“Dear Fellow Superhuman Students with ADHD: We Got This.”
“We are all figuring out how to adjust to quarantine education; no one should feel like a failure for not doing it the ‘normal’ way. Know that ADHD makes the way you learn incredible and unique, and there is no wrong’ way to learn.”
If you’re anything like me, you had a hard time adjusting to online learning last spring. I have ADHD (inattentive type) and even with my medication – because it is not a cure-all — I had an extremely difficult time staying motivated enough to get any work done.
It seemed nothing could make this new way of learning even mildly appealing to me. Then I had an epiphany. It struck right as the new school year — my senior year — started and it went like this: What if quarantine school were an opportunity to give myself all I had wanted out of schooling – an approach that works for me, and me only? What if it became my own real Individualized Education Program (IEP), if you will? A plan where I wouldn’t have to struggle to match the neurotypical way, and where I would prove to myself that there’s nothing wrong with neurodivergent learning?
You’re Not Really in School — Act Like It!
One of the best things about remote learning is not worrying if you are behaving “correctly” so your neurotypical classmates aren’t “torn away from work because of you.” Right now, we don’t have to follow school rules designed to limit distractions for neurotypical students.
So if you have a fidgeting device (be it a cube or a spinner), USE IT! If you focus better while listening to music, wearing comfy clothing, having a pet on your lap, taking breaks, chewing gum, sucking on a lollipop, or hanging upside down from your bed, then DO IT.
Bottom line – If you can’t sit still to do work, then don’t. You can even exercise in between classes and keep up with your physical health, which in turn keeps you mentally healthy.
You Can March to the Beat of Your Own Drum
Look to all the ADHD superpowers that make you awesome and use them to your advantage.
I used to beat myself up because I couldn’t learn like a neurotypical kid. When the coronavirus crisis struck, I started out looking to neurotypical people for guidance on how to deal with online learning. If I were under-stimulated, I’d force myself to suck it up and attack the assignments like a neurotypical kid would, or I would try to add external stimulation – only to get totally distracted for hours.
I forgot that I am NOT neurotypical, and that I can employ my own unique strengths, even in a new environment. At home, I realized that I can actually listen to and focus on Zoom classes, get everything I need to know, and still have full-on conversations with everyone in my class. Checking in with everyone and maintaining your friendships must be a superpower-level of multitasking. You also have the ability to hyperfocus on the assignments you find most interesting – no neurotypical kid could ever dream of that! And the agony you used to feel when your impulsivity or indecisiveness got in the way of getting started? Gone. You make your own schedule.
Online learning is going to have its ups and downs. We are all figuring out how to adjust to quarantine education; no one should feel like a failure for not doing it the ‘normal’ way. Know that ADHD makes the way you learn incredible and unique, and there is no wrong’ way to learn. Also know that you are not alone.
Sincerely with compassion and acceptance,
A friend with ADHD
ADHD Advice: Next Steps
- Download: The ADHD Guide To Distance Learning
- Read: 5 Focus Tricks for Students with ADHD Learning at Home
- Learn: A Quarantine Well Spent – How to Foster Teen Independence During This Time at Home
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Updated on October 29, 2020