May 16, 2020
Confessions of an Undiagnosed ADHD Individual
Okay, being a special education teacher, I do have some inside information that may have been helpful when I was in school more years ago than I'm willing to confess to. If I knew what I know now I would fight for a learning disability based on my many work and writing habits I have to work through. Let me give you a for instance: at any given time, I have a minimum of five tabs open on my laptop that I check regularly and none of them are related to a single task. Could be grading, lesson plans, my latest story I am in the process of writing, email for both school and personal, a computerized baseball game, and some articles on Pinterest that have caught my attention. This is clearly the result of a learning disability known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD as we call it in the biz. It is one of the most diagnosed learning disabilities for students currently in the classroom.
A student with ADHD does not have the cognitive wherewithal to pay attention, so certain accommodations need to be in place for the student to learn. Having worked with a number of students with ADHD, I can personally attest to the difficulty encountered by the student in a classroom with up to forty of his peers of which an average classroom has at least five students with a similar learning disability. Viola, the classroom becomes distraction headquarters.
Now, I am so old that ADHD did not exist when I was in school and seatbelts were a new thing. Back then, teachers believed they had a cure for students with problematic attention spans, they would stand next to the distracted student and slam a thick wooden ruler on the distracted student's desk yelling, "Pay attention!" There would be a red pen mark made next to the offending student's name or a tally tick that would merit a call home to mom and dad if there were enough red marks. Usually the punishment doled out by parents was enough to keep most on the straight and narrow for a whole anyway.
To those not familiar with this learning disability, it simply is a student who has difficulty paying attention to instruction due to the bombardment of distracting stimulus that the unafflicted know as "white noise," the ticking of a clock, a poster or picture that isn't hanging strait, the girl clicking her pen, the teacher who has a hair slightly out of place, etc.,etc.,etc.,and so on and on and on… As you can see There are a lot of obstacles to overcome by a student with ADHD. Teachers that rely on lecture as the main method of delivering vital instruction will have a difficult time with students with ADHD and when these students become stressed when confronted by the teacher, behaviors start to appear going from annoying tics to full on aggression and threatening confrontations. Moving a student up a notch from distracted to confrontative or worse is a losing battle no teacher wants to face.
I am a writer by choice and I write for fun which could interpreted as a serious cry for help, but to this point my cry has not been loud enough, at least not yet. And if you know or are a writer, you know how easily distracted you become. In a classroom by the very nature of the disorder, you could get away with your disability, because unlike other distracted student's writers tend not to draw attention to themselves as they appear compliant in that they are busy taking notes, or so it seems. Great works have come from the notebooks of distracted and bored students. Me, I did not start out as a writer. I was an art-tiste and in the margins of my notebooks I crammed my masterpieces worthy (at least I thought) worthy of display at the Sistine Chapel. My distinguished art career was to end in an art class where the teacher assessed my great works as "rubbish." Crushed by rejection, I found another avenue to cure my boredom.
I got through algebra and scraped by in geometry the next year as I languished over prose and verse that spoke of the endless emitting of my teenager years that became more and more constraining as I progressed until my junior year when I ran into the immovable object known as trigonometry. It would become the only class in high school that I would not pass and lead me to summer school. When I turned some of my creative endeavors into my English teacher, he gave me an A, vindication that I had indeed found my talent, but when my mother saw my paper she was so appalled that she made an appointment with the teacher. Holding the paper like a flag, she began her opening volley, "How could you give him an A? There are so many errors in grammar and spelling that should be noted." He just smiled and told her, that while my conventions were not refined, my ideas and attention to subject were advanced and superior.
You see, in my household, my father was a C.P.A. and mom had been an outstanding student with a son destined to win academic awards in mathematics, creativity was not valued, because my father, who was one of the hardest working, nose-to-the-grindstone people I ever met, saw creativity as the onset of laziness in adult life. Due to my failure in math, he decided to remove me from Bishop Crimes that charged tuition and plop me into East Syracuse-Minoa High School for my senior year telling me I was not going to play football. This was not a blow since I had spent three years sitting the bench for a team that lost every game they played and if I learned anything in my time on the team, it was I was not going to college on a football scholarship even if the assistant coach played linebacker on the Syracuse University football team. But one afternoon on a whim, I tried out for the fall theater production and got the male lead in I Remember Mama, a charming G rated play about a Norwegian immigrant family through the eyes of their daughter and the love of her mother's courage. I played papa. My sudden love of theater became all consuming to the point when my distraction alerted my father. If you have ever seen Dead Poet's Society when one of the boys is pick to play Puck in A Midsummer's Dream and the conflict between Neil the boy and his father, you will understand the conflict I had with my father over my involvement in the theater.
See how I digress? My symptoms are on display now. My confession is that I have remained unreformed or unrepentant due to my undiagnosed disability and I'm sure many Would be dubious about my confession to begin with. In order to rectify my claim, I would need a licensed doctor to declare me as ADHD before being exposed to a battery of psychological tests that Would prove conclusively that I am indeed afflicted. And the What? Would my life be any different if I had been diagnosed with ADHD? I can't begin to imagine how it would be. One of the first things I do is show a video of two people who get stuck on an escalator. It is painful to watch, but it makes a very clear point as it ends with, "most problems you can fix if you just get off the escalator." That sums up my philosophy in a nutshell. While ADHD is a learning disability, teaching a student how to think rather than rescuing him or her by saying, "oh, that's too hard for you to do," we are teaching them to get stuck on the escalator whereas I want to be the teacher who teaches them they can over come difficulties they encounter in life. And with that said, I will continue to remain an undiagnosed person with ADHD.
Their Eyes were Watching the News