Advice from a Teen with ADHD
Classmates can be a drag when you have ADHD, but I’ve learned how to deal with their words.
You’re sitting in class, minding your own business. At least that’s what you think, but other students won’t stop staring at you. You can’t figure out why. So you try to follow their eyes. And you see they’re staring at . . . your shaking leg. My shaking leg! Seriously? How can that distract you?
Over the years, I’ve gotten used to being noticed for dropping my papers and blurting out something without raising my hand. But I still believe ADHD has more positives than negatives. On the plus side, we have more creativity or original ideas/perspectives, and on the minus side we are unfocused or worse at adapting to traditional teaching methods.
There may be a few more negatives to tackle during school, and it’s our classmates. Middle and high school students get more serious about their education the closer they are to the finish line, which is a problem for those of us with ADHD. They have less patience for interruptions. Let’s face it: Sometimes we are the distracting ones, except for the leg shaking, because honestly everybody shakes their leg a little bit.
We all know how rude our classmates can be. Since that is mostly standard stuff, we probably shouldn’t expect them to understand or care about us dealing with ADHD. Although you may have a 504 or IEP and your classmates know it, you won’t get much sympathy. My sister had both accommodations; she was treated no differently by other students.
In my situation, if I hear someone muttering about my hyperactivity or disorganization, I brush it off and say something worse back in my head. I don’t retaliate because that starts a vicious cycle. If it’s an acquaintance, I might talk to her privately, so she knows what I’m dealing with. It’s all you have to do. It hurts much more when an adult insults you. But a single person who’s probably the same age as you? No big deal.
As we get older, we should be mature enough to know when or if we’re being a disturbance. Another student will occasionally say something to me like “sit down” or “stop talking so loud.” Even when it comes off as a surprise, I usually recognize if I’m the problem. Then I try harder to keep myself in check. I confide in my friends with ADHD, who help me stay grounded.
When the school day ends, I relax and remember I’m going home to my crazy, welcoming family. ADHD is the norm at home. Life is just fine — it really is.