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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What School Is Like for the Student with AD/HD*

Alexis Norin could have been writing about my middle child, Neil, in the December 2005 issue of Attention! (the bimonthly magazine of CHADD [Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder]):

Imagine sitting in a typical classroom. The teacher is talking up front, or a student is asking a question. Students fill the rows of chairs, doing student things. The heater kicks on, the lights hum, and other classroom noises get your attention.

Focus back on the teacher. She's beginning to review what's on tomorrow's test. Now imagine someone is tapping a pencil on the desk. The steady tempo fills your ears, and your head starts pounding in rhythm. Someone walks in the door. Your eyes follow the late student to his desk, taking in his torn jeans, Hawaiian shirt and dirty black backpack. Outside the mowers start, and you wonder why they're even mowing in December. The pencil beats on. The teacher is now writing on the board. The late student gets up to grab a handout off the teacher's desk while she's not looking. The light above you blinks out. The pencil continues to beat. A conversation two rows in front of you catches your ear. Two girls are making faces at each other. The pencil stops, but a foot takes up the rhythm.

Lights hum. Teacher talks. Students write. Mower mows. Heater blows. Foot taps. Class is over.

The student with AD/HD ... just missed class.

If your child sounds like the student Norin describes, please know that your child isn't stupid or lazy. Your child needs you to advocate for him or her. Don't be afraid. If I can survive the the House of AD/HD, you can too. The first step is learning everything you can about AD/HD. And then ... take each day one day at a time.


____________________________
*Here, I am following the style of the American Psychiatric Association, which uses the slash to indicate that the hyperactivity part of AD/HD does not occur in all cases. There are several subtypes of AD/HD, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision: (1) attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, combined type; (2) attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly inattentive type; (3) attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type. Neil and my father-in-law have type 1, and my husband, Ed, has type 2.

Norin received the CHADD Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2005 annual CHADD conference in Dallas, Texas. She recently graduated cum laude from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith with a degree in rhetoric. She was accepted into law school with a scholarship but deferred her studies for a year and is currently working for American Airlines.

The article is copyright © 2005 by CHADD and is reprinted here with the permission of CHADD and Norin. For more information, write to CHADD at 8181 Professional Place, suite 150, Landover, MD 20875, or visit the CHADD Web site.


EditorMom

2 comments:

Alexis said...

Hello EditorMom! This is Alexis Norin. I just wanted to leave a note to tell you how thankful I am to see my article still up and helping people. I ended up never going to law school. It took a few years for me to get over college burn-out and make the transition to the working world with my AD/HD.

Now I work for a transportation/moving company and have settled in to start some new projects, including re-starting the CHADD chapter. I love the AD/HD pride link and plan on ordering some stickers and handing them out at our first meeting.

So in closing, thank you for re-inspiring a burn-out 20 something in Arkansas!

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Hey, Alexis, it's good to hear from you and find out what you're doing these days.

Life takes us in unexpected directions, and it's not only people with AD/HD who are affected by college burnout. Sometimes college is just a steppingstone to point us in our real direction. ;-)

Keep on keepin' on!

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