Thursday, January 7, 2010

My ADHD Story Part 2 – Early years through high school.

I graduated from high school in 1990. It is important to note that our understanding on the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD is a whole lot different now than it was back then. I won’t give you my whole bio, but here are some key points.
• A lot of my first memories involved trips to the emergency room and scars that I still have now. Coincidence? I think not. I consider myself lucky. Our family doctor was also the state medical examiner.
• I wish I had a word-for-word transcript of my Spanish teacher’s explanation as to why I was a good student, but she could not write me a college reference after the week I gave her. It would have been a perfect summary of what a smart student with ADHD looks like. I do remember something like, “You will get an A, but I cannot have you do that to the other students.” There might have also been an incident with me leaving class, participating in French 5 (I was in Spanish 5 and French 1 at the time.), and then giving the French Teacher a Good-Bye hug in the middle of class to return to mine. Did I mention that this French Teacher did not know me? I could not find an email address for Sra. Reiter. I wanted to send her a link to this post… and an apology.
• I would have been in contention for valedictorian, but I bombed World History. It is amazing what completely forgetting the highest-weighted grade, a term-paper, will do to your average.
• Social skills? My classmates could comment on that better than I. Let’s just say that I did not have any bonds that lasted after I left for college.

My parents:
I love my parents, and they did so well for what they were dealing with. Both of my parents were intelligent enough to go to college, but life’s circumstances prevented them. This is significant, as children of college graduates have serious advantages in their prospects of going into college. Regardless, it is amazing how far hammering the same two points can really get you.
1. If you are getting poor grades, work harder.
2. Your one and only job is to get good grades and go to college. College is the ticket to a life we never had.

Why did I go to college? I did not know that I had a choice at the time.

I hope that I thanked them enough on each of my graduations. I hope to pay it forward to their two grand-children.

Here are my key memories from my parents:
• I still remember my mom ripping up my 5th grade report on the Praying Mantis. “You had 3 weeks to do this, and you threw this garbage together at the last minute? Explain to your teacher why I ripped it up, and ask him what your options are.” This could be viewed as traumatic. For me, it was a lesson in tough love, high standards, and not making excuses – even if you have a challenge.
• Instinctively, my parents knew to keep me busy. What trouble would I have been getting into without a day like this?
o 7:15-2:15 School
o 2:15-3:15 Play rehearsal.
o 3:15-4:35 Swim Practice.
o 5:00 Mom picks me up from practice with a sandwich and drives me to 1-3 hours of Karate.
• I have the lecture from my father for every time I got a bad grade in a test or project memorized.
Listen. It is not that this is the most horrible grade in the world, but I know you are much more capable of this. If all you were capable of was a B, C, or D and you met your potential, I would not be upset. But you are clearly smarter than this.
• There was a slight variation of this when he reviewed his concerns with my school choice. I chose to decline a free placement to the Air Force Academy and a partial academic scholarship to Villanova.
It is extremely expensive, but we will do whatever we can to send you. Here is my concern: We will make the sacrifice if you are truly serious, but how is anybody with your study habits going to make it at a school like MIT?

Wow! Hindsight is 20/20. Off I go, to college, undiagnosed.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Eric.

    Imagine how many times over similar stories were unfolding across the country (around the world!).

    It staggers the mind that some people do not want to accept "modern thought" on ADHD. They'd rather children keep repeating these experiences?