October was national ADHD Awareness Month. To help spread awareness of this often misunderstood diagnosis, we interviewed a student with ADHD to get a first-hand perspective!
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Sam U. and I’m 20 years old. I am a freshman at the University of Maine. I’m majoring in political science.
When were you first identified as having ADHD?
Second grade. I don’t really remember anything about it except that I was never able to sit still.
How would you describe having ADHD to someone who doesn’t have it?
It’s the need to always be moving around; it’s hard to pay attention to things. Like if someone sneezes, I lose my concentration. It’s hard to focus and stay on task.
What’s the biggest challenge of having ADHD?
Being able to concentrate. When I have to write a paper, I have to constantly take breaks. If I hear a noise in the hallway, I have to go check it out. I get bored really easily.
How did you overcome that challenge?
I stick to a strict schedule. I get up at the same time, eat breakfast at the same time, go to the gym at the same time every day. I take medication for ADHD, which also helps. I make sure to set specific goals and stick to them.
A recent study found that exercise is as effective as some medications for relief of ADHD symptoms in adults, building on an earlier study finding similar results in younger children. What are your thoughts on this?
I went to a military high school and we had to exercise for at least four hours a day. Now I go to the gym for about two hours every day. That really helps me to get my energy out and think and prioritize. I like the way it makes me feel afterward.
Were you ever bullied because of your ADHD?
Not to my knowledge. A lot of people have ADHD; it’s pretty common.
What do you wish you were taught in high school?
To be honest, I never learned about time management or study skills: I think they call it executive functioning. I learned about the main subjects, and got extra time for tests and assignments, but in some ways I wasn’t prepared for college.
What was the best thing you learned?
Keeping a schedule, not to wait to the last minute, and learning how to get self-motivation.
What are your plans for the future?
To finish college and then work for the government in intelligence.
What advice would you give to other kids with ADHD?
I took a few years off after high school before I went to college, and I don’t regret it. I would tell other kids to go when they’re ready. I see a lot of kids who are miserable because they’re not ready. And I’d also say that school may seem hard, but you’ll get through it. Don’t let ADHD limit you.
By Melissa Ragan
Melissa Ragan is the VP of Content and Curriculum for ONEder and author of the new blended ONEder Academy Transition Curriculum!