Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is said to affect approximately 3-5% percent of children. Although it does not see as much attention as other behavioral disorders, when someone hears that a child or adult has ADHD, it brings up a negative impression on the person; as if that individual must be locked-up because they cannot properly function in a social setting. That is not necessarily the case. There is a general misconception about the disorder itself – that those who have ADHD must be on some sort of medication in order to go on with their lives normally. It shows that many people do not really understand what ADHD is and how it affects someone. True, there are some cases in which an individual with ADHD actually needs medication to be able to focus and work. One of the main misunderstandings about ADHD is that it is often associated with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). ADD is very similar to ADHD in that they both consist of less attention or attentiveness given, however other symptoms or components of ADHD include hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. When you think about, you would think that a person with ADHD would be an absolute train wreck.
I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I have lived with it all my life and I have never taken any sort of medication for it. When I was first diagnosed with ADHD the doctor expressed his concerns to my parents that growing up with ADHD would be difficult not only on myself, but also on my parents and suggested that I was to take medication in order to control it. My parents decided otherwise and thought that it was in my best interest if I were to learn how to control my ADHD myself, and I would not have it any other way. The main reason behind this is that eventually I would have to be taken off the medication when I became an adult, after I had become completely dependent and reliant on the medication. It would be a complete shift from control to major inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Who would want to experience that as an adult? There are other ways than medication that would, in my opinion, be a much better road to take.
One of the things that has helped my overcome and control my ADHD is that I was always active. Since I was a little girl I have been a part of a vast amount of activities. It’s kind of funny, whenever I list the activities I would, in a sense, juggle throughout my life, people are usually shocked that I had time to breathe. In all reality, I thought I was completely normal for a six year-old to go from school to soccer practice, then dance class, then choir and piano, to basketball practice, and still have time to finish my homework and play with my friends around my neighborhood. In truth, I loved it. During elementary school I remember having to take occupational therapy classes where the “teacher”, as I would call them, would spend about an hour with me doing various exercises and such. It was really fun because I would do different obstacle courses, play games, etc. To me it felt more like a one-on-one play time than anything else. I also sort of had music therapy. I say sort of because I have always been a musician, so listening to classical music was very natural and welcoming for me, and a lot of people have their young children listen to classical music to help the child’s mind grow. Another thing was diet. A healthy diet does wonders to a person’s health and my Mother tried for the longest time to put my family on a gluten-free diet. Quick fact about a gluten-free diet: if you have a child with any type of disorder, may it be autism, ADHD, etc., having them on a gluten-free diet will help them both mentally and physically on a drastic level. However, when I was a child the gluten-free industry was not like it is today, the food was not very attractive to taste buds. Regardless, even though I did not exactly have a gluten-free as a child, I am progressively changing my diet to consist of less gluten, just for the major health benefits.
Although it may sound like it, my life with ADHD has not always been so “rosey” and fun. More so when I was in elementary school, growing up with ADHD and learning how to overcome the disorder has been such an obstacle. I was always moving around and it was very hard to focus sometimes. During class I was usually the first to finish my work, sometimes I would be a distraction for the class because I wanted to talk to my friends or walk around. I just wanted to keep moving. My parents and teachers were very supportive, however, and did what they could in order to help me. I have always had a passion for reading, so I would bring two to three books to school. Might I add that I am talking about children’s books; by the third grade I was reading Harry Potter, and other novels that most do not begin to read until they are much older. The teachers would allow me to pass out papers, help my peers with their work if help was needed, and sometimes walk to the office and back to pick something up for the teacher. Even though I had friends and was a very sociable person, I was seen as the eccentric because I would be so hyper and sometimes a bit outspoken. I am lucky to say, though, that I was very fortunate to have grown-up with such great people who thought my eccentricities were more of a positive, fun, and entertaining trait. Really, the main area where ADHD has affected me the most is my ability to focus. Even now, there are times were I can’t focus on my work and it usually comes at the worst times – ironic, I know. There are times when my mind is spinning so fast that all I can do is to either sit down quietly and wait it out, try to calm my mind, or just to go for a walk to anywhere. What I have found to really help me is to force myself to take a nap or to shut myself from the world by sitting in my room or car and engulfing myself in music. The power of music is really amazing. There are no words to describe the true affect it has on people. In any case, there have been many obstacles in my life that I have had to overcome due to being diagnosed with ADHD, but it has helped me shape myself to the individual that I am today.
I realize that throughout this post I have referred to ADHD as a disorder, however I really think of it as a gift. At 18, I have accomplished more in my life than most people can imagine. At an early age I have found that I can channel my excessive energy to become more efficient, productive, and ultimately reach my goals in life a lot quicker than most. In this sense I am seen as an over-achiever, but in reality it is who I am. I get things done and I do my best. I still have some work to do in regards to patience, but for the most part I am doing fine. I am only 18 after all. It might sound a little contradictory, but I have become mature beyond my years. This gift has helped me to become the diverse, entertaining, different person I am today. I celebrate how different I am then what is to be considered “normal”. I have never had any interest in being like everyone else. ADHD has helped me mold myself into who I am today and has become just another part of who I am.
I don’t want ADHD to have the negative connotation it does today, nor do I want to underplay the disorder/gift. It would really be beneficial to the world if more effort was put out to better educate people about it and to do more research on the disorder/gift. Like I had mentioned earlier, there are those who have grown to be dependent on the medication for ADHD who have been pulled off as adults and have to adjust to this new lifestyle while essentially beginning their independent lives. It’s just something to think about, you know?