“I Am That Kid Who No one Wants To Play With.”
I was more or less oblivious to my ADHD. Then third grade hit and, with it, a new school in a new state and kids who said I was annoying. If I could sit down and explain my brain to them, here is what I would say.
I am that kid. That one in the back of the class being helped by another teacher. That kid who no one wants to play with. That kid who no one really knows. This has been me most of my life with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
I was a happy kid. And I still am, but it was a lot harder to be happy after the first day of third grade – the day my life got significantly worse. I lived in Los Angeles until the end of second grade and loved it. A kid’s life couldn’t get any better: friends, nice teachers, happy family, sunshine. All that changed (especially the last part), when my family moved to Washington State.
From that first day at my new school, nobody wanted to play with me. I started coming up with quick, cool lies about my life in L.A. to make them interested. But, still, there was one kid in particular who never let me play in his group of friends. I really wanted to, so I would ask and ask and ask. Being in third grade, I had no idea how annoying that could be.
In general, I have no idea when I’m being annoying. In most situations where I’m doing something weird, I have no clue that I am doing it. I could be licking my fingers and not even know it. In the back of my head I know that I’m licking my hands but the part of the brain that says, “STOP! That is so weird, people think that’s annoying and gross” is broken for me. It’s just turned off.
Another thing about my ADHD brain: It’s either all the way on or all the way off. At any given moment, I’m thinking about a million random things and the next thing I know I’m asking 20 million questions or making a weird noise. And I usually start doing it long before I notice it. You could say the mechanism in a brain that picks up on surroundings and reactions is buried under everything else that I think or do. That part of my brain does exist, but it doesn’t come up on its own. I have to manually bring it up, and I can’t always do that. I can sometimes hear it, and then I check my surroundings and say, “What am I doing?” But then my brain shoves it back down where I can’t hear it again.
Group work is hard for me. If I don’t know everything I’m supposed to do, my brain prevents me from getting started. This leads to yet another annoying scenario. I start asking a barrage of questions and I don’t stop. It’s very weird. I feel like I literally CAN’T stop until I know exactly what needs to happen. Then the students at my table think, “This kid’s annoying.” If I were one of those kids, I would be extremely overwhelmed with my questions, too. But, in that moment, I have no idea how I’m being perceived.
I don’t choose to be annoying or gross. Most times I just underestimate how weird something is, and I’m missing that part of the brain that sends weirdness alerts. Is that so terrible, after all?