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“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.

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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?

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5 Comments & Reviews

  1. Oh my goodness, Jackson. You just made this mother of a 14 year old son with ADHD cry. You just described my son and his “annoying” habits. I always knew that something was different about my sons behavior but never once heard it put the way you just did. Coming from a mother who has seen this first hand, this totally makes sense to me now. It is that part of his brain that you describe that tells him that something is inappropriate that is missing. When you said you have to manually pull up the part of your brain that tells you to stop doing something I could see my son when he notices that he is making a repetitive noise all the sudden. He stops and looks around and apologizes. Now I know why. Thank you for teaching me something today.

    1. This article was heart wrenching and enlightening at the same time. Thank you Jackson for sharing. I am the mom of a 4th grader with ADHD who exhibits some of these same behaviors. Other kids tell him he’s annoying often. I appreciate you sharing this as it provides a unique perspective.

      1. Social ADHD can be so heartbreaking as you watch your child interact with others! My 12 yr old some has it…

    2. Jackson, I look forward to reading more posts from you. You are a very brave young man to write so eloquently about your feelings. You are going to be amazing as you grow. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. You are so creative and talented and in touch with your feelings. I am a mom to a 14yr old whose name is Jack. I wish you didn’t live across the country because I think the two of you would be great friends. Hang in there and thanks for posting how you feel. I will have my Jack read this so he knows he isn’t alone.

  2. OMG This is me too! I constantly have to watch myself (which is impossible, of course) because, for example, I’ll find myself driving my kids to school, and I’ll be replaying a conversation in my head for the umpteenth time, and I’ll say something out loud, or I’ll do a hand gesture completely unrelated to what’s happening around me.

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