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What I Want You to Know About ADHD During Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

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Not everybody knows that October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. So, let me shine a light on this month by talking about my learning disorder. All of my life, I have had ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). ADHD is the most common learning disability with 6.4 million American children diagnosed with it. The type of ADHD I have is attention-deficit. Symptoms of attention-deficit ADHD include being distracted and zoning out, missing details during assignments, being forgetful with things in daily life, and losing things easily. I actually have all of these symptoms.

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The first time I noticed something was off about me was when I started second grade. I had just started at my siblings’ private Catholic school after attending a public school with a special education program. I was used to a very stimulating environment like I had at my old school, including being able to move around during very interactive lessons.

Right away on my first day, I had a bad feeling. I was expected to sit in a singular place (a desk) all day. Just stay there and listen. I had to read along to textbooks all day with my teachers. I had to do worksheets. My focus was on the rocks. For the first couple weeks of school, after doing my assignments, I walked around the classroom to move around. I felt awkward, but better after moving around. Most of all, I found myself daydreaming and never found myself paying attention. Every single day, I was met with, “You have to pay attention, Emily!” and “U”s (unsatisfactory) on my work.

Spanish was especially hard for me. At my old school, we didn’t learn a foreign language. In the afternoons, I would go to a special sensory class for students with disabilities, where we would play games and have therapies. I guess my other classmates did Spanish and science in the afternoon. So, imagine my shock at my new school where I had a teacher speak a foreign language I didn’t know. Clearly, my siblings and my classmates had Spanish very early on and knew what was happening. I intentionally spaced out the whole time. Not even her colorful wolf puppet was enough to keep my interest.

As I grew older, my ADHD caught up with my child development. I still had attention problems, but I got better at focusing. As expected for each year at school, the curriculum became more challenging. So, I naturally knew that I had to pay attention to be on par with my classmates and pass my classes. Because I was patient with my ADHD and stayed on task, I persevered. I ended up being accepted to my dad’s Catholic high school and a four-year college after my community college.

Society shouldn’t treat people with ADHD so badly. ADHD is common and it can be accommodated. People with ADHD, like me, can succeed in anything!

Getty photo by Dragon Images.

Originally published: November 2, 2020
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