School has always been more challenging for me than for many other students. Growing up, I was very energetic and had a hard time paying attention during class; even when I was sitting, I would fidget in my chair. In elementary school the teachers often thought I was disrespectful because I was constantly looking around the room when they were talking to me. I really was listening, but the teachers didn’t know, and would still yell at me.
In the third grade my mother decided to have me tested for a learning disability and I was diagnosed with ADHD–Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I began seeing a psychiatrist to help and started trying different medications to improve my ability to concentrate. It took me a few years to figure out both the right medication and the right dosage. In middle school, I also began to receive accommodations in class. I sat in the front of the room and had extended time on tests and finals.
When I started high school I wanted to take the initiative to manage my ADHD on my own. I discovered the Smartpen, which records a class while I write my own notes. I also got permission from my teachers to access the Power Points from their websites for their lectures. Figuring out how to take advantage of these resources gave me more confidence with my academics. I also discovered that playing sports allowed me to release my excess energy so I could focus better. Throughout the year I play tennis and volleyball and used to play softball, soccer, and basketball.
Having ADHD has affected my life in different ways, not all of them negative. I used to feel bad that I didn’t learn as quickly or easily as others, but now that I understand my learning style and my strengths and weaknesses, I have gained a lot of confidence in my abilities. ADHD has forced me to develop strong organizational skills and to understand my own needs. To do well academically I need to manage my study time, allow for the opportunity to speak with my teachers outside of class, and fit in my regular exercise.
Although ADHD will always be a part of me, I have gained the knowledge to manage it well and reach my academic goals. It has helped me realize my capacity to overcome obstacles and shown me my true potential.