Can You Have ADHD If You Were a "Good" Student?

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    • #114168

      Hi everyone,

      This is my first post on these forums. I know that nothing substitutes for a professional diagnosis, but I want to ask whether it is possible for someone to have ADHD if they were a “good” student. I ask because on self diagnosis tools I end up checking the vast majority of boxes for someone who had ADHD, with the really glaring exception that I was always a straight A student, in “gifted” classes, valedictorian of my high school class, nearly 4.0 GPA in college, etc. The thing is that I was always “different” in the following ways:

      -spaced out and daydreamed constantly
      -could get so lost in a book that I once did not notice two of my classmates getting into a physical fight in front of me
      -had an eerie near-photographic memory for facts and ideas, but could never remember appointments or deadlines (and procrastinated terribly)
      -was told repeatedly that I had “no common sense” (an ex girlfriend told me “you’re the dumbest smart person I know”)
      -would get really obsessed with certain hobbies, ideas, TV shows, and music groups and could spend hours thinking, talking or researching about them each day
      -extremely sensitive to criticism and rejection
      -hard time understanding verbal instructions, esp. with a visual-spatial component (e.g. “go into the third cabinet on the right and get me the medium sized bowl on the second shelf – no not that one!”)

      The thing is I always hear how ADHD impacts school performance and that wasn’t the case for me. Instead I have always felt overwhelmed by the administrative demands of life, missing or just barely making deadlines, being late to things, and as an adult I have a hard time keeping things clean and uncluttered and doing things that take a lot of steps. Anyway just wanted to hear if there are other people who experienced this and if it’s possible to have ADHD without the typical “struggled in school” narrative.

      If this is relevant information I am a woman in her late twenties.

    • #114173

      I did not read your whole post because I need to go take a shower to “reset” my brain [hah], but to answer your question: totally.

      Because I was smart, my initial treatment led to a horrible misdiagnosis and my still-present fear of doctors. At twelve, I was treated with a high dose of anti-depressants and *ANTI-PSYCHOTICS* due to the fact that I did extremely well in school. 4.0, AP Classes, artistic, blah blah.

      I was a great student, but I was also a horrrrribly behaved person.

      You should go read a post I just submitted, “Open Letter to My Friends, I’m Trying,” to see where ADHD causes problems in the things that matter most.

      • #114180

        Hey thanks, this helps!

        That’s terrible that you were misdiagnosed and treated so horribly. I am also wary of doctors based on how they’ve treated me in the past.

        Cool, I will go check out the post.

    • #114229
      Carmen Nave

      I wasn’t a good student when I was younger, but when I found what I wanted to do (anthropology), I started getting straight As and even went on to get a PhD.

      I think that there’s a few things to consider: ADHD is a spectrum disorder, which means that not only are the effects different for different people, but the degree to which they are affected is different too.

      People with ADHD often concentrate well on what they are interested in. If you liked learning or were interested in the content of your classes, or liked the reward system well enough that you wanted to do well for the As/kudos/whathaveyou, then having ADHD and being a good student could go together.

      If the difficulties you listed interfere with your life, then asking to be assessed for ADHD makes sense, whether or not you were a good student!

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