boy will soon get the education he needs. I wish I could change the way people see ADHD. They are not naughty, difficult children they just need loving and guidance. Just because you can’t see ADHD/ODD doesn’t make it less real.
-Kate S.

Thankful for ADHD diagnosis
in adulthood, hoping to
continue the conversation
to help others

Of those who went undiagnosed with ADHD until adulthood, I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to struggle through and graduate from high school and college, I am successful in my career, and I have been married for two years. Even though my life looks great on paper, my entire existence has been a constant internal struggle that has made me seem lazy, flakey, forgetful and irrationally worried. Receiving a diagnosis of ADHD last year was a lifesaver. By learning as much as I can about my disease, I am able to make the connections between the way my brain works and my specific behaviors, and I feel empowered. I didn’t know I had ADHD until I was 29 years old because I wasn’t aware of the range of symptoms. The more we talk about it, the better chance we have to help those who are undiagnosed by showing them there might be something more going on, and that something more can be managed with the right help. Knowing is better, and it’s the first step toward a truly livable life.


What I wish my son’s teachers knew about ADHD

As I parent, I wish my son’s teachers were more familiar with a few things about ADHD so that they could better support him. There is a lot of research showing that ADHD is real. It is a brain-based disorder affecting behaviors such as planning, attention, self-regulation, working memory, and processing information. It causes problems with academic performance and social interactions making a school environment a challenge for students with ADHD.

My son has a treatment plan. Medication is one part of it. It allows him to work more effectively. We constantly monitor his medication, and teacher observations and feedback are important when we are attending check-ups with his doctor. However, medication is not a cure. He needs to be taught skills and strategies to succeed. You can help by giving explicit instructions and dividing assignments into smaller steps. Socially, you can teach and reinforce good listening skills and provide positive feedback to reinforce appropriate behavior.

I work in partnership with all of my son’s teachers. I hope they know what a huge role they play in his life and how much their support means to us.

This is the first time
I feel I have everything I need…

I am grateful that I was diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities when I was a kid because I got the learning guidance that I needed early on … and that set me up for a better future.

When I was little, reading was an impossible task for me and I thought it was because I was just a dumb kid. I didn’t really comprehend why they were testing me. After a lot of visits to a doctor’s office, they explained about my ADD and my learning disability. Having someone put a name to the differences that we knew were there was a breath of fresh air. It verified that my parents’ suspicions were correct.

My parents looked really hard for the right fit for me in terms of an academic platform. I ended up at a school designed specifically for kids who didn’t fit the standard mold. In the beginning it was really hard, but once we found the right fit, the future was filled with possibilities. That school was where everything went right.

We had always been told that I would never graduate high school, but when the school told us I would definitely earn my high school diploma, my mom started crying.

I was kind of in over my head my freshman year of college, but I knew I wanted to do better each year. I got the resources I needed my second year, which helped me have battle-ready knowledge for college – having a structured plan, working with a coach, using the resource center at college for tests, note taking and other assistance. Having access to that knowledge made easier to move toward my goals with confidence that I could succeed.

This is the first time that I feel that I have everything I need and I am not scrambling – I now have a better game plan to continue on in life.

Torrey, CA

All my life I have been driven to prove them wrong…

All my life I have been driven to prove wrong the statements of “doesn’t work to potential”, “makes careless mistakes”, “lacks attention to detail”, made in my early years. All that “drive” combined with hiding, and pretending to have it ” together”; while my brain ran itself in two hundred directions at once resulted in a loss of confidence, depression, and complete loss of desire to bother with any effort. At the same time recognizing my son going through the same struggles I did as he went through school and his first year of college… and FINALLY acknowledging that everyone doesn’t have “noise” in their brain, fighting for attention. We have both been diagnosed and to quote my son, “Math (calculus) makes sense again for the first time since 6th grade!” I have to agree, and I am thrilled to be able to focus and truly “hear” what my family has to say instead of pretending to pay attention to life!

– Anonymous

People often assume my ADHD hasn’t really affected me…

Because I have excelled academically and have never gotten in serious trouble in school, people often assume my ADHD hasn’t really affected me. What people don’t realize is the toll that ADHD has taken on my social life and friendships. Sometimes, it feels like everyone else is speaking a different language. I approach problems and situations in ways no one else does, which can be really frustrating. I beat up on myself all the time about my lack of productivity, or for my impulsiveness getting me into awkward situations. My medication gives me more control over my head and my actions, and allows me to slow down and think more. But in some ways what helps me the most is having people in my life who love my quirkiness, and point out how some of my ADHD symptoms can actually be strengths.

– Anonymous

ADHD is a gift that I am grateful for…

I have an amazing physician who told me it was very important for me to understand that having ADHD is not a death sentence or a “disability” but a gift. I’m in healthcare management & he also told me when I was interviewing potential new employees, to look for qualities of myself. I looked at him like he was crazy b/c I look at myself as a nightmare most of the time who’s all over the place. He said, “No, people like you will be your best employees. If you can overlook their problems with being late or other little ADHD idiosyncrasies, they’ll be the most creative, hardest working, & most productive employees you will have.” Having ADHD can definitely be frustrating at times, but I think it’s important for people to know the awesomeness of an ADHD mind too. The older I get, the more grateful I am for it b/c it gives me this ability to REALLY think outside the box that so many others can’t do. Sure my peers & my staff may look at me sometimes wondering what planet I’m living on or wondering how my mind comes up with some of the things I come up with, but I just joke back & tell them they’re boring.

– Anonymous