ADD aka Attention deficit Disorder aka ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder… noun : a syndrome of disordered learning and disruptive behavior that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorder and that has several subtypes characterized primarily by symptoms of inattentiveness or primarily by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior (as speaking out of turn) or by the significant expression of all three —abbreviation ADD. Or if you are some of my older teachers – just an excuse for lazy, stupid students who will never do anything with her life.
Yes – I am and do have ADD, but I don’t like to look at it as a disorder which makes people think there is something utterly wrong with you. That you are an idiot, broken, stupid, lazy, dumb, not worthy, etc and it doesn’t. In truth, I consider having ADD/ADHD as an ability more then anything else. Why? Because I am not any of the above and it has taken me YEARS to get over the self doubt that I was broken in some way. I’m not, I just function differently. And unfortunatly, in our society and all societies of the past to be different then what is considered normal you are not good enough and/or broken and need to be pushed to the side. Then you add onto that, it marks you to people around you that you are this way.
I never wanted to be what was considered normal for society. I have almost always been called weird or crazy because of who I am. My response was – I am the normal one, the rest of you are crazy. I didn’t want to or could hide who I am. And for many years, while I was smart enough and had a high IQ (around 127) I didn’t do well in school except in a few classes that amazingly enough were higher level classes or were slightly more interesting then the average class. I graduated high school with a C average and didn’t go beyond my first semester in college right out of high school. And I was better known for my ability to talk during class or be caught doodling in my books or reading a novel then paying attention. My classes were boring and I wanted to work. Not because I was dumb or lazy.
When I was in school – from 1980 to 1994, learning disabilities weren’t publicized or really known about. Teachers weren’t aware of them and parents even less then the teachers. My parents had a really hard time with me while I was growing up and barely passing my classes. They knew I was smart but didn’t understand why I could sit and read a 600 page novel at 9 years old but couldn’t pass a simple spelling test. And this continued on for most of my childhood and until my mother started to realize that maybe something more was going on with me then just being a lazy child and her innate ability to learn about something involving children.
So, during my middle school years – some of the most harmful to my psyche as a student because of a particular teacher calling me stupid little girl in front of the entire section of classrooms (they were open rooms seperated by only screens) – my mom started to try to get me tested for learning disabilities. The school refused. I guess they agreed with Mr. McSweeney- which sucked because yes, I skipped his class for 2 weeks reading novels in the bathroom instead but I was scared out of my mind to do a speech in front of the class and I tried to talk to him about it but he told me I was being dumb and just do the speech. At the end of 8th grade, I succeeded in getting into an all girls catholic school in Houston called St. Agnes Academy. And while I still had the problem of talking in class – I actually did pretty decent. Why? Well, the classes were much harder and more interesting then in middle school.
Then came the day we moved to Georgia and my brother & I were going to attend the brand spanking new high school Chattahoochee in Alpharetta. My grades dropped – in truth in my english class I was doing pretty much the exact same class I had done the year before. So… as is the case normally I was bored out of my mind and almost didn’t pass the class. And this was the same for almost every single one of my classes except for home ec. My mom then tried to get me tested thru this school… and what do you think happened. Nothing – because them testing me would cost them money and would be a blemish on their school records. Finally in my junior year and my mom threatening to sue the school district they tested me. And damn it all – I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and dyslexia. Unfortunately for me, I was now to the point where I agreed with Mr. McSweeney – I was just a stupid girl who had no future and wasn’t good for anything.
Then came the changes. I now had to go to a special class and get special help and get weekly progress reports. I didn’t care – my focus didn’t change and I ignored the help. Even the ability to take my SATs on a special form and take as long as I wanted. I rushed thru so I could leave and go somewhere else. Don’t even add in my constant lateness and I spent a good amount of time in school suspension – I don’t even know what for now. I think being late all the time to class. Who knows. I agree with the school system no matter what my parents or some tests said. I was an idiot who couldn’t do anything right. I fell thru the school systems cracks – because as they all do, the administration cares more about the test scores and whats on the paper then the actual student. Yes, I am a TAD bitter about it.
So that’s it… my history until graduation of the struggles and frustrations of my parents. I just wish it would of gotten easier over the years. But it hasn’t. I have had friends who when I have corrected them on a pronunciation of a word get upset with me and tell me I was wrong, and when I asked another friend why – I was told well, how can you know you have dyslexia and she doesn’t so she must be right. Friends tell me that won’t get their kids tested for a learning disability – because in their words “my child isn’t stupid”. Yes, they said that to my face when I tried to encourage them to have their child tested at a young age.
And I still get things like this said to my face everyday. Very unabashedly, straightforward because why should they hide their disdain or their thoughts on the subject. Right? I’m too stupid to understand. I don’t know why people assume that just because someone has a “disability” that they can’t know something or be smart on a subject. And if they don’t know that you do have a “disability” of some kind and there is something odd about your personality – its a problem and they ostracize you because of it. The tv show Monk has some great examples of this in their earlier season where people he comes across don’t ask why he does something, they just assume he is one thing or another and never take the time to question – why do you wipe your hands after shaking mine? It really showed you the close mindedness of many people in our world. Someone did something different and they don’t deserve to be treated kindly or with understanding.
I know I have talked a lot about the subject of how people view people with disabilities and I can’t help it. The way I have been talked to and treated by others has hurt me very much during the course of my life. I hated myself and thought I was so unworthy because of my quirks that I wanted to disappear from the world. I still struggle with it to this day. Every so often I will break down and just hate myself, cry and scream at how hard it is sometimes and just know I am the stupidest person on the planet and I don’t deserve to procreate and keep my stupidity in the world. Many of this stems from the treatment I received as a child and teenager at the hand of uneducated teachers about learning disabilities.
So, what is the point of this page? I haven’t a clue. I just think struggles need to be known as well as changes we make to our lives to go around said struggles.
Still working on this page – please check back later for more…